Saturday, August 27


My grandfather passed down a book to me after he died called "Sublime Thoughts". Its a book of wisdom organized by topics, and although its old as he was, it really has some good stuff in it. Heres a quote by H.W. Beecher that I really liked:

"We speak of the crucifixion of our passions. In one sense, so far as a sinful indulgence of them is concerned, they are to be crucified and slain; but in no other sense are they to be slain. We are to use them so that there will be no need of crucifying them. For there is not one primary desire or appetite in the human system that was put there to be taken out again. Everything that is in a man was put in him for no other reason than because it was necessary to the symmetry of the whole; and the attempt to crucify any or our normal, lawful desires, is an attempt to mutilate God's perfect work. We have a right to every one of our appetites and passions; and that, not for suppression, but for use, so that we use them in subordination to the higher moral sentiments and affections."

Let me make a disclamer that Henry Beecher didn't live a perfect life by any means, but he did speak some words worth hearing.

Sunday, August 21

Along Came a Spider

The other day, I took a walk down a trail in silence and meditation. As I started to quiet my thoughts and try to create a sense of calmness in my body, I found that the trail was full of large spider webs, with the spiders quietly waiting in the middle of each one. I unknowingly ran into a couple, which disturbed my peacefullness and unnerved me a bit. To solve this issue, I picked up a long stick, and waving it in front of me while I walked, I was able to take down the webs before running into them. I wonder if spiders know what they are doing when they build webs right in the middle of a trail. Its terribly annoying to walk into one and trying to get it off of you is even worse. Nature these days...

A little farther and I found bench swing to sit on, and I had my Bible with me so I figured I'd sit and listen to God a bit...until I noticed the top of the stick I had. There was a spider that had hitched a ride along with the webbing I had collected and was working with it. I looked closer and was amazed at what I was seeing: he was taking the old and disorganized web and eating it, while at the same time, spinning a new one. He did this at the the spots on the stick where web had caught, and after about an hour, had created neat and intricate webs in places where the stick branched out. As I sat and watched, I finally opened my Bible to Hebrews, and leafed over to chapter eleven where it talks about faith, working in faith, and the faith that those in the Old Testament had in comparison to those after Christ.

In verse 39 it says that those in the OT were commended for their faith, but none of them received what was promised; they actually died seeing it in the distance. They worked and were led by God in their actions out of faith, and were even persecuted for what they knew was to come. But they never got to see it during their life. A commonality among each one of these characters is that they all knew their roles well, and did everything they could in that role in excellence, and when they came across a situation in disorder or chaos, they always left behind some kind of Godly order, something good.

The spider builds webs because its innate for him. Its in his nature to build and repair webs. He doesn't know what will happen in the future, and he doesn't bother himself with the issues in the past; he simply remains in the present, assesing his context, and builds a web accordingly. He comes across chaos and leaves behind something useful, something good. His ultimate goal is to make a perfectly intricate and flawless web and he does it out of pure faith with all of him. He doesn't reason or logically try to weigh the risks and benefits; he simply does what he knows he is called to. He knows he is a creation of the creator because he knows what he was created to do.

This is worship. To know what is in one's nature to do and to do it in faith and do it well, leaving behind order and peace.

Sunday, August 14


After three years, I dont find the routine of packing up and leaving home for college very hard anymore. Its easy. Except this time something hit me as soon as I started the 13 hour trip from Florida to Kentucky at 6am. A foreign thought came to my mind that took me by surprise; which doesn't happen often. It was the realization that this was my last year of undergraduate college. I may not know what exactly comes next, but I do know that in less than one year, things will drastically change in my life. In a manner of speaking, I'm starting over again. Be it grad school, a job, or some other ambition, I will enter another unfamiliar environment and create new relationships, pursue new goals, and make new mistakes, while hoping to be steered in the direction of success.

Things change. People come and people go. This is the very nature of humanity as God intended. Its beautiful that the human race is such a family. Moving away and moving on doesn't mean forgetting. A human is a person because of the intrinsic value God has given them; but that person is defined by the extrinsic factors in their life. People affect people. You cannot simply isolate yourself from everyone and live in a dark corner. You MUST be in contact with other people, and they WILL affect you. It is inevitable that those who you are surrounded by will help create who you are.

It seems to me that in order for a human to develop into a person that lives wholly and fully filled, they must diversify their experiences and they must change their environment. This means that they will come and also sometimes go. What it DOES NOT mean is that they are shallow and unattached. There are, of course, extremes to this and situations where this kind of theory would be wrong. Marriage, for example, is a committment made for all of life. There is no moving on. That said, physical detachment is not spiritual detachment. Every human being lives in the very nature of God. That is a connection that nothing can take away.

I was at a church tonight and the pastor talked about compassion. Jesus had compassion on alot of people, but he never got comfortable and settled in to a specific environment. He realized the power in continually discovering and listening to humanity. Maybe I just have restless soul, but I cannot stand being in the same place all my life. That would be selfish. To not desire change because of the discomfort and energy it would take in moving on. One of Jesus' commandments was to love one another, right? I think the question to ask then is am I loving others or am I just loving them out of the comfort of routine and normality because its the easy thing to do? Its not necessarily wrong, but is it right?

Tuesday, August 2

God, Man, and The Art of Competition

God can be defined as loving, but just. Studying ethics has taught me this. I think we can agree that God’s will is that no human should perish. But humanity has separated itself from God. However, God provided a way out from sin. So, if I choose to believe, then I may reunite myself with God one day and reestablish the broken bond. If someone chooses not to believe, he chooses NOT God, and thus chooses to remain in his sin, accepting judgment. Therefore, God’s justice is worked out. We are all given a way out; Jesus the Rabbi chooses every one of us and we make the choice to take up his yoke or not, just as his disciples.
This ushers the point in. Sports are great; they encourage healthy competition and exercise and good sportsmanship and discipline…but something’s wrong…every time, something doesn’t work out right in the end. Someone wins and someone loses. Someone gets defeated. Someone does NOT get to take home the prize or take pride in knowing they were better than someone else. And the teams don’t get to decide against this; there will always be a winner and a loser. It’s just the cold hard fact. The question was lightheartedly brought up that if one person prays for the win of one team and his opponent prays for the win of the other, how does God choose? Geez, how do you solve that one? You don’t. Try measuring the ocean with a yardstick; it might be easier. The dilemma isn’t how can we reduce God to conform to our ways, but how can we reduce ourselves to conform to God’s ways? In God’s way, or ‘mystery’ as Paul describes it several times, everyone has the ability to win. Jesus calls everyone to deny their selves and take up their crosses, but not everyone wants to deny their selves. They want to bask in the limelight of earthly competition. They want to roll around in their sin and shame, in the illusion that they are winning. Paul writes to Galatia that if anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself, but let each one test himself so he may take pride in HIS own actions. Worldly competition feeds pride…pride because of another person’s loss. I play against someone so that I may take pride in the fact I beat them. I test my own actions against SOMEONE ELSE, which from where I derive my pride. There is nothing morally bad with it and I’m not demonizing sports as we know them, but think back to when civilization first started discovering the mass attraction to the art of competition. In ancient civilizations, people died if they lost because of the great dishonor it created in them. The gladiator attractions were driven by intense competition to the death. Each one tested his actions against another and if he lost, all dignity was stripped of him, much of the time including his life. Now we have done what we have tried to do with everything else; we’ve controlled it. We have tamed the beast so to say. Now we have sports where competition thrives, but losers don’t die. They simply recycle their loss of pride back into competition again. The beast has been tamed, organized, and systemized so that its advantages can be maximized and the disadvantages can be minimized. Oops, there’s ethics again…its called utilitarianism.
            This is just another remnant of the broken world that was shattered by sin. In the perfect and sinless world, there would be no losers. We don’t have to understand this with our human and finite minds, we just need to just know and recognize that it’s TRUE. Competition is a byproduct of a fallen world from God’s original and perfect creation. There are no losers in the Kingdom of God. So here’s some doctrine for you. If there are no losers in God’s Kingdom, then we know that either God picks the winners and therefore the losers are left in the confines of sinful humanity; or the losers simply choose to lose and roll in their filth they call “winning”. This brings up the question of how does God choose? What if he doesn’t? What if God simply says follow me and those who do find rest and peace and eternal unity with their maker, and those who don’t find themselves alone and eternally separated? What if the losers actually choose to lose? What if they limit their minds and wisdom and pursuits and LIFE to the ways of this world? They test themselves against the world and lose every time. God doesn’t want it, but it’s what happens when sin gets in between the creator and the created.