Sunday, May 27

"The noonday demon makes it seem as if the sun barely moves, if at all, and the day is fifty hours long."

-Desert monk Evagrius

Lately I've been trying to fight off that pesky noonday demon when I'm standing in line for the timeclock at 6:25am thinking, "what is the point?" Or thinking about my future filled with never-ending graveyard shifts and awkward blind dates wondering, "what if nobody cares?" Or peeling myself off my mattress in the morning thinking, "Not again!"

My friend's boyfriend in highschool always wore this shirt that read, "Consciousness: that annoying time between naps." It is a classic example of despair, that sense we all have from time to time that nothing we do matters.

Technically, I suppose, it should be enough that we matter to God. God created us, sustains us, and heck, God even became one of us. I know that our lives are important and I know about all of Kuyper's "every square inch" stuff (which takes on an interesting new meaning when you're wiping 95-year-old saggy butts in a nursing home). But somehow when the noonday demon shows up he always goes right for the jugular and fatigue and listlessness inevitably ensue. And now it's time to wait; wait for the haze to go away and take the stupid demon with it.

As Forrest Gump said, "That's all I have to say about that." It's been my experience that needy hypochondriacs make terrible bloggers and even more terrible friends. But I'm determined to say it like it is, and sometimes that's how it is.

Tuesday, May 22

Chasers war on everything: Evangelicals

I got a good laugh from this little fella. :-)

Saturday, May 19

Summer Reading

Now that I have a little more time on my hands and I can read whatever I want, I'm looking for some book suggestions. The Confessions and the Institutes are already on the list, but I'm also really itching for a novel that's going to suck me in and change my life. ;)

But really, anything is up for grabs. Here's your chance to indoctrinate me!

Tuesday, May 15

Ding-dong, the fundy's dead!

Jerry Falwell died today of some sort of heart something. After I saw this pop up on Yahoo! news, I sat biting my thumbnail and thinking to myself, "Should I write something snarky about his double chin, how he thought Tinky Winky was gay and destroying the minds of young children, or how he blamed feminists and homosexuals for 9/11?"

But you know, despite his terribly misguided mindset, he thought he was doing the right thing. And honestly, I shudder to think about how many times a day I say something ridiculous despite my best intentions. At the end of the day, all of us, whether we're fundamentalist tele-evangelists or intellectual Calvinites, know about as much about God as an ant knows about the internet.

All I know is that I'm thankful for the grace that is bigger than the pitiful person I am and the best-laid plans that seem to always blow up in my face. Falwell is probably thinking the same thing right about now.

Monday, May 14

Life in Christ

My sermon notes this week included a reference to Lydia, a dealer of purple cloth whom Paul preached to in Acts 16:14-15. "The Lord opened her heart to listen eagerly to what was said by Paul. When she and her household were baptized, she urged us, saying, 'If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come and stay at my home.' And she prevailed upon us."

Jack highlighted how the gospel evoked in her a sense of hospitality and openness to others. Hospitality is insists that we push our own agendas aside for the sake of others. Jack mentioned that "participation in hospitality is participation in the life of God" and this got me thinking about God's life in the Trinity. In Engaging God's World Plantinga writes,

"At the center of the universe, self-giving love is the dynamic currency of the trinitarian life of God. The persons within God exalt each other, commune with each other, defer to one another. Each person, so to speak, makes room for the other two. I know it sounds a little strange, but we might almost say that the persons within God show each other divine hospitality. "

He then goes on to talk about how hospitality means that we "make room for others and then help them flourish in the room you have made."

And then I started thinking to myself, "Man, how many interpersonal problems stem from a lack of hospitality?" I can't make room for some peoples' crazy personalities. I'm envious of some people and I don't want to make room for them and help them flourish because I want what they have. I'm stinking self-absorbed because I think there is only room for me, me, me. I don't want to make room again for people who have hurt me. And on and on.

And isn't one of the biggest barriers to a relationship with God a lack of hospitality and perpetual self-absorption? The idea of being forever self-giving and exalting others is so far removed from our propencity toward selfishmess. And yet, the book of Acts tells us that a little taste of grace should evoke in us the desire to participate in the life and love of God, making room for others as God makes room for us.

In Phillipians 2 Paul says, "Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility, consider others as better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others." And then the next section goes on to talk about Christ's humility. This sounds really funny, but I've always been kind of fuzzy on what humility actually entails. Not bragging? Not showing off? Shrugging off compliments? But a couple of months ago I went to mass with my roommate and her friend just because I had never been to a Catholic mass, and the priest at IHM finally gave me a working definition: "Humility is using your gifts to help others."

So if hospitality is making room for others and humility is how we use our gifts to help them flourish, these two go hand-in-hand. I almost feel like we should smush them together: hospimility. :) Or not.

Which brings me to my obligatory "ah-ha!" moment. "Ooohhhh! I get it! That's why Jesus told us to love our neighbors as ourselves, and said, 'Whatever you do unto the least of these, you do unto me.' Because what we do for others reflects our participation in the life of God because God is communal within God's self!" Well that only took me 21 years to figure out.

And I leave you with St. Francis:

Lord, make me an instrument of Thy peace;
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
and where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master,
grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
to be understood, as to understand;
to be loved, as to love;
for it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life.

Friday, May 11

"Prayer of the Trinity" by NT Wright

I found this on CICW:

Father almighty, maker of heaven and earth:

Set up your kingdom in our midst.

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the living God:

Have mercy on me, a sinner.

Holy Spirit, breath of the living God:

Renew me and all the world.

You learn something new every day

As is customary during finals week, I am planted on the couch with two empty popcorn bowls, three empty pop cans, one can of pop I'm still drinking, and a bag of dark chocolate kisses. I'm mowing down the kisses like it's my last day alive, but I think the fact that dark chocolate has so many cancer-fighting anti-oxidents justifies it slightly. Plus it's finals week.

I was all excited because I bought myself chocolate ice cream too, but our freezer is not freezing, and thus it is soupy. The maintenence man came and infomed me that the empty pop boxes we had stacked next to the fridge were preventing the warm air from escaping from behind the fridge so it wasn't able to cool down. So I removed the boxes and the fridge is feeling cooler already. But this makes me wonder, what other silly things don't I know about everyday appliances? It's not too much of a hassle in the Calvin apartments where you just put a request in on Knightvision, but what about the real world? Am I going to have to pay some guy with a plumber butt $60 every time I don't know something stupid like that? Graduation is looking scarier every day, and it's not just 'cause of the fridge.

Sunday, May 6

Singing the Song

Sunday is always a good blogging day because church gives me so much to digest. This morning Jack preached on a passage from Acts (11...I think), but I will just straight up admit that I don't remember how it connected to the last bit of his sermon, which is about all that I remembered, probably because it was a story. Jack told a story about how he and his wife were walking around San Francisco and they came across a rather large, unattractive woman with a boom box. She then pushed the button and began to sing a song so beautiful that people were throwing $20s at her and one man even whispered to Jack's wife, "This is a gift." As she sang, he said, she began to appear more beautiful, leading Jack to conclude, "The song transforms the singer."

The song transforms the singer. This was especially encouraging to me because I have always felt subconsciously that I had to have a good voice in order to sing the song. I have this "all or nothing" mentality that leads me to think that I have to have all my ducks in a row in order to even begin to think about singing. Doubts? Insecurities? Inferiority complex? Selfish desires? All reasons to sit this one out and let those super-spiritual people who really know the song belt it out.

But you know, hearing that God gives broken people this song to sing in order that they may be transformed just makes me want to cry with thankfulness. And if we sing this song with all we've got, how can it not transform us? People whose hearts sing, "Christ has died, Christ has risen, Christ will come again" live in the hope of the resurrected Lord and the anticipation of the day when we will finally see God's face.

Every so often I will take home the liturgy and tape a song on the wall. I think that "I am the Bread of Life" sums up our song well.

I am the bread of life;
they who come to me shall not hunger;
they who believe in me shall not thirst.
No one can come to me
unless the Father draws them.

And I will raise them up,
and I will raise them up,
and I will raise them up on the last day.

The bread that I will give
is my flesh for the life of the world,
and they who eat of this bread,
they shall live forever,
they shall live forever!

I am the resurrection;
I am the life.
They who believe in me,
even if they die,
they shall live forever.

Yes, Lord, we believe
that you are the Christ,
the Son of God
who has come into the world.

Seriously, how is this not so exciting that you want to pee your pants? Ok, I'm done. ;)

Saturday, May 5

Question of the Day

So...I have decided to revive my blogspot and give it a little test run. I'm going to keep my Xanga up and running for now, but we'll see what happens.

I was just having a discussion with my roommates about how we should go about sharing the gospel. I'm a little skeptical of Billy Graham-type crusades where everybody is in an emotional uproar, they go up to the front to get "saved," and then the next day two-thirds of them are back to the same ol' same ol'. But maybe I'm just jaded. My roommates said "Well, if God uses it to save people, then who cares?" That is pretty darn hard to argue with. If I had my way, we would drag everybody to catechism class to be seduced by our sexy Reformed theology, but that isn't exactly practical. So what do you think? Am I being an intellectual snob? Should we suck it up and embrace a pragmatic approach to evangelism?

Here's a quote from The Scandel of the Evangelical Mind that pretty much summarizes my concern:

"The form of revivalism that eventually came to prevail as the dominant mode of evangelical church life was activistic, immediatistic, and individualistic. As such, it was able to mobilize great numbers for the cause of Christ. But also as such-with its scorn for tradition, its concentration on individual competence, its distrust of mediated knowledge-American revivalism did much to hamstring the life of the mind."