Monday, May 04, 2009
it is strange to think that i will have completed 33 hours of grad school after this week. mathematically it is impossible for me to fail all of my classes, a comfort i cling to in times like these. actually, i'm performing better academically than i ever have. it is amazing how much i'll study things i love as opposed to things i rather detest (i'm talking to you chemistry).
i'm learning more than i can process and i'm taking in more than i can handle. a professor told me the other day that what worries him is that he has become educated beyond his ability to follow and obey, that he has learned more than he knows what to do with.
now, i know those statements could come across as pompous words of someone who fancies himself an intellectual elite. but this was not the man's heart. he has simply been studying the bible, theology and spiritual matters for decades. he knows a great deal, plain and simple.
truthfully, what he said was rooted in humility. he desperately wants to obey and walk in faith in God, not in faith in his brain. in the church today, particularly the church in the bible-belt, i think there is the threat of becoming educated beyond our ability to obey, our ability to worship and our ability to follow. because we've heard it from the nursery on up, it is easy to think we understand it or that we've got it. that is quite natural. the longer a person is exposed to anything, the harder it is for that thing to be fresh or to maintain its impact. this is true of almost everything, except pancakes, pizza and bacon (those three never lose their power). God fits right in there too, probably just above all three.
beyond all of the things i'm being tested on and writing about, i've learned a great deal on the depths of God. i know there is more depth to explore and i will spend life exploring that. but i have to remind myself that exploration is more about finding something, making a claim. it isn't simply about wandering. i think this is especially true of faith in Jesus Christ.
i am not meant to simply plow through book after book about God, the atonement, systematic theologies and whatever else is before me. i am meant to revel in the truth of what i'm studying. i am meant to let God's Word change me and guide me. i am meant to let the things i know trickle down from my head to my heart and then let it work its way out through my hands into real life. knowledge simply does not a lick of good if it doesn't change us.
that process can be painful. there are things in my life i hate to acknowledge. in my ability to reason and justify things i don't even have to. i can simply let myself focus on the others. but that isn't holiness. that isn't what God has called me to. the true love of God is in obedience. 1 john 5:3 states that pretty clearly: "this is love for God: to obey his commands..."
that is what i'm meant for. i meant to love God. that is what i was created for, to revel in that love, commune in Him and obey. that verse adds "and his commands are not burdensome." this has proven true in my life. it is in obedience, in doing what i know God would have me do when He would have me do it, that i find joy.
the problem isn't amassing knowledge. that problem is letting that knowledge lose its meaning. there is great power behind the Gospel. i've lost sight of that a lot. thankfully, He keeps reminding me of how beautiful His love for us really is. i still don't get it. i still don't deserve it. but i love it and i'm grateful.
in light of that professor's thoughts, i think paul's words to the corinthians is an appropriate end to this rambling: for i resolved to know nothing while i was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.
Friday, April 17, 2009
times like this are wonderful in hindsight. i know that when i get to the end of this incredibly draining semester i will be grateful for the exhaustion because it meant growth. i am having to depend on the parts of me that i hoped were there. you like to think that you've got a little reserve fuel in you, that you have something that will push you that extra few steps and then some. i look forward to looking back on this time because i will see that i did have it in me and that it was God's great grace bringing me through. i will see how much i have gained because of that divine energy.
i have always tried not to be preachy on this thing. sometimes i'm not too good at trying. but the truth is that i am grateful and i am amazed at what God does. He gets a lot of slack for things that happen in this world it seems. i'm not exempt from questioning and wrestling with doubt. but i have seen and felt ridiculous levels of grace and love. i have learned to trust God when i cannot understand Him and that there is beauty in the things of/about God that we can understand. i am grateful of the things we can know because He revealed them to us in His word and His creation.
i'm in a period of growth, in knowledge and in love. those two things together are pretty amazing. again, i'm grateful to be where i am. but i am miserably tired and exhausted. so often it seems like those two sets go together well. growth almost always involves some type of struggle or trial. knowing that, the struggle becomes much easier. knowing what hebrews 11 and 12 say makes the struggle much easier. faith carries us through the struggle that God, with purpose, sets before us. those heroes of the faith knew it. there is purpose for the hardship and buying into that truth helps us become more like what, in Christ, we will one day be.
my tired eyes will freshen up soon enough, my aching back will be healed up soon enough, my brain will stop running in circles soon enough and i'll end this post soon enough. my dwindling bank account might not ever be filled up but i know that God is good and, thanks to the work of Christ, he is within me filling me up with more than i need. if it isn't in this life, i'm grateful for the future hope salvation affords me.
these days there is a great deal of worry in this world. money seems to be running away. business are hurting. wonderful organizations that are dearly loved and that will be dearly missed by many are dissolving. retirement plans are calling it quits and nest eggs aren't quite hatching anymore. and there are countless other troubles i've not seen or experienced.
yet, God is good. seeing the goodness and love of God in these times is hard. maybe it doesn't seem to make sense on the surface. but i think seeing it does make sense out of our circumstances, by allowing us future hindsight right now. because God is who He is i need not fret. knowing that these hardships will have great meaning in the future gives them great meaning now. i like how that works. perspective i don't have yet is available for me through faith, through trusting that God is indeed working in this world and in my life.
Thursday, February 19, 2009
those of you who really know me might know how much i despise laundry. i'd have trouble thinking of something i loathe more. i love the smells though. oh, how i love the smell of laundry rooms. i hate the process: hate folding, hate having to wait around for the dryer, hate loosing socks, hate cleaning out the lint thingy, hate (and usually don't) separating lights and darks (segragation is wrong), & i hate folding (really, really hate it).
the problem, as i see it, is that laundry never ends. there are always more things to wash, like what you wear when you're washing. the nudists maybe onto something: they are free from the tyrrany of laundry. i am certain laundry is the part of the fall theologians and ministers don't like to talk about. if the fruit had never been unlawfully eaten, i wouldn't be perpetually washing, drying, folding and wishing i was rich enough to hire someone to wash my clothes for me.
oh how i dislike things that never end. i want resolve. i want solutions. i want answers.
i've tried for a few weeks now to write something for this thing here. failure has abounded. there is plenty going on, plenty going through my head. but every time i sit to write, i just stop a few paragraphs into it.
i guess i'm wondering when i'm going to have some type of conclusion in some areas of life. for the last handful of years or more, i've been looking for something satisfying. what i've found is more laundry, more of just living life and getting through. life can be awfully repetitive.
the repetition can make us bitter or bored or discontent or frustrated or so many things. in the repetition of life there is plenty of meaning to find. i tend to focus on the things i'm not happy about, especially with where i'm at or who i am. i don't look to the things i have and enjoy.
i don't stop and thank God for the people in my life. with some, i just get upset that they aren't what i want them to be in my life. really it is me that isn't what i want to be in my life. they just get caught in the crossfire. i don't see the good God has put in me, the bits of him that i've got in my being. it's easier for me to see the good in others for the most part. it's a different story with me.
the point is that i'm trying to learn to be okay with those things that are just a part of life. uncertainty is just a part of it, especially life with Christ. faith requires a bit of it. things are not usually spelled out for us by God. there are questions and confusion.
understanding isn't always what God wants from us. so often i think He just wants trust, for us to have faith- conviction of things unseen. and with that faith comes hope, what walter brueggeman says is the exultant conviction that God will not quit until He has His full way in the world.
this is something, faith that is, that has to be constant. faith is like laundry in that it isn't ever over. it requires us to continue, to keep going. faith is wonderful in so many ways. though faith can be awful, terrifying, unnerving and place in settings completely uncomfortable, the outcome of it is wonderful: the joy of clean sheets, the wonderful knowledge that God's got you, the hope that when all is said in done there won't be anymore laundry to do.
Sunday, February 15, 2009
i'd like to say that i enjoy this. i'd also like to point out how happy rob made everybody.
actually it was simply hi-fives or is it high-fives? i think it would make sense for both. it could be a hello five or a high five in the sense of it being up in the air. i'm going with high fives because often the five is not salutatory.
i realize i've been silent for a while. perhaps there will be some real thoughts later. my studies have consumed me.
Tuesday, January 13, 2009
if any of you were wondering what movie line i quote more than any other, this is it. pretty much every time i eat a burger, tasty or not, i will say it out loud or, at the very least, to myself. samuel l. jackson has a way of saying things, doesn't he?
"yes they deserved to die..."
Tuesday, January 06, 2009
all you hear, in between commercials targeted toward the elderly, is the beeping, buzzing and unified audience response to a myriad of games. it deadens your senses, probably dilates your pupils and drives you crazy. press your luck is the current game.
is there a more obnoxious game to listen to and not watch? i think not.
constantly, you hear the cries of the early 80's contestants, with their upper torso and head in the midst of the flashing board. this was surely a highly technical achievement which must have blown the minds of people everywhere.
"no whammy, no whammy...... STOP!" they scream. they hit the large red button and you either hear the cheers of the contestant and audience because they landed on a 1500$ spot or they won a tumor inducing microwave or you hear the depressed fog-horn noise which precedes "a whammy."
the whammy is a cross between the noid from dominoes and a gremlin from the movie gremlins. the whammy would involve in some type of silly animation. you would lose your money and it would laugh at you with a helium cackle. for some reason the whammy wore a cape.
but i'm not telling you anything wikipedia wouldn't be happy to. what i will say is that the game show network is an abyss that has swallowed my grandmother.
i wonder about what it must be like to grow old and to get to a point where you don't really do anything. nana spends much of her time just trying to run out the clock. she is ill. she gets tired walking into the kitchen to acquire one of her dozen sprites a day or to eat a pint of haagen dazs dulce de leche. there isn't much else for her to do, that she physically can do.
at times she feels like she is a burden. truthfully at times she is and at times she isn't. but she is family, so you do what you have to because there is something about family that allows us to and urges us to. when there is something amiss with family it is obvious. family as an institution is really quite remarkable. family is something at the root of our lives. family can define us, at its best and worst. even when it doesn't exist, it will be created. i saw that living in moldova. the kids there created family, sometimes for the worst.
i've seen how my grandparents' aging has impacted my parents' lives. i hear stories about people taking care of their sick father or mother for years. i've not only heard the stories but i've seen them lived out. loving sons and daughters become caregivers and their lives dissipate into watching after their parent like they would a baby. for better or worse, people are living longer and family now means considering what to do when life keeps going.
one of the last times i was with my grandpa before he died, some of his family of comparable ages came to visit. i sat in on the talk, fifty years the minor of the youngest of the 6 or so in the room. they spoke about death in a way that was new to me.
death really was a release for them. they were done, for lack of a better word, with living. they had lived lives they were okay with, they were out of the resources of living and ready to put the final period on their lives. they were satisfied with the lives they led. it is disturbing in a way, admirable in another.
i'm not really sure why i'm writing about death and the game show network. but i do know that i hope to die while i'm still living, living in the sense that i feel like i still have a reason to. this hanging around that happens so much these days doesn't seem good. i hope to lead a long life but more so a full one. if i can sit in a room with my peers when i'm the age those people were and still feel like my life matters, i'll be satisfied. this break i've had from school has made me tired from doing nothing. i'm ready for something again, something challenging. i'm ready to go back.
feeling like your life mattered in its past, i think, will help make the possibility of life mattering at that age possible in the future. perhaps the opposite is true, that feeling like your life didn't matter will motivate you to do something in the end, to redeem it.
but i fear that is too big of a risk. by then, i may only be able to muster enough energy to make it to the couch so i can watch reruns of game shows i never cared enough to watch while i was young. maybe waiting until the end to matter will work for some but i'm not that lucky. i need to make life matter while i can. if you'll permit me to be a little cheesy: it's not wise to press your luck, not in that sense.
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
though my santa was a little more delayed than the last couple of years, i still got it in before the big day. i'm not sure how i feel about this one. but i am proud of my fire work. basically, what i'm trying to say is give the man his cookies. he's earned them. don't give him vegatables, please just don't do that.
Monday, December 08, 2008
the purpose of this post is simply to question the people at sprint. what are they doing with santa, nay, to santa?
please follow this link but be warned that you might be freaked out by what you see: holiday abomination
now, sprint has made santa into a malnourished, ill-fashioned, albino-tool with a beard and self-issued "hip-hop-street-cred" that makes me hate the whole concept of santa, who was not meant to be a weaselly trust fund recipient with too much time for leisure but a diligent and benevolent toy craftsmen and a kind and efficient manager of adorable elves. santa should be full of love, hope, generosity, ridiculous cheer and equal parts milk & cookies.
santa's clothing should be a bit of a squeeze for him because he is a little heavy and intends to go on a diet. his pants should not be tight because they were made for women. i do not want and the world does not need an emo santa who can be described with the word uber (please insert two dots above the u, or is it the e).
this blatant abuse of santa bugs me because christmas has been so terribly distorted into something that irks me. though santa has seemingly replaced the birth of Christ as christmas's central theme, the roots of his lore are decent and kind of comforting. the real santa didn't seem to have time to golf or pursue his dj dreams, which i can only assume will flounder epically, but was trying to bless other people.
where has substance gone? can we please lead lives that matter again? the world needs fat santas again that genuinely work towards the good, not merely a good time. looking at ourselves makes us empty and skinny. caring about others fattens us up. if there was ever a time that we actually needed fat, it is now (metaphorically of course: be more sensible in food and exercise for a healthy life). keep an eye out for my annual santa paint production (i'll take suggestions).
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
here is a bonus view from the top, looking down.
now, you may be asking yourself: how did tim get up there? well, i'll gladly answer you: he hiked up there. after that, you may be asking yourself this: isn't tim in terrible shape? well yes, i am in terrible shape. how did this happen?
one fateful day, one of my roommates asked if i wanted to go hiking. i did and decided to go. we were going to go with his 47 year old brother. i figured i'd be safe then. he couldn't do too much, he's 47 afterall. well, i'm an idiot. here is a picture that proves i am an idiot and shows one of the 5 or so waterfalls i saw and what i feel is a decent beard:
you see, chris's brother is working on getting into climbing shape for the spring when he climbs mt. hood again. thus, he was in much better shape than i was hoping he would be. i'm in shape if you count round.
this man led the way: head down, plowing forth. i kept up. we did somewhere like 5.2 miles or so i was told. though, i think it might have been more if the simple math i did was correct. he kept throwing distances at me and i swear they added up to something more like 11.2 miles. either way, there was definitely a .2 involved. if life has taught me anything, it is always the .2 that gets you. the .2 makes your butt hurt, your lower back hurt and basically your entire being hurt.
there always seems to be a little extra that you don't think you can do. typically you can. a lot of the time you don't have a 47-year old man to drive you along. but, you do need somebody or somebodies to push you, to hold you accountable, to be a part of your life. hiking alone is silly.
if there is one thing i am learning out here, it is that having people you care about is precious. i've got a lot of friends, a lot of people i know, that are struggling with life right now. to a degree i am one of them. it sucks to feel like you've got nothing that inspires you, that gives you satisfaction or that you love doing.
we need people. they need us. we weren't meant to live alone, to struggle alone, to be happy alone. as i've read through the old and new testaments these last few months, community has shouted loudest in the text, in God's word. i feel like we need to reach out. living alone is silly.
God is in nature communal. He is trinitarian. He is within a divine community in essence. God is three in one (any attempt i've made to explain this further falls short of that simple truth). what is rediculous is that we are not only invited into the Trinity, Jesus himself prays that we will engage with that fellowship in john 17.
i need to grab a hold of this perspective. i need to realize the value of the offer out on the table. how amazing it is that God wants us. in Christ, we have amazing things in our possession and still more amazing things to come. if you don't believe me, read through the first three chapters of ephesians and hear what this relationship with God does in the believer's life.in the attempts to pursue whatever the heck we are pursuing, we can lose sight of what we can have and what we do have.
in the exhaustion of the hike, when the extra .2 has sucked all the oxygen from your lungs, let those people around you keep you going. in doing so, you'll help them too. i think that as we learn to do that we start to learn more about what it means to be in community with the God that loves us so deeply. i'll leave you with a picture of a place made for thinking way too deep about life.
Saturday, November 08, 2008
so, i emailed the alumni association of her college. here are a few excerpts from my initial email, where i unashamedly begged for a pen from a guy named tad (i used his name a lot in the email):
"Tad, I know that sometimes our jobs can get wrapped up in the mundane and the thankless tasks, then we can begin to wonder if we are making a difference. This is your chance to know you have blessed the life of one of your own, a fellow pirate out in the world."
"I cannot do this without you, Tad. I also understand that your life and job have much more important duties to undertake but this is an opportunity for something epic and heroic, if I may really stretch the meaning of those words."
i received an email back from another member of the alumni association, Kim, with good news:
"I'm going to put a pen in the mail to you today so that you can bring a smile to her face as she watches the pine cone fall over and over again!"
alright, now i was excited. the pen was on its way, thus i replied. again, a sampling:
"I had a good feeling about you good people, Kim. You've given me a new perspective on pirates. No longer are they mindless plunderers simply out for themselves. Nay, pirates are charitable lovers of life with hearts of amazing capacity."
"Thank you for this kindness. You Kim, if I may use a word I recently heard a rambunctious teen utter just yesterday, rock."
i waited patiently and on one rainy day in portland the sun broke through the clouds. a thick envelope, jammed quite unlovingly into my tiny mailbox by a surely disgruntled undergrad postal worker, was revealed when i opened the small mail door. with all my might, i maneuvered and navigated the envelope into my hands, opening it to find the pen i had sought and a bonus pen (though this bonus pen did not contain the novelty of its travelling companion, it was a nice addition).
proudly, i give the pen to my friend. she is happy to have it, grateful as well. way to go me. i felt a small bit of satisfaction. then the story of my life unfolds in all its comedic tragedy.
the pen does not write.
what? she gets a few sentences out of it. after that, she can only scratch her words onto the paper. no amount of spit or will-power can get this thing to release a drop of ink. oh, how i tried. it is now a useless pen, good only for watching pine cones fall from the tree into the waiting arms of a motionless man. that novelty only serves as a welcome distraction whilst taking notes. 'whilst' is under utilized.
this bothered me on a purely metaphorical level. even when i've done all i can do for something to succeed and go right and even when it feels like i have and it has, something falls apart that i have no control over. if it isn't obvious, i do feel something for this girl and she knows it (this is a subject i've intentionally never written about on this endeavor and i do so now with incredible hesitation and internal objection.). but i cannot make her write, so to speak. God knows what will happen with her, God knows i don't.
i just identified with this dry pen scene too much. i could make a thousand gestures and they could all come up dried-out: oh, so close to success but just a little closer to failure. but at some point they work their way out of my control. this isn't my fault, the pen. but, come on. why couldn't the pen work? where is the dang ink?
i hate that there are so may dry pens in life. it sucks that we can want something -this is about more than a girl here- and do everything right to get it, but we don't. life is so out of our control. our planning, our hard work, our wanting can all add up to a big pile of nothing with heavy parts disappointment. God then becomes the object of our anger, our disappointment, our empty hands. who else is there to blame after i get tired of blaming myself?
then, i see that my desires are all out of whack. i wanted a person, a purpose, a characteristic i don't possess, a status, a change, meaning, for my beard to be fuller on my cheeks and that spot between my soul patch and chin, and a ridiculous amount of things before i wanted to be with God. i thought that amassing all of those things would add up to a full life, a satisfied life. but as augustine said (in paraphrase): our hearts are restless until they find rest in God. our lives are empty until they are filled up with God, with Love itself, with holy ink.
deep down, i want God in everything in my life. but, i've got this habit of separating Him from a lot of things. this one hurts to write: God is not enough for me. obviously that is a subjective truth about my life that contradicts the objective truth that only God is truly enough. God is all i need: this is what i am working towards.
right now, i've got a dried up pen in a lot of areas of my life. i'm grateful for the places ink is not in short supply and i'm working on that God in everything process. i want to get to that place where i don't really care what i've got or where i am because i've got God and i'm in His arms.
Sunday, October 26, 2008
life is hard. there is so much with which to struggle, to doubt and to dislike. a lot lately, i've found myself unsatisfied with theology and doctrine (even though i enjoy studying them both) and pithy church sayings. more questions come in theology, each answer begging another less satisfying question. it never ends. doctrine is so diverse, i wonder how we could ever really hold to something. the speech that flows so cavalierly from believers lips can have no meaning or weight because they are simply words.
God loves me.
God loves me.
God loves me.
i yell at Him.
He loves me.
if i may... what the crap? every time, He is there. every time, i feel God loving me. every time. sometimes that love confounds me. sometimes that love comforts me. sometimes it just angers me. i cannot turn away from it, i cannot help but feel it and i cannot begin to explain it. God loves me and it doesn't make sense.
so much doesn't make sense. the christian faith is reasonable, logical and well-defended. if apologetics are what you're after, you're in luck. there is proof everywhere. truthfully, i don't know if i care about that proof. i understand it but that isn't what convinces me. God still doesn't really make sense no matter how much i try to prove that He does.
because at the end of the day, at the start for that matter, i have to wrap my mind around God loving me. most days, that seems pretty unbelievable, a skeptic's unbelief. it's glorious, but crazy. the whole gospel is that: a stumbling block, foolishness. that's where its power is, for those who do believe. that's why it works, because it shouldn't. it isn't natural: it's divine. it doesn't really make sense, but it does give life.
i'm like thomas. i doubt and question and don't believe. i want to put my hand in Jesus' side, just to know he's real. but if the chance ever came, i think that i, like him, wouldn't go through with it. i'd rather just believe. and Jesus' words to him, to me, to us - "do not disbelieve, but believe...blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed" - are why i'll have wrinkles, why i'm happy to have them. i have joy in that belief, joy which allows me to smile and laugh in the midst of complete and utter confusion.
beyond all doubt i believe deeply, in my core. i know God is there and, to steal a line from francis schaeffer, He's not silent. i know He loves me, because i've seen and felt it, not because i figured out how to manufacture it. i know He loves me because i love Him. i can never manufacture His love in me, oh how i've tried. God displays His love for me in ways i cannot explain, usually while i'm being completely petulant. His grace is sufficient, i'm actually believing that. and a subdued smile has washed over me just thinking about it. God, wrinkle me up.
Saturday, October 18, 2008
once you find your way outside of the city, there are places that can swallow you. they'll sneak up on you & you'll be grateful they did because you wouldn't find them otherwise. a week or so ago, a friend & i went on a drive down the columbia river valley. we went to check out a couple scenic overlooks. one of them was the vista house.
that same trip, an intentional wrong turn & 14 miles between amazing old trees took us up to larch mountain. this day was blustery and terribly wet. the cold wind blew significantly cold precipitation into our faces as we laughed and hiked to what was to be a panoramic view of no less than 5 mountains on a clear day. obviously, it was not a clear day. when we summited, if you will, shepard's peak we found ourselves delightfully miserable & content with our surroundings. we were floating on a mountain in the clouds and fog. the view was like looking at grey-painted walls. it is a good memory of being so happy to be in miserable weather.
but we decided to come back when it cleared up someday. yesterday after class, we made the trip again & reality filled in the imaginary vistas we had created. i'm not sure which trip was better. there was something nice about being the only fools to accidentally stumble upon a mountain in the bitterness of a cold & rainy day when there was nothing to see but clouds- we did get to float as we shivered. here are some pictures i took with my phone, when we could see from a couple different escapes:
one of the things i love most about being here is the availability to escape. it doesn't take long to find your way to some place outrageously beautiful.