Monday, December 31, 2012

Year in Review

I have inspirational in-laws.  Vick's discussion of what all went on in 2012 got me wondering if I could at all recall what went on in 2012 in my life and the life of my family.  It's hard work.

Hits:
*Being a father.  Although the initial fireworks were in 2011, I think this year counts.
*Having a 5th anniversary.  That's a long time to put two sinful people under the same roof, so it has to be of God's grace.
*Writing four papers and a dissertation.  Yes, the last two papers and the dissertation are at various levels of draft, but I was a bit surprised that I could generate that much content in a year.

*Beginning the adoption process for Garnet.  Though it's only a first step, it was a big one. 

Misses:
*Realizing that we still argue about the same things we did before we were married.  "Sanctification is a WORK of God's free grace..." (emphasis mine).
*Letting myself get worn out by church work, rather than enjoying the good things God gives us in His house.  I think (and pray) that 2013 will be better, as this fall and winter have been pretty restful in that regard.
*Contentment is always hard.  The fact is, we have been so blessed in so many ways, and we actually do have more stuff than we know what to do with.  It's not about stuff or salaries (or any perceived lack thereof).  "Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also", ja?

But thus far the Lord has brought us, and it has been a good year.  I hear my son saying "papapapa" in the bedroom, so I had better go.  Happy New Year!

Saturday, December 15, 2012

O Come, O Come, Emmanuel

Kyrie eleison,
Christe eleison,
Kyrie eleison.
Kyrie eleison.

There are evils
slow and coiling.
There are evils
fierce and hot.
There are evils
close beside us
There are evils
left to rot.
But to each there is one answer,
and to each a time is set,
when the Lord who plumbed their nadir
will repay the evil yet.

    O LORD, how long shall I cry for help,
        and you will not hear?
    Or cry to you “Violence!”
        and you will not save?
    Why do you make me see iniquity,
        and why do you idly look at wrong?
    Destruction and violence are before me;
        strife and contention arise.
    So the law is paralyzed,
        and justice never goes forth.
    For the wicked surround the righteous;
        so justice goes forth perverted.
Habakkuk 1:2-4

They cried out with a loud voice, “O Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long before you will judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?” Then they were each given a white robe and told to rest a little longer, until the number of their fellow servants and their brothers should be complete, who were to be killed as they themselves had been. - Revelation 6:10-11

Kyrie eleison,
Christe eleison,
Kyrie eleison.
Kyrie eleison.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

(in)significance

O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!
Out of the mouth of babies and infants,
you have established strength because of your foes,
to still the enemy and the avenger.

Look up,
crane back
and see,
past the buildings,
past the trees,
past the veiling clouds,
the sky at night.
Worlds whorled,
planets painted,
stars spattered
in joyful, pure promiscuity.
And why?

When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars, which you have set in place,
what is man that you are mindful of him,
and the son of man that you care for him?
 Look down now,
man, stand abashed
aghast at what you are.
Fearful, yes,
wonderful, yes,
hands made to work,
turned to wound,
eyes to see,
shut against your God?
Not so, my brothers!

Yet you have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings
and crowned him with glory and honor.
You have given him dominion over the works of your hands;
you have put all things under his feet,
all sheep and oxen, and also the beasts of the field,
the birds of the heavens, and the fish of the sea,
whatever passes along the paths of the seas.


O man, you stand atop creation,
what will you do?
Will you now bow,
seek and serve the God
that made you?
Or sit,
tongue bit,
heart wrenched
and clenched
against the God
who yet,
for all that,
is Love?
And will you open
heart open
hand open
eyes
and fall,
call on that God and on His Son and live?
And love your God?
And love your neighbor?

O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Resilience

A chid
child
hid
whiled
the eve away
then back
crept
black
slept
and smiled again
the coming day.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Drink deep



Oh, that men would drink deep,
stand knock-kneed, overthrown entire,
and dive down, live, into that river
pouring out and down through the city
and into the sea, salt-cleansed, un-bent
and pure at last. O sea, can it
be you? Longtime last home of men
and rivers, have you unhanded now the dead?
My brothers, why stand silent, only deign
to dip in that water of life, surging with
the power of God, that river beckons:
test me - walk now - ankle deep
keep on - the bed is not so steep
here lapping at your thigh, now gliding
to your hip, now at your chest,
press on, none can live but die
to self, and none can thirst who
drown here, swallowed whole, washed,
swept up, upstream to the throne,
of God
and of
the Lamb.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

On the Battle of Teutoburg Forest, AD 9


If you catch up a German and take him away,
From his Teutonic night to bright Roman day,
You may teach him to speak,
You may teach him to ride,
You may think he's forgot,
When he's learned how to hide.

But when in the forest the fog closes in,
And rain's beating down on the huts of his kin,
When the murmurs and footfalls just off of the track,
Set a lump in your throat and a chill down your back,
While your grim legionnaires (who are soaked to the skin)
are strung out in a line miles long, columns thin,
You may look for your German,
But look to your sword,
And look to your captains,
And pray to your lord.

You'll not find your German,
But he's found his kin,
And round all your legions,
The Teutons close in,
And Teutoburg Forest
resounds with the din,
And none of your Romans
will see Rome again.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

In Memoriam, Tonya Reeves & Child

She was told it was safe,
that it was about freedom
and choice,
all routine.
They still say that,
did you see?
In their statement
on a mother,
a fiancee,
a sister,
a daughter,
a grandchild,
that it's all great, you know,
and the statistics are nice.

I didn't know her,
and I don't know if she
bought into it all.
But she came in,
went under,
bled out,
and two lives later,
two images
of God
the Creator Lord,
one tiny,
one grown,
were gone.

Lord, have mercy,
Christ, have mercy,
open
our eyes that do not see
clear
our ears that do not hear
prick
our foolish hearts.
Let us,
O Lord,
love life,
love You,
while it is called "today".

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Uncertainty

God never stops working things out for His glory and our good, no matter if we think "Ok, things are glorious and good enough, right?  Stop now, please."  Maybe we'll move to Lynchburg and I'll be a nuclear engineer?  Maybe we'll stay put in Phoenix among family, friends, and an awesome church that I'm comfortable with?

I've been studying Job in preparation for next Sunday's lesson.  It's an awesome book.  Job, however, is not left alone to what he thinks ought to happen.  Yes, he clings to his integrity (a little too tightly and self-righteously, perhaps), and does not curse God, but he figures:
1) God had given me much
2) God took it away
3) Now I can die, right?

Nope.  Sorry Job, your continued existence is part of God's great demonstration of His power against the Adversary.  Even after Elihu speaks and God comes in His whirlwind, challenging Job, beating on his self-righteousness in Chs.38-39, and Job surrenders:

    Then Job answered the LORD and said:
    “Behold, I am of small account; what shall I answer you?
        I lay my hand on my mouth.
    I have spoken once, and I will not answer;
        twice, but I will proceed no further.”
(Job 40:3-5 ESV)

Yay, humble Job can be restored!  End of story, right? 

    Then the LORD answered Job out of the whirlwind and said:
    “Dress for action like a man;
        I will question you, and you make it known to me.
    Will you even put me in the wrong?
        Will you condemn me that you may be in the right?
    Have you an arm like God,
        and can you thunder with a voice like his?
    “Adorn yourself with majesty and dignity;
        clothe yourself with glory and splendor.
    Pour out the overflowings of your anger,
        and look on everyone who is proud and abase him.
    Look on everyone who is proud and bring him low
        and tread down the wicked where they stand.
    Hide them all in the dust together;
        bind their faces in the world below.
    Then will I also acknowledge to you
        that your own right hand can save you.
(Job 40:6-14 ESV)

God does not stop the prosecution.  He goes on, challenging Job to go be God, if you can.  Conquer the powers that be, if you can.  Maybe then you can tell God what He ought to do and when.

Job must take a second fall in this match.

    Then Job answered the LORD and said:
    “I know that you can do all things,
        and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted.
    ‘Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge?’
    Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand,
        things too wonderful for me, which I did not know.
    ‘Hear, and I will speak;
        I will question you, and you make it known to me.’
    I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear,
        but now my eye sees you;
    therefore I despise myself,
        and repent in dust and ashes.”
(Job 42:1-6 ESV)

We don't get to tell God what to do with our lives.  We don't get to cry uncle.  We don't get to set ourselves up as our own authorities, and this is because He loves us.  God leaving us alone is ALWAYS a bad thing.  Whom He loves, He chastens.  We may never know why.  The book of Job does NOT answer the problem of evil.  Rather, it prescribes the attitude of the godly in the midst of evil.

I can't help but think of Jonathan Edwards, whose last letter to his daughter Lucy read:

"Dear Lucy, it seems to me to be the will of God, that I must shortly leave you; therefore give my kindest regards to my dear wife, and tell her, that the uncommon union, which has so long subsisted between us, has been of such a nature, as trust is spiritual, and therefore will continue for ever. And I hope she will be supported under so great a trial and submit cheerfully to the will of God. And as to my children, you are now like to be fatherless, which I hope will be an inducement to you all, to seek a Father who will never fail you."

To which news his wife Sarah replied:

"What shall I say? A holy and good God has covered us with a dark cloud. O that we may kiss the rod, and lay our hands upon our mouths! The Lord has done it. He has made me adore his goodness, that we had him so long. But my God lives; and he has my heart. O what a legacy my husband, and your father, has left us! We are all given to God; and there I am, and love to be."

Let us learn to lay our hand on our mouth, be still, and know that He is God and there is no other.

MJM 

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Awash but alive

I read Poe's "Descent into the Maelstrom" a bit ago, during a midnight feeding of my infant son, Ivan. It had been recommended to me as a metaphor for navigating the media age, which seemed fitting enough. It's a good read, and available in the public domain, FYI.

*Spoiler alert*
The protagonist's brothers are destroyed: the one who lashed himself to the mast swept away when the mast breaks in the gale, the other who refuses to abandon the ship even when it's clearly doomed. The protagonist escapes only by observing how the maelstrom seems to work, and then abandoning himself to his only hope: that he read the signs right.

Just hanging on is not necessarily good; if your anchor is not sound, neither will you be. "if the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do?" Ps11:3. As I sit here in the middle of homework, two papers, one analysis for a proposal that might get me funded for more time, and with my dear wife running diaper laundry for Ivan, I am simply thankful that Christ is the rock of my soul. If I've read the signs right,
"...my Redeemer lives,
and at the last he will stand upon the earth.
And after my skin has been thus destroyed,
yet in my flesh I shall see God,
whom I shall see for myself,
and my eyes shall behold, and not another.
My heart faints within me!" Job 19:25-27