Wednesday, April 13, 2011

A Moment

What’s in a moment? Can we find life in every breath?
Sometimes, I have a hard time throwing things away. I’m that guy who has 2000+ emails in his Gmail account. I don’t really do the same thing with physical objects—at least not to the same extent. I’m not afraid of loss, because loss is a part of life. It’s the little things that make life special that I treasure. [A bright-eyed glace, a mote of dust floating in a sunbeam, a cold, cold breeze breathed in deep]

I once knew someone, a good friend of mine: We used to see each other every week at church. We laughed and lived together, and shared a love of the little things. Even though her taste in little things may have been a bit different than mine… There were plenty of excellent moments shared between us. And I got to keep one as a souvenir for a while.

I suppose that’s the advantage of having the same cell phone carrier for 5 years: You can save your voicemail messages.

The message in question wasn’t long, nor was it short. It was precise, and thought-out.

Except for one part.

For a moment, thoughtful speech patterns broke down, and tone changed. In the lightest, most timid tone—as though the words would shatter like crystal—emerged the words,

‘I hope so.’

And then the moment was gone. The shield of intellect and raised, and the thoughtful message concluded.

    It was neat…

I saved that message for about a year. In that year, so much happened, so much changed. Every now and then, when I thought of it, I would listen to that message. It would remind me of Highschool, and of good friends, of church, and of little moments. Passing afternoons.

I got rid of the message, but the memory is grafted into me. It’s a sharp memory, piercing my consciousness, reminding me of the nuances that all flow and coalesce into a moment in time.

“At that moment, Heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting upon him…”

Matthew 3:16

“All the stars in the sky will be dissolved and the heavens rolled up like a scroll.”

Isaiah 34:4

The Bible is full of extraordinary, ethereal, and gorgeous moments. Moments that far surpass any sunset or little voicemail. Moments are magical—They come and as soon as you realize what you’re seeing, they pass away over the horizon. They are fleeting, but still visible, images and feelings phantasmically preserved in memory.

Fire coming down from heaven to a damp altar/

Smoke from incense in the very presence of the very God/

Creation weeping, in an instant, trembling as its maker dies on a cross/

A soldier, sworn to serve Caesar, shouting that the one on the cross is the son of God/

God is not only Lord of eternity, he is God of the moment.


Friday, October 01, 2010


"7But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. 8Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ 9and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— 10that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attain the resurrection from the dead."

--Paul, an Apostle of Christ, in a letter to the church he planted in Philippi.

Everything I was ever proud of, I count as Rubbish. Trash. Refuse. Valueless rubble. Flotsam. Jetsam. Ashes.
It's so difficult to communicate biblical concepts in English sometimes.

How can you gain a person? or be found in a person?

In Hebrew this past week, I learned the literal meaning of sin. In a way, I feel like I should have known it, but I guess I just thought sin was its own definition.

To sin is, literally, to miss the mark. If you were an ancient Jewish archer, and you missed the bullseye, you sinned. Adam missed the mark of his promise to God. I miss the mark daily.

To be found in Christ is to have Christ hit the mark for you--Daily.

To gain Christ is not to gain his teachings, but to gain his very spirit within you. A living thing. A breath within your own. A Ruah in your Nephesh.

As to myself, my truth is not my own: It was given to my by the one who created the stars in the sky and the earth below. My identity is not in me or of myself, but in Christ, the one who came and saved--saves--me from the curse of missing the mark.

How do I know? I feel it in my deepest being. Heart is too weak of a word. Soul is too transient. But from the place where all hope, love, and reason springs, I feel the presence of someone who is set apart. Someone holy. Someone who is not me. Someone who is. I can feel him, as surely as I can breath and feel cold air in my lungs.

But I'm not a purely metaphysical person. I've studied and studied more. I've questioned. Doubted. The more I've studied the Canon scriptures and the literature, history, and commentary surrounding them, the fewer problems I find. We may not have the original manuscripts of the New Testament, but we have original letters from church fathers in the late 1st century and early 2nd that gratuitously quote the Gospels and Letters and testify to their authenticity. The current Bible wasn't bound together by politicians or kings, it has been affirmed and reaffirmed by church leaders and scholars dozens of times since the second century. If there was a God, and he wanted to communicate with humans, why would he give them his words and not protect his words?

I have missed the mark many times in my life. I've said things that should never have been said and done things that shouldn't have been done. But when it comes to my belief in Christ and the reality of the Holy Spirit--and the fact that he is living and active--my conscience is clear and my hope is unwavering.


Thursday, December 25, 2008

Insomnia in the 1st Century BC

"Oh Mary,

Why did you leave to be with Elizabeth? What has happened? Did the Romans take you for their own, and so now you are ashamed? Mary, we are betrothed to be married... In the eyes of God, we are husband and wife... But what am I to do? The child you bear is not mine. I loved you. I built a house for our family while you were away. I have striven to cast myself as an upright man before the Lord and before His people. How am I supposed to believe you?


An Angel.
you say an angel came and told you of this child... That the Holy Spirit would manifest the messiah... the very son... of God... in your womb. The God who spoke to Elijah, Jeremiah, Isaiah, Moses, and even Adam... The God whose justice and wrath wiped away Sodom and Gomorrah. The God whose love and mercy delivered his chosen people into the promised land even after they fell away. The God whose holy presence inspires fear in the highest and purist of priests. I am a Carpenter! I don't know the Torah, I don't know the books of the prophets.... You are the daughter of a farmer... A farmer who can barely pay his taxes due to Caesar!

At any moment, even tonight as I lay awake... they could stone you and this "messiah" to death in the streets. You would be called a blasphemer and an adulteress.

I asked your father for your hand because I believed in your propriety and virtue. Look where that got me! If I claim the child, everything I've built my life on will be shattered. Our neighbors will hate us. We will be shunned at temple. My eldest son will not be of my flesh and blood... I face an heir worse than Ishmael!!! But Mary... if I divorce you... Your family will be destroyed. You could be killed. The baby who grows inside you may never see the light of day.

If he is the promised Messiah... I would be condemning all of Israel. If he is the Messiah... could I really kill him?

I am not fit to be the father of a King. A conqueror; a savior... God himself...

You say you have broken no vow... You say that no man has touched you... You say......You say......You Sa----....."

And so, Joseph fell asleep. In his dreams, an angel came to him and gave him release from his fears and anxieties. But in reality, Joseph was human. He must have had his doubts, even after the angel visited.

Mary and Joseph did the hardest thing...


Veni, Veni Emmanuel.

Monday, July 07, 2008

The State Of Love

(A little back-story: It’s summer… I don’t have to write well for anything. So, this was a little project that I picked up to prove to myself that I could still write the way I learned in AP English. The first section is from June 28th, I picked it up again today and finished it. Let me know if you enjoyed the writing style.)

Every so often, we hear some terribly important address that sums up the state of the free world. Things like gas prices, the exchange rate of the dollar, the looming “recession” manage to make the highlights. On a smaller scale, if you go to church on Sunday morning—Saturday night in my case—or if you listen to Rush, Michael Savage, or some similarly conceited conservative pundit, you have doubtlessly heard about the ‘less significant’ ailments of today’s culture. These bigmouthed, microphone equipped men rave about the evils of political corruption, corruption in the mainstream media, corruption in schools, and if you’re lucky they might even talk about the crabgrass that’s corrupting your backyard.

There’s something similar about all the messages that are being tossed around the nation. There‘s one uniting talking point that the conservative media cannot divorce. This terrible, terrible misconception pervades our headlines and perforates our ears its honey-coated ego-satisfying spin: It is the concept that it that the biggest problems in the world are large scale. Rush Limbaugh can spend a whole hour yelling about abortion, homosexual governors, and liberals, but he—like many other commentators—misses the point. I beg, ardently, to differ.

Let me plead with you. Let me try to convince you that there is something bigger than gas prices, global warming, or illegal immigrants. Let me tell you about the war that’s ravishing every single person all around the world. From the old man in Tibet who will die tomorrow to the unwanted American baby who was conceived yesterday: No one is unaffected. I’m talking about the conflict that has owned mankind since Eve bit the apple. I’m talking about the cause of all problems in the world today. This is my ‘State Of Love Address.’

Today has been filled with examples of what love isn’t:

Love isn’t the worn, teal minivan parked next to the “gentlemen’s club.”
“Love is patient” Love waits on the Lord to blossom, it’s too delicate and wondrous to be found in a brothel.

Love isn’t “making out” in the back of a van in 9th grade.
“Love does not insist on it’s own way” like passion does.

Love isn’t sexual desire for someone of the same gender.
“Love does not delight in evil but rejoices in the Truth.”

“If I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. For now we see in a mirror dimly… Now we know in part; in eternity we shall know fully… So now abide in faith, hope and love; but remember that the greatest of these three is love.”

Every day seems to burst with examples of how sin has taken beautiful, pure, almost supernatural human passion and twisted, and contorted, and mutated it into lustful self-destruction.

For the past several weeks, the #1 selling song on iTunes has been “I kissed a Girl” by Katy Perry. Yeah—you read that right—KATY Perry. I was disgusted by the sin that the song implies. This week, I got curious about why the song remained #1 even after a phenomenal album from Coldplay should have eclipsed it. Tonight, I finally sat down and listened to the song via YouTube.

I was stunned.

Musically, I think it’s a pop masterpiece. The beat is addicting, and Perry’s surreptitious voice drives the song very well. It left me stunned to the point of desperation—How could someone with such talent and such an amazing voice devote her abilities to perversion and lies? Here are some samples from the lyric sheet: The tagline is obviously “I kissed a girl, and I liked it.” But other samples include, “It felt so wrong; it felt so right” “…my experimental game, it’s human nature.”

Yeah… Human nature… She got that bit right, but later she says something that typifies the song as just another part of humanity’s struggle to find what we all call ‘love.’ Katy says, “[it’s] Too good to deny it. ‘Ain’t no big deal; it’s innocent.”

I suppose this is the one line that justifies the whole song in Ms. Perry’s eyes. “It’s innocent…”

How can you be more misguided?

Why can’t she see the light of Jesus shining down? Why can’t she turn her voice to give glory to the one who truly loves her?

Love is not kissing a girl and liking it.

Love is not what the hearts of this world are seeking after.

True. Love. Is. Eternal.

Love is from God. No matter how hard this world tries, we will never come close to the true, joyous, inebriating, rapturous, beautiful, illuminating, delivering, bountiful, boundless, elating, constant love that God feels for us. (phew… I think John Piper may be rubbing off on me…)

Now, how can what’s wrong with the world be made right?

Only we Christians can change the State of Love. We hold the key to ultimate joy and satisfaction… Yet all too often we either clutch that key tight to our chest, believing in its power but afraid to share it with anyone else. Sometimes we smoothly tuck it into our back pocket or purse so we can just go about life as if we never had it.

Here comes the part where I plead with you and with my own heart: Share the Gospel. Hold that key out to anyone who would reach out, anyone who would repent, anyone who the Holy Spirit leads to you.

Know that there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

Romans 8 gives some great perspective on all this. :-)


“It started out with a feeling, which then grew into a hope, which then turned into a quiet thought, which then turned into a quiet word. And then that word grew louder and louder ‘till it was a battlecry.”-The Call by Regina Spektor

Thursday, May 29, 2008


In the past 8 days, I have:

1. Hosted a mother and son from Texas
2. Driven said duo to all of the battlefields and monuments in the tri-county area... literally.
3. Driven 4 hours to Kettanning for an AP Party and 5 hours to the airport and home.
4. Learned to swing dance and had an absolute BLAST.
5. Taken upwards of 330 pictures
6. Worked on a roof for an ungodly amount of time and hence:
7. Darkened my skin tone by about three full shades
8. Made a Facebook page that won't get disabled
9. Prayed with a dear friend who received Christ (so awesome)
10. Biked in Mingo with some other friends and bit the asphalt a little
11. Found out the exact time when I'm going to test for my blackbelt (8:00 AM, June 21)
12. Had some of the best sourdough bread EVAR.

I will gladly elaborate on any of these events for you if you want. :-P


"Let's waste time, chasing cars.
If I lay here... If I just lay here...
Would you lie with me and just forget the world?"
-Snow Patrol

Friday, May 16, 2008

Prince Caspian Review

A whole movie review in two sentences:

Prince Caspian was The most epicly-spinetingling, engrossing, emotionally-thrilling, ecumenically-strengthening film I think that I have ever seen. I will warn you, there are at least two things that are radically different from the book; but CS Lewis's spirit is still there and you have ABSOLUTELY no good excuse to NOT see this movie.

Conclusion(does not count as part of the review):

Go. See. It...Now. Even today if possible. If you can only see one movie for this whole year, make it Prince Caspian. Forget about Iron Man and The Dark Knight. And I don't want any whiney comments about the differences from the book.

Side note: It has quite a good deal of stuff that I wouldn't recommend for anyone under the age of 8-9. I like scary movies, and even I was scared at one point.

Love, a very thrilled, hopeful, and happy,

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Bare Feet and Sunsets

So, yesterday was a good day. I did a lot of studying for a test I'm going to be taking far too soon.

I was alone for half the day though... Which can be kinda mind-numbing and humbling out on the farm. I sat around, went over flash cards, played videogames, and listened to a bit of music.

Finally, the sunset came. I snapped my picture of the day of the nearby hillside(not the sunset itself, for a change) and decided to go for a short walk.

At the beginning of Spring, I convinced myself that I need to go barefoot more often this year. I've always been one of those kids who would never DARE walk on any surface outside that wasn't as smooth as Sam's Club cement floors. So, by golly, that's going to change. So, I walked about a sixth of a mile or so through knee-high fields and across country road asphalt to get a better view of the setting sun. I think it was definitely worth it.

Walking toward a sunset reminded me so much of how insignificant I am. I know, I know, this is kinda a parroted statement, but hear me out. For thousands of years, that same sun has risen and set, despite who walks under it. Probably for hundreds of years, the grass that was in between my toes has grown, been cut, then grown again. The wind, the air that licks my face at the top of the hill might have been the same wind that blew across Cain's sweaty brow as he tilled the soil for food.

As I stood there, burning my retinas with UV rays, I struggled to come to terms with the fact that each day is such a microcosm of an instant in the timeline of the world. Why should it matter how I feel? Why do we build things like skyscrapers and bridges and cities on hilly peninsulas? I mean, seriously... WHY would you EVER want to build a commercial super-center on a piece of completely un-level land that you can only approach from one direction without using a bridge? It's just stupid... But here's Pittsburgh. Humans do some completely ludicrous things during their tenure here. Even when a day is so short and meaningless in the grand scheme.

But every day means so much to me. Every day. Every day. Every day is a whirlwind of thoughts, feelings, penstrokes, keystrokes, friendships, shutter clicks, pursuit and flight.

I'm getting really stinkin' old! I'm exactly 17 and a half today. Although, it wasn't exactly an amazing half-birthday... Have you ever had the feeling that you KNOW that you've been promised a gift, but you never know when you're going to get it? It's hard. Some days, it feels almost unbearable. Today was one of those days. Ideally, I'd like to my life to all work out: I want my friendships to be in perfect condition; I want my attitude to always be God glorifying; I want to be loving, and giving, and good... But so often I fail.

Uhg... God is driving me crazy! He keeps slapping me upside the depressed head with gratuitous amounts of encouragement when I least expect it. He doesn't leave me to wallow in my misery, like my worldly self would like him to. He keeps reminding me of his son who died for me. He keeps reminding me of how, even though every day is as fragile as an antique Christmas ornament in the hands of a haphazard, hyper 2-year-old, he has a perfect plan for me and all my failings.

My feet are sore. But that's only temporary, just like me. And I think I'm okay with that.


"Wholly Yours"--David Crowder