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Archive for the ‘Good writings (not mine)’ Category

Either you will
go through this door
or you will not go through.

If you go through
there is always the risk
of remembering your name.

Things look at you doubly
and you must look back
and let them happen.

If you do not go through
it is possible
to live worthily

to maintain your attitudes
to hold your position
to die bravely

but much will blind you,
much will evade you,
at what cost who knows?

The door itself
makes no promises.
It is only a door.

— Adrienne Rich

I read this poem a few days ago on The Velveteen Rabbi and it’s really stuck in my head. If the door is the decisions you make in life, how do you know when to go through the door and when to back away? If it’s not one of those situations where the will of God is clear, do you go through the door or not go through? And is one choice better than the other, or are they simply different choices, with different costs and outcomes? How do you count the cost of a decision without knowing what the outcome will be? And in the end, maybe any choice is just a leap of faith… a step forward or backward into unknowns. And why do I always want to stare down the doors as if they have the answers that really only exist in the heart of God? It is only a door, but I struggle to remember that and keep things in perspective.

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Lord you know how much,
I want to know so much,
In the way of answers and explanations.
I have cried and prayed, still I seem to stay
In the middle of Life’s complications.
All this pursuing leaves me feeling like I’m chasing down the wind
but now it’s brought me back to you
And I can see again

This is everything I want.
This is everything I need.
I want this to be my one consuming passion.
Everything my heart desires,
Lord, I want it all to be for you.
Jesus, be my magnificent obsession

Capture my heart again.
Take me to depths I’ve never been.
To the riches of your grace and your mercy.
Return me to the cross,
Let me be completely lost
In the wonder of the love that you’ve shown me.
Cut through these chains that tie me down to so many lesser things,
Let all my dreams fall to the ground until this one remains

This is everything I want
This is everything I need
I want this to be my one consuming passion
Everything my heart desires
Lord I want it all to be for you
Jesus be my magnificent obsession

You are everything I want
You are everything I need
Lord you are all my heart desires
You are everything to me
You are everything I want
You are everything I need
I want you to be my one consuming passion
Everything my heart desires, Lord I want it all to be for you
I want it all to be for you Jesus
Be my magnificent obsession.

– Steven Curtis Chapman

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Justus quidem tu es, Domine, si disputem tecum; verumtamen justa loquar ad te: quare via impiorum prosperator?

 

Thou art indeed just, Lord, if I contend

With thee; but sir, so what I plead is just.

Why do sinners’ ways prosper? and why must

Dissapointment all I endeavor end?

 

Wert thou my enemy, O thou my friend,

How wouldst thou worse, I wonder, than thou dost

Defeat, thwart me? Oh, the sots and thralls of lust

Do in spare hours more thrive than I that spend,

 

Sir, life upon thy cause. See, banks and brakes

Now Leaved how thick! laced they are again

With fretty chervil, look, and fresh wind shakes

 

Them; birds build– but not I build; no, but strain,

Time’s eunuch, and not breed one work that wakes.

Mine, O thou Lord of life, send my roots rain.

 

– GMH.

(And me. Sometimes, someone else has just already said something so throughly, there’s no sense in trying to add to it. This is the place I’m at tonight, and there’s some comfort to be had in knowing that 100 years ago someone else was at this same place. There really is nothing new under the sun.)

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They say there’s a place
where dreams have all gone
They never said where
but I think I know
It’s miles through the night
just over the dawn
on the road that will take me home
I know in my bones
I’ve been here before
The ground feels the same
though the land’s been torn
I’ve a long way to go
The stars tell me so
on this road that will take me home

Love waits for me ’round the bend
Leads me endlessly on
Surely sorrows shall find their end
and all our troubles will be gone
And I’ll know what I’ve lost
and all that I’ve won
when the road finally takes me home

And when I pass by
don’t lead me astray
Don’t try to stop me
Don’t stand in my way
I’m bound for the hills
where cool waters flow
on this road that will take me home

Love waits for me ’round the bend
Leads me endlessly on
Surely sorrows shall find their end
and all our troubles will be gone
And we’ll know what we’ve lost
and all that we’ve won
when the road finally takes me home
I’m going home


[Mary Fahl, “Going Home”]

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From Brueggemann’s Hopeful Imagination: Prophetic Voices in Exile:

“[Call is] a sense that one’s life has a theonomous cast, is deeply referred to the purposes of God, which gives freedom and istance and perspective in relation to all other concerns. Such a call is not an event, but an ongoing dynamic of a growing and powerful claim. One’s embrance of a sense of all may mature in time and grow beyond the innocence of the outset… call concerns the yielding up of our safe world.”

Perhaps more than any other, I love this as a description of the Christian life, a growing and powerful claim moving beyond the innocence of its outset. When I first became a follower of the way of Christ, I was young. 9. The innocence of the onset of my calling: I understood good and bad, things that made God happy, and things that made God sad. Sin and separation, heaven and hell. I understood obedience, in the most rudimentary of senses, and so I was immersed… and my walk began. And his claim on me grows, and becomes ever more powerful… or rather, my understanding of it… as I try and fail to offer myself to him, to yield up my safe world. With the growth comes assurance of his faithfulness, and an increasing understanding of how often and throughly I fail. It has been 16 years now that I have served him, that I have known and striven after (if waveringly) the one I call Lord. I have fallen. I have not been faithful. I have failed. I have been broken before him, so many times, angry and ranting until he teaches me– again– his comfort. And so it is. He has remained faithful even when I have been faithless… he has forgiven, and forgives.  And as he shows me his faithfulness, I learn a little bit more about being faithful… with his forgiveness, a little bit more about how to forgive… a little bit more about what it means, really means, to love. And sometimes I forget, turning back after the safety of the known and the comfort of the familiar things of this world. He waits… offering me the opportunity to trade the comforts I can see for the assurance of the unknown, of that which I cannot yet know.  So again I approach the alter and am given enough grace to make the sacrifice… and again the call deepens, its hold over me becoming more powerful. The innocence of the outset has given way to something else. As he changes me, I am able to yield a little more to the Changing and loosen my hold on the safe and familiar. And therein lies the irony of faith…. in the letting go comes the one who is more familiar with me than I am with myself. And even knowing that, I struggle to let go… to yield my will, my dreams, my desires to whatever-it-is that he wills for me. But he’s calling, so I’ll take one more step.

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Adam Langford, a missionary in Uganda, died this week in a traffic accident. This is his last blog. I’ve always found something interesting in people’s last words, last actions… most particularly when they know death is imminent, but even when death is unexpected. Among Adam’s last writings: 

My illusions of solving the problems of this country have long ago left me. They have been replaced with the hope of a risen savior who understands what it means to suffer in this world. This world refuses to work on God’s terms and thus will always be filled with suffering. And because I live in this world, I am privy to that suffering rather I am living in America or Uganda. While I will never stop trying to eliminate the suffering in this world, the suffering in
Uganda, the suffering in losing a younger sister to AIDs, or even the suffering in my own life, I do not believe that is all I should be doing. Solutions are wonderful. Cures are amazing. Answers are great. But in this broken world, I am beginning to believe we need more people who are willing to enter into the suffering of others whether they can help or not. I want to choose to suffering for the sake of others. I am not always sure how to do that or what it looks like, but most days I wake up and can’t think of anything else to do. Uganda has problems, I pray that God will solve them, but until He does I will also pray for the strength to suffer.

How often do we really choose suffering, instead of cursing at it or whining about it or explaining to God how it’s not fair that we should suffer or experience things we consider to be unpleasant? How often do we make the conscious decision to emulate our suffering Savior when we are suffering? If we were doing this, what would it look like? What does this choice look like?

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I’d like to invite comment about the following:

http://www.theofframp.org/Detox.html

It seems to me that some valid points are made here… points which seem to me to be much more in line with New Testament Christianity than the “doing church” most commonly seen today even among those of us who (at least theoretically) want to find ourselves doing something in the neighborhood of New Testament Christianity. Read away… and leave your thoughts here…

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