Random Notes From What I’m Reading

The story of my life is the story of my faith…

Archive for September 2007

Tides of Life

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I can feel my life, like a tide running in and out past and around my legs as I’m standing in ocean water up to my waist. It doesn’t seem to be going anywhere, just back and forth. But I can also feel, if I watch and pay attention, that there are tides. They move. If I just play and drift along, I’ll wake up miles way from where I started. If I stand out here long enough without remembering where I am, I’ll be swept out too far. I’ll have missed it, whatever it is. So I tread water and keep my head high enough to breathe. We’ll see. Maybe I’ll pick my feet up, see if there’s something worth swimming toward for a little while and see where the tide takes me.

By Rich Diamond in “Wrestling With God”

Written by Ryan

September 26, 2007 at 10:35 am

How To Awaken

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What I am suggesting is that to become like a child again is one way to awaken. Kids dance. They sing. They make art. They laugh when they’re not supposed to, notice what they’re not supposed to. They don’t care. They’re just in their own skin, and the world is still alive to them. They haven’t started measuring their surroundings based solely on what those surroundings can mean to their own status or productivity.There’s a story in the Bible about an old man, Eli, who was in charge of a temple. So, he was important. Lots of responsibility. Big resume. Diplomas on the wall. He was also a terrible father – too busy achieving things.

A boy named Samuel comes to live in the temple to study to become a priest. One night Samuel is lying in bed and he hears a voice calling his name. He goes to Eli and asks him what he wanted. Eli says he didn’t call him and orders him back to bed. It happens again. Eli says, “get out of here and go to bed. I’ve got a lot to accomplish tomorrow.” Finally, Eli gets it and says, “whoa, wait a minute – If the voice calls again, answer, ‘Here I am, Lord.’” It happens. And God gives a message to Samuel, which comes true.

It turns out that God wants this boy not to become only a priest, but also a prophet. Someone who hears God directly and speaks on what he hears. The thing that makes this kid have this amazing opennes to the Spirit is that Samuel listens, especially in the darkness. Why doesn’t Eli the priest hear? He is asleep, literally and spiritually.

But what if you’re not a child anymore? I’m not. It’s a struggle for me to really listen to my heart, or to the voice of God. It’s really hard for me to put up with mystery. I need to know the answers. I need to be in control. However, I also don’t want to live under the mass cultural trance. It’s the ultimate unsatisfying. I don’t know how I know that; I just know. What’s the answer? What can help me awaken?

If you’re asking those questions, you’re on the road already. You’re waking up. Maybe the “we’ll see” mind has started to believe that there may be something to see. The life that the great myths, the great traditions, and the great paths talk about is something large. Something wild. Something you can’t explain or control. It’s a journey you have to travel and it’s first steps are to leave the place you were and go out into a new place. As you take those first steps, you realize: I didn’t know this was here! How long has this been here?

By Rich Diamond in Wrestling With God

Written by Ryan

September 20, 2007 at 6:16 pm

Posted in Religion, Rich Diamond

Ambivalence is the Enemy of Love

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While reading Love In the Key of Longbreak today I read the following quote that I wanted to share:

“What if it ends? What if I enjoy you more than you enjoy me? What if your delight in me is bogus? Or worse, what if it is mere manipulation to get from me what you want? What if I love you and then you die, divorce me, or turn against me? The risk is more than I can bear, and so I refuse to open my heart to another person who will arouse my desire and then might use me or dash me to the ground. Such ambivalence is the enemy of love, [because love] is the capacity to offer ourselves to others.”

“The Healing Path” by Dan Allender

Written by Ryan

September 19, 2007 at 8:07 am

Posted in Books, Christian

We Are Not God

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One of the hardest things for us to get through our heads is that we are not God. We don’t get to make the decisions. We don’t get to decide what is and what isn’t. We have some power, but not complete power over nature. Every time we start to push the limits of God, He gives us a little reminder. Does the phrase “even God couldn’t sink this ship” ring any bells?We get mad at God because grandma died. We get mad at God because we didn’t get the girl we were after. We get mad at God because we lost a job. We get mad at God because He didn’t answer our prayer for that new car.

In order to fully experience the presence of God, we have to get over the fact that God is God and we are not.

When we get down life’s road a little more, we often find out what God had in mind. We didn’t get that job we wanted and then found a better one six months down the road. We finally realized how much pain grandma was in, and it wasn’t God who made her suffer – it was God who let her suffering end. And if we really want to stand on the mountaintop and scream at God because of the car, we might want to sit down an-evaluate our priorities.

By Steve Case in “God Is Here”

Written by Ryan

September 17, 2007 at 12:36 pm

9/11

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I thought this post was fitting today for obvious reasons. Check out what Rich Diamond says in “Wrestling With God”:

America doesn’t trust anything. We’re hanging in there, and that’s good. We believe in some basic things that we were told all along, and, like the basic lessons a child is taught, those things are good to know and remember. But adulthood is also about facing what isn’t right, what the theories don’t teach about. It’s not about trust, it’s about control. We’re still controlling every freaking thing. We’re too afraid to let go. So we keep building little and big walls. My race is better. My religion is better. My money is better. My body is better. My sexuality is better. My denomination is better. My yard is better. My city is better. My basketball team is better. My way of seeing things is better. But, in a win-lose situation within a family, everybody loses. We haven’t figured that out yet. We still want to be the big winner. We still want to defeat everyone else. But everyone is our family.

The attacks of September 11th, 2001 should make us realize that we’re not Superman. Not only are we not perfectly safe, we’re not perfect. If someone hates us this much, is it possible that something isn’t right overall? It is possible that we have contributed to the world as being an unhealthy place? We didn’t deserve to be attacked. But we’re not blameless either. What the September 11 experience has made so many people feel is that we’re much more right and rightous than everyone else in the world, and that everybody else, especially the people who’ve made us mad, are all evil, the Devil, whatever. That’s not the Spirit that drove us to the desert talking; that’s the Empire talking.

We’re on the edge of the desert in our culture. We have the opportunity to head in, strip naked, find out the truth, and trust something. But we’re afraid. And part of us wants to turn back. We’re afraid that if we head out into the truth, there won’t be anything there, and the whole risk will have been a waste. So we waver. And wait. And avoid the real journey.

But what if, in our desert experiences, we find a way not to run, not to avoid the truth, and not to fool or distract ourselves? What if, at the end of our marriages, for example, we decide to do real soul searching as a way to figure out who we are and what happened? What if we don’t run from our own shadows, but decide to wrestle with them and see what it is we’re so afraid of? What if we stop, just before taking the big promotion, and really pray and listen to our souls to see if that’s what they really want and long for?

The trouble is that it’s terryfing to face what’s inside of you. Demons are in there. Hidden things voices that keep echoing off the walls, old tapes that you can hear playing and rewinding over and over somewhere deep in the darkness. Your enemy waits to confront you about your own appetities and desires for power or control. A monster is hiding under your bed, or in a cave, or behind you. A dragon rustles out in the forest, just beyond the clearing.

Any system or formula for avoiding really facing this dark thing is ultimately not going to work. At some point, we just have to acknowledge that there is what Hamlet calls, “the undiscovered country” that everybody is afraid of. In his case, he thinks his enemy is death, but it’s really his own fear.

I think maybe that’s everybody’s.

Written by Ryan

September 11, 2007 at 12:55 am

Blanket of Ghosts

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A new artist that I’m really digging is Dustin Kensrue from Thrice. He just released a solo album and it’s a nice mellow CD with some great lyrics that I’m going to be rocking in my classroom this fall.

You can check out a live version of Blanket of Ghosts by clicking on the YouTube link below.

Written by Ryan

September 7, 2007 at 12:44 pm

Posted in Christian, Music, YouTube

Confession

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“Confession is good for the soul. God will look at the pile of baggage that you put before Him, and He will sweep it away. Dump it. Run it through a garbage disposal. Then God will look at the empty parts of your soul. Those spaces that have been taken up too long by guilt and fear and pain, and He will fill them with His love and peace and joy. But until you are ready to empty those spots, you can’t have the good stuff.”

By Steve Case in God Is Here

Written by Ryan

September 6, 2007 at 12:14 am

Posted in Books, Christian, Steve Case