Short post here on something that’s been bouncing around in my head since this weekend. I had a pretty low day Saturday…one thing led to another and I found myself in the toilet of negativity, calling to my savior, Eeyore. Sunday morning arrived and within a few minutes of being in church I was profoundly struck by the similarities between myself and the Jews of 33AD Jerusalem.
We all are, presumably, familiar with the events of Palm Sunday. Jesus arrived at the edge of the city, hopped on a donkey and entered the city to an outpouring of support and praise fit for a king. Days later, Good Friday…they killed Him. There was obviously a misunderstanding there…some disconnect in the Jews’ expectations of the King they wanted and the one they were getting. They wanted a King, like David of old, to put down their oppressors and establish Israel to its former glory. They got a King that had little interest in human hierarchy and structure until and unless it had a negative impact on the “least of these” or interfered with human hearts being set free from spiritual slavery.
So, where am I seeing myself in this? And what does this have to do with my negative turn this last Saturday? I, too, like the Jews, want a King to put down my oppressors (my debt, my house that refuses to finish the remodel I started on it, my frustrations with work, my normal marital challenges, my general sense of being overwhelmed and out of control) so that I can be free of it all and enjoy a victorious life. I want a King of my circumstances. But Jesus wants to be King of my heart in the midst of my circumstances. It doesn’t mean my circumstances are “good”, necessarily, but it means that my heart is infinitely more important to Jesus and He is perfectly ok operating within the circumstances to get to my heart. When my expectations of what Jesus wants don’t line up and my life isn’t getting any easier, because circumstances aren’t changing, I am bound for frustration and despair. The truth is…when I really get it…when He has my heart and I am satisfied with that, my circumstances lose their hold on me and I on them. I am satisfied in the midst of chaos. I have peace. Please, all of you, remind me of this! Often!
Hope is a magical thing. Similar to other elements of the Christian life, hope often runs counter to what makes sense, both from a cultural and an experiential perspective. Quickly list off in your mind or on paper the top 10 or more reasons why you don’t hope, or why you lose hope. It’s probably a very rational and defensible list. But look closely…see any commonalities? In my mental list I see things such as “What would cause the outcome to change now when none of the circumstances have?” “A+B has always equaled C for me in the past…why would they suddenly equal D now?” “These are just common problems we all have, why expect that I would be different or that now would be different?” My list is all based around what I’ve done, what I’ve had done to me, what I’ve seen others do. It’s a man-made list based entirely on man’s capability, and what hope is there in that?
The opposite of hope is submission, cynicism, bitterness…and sometimes even the lesser-known evil of rational pragmatism. It’s a submission that means defeat, that all is lost and the stronghold has been captured. A trust in man’s capabilities will ultimately lead me, time and again, to this point. Why keep fighting if there’s nothing to fight for, right? All assets, capabilities, supplies and resources have been expended and I am still being attacked. I have no other options at my disposal, except one. Hope. Hope rolls in like a storm…from a place and at a time not at all expected, or previously experienced, or culturally prevalent. Hope says fight. Hope says fight because not only has the stronghold not been taken, but it never can be and that all claims against it are fraudulent, merely designed to discourage and defeat me, and nothing more. Hope says that I am not alone against my adversary…I’m not alone in that others are fighting, and have fought against the same adversary, and that he is already defeated. Hope says that what currently doesn’t seem or feel real or true is actually more real than my all-to-often accepted “reality”. This is the life of the Christian, then…to fight on in the midst of darkness, when all seems lost and we are utterly abandoned by all that we’ve come to rely upon. Hope.
I found out this morning that I have a torn meniscus. Not a huge deal, really, and I’m sure I’ll be able to get it fixed pretty easily. After getting the call from the doctor with the results of the MRI, I took a look online at what a meniscus actually is and found this picture. I can’t look at this without thinking of how amazing it is that a knee actually works…I mean, look at all of that? And that’s just one joint…I have 229 others. Fearful and wonderful…that’s how I got put together.
“Now these three abide: anger, outrage, and fear—and the greatest of these is fear.” – from Russell Moore’s post entitled Don’t Be Afraid. A great reminder that whatever is going on in politics, government (or any other facet of life, not related to eternity) Christians have no cause for fear. Think how many times you say or hear the words “I’m just afraid that…” or “It worries me that…” or “I fear that…” and we don’t consider the enormous gravity of what we’re saying. Am I really in fear of whatever it is that follows “that”? Because, if so, Satan has my right where he wants me. I can be concerned. I can be prompted to take action. I can even be angry, but fear is not an appropriate response, nor should it be what motivates me to concern, action or anger. When it comes to the political, Jesus clearly is concerned only as far as it affects hearts, and not much beyond that. (Mark 12:17, John 8:7) We should be concerned about the political, about the actions of our Government, in as much as they affect hearts, lives and minds, but my Chicken Little fear has to go.
[A repost from the old site] I’ve really been getting into photo-stitching lately. I’m not sure what it is that draws me to it. Maybe it’s the fact that I’ve been too many places that left me with the “I can’t fit this all into the viewfinder” feeling. Case in point…the Grand Canyon. Either you take a photo from a mile up, you use an expensive rig that includes a lens that can, in fact, fit it all in…or you stitch. And, lately, I’ve been drawn to the stitches that don’t stitch cleanly. I like the odd corners and bent photos that the software had to warp in order to include that photo into the overall composite image. Anyways,
here are a few of my stitches from over the years. I’ve used a variety of programs to accomplish this, but the one I’ve been most impressed with is Microsoft ICE, which ties in nicely with Live Photo Gallery, and right-click menus. So, here are some of my favorites from the past 10 years or so…each one links to an album with quite a few more.
Underway Replenishment…somewhere in the Indian Ocean. Sometime in early 2004, I believe.
Brother Kevin standing in front of one of the glaciers we saw on our Alaskan Cruise. 2004?
Somewhere on the Oregon or Californian Coast. July 2006
Grand Canyon…can’t remember which visit this was from.
Sydney…David Teves looking grumpy. Spring 2004
Redwoods. July 2009
Museum at University of Alaska Fairbanks. From the motorcycle trip.
On our way to Fresno for the 10/09 mini-tour.