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Showing posts from February, 2011

Hope is the thing with feathers

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Where do you find hope?   

Emily Dickinson once wrote,
"Hope is the thing with feathers That perches in the soul,
And sings the tune--without the words,
And never stops at all,


And sweetest in the gale is heard;
And sore must be the storm
That could abash the little bird
That kept so many warm.


I've heard it in the chillest land,
And on the strangest sea;
Yet, never, in extremity,
It asked a crumb of me."

Where do you find hope?
In his letter to the church in Rome, Paul writes, "Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand; and we boast in our hope of sharing the glory of God. And not only that, but we also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that …

In the Face of Uncertainty

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Each and every day we face uncertainty.  It seems to be waiting around every corner and hiding in the darkness of every room.  We fight it with all of our might.  With jaw set and fists clinched, we stress and strain hoping that through our own effort we can turn that uncertainty into certitude making clear all that was once unclear.  At the close of another battle with this unseen foe, we realize that this fight is unending.  It seems that uncertainty will always be there.  Life's edges will always appear hazy and unclear.
Yet, our hearts continue to burn for clarity in life.  We long to know exactly what we will face around life's next bend.  We want to know that our actions today will positively impact tomorrow's outcome.  Therefore, we try to project and plan the unclear and uncertain out of our lives.  We pray that their grip on our mind might finally be broken. 
In his book Ruthless Trust, Brennan Manning tells of a man who went to spend three months working with the …

Breathless

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Think back on the last time you experienced something so amazing you literally had to pause a moment to regain your composure.
Think about the last time you witnessed something that literally took your breath away, and you had to make a conscious effort to begin breathing again.
When was the last time this happened to you?
Maybe it was standing at the edge of the Grand Canyon’s glory. Maybe it was watching the sun set gently on the horizon line ushering in the blanket of night. Maybe it was the gentle snow falling from the sky. Maybe it was the beautiful face of the one you love when they unexpectedly walked into the room. Maybe it was sitting in a movie seat beholding the inspired creative genius of a film maker.
Whenever it was, recapture that moment now.Remember how you felt.
I am convinced that in moments like these, we behold the glory and majesty of God.
Yet, not in its fullness.
As amazing as that moment is in life, it pales in comparison with the wonder and awe of being in the presence …

The Marketplace of Fear

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There are merchants all around us that deal in the commodity of fear.  You can hear the shouts of the shop keepers who try as hard as they can to lure us in to buy what they are selling.  They work long and hard, 24 hours a day.  They must!  Their life depends on it.  They must convince others that what they have to sell is of utmost importance.  These traders will spare no expense to market their wares.  And the prospective customers walk through the narrow streets of Fear's Bazaar with wide eyes, furrowed brows and shortened breath. We find our insecurities tickled and our anxieties heightened. We cannot help ourselves.  We hear their voices and begin to buy everything we hear.  Somehow the more we buy, the more we need.  The more fear that fills our shopping bags, the more we feel we need to fear.  The cycle goes on and on.  And fear and its marketers gain strength and confidence beginning to believe that their merchandise is what the world desperately wants and absolutely need…

The Call

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"What am I supposed to do with my life?!" 

I can't tell you the number of times I have heard this question shouted and whispered from the trembling lips of students, from the pulsing heartbeat of my spouse and from the deep dark corners of my own being.  We all ask it.  We are all haunted at times by the silence that seems to so often follow it.  "What am I supposed to do with my life?!" 
The author of the Gospel of Luke writes that as Jesus began his public ministry he went to the synagogue in Nazareth and was handed the scroll of Isaiah. He unrolled the scroll and read these words, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor" (Luke 4:18-19 NRSV). We are then told that Jesus rolled up the scroll and handed it back to the att…

Freedom for...

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As I was saying...

"Freedom is such a HUGE concept.  What it means in one context may not be what it means in another.  What one considers freedom, another may consider an absolute impossibility.  I think this is what makes talking about freedom across cultural lines so difficult.  There appears to be no universal meaning of the word let alone a universal understanding of how freedom should or could be fleshed out" (For the entire discussion, see For Freedom below).

I often get asked this question in a wide variety of ways, "As a Christian, is it okay if I..." (insert anything you want in the place of ellipses - e.g. drink, curse, dance - yes, dance). This question, and others like it, appear to me to be an extension of the discussion on Christian freedom.  "If I have been set free from the bonds of law and sin, then can't I just do whatever I want?  After all, we believe that 'God alone is Lord of the conscience.' " (Taken from the Book of Orde…

Fragrant

The flower beckons.
Her fragrance tantalizing,
An invitation to delight in her beauty.
Aroma so sweet, so rich, so complete;
Evidence of life in full bloom;
Become the air I breath.
Fill me.
That when not in your presence,
Your perfume would linger still.
                                       -- Brian Shivers, 2011

Thornless

Thornless, the rose hath lost its beauty. Its petals remain as fragrant; Its color still as deep; Yet, thornless its beauty fades.
Would that strife and anguish be eased; That pain linger no more. Would that life be carefree; Yet, thornless its beauty fades.
It is hardship that causes joy. It is heartache that brings forth peace. They create a life worth living; For thornless its beauty fades.
Thornless, the rose hath lost its beauty. Its petals remain as fragrant; Its colors still as deep; Yet, thornless its beauty fades.                                             -- Brian Shivers, 2011

For Freedom

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As I have tried to stay updated on all of the demonstrations, protests and violence in Egypt throughout the last several days, I have found my mind wondering to the idea of freedom.  I confess that freedom is something that I take for granted.  The only time I give it much thought at all is when I am confronted by an injustice or a people's struggle for freedom.  This is one of those times. 

Freedom is such a HUGE concept.  What it means in one context may not be what it means in another.  What one considers freedom, another may consider an absolute impossibility.  I think this is what makes talking about freedom across cultural lines so difficult.  There appears to be no universal meaning of the word let alone a universal understanding of how freedom should or could be fleshed out. 


So, what does freedom mean to you?  How do you see it fleshed out in your world?  Where do you see its absence?


Here is a passage that haunts me when I allow the time and space for the words to take up r…