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Monday, June 25, 2012

The Pen and the Sword

Ah...an age old question...is the pen mightier than the sword?
Well, if you're a regular reader of this scattered thought-collection called a blog, you'll probably be able to guess my answer.  I would boldly assert that the pen has controlled the sword many more times than the sword has controlled the pen...hmm...history is fascinating.  Anyway, one of my 3-year-olds said something rather profound about this today.  I couldn't resist sharing it here.
We were discussing King David.  His battles, his strength, his slaying of Goliath...I mentioned to the kids that David wasn't just a warrior.  He wrote too.  And he didn't write just any old random thoughts.  He was a poet!  The kids were scratching their heads by now...so I checked to see if some of my brightest kids would know.  "What is a poet?"
Some wrong answers were given and some confused looks went around the room before Alyson's hand shot up.  "I know, Ms. Emily!"

"What is a poet, Alyson?"

"A poet is someone who saves the kingdom!"

While I had to backtrack and redefine the word for everyone so that we could move on with the lesson and a larger vocabulary, I think Alyson had a point.  There is no such thing as "just a story," "just a movie," or "just a poem."  When it comes to the diffusion of ideas and words into condensed form a man wields a power greater than that of a steel blade.  If he is a worthy poet, a poet in love with Truth more than with poetry....he might save the kingdom.  On the flip side, he might destroy it.
In the words of Andrew Fletcher, "If a man were permitted to write the ballads of a nation, he need not care who writes its laws."
That is a testament to the power of poetry.  Let us take heed to the wisdom that came from the mouth of a little one.





Thursday, June 21, 2012

Must Hear


Thanks to Nicole Miller who recommended that I listen to David Platt's T4G message.  If you haven't read it or heard it, take the time to do it.
"Divine Sovereignty: The Fuel of Death-Defying Missions."  A link to the transcribed message: http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/justintaylor/2012/04/11/tgc-6-david-platt-divine-sovereignty-the-fuel-of-death-defying-missions-revelation-51-14/
And the audio: http://t4g.org/media/2012/04/divine-sovereignty-the-fuel-of-death-defying-missions/

Old Thoughts

Thoughts from the first week of May (finally posted):

God has used certain passages of His Word at specific points in my life.  So much so that I often associate a certain year with a certain passage and when I read that section, I remember the work God did in my life during that time.  Does that resonate with anybody else?  


Some examples:
John 15 is from high school and so it was influential the year I came to know the Lord.  And freshman year of college was a lot of 2 Corinthians 3-7 on the blessings and pains of ministry and the glories of Christ being worth all that pain.  And then John 17...eternal life is knowing Christ!  Then, I spent the entirety of Sophomore year in Psalm 139 conquering some serious fears and also learning how Genesis-Revelation worked together...wow...what a year! Junior year was Revelation 4-5...God is worthy to be worshiped and His work on the cross secures the future when I will SEE Him!  This year has been the book of Isaiah (wow!) and trips in Galatians, and a long soak in Psalm 27, and a stroll through Philippians, the combined effect of which is to inflame me with the gospel!  Praise God who uses His Word to work change in His people!

Claimed- Philippians Meditation

From a fleshly standpoint, I don't like the idea of being owned.  Popular adolescent literature belabors this point until it has become almost cliche.  Part of it is cultural.  I'm American.  I make my own choices.  I work my own way.  I can be a self-made woman (so the lie goes).  I think there's a bit of merit in a measure of individuality.  But not the way I worship it sometimes.  Not to the degree my generation has set it up for idolatry.  
My brother cut his hand pretty badly a few weeks ago and I had to rush him to urgent care.  When we got there, I found myself in the waiting room where the Disney channel was blaring so loudly I could hardly think.  So, I settled in for a few hours of analyzing.  The lie of individualism was being paraded across the screen.  Self-absorption wasn't just allowed, but encouraged.  "I have to do what's best for me."  And "popularity...is about being with people who make you feel happy!"  There's always room, of course, for some sort of romantic attachment as long as it's on your terms, with all perks and no commitment.  And family is important as long as you get to define it however you want.  Nothing about submitting to what God gave you and where He put you and learning to love the family you have.  All of that takes work and it doesn't always feel good.  So naturally those sort of decisions aren't "right."  
I'm not sure if the Church buys into these lies sometimes.  I think we're prone to it.  But as far as I can tell (and I am no authority on the subject by any means) there appears to be a trend with local churches emphasizing community and fellowship. That's exciting.  Because anytime I'm with brothers and sisters I start to get outside myself.  The Lord starts using the Word through those people to show me where I have serious sin issues.  And to encourage me to live in the gospel.  And I start to get burdened to pray for those people.  I start wanting to give up time and energy and stuff for those people...digging into the dirt of their lives and being a force of encouragement and rebuke.  That's called love.  And as God uses the Word to change me, He uses the Body to keep me accountable for that change and I get to the play that same role in the lives of my brothers and sisters.  It's a great idea...it's God's idea!  
Anyway, all of that leads up to this....I've been studying Philippians.  SO much there!  Peace coming through prayer which is the practice of God's presence...Paul's radically redefined value system which places highest priority on knowing Christ...living is Christ and dying is actually gain so we have a lot to look forward to....and the idea that "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me" which is not so much a mantra to be thrown at children afraid of the deep end of the swimming pool as much as it is a confident statement that living in Christ equips me to bear any weight, burden, pressure, need, or circumstance because He is sufficient...wow...so much I want to wrap myself in and be changed by for the glory of God!  But the biggest and most recent slam of conviction has come from chapter 3 verse 12.  Paul has just listed his earthly accomplishments and called them "rubbish."  He sets the entire sum of his earthly identity next to knowing Christ and says, "There is no comparison!"  He talks about wanting to share in Christ's suffering (!) becoming like Him in His death (!!) all for the sake of knowing Him...because knowing Him is the equivalent of eternal life!  And just as I start to get discouraged that I can't have that mindset perfectly....or I'm about to get swept away with the excitement of it instead of honestly assessing if I do indeed have that mindset, Paul threw me a lifeline with verse 12.  
"Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own."  
And here's where it comes down to hard Truth for me.  I'm owned.  I have a Master.  It's no longer just me doing my own thing...for which I'm extremely thankful because as it turns out, doing my own thing led to Hell.  Instead I'm a slave of grace.  I've been claimed by a Savior.  There is security in that.  And responsibility to respond to that ownership.  Paul revels in this value!  Owned by Christ who is SO worthy of ALL my life....I must press on to make Him mine too.  He already owns all of me, so I in turn try to own all of Him.  I think it's changing my prayers.  Instead of praying, "Jesus have all of me!"  I want to recognize that He already has all of me...the problem is me failing to own Him.  I need to recognize more and more that "to live is Christ."  I'm already claimed.  Am I claiming Him?

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Milton's Two Cents

Paradise Lost...if you're hungry after reading this, go feast on the whole work.  Otherwise, enjoy the snack of a few profound statements from our friend, Milton.  Just realize that it won't be the same without the full richness of the context.  Paradise Lost is the epic to end all epics.  It is hard to read this for class because it's so intense.  It would be a little bit like spending an afternoon sitting by the ocean...and then being told that you're going to be given a test to assess your experience by the sea.  Ah...it just shouldn't be done!  But the work should be studied...hahaha...impossible to have both.  I submit to the study of it...but look forward to savoring it for years to come without having to analyze it for a grade.  :)


Paradise Lost

On the value of thankfulness as a concept: "...a grateful mind by owing owes not but still pays, at once indebted and discharged."

Satan's view of reality (and eerily similar to mine when I am not walking with the Lord...): "Better to reign in Hell than serve in Heaven."

Satan's realization of what he has lost (emphasis on the nature of goodness):  "All good to me is lost."  (Wow...what a statement of finality and severance from God...the source of all good!)

Satan's theory of what would happen if it were possible for him to repent and regain the glories of Heaven: "ease would recant vows made in pain."  (He knows that he wouldn't stay in Heaven even if given the chance because submission disgusts him utterly and that is the only posture Heaven knows.)

On the one forbidden tree in Eden: "Knowledge of good bought dear by knowing ill."

On the complementary relationship between Adam and Eve: "For contemplation he and valor formed, For softness she and sweet attractive grace, he for God only, she for God in him."

On the place of physical labor in Eden: "Man hath his daily work of body or mind appointed which declares his dignity."

Eve's view of submission to Adam as her head: "God is thy law, thou mine; to know no more is woman's happiest knowledge and her praise."

On the innocence of Adam and Eve they were commanded by the angel Gabriel: "Know to know no more." (In other words, know enough to be content with what you  know.  Knowing more is death itself.)

Adam on the proper place for delight as well as labor in Eden: "...smiles from reason flow...  For not to irksome toil, but to delight He made us and delight to reason joined."

Adam's rationale for letting Eve work by herself for a while: "Short retirement urges sweet return."

Milton on the wife's role in marriage: "Safest and seemliest by her husband stays, who guards her or with her the worst endures."

On fleeing temptation: "Trial will come unsought."

The scene when Adam and Eve separate, leaving Eve vulnerable to deception: "Thus saying, from her husband's hand her hand soft she withdrew...her long and ardent look his eyes pursued, Delighted yet desiring more her stay."

The position of Satan and his motives for tempting Eve: "...save what [pleasure] is in destroying, other joy to me is lost."

Milton emphasizes beauty over reason in relationship to the innocence and simplicity of Eden.  Therefore, it is marked that when Satan guides Eve to the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, he "makes intricate seem straight."  He strips the complexity away and reasons her into sinning.  Complexity as reason for worship...???  Hm...there are several academic papers in there if necessary....and even more joy-of-writing papers I'm sure...

As Eve eats the fruit: "Greedily she engorged without restraint and knew not eating death." (both that she was eating death and the death was eating her...oh...wow...)

After Eve eats the fruit: "Earth felt the wound."

Adam's conscious decision to choose Eve over God: "So forcible within my heart I feel the bond of nature draw me to my own, my own in thee, for what thou art is mine.  Our state cannot be severed, we are one.  One flesh, to lose thee were to lose myself."


Tuesday, June 12, 2012

For Adam

Today, my "little" brother turns 21.  I can't believe it!  I've always said that Adam is a "hamlet-type" and it's true.  Unpredictable and rather moody, his varied days of storm clouds and sunshine usually set the tone in our family.  He's just that kind of guy.  And I love every bit of him!  I wrote this poem for him a few months ago.  Adam himself isn't much for poetry and when he read it, he got this little grin, repeated the last line, grunted "huh," and then walked away.  :)  Which I think translates into, "I really appreciate that."  However, I was told by a poet that I greatly respect that this poem is just "okay."  I know it's nothing phenomenal, but it does communicate the complexity of my relationship with Adam...which is something of a moving target.  We have long, intense conversations and fellowship.  And then we won't really talk for a month...and we live in the same house.  Kinda crazy.  But Adam has taught me a lot about critical thinking and big goals and writing (he's an amazing writer!) and forgiveness.  Adam makes me laugh harder than anyone else.  He also can make me angrier than anyone else.  But we have similar personalities and seem to understand each other really well.  We are connected in a way that I cannot explain and our loyalties run pretty deep.  So...for whatever its worth...Happy Birthday to the funnest little brother ever!  I wish you many more years of writing and thinking... and I look forward to what God will do with those big dreams of yours.  :)

For Adam

Talking with you is
taking a step off the porch
into our usual wilderness.
Sometimes the grass is still wet
and I throw myself down in the dew
to soak my soul
and think your thoughts
to walk away soggy and simple and brisk.
Some days every step stings-
dry stalks destroying my socks
and slicing the skin on my feet
(acerbic the blood of our battles
bending footprints between the trees)
But evenings still meet us in meadows
to drink your big dreams with our tea
where your stars will sparkle and
glimmer and spark to grow
fire in free, thirsty spirits.

They always told us that we were like twins
too much together to notice.
But they were wrong!
So wrong!  I know.
We've always resided in your realm.
You tolerate no tyranny.