Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Like a tree

But blessed are those who trust in the Lord
and have made the Lord their hope and confidence.
They are like trees planted along a riverbank,
with roots that reach deep into the water.
Such trees are not bothered by the heat
or worried by long months of drought.
Their leaves stay green,
and they never stop producing fruit.
Jeremiah 17:7-8


I'm having a hard time finding any spiritual trouble/sin/issue/difficulty/etc, in my life, that doesn't point back to trust.

He created the heavens and the earth. He created the sun, the moon, and the stars. He separated the earth from the waters and the heavens from the earth. He cares for the sparrow and the flowers of the field. He created me...and yet I struggle to trust Him with my life.

Why this fear?

I think, in some ways, it is because I think about God in human terms.

We are human. We hurt each other. We fail each other. We are perfectly imperfect and our flaws are often the source of our tears, hurt, frustration, and pain. Our relationships are most often performance based. We tend to love those who love us back. We love those who treat us well and do nice things for and with us. My human experience causes me to want to please God, with my thoughts, words, and actions, so that He will like me and accept me.

He is God. He exists outside of time, space, and matter while at the same time existing inside time, space, and matter...a mind bending paradox...but I still envision Him in human terms, which ends up being very limiting. He is omnipresent, yet he can "enter" a place...entering a place carries an implication that He was not there. He is omniscient, yet he asks me to talk to Him, to open my heart to Him, to lay the burdens He already knows I carry at His feet.


All He really wants me to do is trust sounds so simple.

Abba, I bring you my brokenness. Father, please work in my heart so that I might trust you more.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Jamaica Me Crazy

I'm struggling with a great disappointment this morning. :(

I recently started drinking coffee. I'm 40 years old and had never picked up this controversial habit until I went on my first long motorcycle adventure in May 2011. The weather during the first 10 days of my ride was miserable. It rained...a was not warm. Every time I stopped for gas, I'd get a cup of the easiest hot beverage It's been over a year and a half and I don't consider myself an addict...yet. I was mostly a drive-thru coffee man until I bought a Keurig brewer a couple months ago. I enjoy a cup or two of coffee each day and I make tea and hot chocolate almost as frequently as, or maybe even more than, I do coffee.

I don't know if it's because of my age or because this is all still so new, but I'm really in an experimental stage when it comes to this beverage. I know that I like my coffee with cream (I'm using coconut milk or soy milk...I love cream, or half and half, but I have the aforementioned on hand more often) and sugar...lots of cream and sugar. When I would drive through Tim Horton's, they called it a 4 and 4. I also know that I don't like dark bold coffee. Starbucks, which many people love, tastes burnt to me. It's too bitter, too strong. Some might label me a coffee wuss. We can take the issue up in a dark alley sometime.

Several weeks ago I ordered a sample pack of flavored coffees from Trying a new flavor each day has been delightful. I've have warmed my taste buds with exotic flavors like Southern Pecan, Gingerbread, Cinnamon Roll, Mocha Nut Fudge, and Mountain Blueberry.  However, last week I stumbled onto a flavor that I knew I needed more of...ASAP...Wolfgang Puck's Jamaica Me Crazy. After my first cup, I got online and ordered four packs of this wonderfully aromatic beverage base from

My box of Jamaica Me Crazy was on my doorstep when I returned home last night. I set it aside, unopened, promising myself that the morning would be special. Mere moments after I awoke this morning, I excitedly opened the box, fingers trembling, longing for the scent of coconut infused joy to permeate my household. I couldn't wait to pop a K-Cup into the brewer; drinking in the experience of the sight and sound of that addictive dark liquid filling my cup.

I open the first box and recoiled in horror! These are not K-Cups! These are individual "coffee pods"...I search the outside of the box with my eyes, hoping to find an answer for my panic! Compatible with the BUNN brewing system! WHAT?! How could this happen?! How could I have ordered the wrong thing?!

I open a package and hold the flat, circular pod in the palm of my hand. So unwanted. What to do? I grab my previously unused reusable brewing cup out of the cupboard and stuff the pod into it. This will surely be the easiest solution. The machine kicks to life and I wait. The first drops start pouring into the cup...clear. After a few seconds a pale amber tint joins the party. I feel like Tom Hanks, stranded on a dessert island and I look around for the nearest volleyball. My senses go into overdrive, trying to sniff in as much of that wonderful scent as I can from this pale concoction drizzling into my cup. As the last drops of liquid fall from the brewer, I pop the brewing cup from the machine, take the pod out of the brewing cup and put it gently into my coffee cup. If you can brew tea this way, why not a cup of coffee....

....bugger. It's just not the same.

I decide to try a second cup, this time stabbing at the pod with a sharp knife and spilling the dark grounds directly into the brewing cup. The result is better but not perfect...and I have to clean the brewing cup out. I can't help but feel cheated. If I had wanted to play barista, I would have gotten a job at Starbucks or Tim Hortons. This is my home, this is supposed to be easy, this is supposed to be convenient! My day is ruined. First world problems. smh. :(

Friday, January 4, 2013

Bad things...good people

"Your eyes are too pure to look on evil; you cannot tolerate wrongdoing. Why then do you tolerate the treacherous? Why are you silent while the wicked swallow up those more righteous than themselves?"
Habukkuk 1:13 (NIV)

In other words...why do bad things happen to good people?

My daily Bible reading yesterday helped me understand evil, as we have seen it in the past month, has been around for a long, long time. I read the words of Proverbs and became aware, again, that the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School do not represent the first time innocence has been defiled by wickedness.

When sinners tempt you, my son, don't give in. Suppose they say, “Come on; let's find someone to kill! Let's attack some innocent people for the fun of it! They may be alive and well when we find them, but they'll be dead when we're through with them!" (Proverbs 1:10-12 GNB)

Unfortunately, this means we will see it again, and again, and again. It leaves us begging the question...why do bad things happen to good (or innocent) people? It leaves us feeling a bit hopeless, helpless, and unprotected...doesn't it?

I love it when God brings together the different aspects of my life, especially to show/give me hope. After reading my Bible, I picked up Athol Dickson's The Gospel According to Moses: What My Jewish Friends Taught Me About Jesus, and stumbled across this: "...God is all-powerful and all-knowing...God is pure and unchanging; therefore he is the standard for all truth and morality, and a solid foundation I can build upon when the evil of the world seems overwhelming." These statements may seem a little "fluffy" when taken out of the context of the book; however, they are the culmination of a very logical thought process laid out by the author. It is that process that reaffirms my belief that these things are true and that even in the darkest hour, I can still cling to the truth that GOD IS GOOD...and because God is good, we are allowed to ask "Why?!"

I feel privileged to live in a day and time when people like Dickson, like my pastor, and many others (others who know a lot more about God and the Bible than I do) can help me both ask that question and then find difficult answers. I am blessed to have "ears to hear" so that God can impart his wisdom, through these people, to me.

I realize I can't pray the evil in the world away; however, I can pray that when it shows its face, I, and other believers, can find better ways to respond with the love of be light, when all seems dark. As Dickson writes, "I believe sometimes bad things happen to good people so we can watch God turn the greatest tragedies into the purest love."

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

God loves an honest question

"God loves an honest question."
Athol Dickson. Gospel according to Moses, The: What My Jewish Friends Taught Me about Jesus (p. 17). Kindle Edition.

I picked up The Gospel According to Moses: What My Jewish Friends Taught Me about Jesus today. I first started reading it about 6 months ago and got wrapped up in some other books. I love that this is bringing me back to a concept I first discovered this summer, wrestling with God. I have no plans to wrestle like Jacob did, but I really want to learn how to ask God the questions He WANTS me to ask Him.

Dickson doesn't take long to get to the heart of the matter as he discusses a time in his life when he had abandoned his faith "because it seemed I had no right to question the difficulties, much less expect answers. I had been taught to accept readymade dogma rather than to personally take my doubts to God." I'm not sure about you, but I can identify with this. I was raised in an evangelical Christian home and approaching God with my questions, ready to admit that I don't have the answers and that He does, is a whole lot different faith choice than my previous mindset. I'm not going to blame my upbringing, or those who tried to impart spiritual wisdom to me over the course of my life, for not explaining this to me sooner. They probably did, or at least tried to, and my own shortcomings kept me from seeing the truth that has been in front of me for so long.

"Wrestling with God" feels foreign and I'll admit that I'm approaching this with some fear and trembling, for even though I'm learning that it's OK, even spiritually healthy, it still feels like I need to be on the look out for stray lightening bolts. It's comforting to know that I'm not alone in feeling that way and Dickson addresses this in explaining how he learned "I too must never fear to ask, but like Abraham, I must also remember that every time I approach the Lord I come with empty hands. God owes no answers and does not respond to ultimatums. Indeed, one sure way to receive the haunting answer of silence is to frame my questions as demands."

I'm excited to have started reading this book again, and will work a little harder to make sure I keep reading it this time. I'm heading back to school in a few weeks. As I've made me way through the past couple years, the one "thought about my future" that kept coming back to me was a desire to learn more about my faith and the foundations of it. In a couple of weeks I hope to be sitting in a classroom at Spring Arbor University starting down the path toward a second major, this one in Biblical Studies.

As I head back into the classroom, I'm excited to begin a journey to better find "the Creator of the universe on hands and knees, a proud Daddy talking baby talk to all humanity, a God who has become man so that I can better understand his answers."