Category Archives: thoughts – inspired

we are luna moths

Early last week, I arrived at work and walked up to the outside door of my office building to see a large green moth that had perched itself on the glass.  Not thinking much about it, I walked inside and began my workday.  At lunch I left the office, to find it again on the outside door.  And again, as I left the office that day.  The next morning, it was back.  It was in a slightly different location on the door, but I was almost positive it was the same moth. This repeated over several more comings and goings.

The others in the office took notice.  A little discussion and a Wikipedia search later, I came to the conclusion that our little green friend was a luna moth. It is a pretty insect…and, as I quickly discovered, not a long-lived one.  This moth only has an adult lifespan of one week. It never eats in that phase; it has no mouth.  It lives only to mate. We wondered how long it had already been around, and whether we’d see it after the long Labor Day weekend.

I got to the office this morning, and sure enough, there it was. But you could tell it was in its final hours.  Its color was muted; its wings had begun to dry and crinkle like old paper. Still it clung to the door.

This evening, as we left for the day, one of my co-workers called out to me as I was walking to my car.  He picked up an almost-white husk from the ground, just a couple of paces from the door. Its torn wings and withered, lifeless body was the only evidence of what had been. He placed it back on the ground.

We like to think that there isn’t an end to all of this. Yet we see it all around us, and know…our lifespan is a flash compared to eternity. Psalm 90:10 reads in part, “our days may number seventy years, or eighty if our strength endures…but they quickly pass…” Improved medicine and living conditions haven’t changed those numbers all that much. We are mortal, whether we want to admit it or not. We are luna moths…only the temporal units have changed.  How do we spend what little time we have? I feel like I know the answer to that question most days, but some days I forget, or choose to forget, content to cling to the door, ignoring my purpose. Lord, help me.

sealed away

Last week, I went to Pratt, Kansas, to work on a new sanctuary for First Southern Baptist Church, Pratt as part of the Meadow Brook Builders for Christ team. This was my fourth BFC trip, and it’s become a highlight of the year for me. I hope to be able to go on the BFC trips for years to come.

I have generally worked on A/C systems while on the trips; this generally boils down to “duct assembler”.  We usually get a truckload or two of steel square and round duct at the beginning of the week, and the goal is to get as much of it put together and connected to the air conditioning units as possible by the end of the week.  It’s hot, of course: it’s summer, and because we’re installing the A/C, there is no A/C! But It requires a different set of skills than what I usually employ, and I always learn something new on the trips, which always makes it fun and enjoyable, and you really get to know people so much better on the trips. I liken it to something of a family reunion – you see people from other churches that you haven’t seen in a year, and you pick up with them right where you left off.

But that’s not the point of this post.

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“Can you read my heart?”

There is a lady in our church choir who is originally from Japan. She is a joy to have in the choir; always smiling, always thinking of others. She always makes a point to ask about Kelly if she didn’t make it to choir that day. English is not her first language; in fact, one of the reasons that she joined the choir was to help broaden her understanding of the language. Conversations with her are always friendly, but understandably she sometimes pauses to consider what word or phrase fits the thought she is trying to express.

Last night, after choir, she and I were talking about her impending visit to her native country. She mentioned how she felt sad in a way because she was going to miss her family here – her church family. The conversation eventually moved to her telling me a little bit about her time growing up in Japan, and she mentioned that she had a Bible – one of the few in Japan who did, even though she was not a Christian at the time. She felt that it was – something – that she had that Bible. She thought and thought, but the word wasn’t coming, so she pulled out her phone and looked for the English synonym for the Japanese word she had in her mind. I saw the translated answer – “destiny”.

As I sometimes need to do in conversations (not just ones with her), I asked if I could make sure I understood what she was saying. My understanding was that she believed that God put that Bible in her life at that time – even though she wasn’t yet a believer, even in a country where few keep Bibles – for a reason; somehow, it was part of His greater plan preparing her for what and where she was now.

She looked directly at me. I noticed the beginnings of tears forming in her eyes. She put a hand to her chest, and asked me, “can you read my heart?”

I found this turn of phrase, spoken by someone who speaks English as a secondary language, to have incredible weight and poignancy. I found myself almost speechless in reply; I think I tried to respond that I just thought I understood what she was talking about once I saw the word on the screen that she had been trying to find. We finished the conversation and went our separate ways, but that simple yet awesome question – “Can you read my heart?” – embedded itself in my mind as I drove home. It hasn’t left me yet.

We are called to be patient with each other (Ephesians 4:2), to be kind and compassionate to each other (Ephesians 4:32), to encourage each other (I Thessalonians 5:11, among others), to bear each other’s burdens (Galatians 6:2), to be devoted to each other (Romans 12:10), to be united in mind and thought (I Corinthians 1:10), and to live in harmony with each other (I Peter 3:8). If we do that in the love of Christ – really, truly – one to another, maybe we really can read each other’s hearts.

ocean sights

Yesterday, I went to the ocean.

Every time I make the trip down here, I go to the ocean. I always go to the same place: Satellite Beach. I find a shell for a souvenir for the trip (I’m now up to five), and I walk in the incoming wash. I never stay very long – usually about 15 minutes.

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A new beginning

I have a confession to make. And it’s one that will shock absolutely no one who reads this site.

I have been in a bad state of the heart recently. My writing has reflected it. My tone of speech (for those of you who’ve seen me during this time) has shown it.

Has it really been all because of one thing? I think so. Why? Another confession must be made. Prepare yourselves; this one may shock you:

I haven’t been living like a Christian in the past six months.

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An admission and a request

This one’s gonna be long. I appreciate your patience.

Some thoughts I had this morning while getting ready for church (I went to early service today) and waiting for service to start, now fleshed out a little bit…

You know, I’m a sad, sad creature. For five months now, I have been living in Birmingham, and I still don’t attend any church regularly here. Oh, I’ve gone to church a few times, but it’s been a half-hearted attempt at best. My excuses for not going have been many, and all of them not good. Let’s examine them one by one. I realize that the counter-arguments for all of these are trivial, but trust me, it does me good to write them down.

  • I don’t have a job yet, so it’s embarrassing to go to church.

First, the country’s in a recession; lots of people don’t have jobs right now. Second, my spiritual need far outweighs my financial need right now. Third, people wouldn’t know that I didn’t have a job unless I explicitly said I didn’t, and even then they’d understand, given the current climate.

  • I don’t want to get attached, since I might not stay in Birmingham.

This is a reason to not join a church here in town. It’s not a good reason to attend church at all. I don’t necessarily have to join a church right now, but it always does me good to attend church.

  • I don’t know anyone.

Well, first off, this isn’t entirely true. At Dawson, where I’ve been going the times that I have gone, I know Ricky and Tammy (they just aren’t in the Sunday school class that I’d be in, and they can’t sit with me in church because they’re in choir). I also know my friend Sarah Frey (formerly Elmore) from the MBA Program (ditto on the Sunday school class).

But even in just the realm of a new Sunday school class, it isn’t a good argument. It isn’t anyone else’s fault that I don’t know anyone. The problem with this argument, as it pertains to a new church, Sunday school class, etc., is that it’s a vicious circle. I don’t know anyone, so I don’t go, so I don’t know anyone, and so on. If I had used this mentality concerning the BCM the part of the freshman year that I went (and trust me, I almost did), I’d never have met so many people who are so close to me now. Introversion is one thing; lack of effort on my part is quite another. No one can get to know me if I don’t make myself known.

  • People will see my imperfections.

This is the weakest argument of all. It stems partly from the first argument, partly from introversion, and partly from good old-fashioned vanity. I even considered not going to church today because of a couple of shaving bumps on my face! This is when I had the mental ice-cold water thrown in my face, and when this whole line of thought began.

I’ve forgotten something very key: being a Christian (part of which is church attendance) is an acknowledgement and even an admission of imperfection. Simply coming to church shows that I realize I need a higher being to lift me from what I am without Him. (Side note: the first guy who greeted me today had a shaving bump just above his lip. I love the way God works.)

Anyone can see that these are all poor excuses. So I’m not going to make them anymore. I might not end up in Birmingham, but until I move off (if I do so), I will be attending church here on Sundays. No excuses. I hold myself accountable to all pressing on… readers from this day forth. I would appreciate any e-mails helping me to stay accountable in this area of my life.

The folly of censoring C.S. Lewis

The folly of censoring C.S. Lewis

I don’t know about you, but the Chronicles of Narnia were some of my favorite stories growing up. I’ve read each of the books at least four times, and the stories are wonderful in that they are great adventures.

However, now it appears that Harper Collins publishers want to remove the Christianity from these books and republish them. I don’t understand this. The author makes some good points in the article…allow me to make a couple of connections.

He mentions that they would like to remove the fundamental Christian subtexts from these works. This is wrong for many reasons. First, any revised version is not the way Lewis intended the works to be read. He obviously wrote them that way for a reason. Secondly, the writer of the article is right…removing these subtexts reduces the books to really nothing more than comics. They become commonplace. One of the best things about these works is the very fact that they can be read on different levels!

But the point of this is to capitalize on the revival of kids reading books, the way led by the Harry Potter series. Hm, I wonder…would J. K. Rowling object to the removal of all things witch in these books? After all, there are people who are offended by such things, and who would not read or buy the books as a result. But that’s the whole point of the books, you protest. What’s the big deal about Harry and his friends if that part of the story’s not there?

My point exactly.

There are so many grounds that I’m opposed to this on that it would really be long-winded of me to write them all down. But one of the most glaring is that if Harper Collins publishes these books under the pretense of not offending anyone, they will have effectively stripped away the essence of the books, leaving only an empty hull of an adventure tale.

“the death and taxes special”

Passage: “So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?” I Corinthians 15:54-55

Someone once said that the only two things that can be counted on in life are death and taxes. I wholeheartedly agree as far as taxes are concerned, but I don’t really agree as far as death is concerned. Now, I’m not disillusioned; I don’t think that we don’t die. I just don’t think that death is what a lot of people believe that it is. Read on, and you’ll see why.

First, the taxes. As we all know, tomorrow is the big day! I attempted to figure mine out. You’d think that a college student who made a pittance compared to practically anyone in the real world would not have a hard time filling out his tax returns. You couldn’t be further from the truth.

I had to start by filling out a 1040 (and some schedules thereunto appertaining), because of a couple of forms that I got from school and my place of employment from my summer internship. I should have known that that would be a bad sign.

A couple of hours later, I found myself staring at a number that, frankly, scares me. I do not get a refund. I do not even come close to one. The solution? Let my family’s accountant worry about it, because I’m sure that I probably messed up somewhere along the line. I’ll try again next year, when I should just get W-2s and nothing else…

Now I can see why everyone hates taxes so.

However, death is another story. Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that death is not a part of our lives. What I’m saying is that death doesn’t have to hold the pull over us that it does for most.

As a child, I was really afraid of death. Like most people, I didn’t like the idea of death at all. And I still don’t like the idea of the physical dying…but that’s very different from death as a whole. Why?

I Corinthians 15:54-55 provides the answer. Death is not a final act, as I once thought. It is a transition from mortality to immortality, from imperfection to being made perfect in Christ. And why is that?

Because, almost 2000 years ago, there was one who was perfect. He committed no sin, but He died for our sins. Then He did the unthinkable: He showed that death had no power over Him! He arose from the grave, and He lives, even today! He was the one that took the sting from death and victory from the grave. He suffered in death so that when that time comes for us (if the Rapture doesn’t occur first), we don’t have to worry about death! It’s not the end. It’s the beginning!

Today is Resurrection Sunday. Christians all over the world are celebrating Jesus’ victory over death and the fact that because of Him, we have victory as well!

the God of the ocean

Passage: “Remember your Creator in the days of your youth, before the days of trouble come and the years approach when you will say, ‘I find no pleasure in them’–” Ecclesiastes 12:1

“I hope you still feel small when you stand beside the ocean…”
From I Hope You Dance

Tomorrow night, about this time, I’ll be looking at the ocean. That has become one of my true spiritual touchpoints over the years that I’ve been at the BCM.

Whenever I look at the ocean, I’m reminded of how expansive it is, and how small I am. I’m reminded that God Himself, so much bigger than the ocean, put it in its place, and me in mine.

Then I truly remember my Creator. And I marvel in His creation. He’s made this ocean, which has been sending waves toward the sands all these years. He made the land that the waves crash upon. He made the stars by the light of which I’m taking in this wonderful view.

He knows the number of drops of water in the ocean, the number of grains of sand on the shore, the number of stars in the sky, and the number of hairs on my head.

And I remember that he’s not only my Creator; he’s my Savior and my Lord as well.

I usually end up singing something. It doesn’t really matter what. I’m just singing a song of praise to my Lord with a pure heart, as Psalm 47:6 says to do.

I guess my point in saying this is a reminder for all of us not to forget that we’re not the be-all and end-all of this world. There is One who is higher than the world, for He created the world. And while we are so much smaller than Him or His creation, He loves us more than we could ever know.

That’s something I remember every time I visit the ocean at night. I remember the God of the ocean, and know that he is the Lord of my life.

living for God, part 2

Passage: “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” John 10:10

It’s about this time in a semester (especially during the fall) that I start to get really down in energy. Tests, papers, and projects always wear down on me. I start really looking forward to Thanksgiving.

Why am I not more thankful for today? For the life I have now, and for the opportunities that are in front of me? If Jesus really did call us to have life and have it to the full, to what extent have I not taken him up on his offer?

Shows like The Real World give us a “peek into lives of other people.” Which, the executive producers assume, we’d rather do than live our lives ourselves. How long did it take me to realize that we’re letting other people live for us?

In Romans 12:11, Paul encourages Christians to not lose their zeal for serving God. And according to 1 Corinthians 10:31 (a verse I’ve quoted before) says whatever we do, to do it for God’s glory. Therefore, doesn’t it make sense to say that if we’re not living for God, we’re not experiencing life to the fullest?

In Life’s Little Instruction Book, instruction #322 is “Don’t say you don’t have enough time. You have exactly the same amount of hours in a day that were given to Helen Keller, Pasteur, Michaelangelo, Mother Teresa, Leonardo da Vinci, Thomas Jefferson, and Albert Einstein.” An addendum to that: “Don’t waste the time you’ve been given.” I’m as guilty as anyone else of letting other people live life for me. It’s time for that to stop.

The cable is getting cut off tomorrow. But more than that…I’m going to try to stop living each day as if it’s a chore and live them like they should be lived. As I said before, I’ll live for God, and I’ll go through life with joy in my heart.