Tuesday, May 31, 2005


Making or Growing

Breezze has an interesting post over on her Blog, about a conference she attended. I left her a comment on one aspect of what she wrote, and her response led to more questions.

It's a long-running question in my mind: How do you change people? Specifically, how do people become followers of Jesus in more than words? Are they made, or are they grown?

I've mentioned the computer game "Uru" here before. The story behind the game has interesting parallels with our society. Uru itself takes place after the D'ni civilization fell, and involves some debate on how it should be rebuilt. An organization, the D'ni Restoration Council, goes into the cavern of D'ni to rebuild but their efforts are limited to the physical structure. At the same time there are various other people who receive the call to go to D'ni and... see what happens. The call is about growing a society. The DRC is said to be putting the bones back together, but where will the life come from?

We all fell. We're fallen on hard times, hard ways, living in a world that has no real understanding of grace and human life. Naturally, we've confused assembling bones with growth. Obviously this hasn't worked.

Mary Smith becomes a Christian. She's new, so she goes out and finds a church. She starts to hear the messages about going out and saving the world and, being new, tries to obey. After a time the work collapses and she drifts away. That kind of thing is rather like asking a newborn baby to build bridges.

I know many people who are in this state. They've been saved for some time, but are simply burnt. To them, God is just one more taskmaster in a world full of them. That this God so resembles our world isn't surprising, because it's this world that our ideas of him grew out of.

There must be a better way. No one would ask a baby to do anything but grow. That's what they're made for. All of their physical characteristics are governed by the need to grow, and as the body grows so do their intellectual and motor skills. That's what babies do. All you have to do is feed them, play with them, clean them up and love them. They don't need 40-day programs in how to grow, they don't need carefully constructed homiletic examples.

We're all babies when it comes to relating to God. We may look adult, but we're not. We think we know what he's like, but it's all misinformation from the Devil, with just enough truth in it to make sense and keep us haring away after the wrong idea. I fell victim to it myself, but no more.

I want to know God. That's all. If there's going to be anything else, he will have to make me capable of it. This is the agreement we made in the fall of 2003. I expected to get thrown out, or roundly chastised, or otherwise told to straighten up and get with the program. That hasn't happened; God is not only kind and gracious, but flexible.

All he really wants is our attention. He will take care of the rest. Babies can't stop themselves from growing, and within some years what weighed 8 pounds and just ate and slept is now 180 pounds and capable of all kinds of remarkable things. There's a lot of potential wrapped up in that human being.

To achieve the potential takes a remarkable balance of art, engineering, discipline, looseness and work. Whether one makes the hard decisions and works for a good result has a lot to do with how one is brought up. There are no guarantees. Some take harsh discipline as children and become determined to go beyond. Others take the same thing and become so rigid they're barely alive. And some just give up, knowing they'll never attain to that standard.

How do you bring someone fully alive? We certainly can't do it. Only the Holy Spirit has that ability. He can get into the deepest places, to the roots from which current behavior grows. Change the roots, change the tree. We're too used to accepting "good enough," so that we don't go any deeper than is absolutely necessary. Just put another coat of paint on the old clunker and send it out again.

God could transform us all instantly. He could also get rid of us altogether and make better tools, if tools were what he wanted. He chooses to work through events and characteristics because that's who we are. Any other way would be horribly manipulative. It'd be the way the Devil tries to change things. Always by force, always keeping people too busy to attend to the roots.

The freedom that God gives is no lie, but it is different from anything we've experienced before. I see hints of this coming. I'm being freed from some of my limitations, and that freedom both allows me to speak up and gives me something to say.

God will do what he says. We are free indeed, Free to grow, and if a whole crowd of people gets this idea it'll really take off. Of course it'll be a fight. The last thing Satan wants is a whole bunch of people free from his assumptions. But, you know something? He's already lost. The outcome isn't in doubt. All we have to do is grow.

Sunday, May 29, 2005


Sand Sculpture 05F-6

For more information, please refer to the thread on Uru Obsession.

Thursday, May 26, 2005


The Forgiven Life

She said, "No one, Lord." And Jesus said, "I do not condemn you, either. Go. From now on sin no more."

"I do not condemn you either." Think about that.

"There is therefore no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus." Think about that.

"There is no better place for a sinner to be than at the feet of Jesus Christ." Erwin McManus said that in one of his messages. It puts what Jesus said, and what Paul wrote, in more immediate terms.

We're all sinners living in a fallen world. The whole place and everything in it is so coated by the effects of sin that we think it's all normal. We've grown up to expect the world to work in a certain way.

That way rarely includes real forgiveness. God says he has removed our sin from us as far as the east is from the west. Now, when was the last time any person forgave you of something completely? The issue always comes up again. "Remember when you did this..." God never does that. When you ask Jesus for forgiveness, he really does it! Poof! It's gone. There is no longer history. God isn't always standing over you, pointing out all the things you've done wrong and continue to do wrong.

He doesn't have to. We do it. We hear the message of forgiveness and think "That's nice, but..." Fill in your own list of objections.

The church frequently preaches the Devil's message, in actions if not in words. Not surprising, since we've all been taking lessons from the world all our lives, and the church is an outworking of those lessons.

Forgiveness, if we really believed it, would transform the world.

One night I was lying in bed thinking about how Jesus was supposed to take away all my pain. How could that be? How could he remove all of that? There was a chasm between; how was I supposed to give up something like that? It'd be like giving away a pound of air.

You have questions? The Holy Spirit has answers. In this case his answer was to quit hanging onto it. He'd already forgotten my sins. Why could I not also loose my grip on the past?

There's a problem with this. Forgiveness is transformational. Convinced of forgiveness, life will change. Just rubbing shoulders with God day after day will cause change; how do I live with that?

But who knows better than God what is good about life? I certainly don't. I'm so dead that my bones are petrified. Before God can start a fire he has to turn the stone back into wood, and forgiveness is where that starts. Am I ready to live a real God-inspired life? No way. Fortunately Jesus is the author and finisher, and he'll keep after me.

So, questions. What do you think your life would be like if you were truly and deeply convinced that you are forgiven?

What do you think gets in the way of you being convinced you're forgiven? And don't tell me it's because you feel unworthy. We're all unworthy, but Jesus says we're worthy, and he backed up that statement with his actions.

Why do I ask these questions? Because it seems that most of the Christians I meet are still hung up here. They're not convinced that Jesus' work really applies to them. There's some special circumstance that keeps his forgiveness from being fully applicable. Well, that's balderdash. One act, for all sin, forever. Get used to it. The first bricks go on the bottom and this one is the foundation.

"There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus."

And... God calls us his children.

Written for Gospel of John study 2005 May 25


The Skink's Tail

I didn't think it was going to work. I'd watched this misplaced Galilean, and every time he approached a trap he danced through without even looking. He was beautiful to watch. I didn't say anything, though, because the elders were incensed.

Early in the morning He came again into the temple, and all the people were coming to Him; and He sat down and began to teach them.

The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman caught in adultery, and having set her in the center of the court, they said to Him, "Teacher, this woman has been caught in adultery, in the very act.

"Now in the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women; what then do You say?"

They were saying this, testing Him, so that they might have grounds for accusing Him. But Jesus stooped down and with His finger wrote on the ground.

He didn't say a word. Just bent over and started writing in the sand. His every movement was smooth, unhurried. Then I saw that he was writing in Hebrew. Words. Upside down, so we could read it. What?


The LORD sent Nathan to David. When he came to him, he said, "There were two men in a certain town, one rich and the other poor. The rich man had a very large number of sheep and cattle, but the poor man had nothing except one little ewe lamb he had bought. He raised it, and it grew up with him and his children. It shared his food, drank from his cup and even slept in his arms. It was like a daughter to him.

But when they persisted in asking Him, He straightened up, and said to them, "He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her."

Again He stooped down and wrote on the ground.

I began to get a bad feeling. Something was echoing in my memory. Others of us were hit harder; they started to blanch and look uncomfortable. The eldest even bowed their heads. Anything but look at Jesus. Everyone's attention was riveted onto that elegantly moving finger, writing in the sand.


"Now a traveler came to the rich man, but the rich man refrained from taking one of his own sheep or cattle to prepare a meal for the traveler who had come to him. Instead, he took the ewe lamb that belonged to the poor man and prepared it for the one who had come to him."

David burned with anger against the man and said to Nathan, "As surely as the LORD lives, the man who did this deserves to die! He must pay for that lamb four times over, because he did such a thing and had no pity."

When they heard it, they began to go out one by one, beginning with the older ones, and He was left alone, and the woman, where she was, in the center of the court.

Straightening up, Jesus said to her, "Woman, where are they? Did no one condemn you?"

She said, "No one, Lord." And Jesus said, "I do not condemn you, either. Go. From now on sin no more."

Then Nathan said to David, "You are the man!"

I finally got it. The words in the sand. As I walked out of the courtyard, trailing the others, my ears burned. Guilty! What had we done? What could I do?

Create in me a pure heart, O God,
and renew a steadfast spirit within me.

Do not cast me from your presence
or take your Holy Spirit from me.

Restore to me the joy of your salvation
and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.

Then I will teach transgressors your ways,
and sinners will turn back to you.

John 8:1-11, NASB
2 Samuel 12:1-7, NIV
Psalm 51:10-13, NIV

Written for our Gospel of John study 2005 May 24

Wednesday, May 18, 2005


Who Will Clothe the Emperor?

Breezze left a dual-purpose comment: "I think we need to be praying for each other... when we start feeling this way.

Someone said the other day that the key is taking people on mission with you... but when I have spiraling days... I have to ask what exactly is that? Where am I going? Where am I asking people to go?"

This brought to mind a little scene.

**An auditorium in a hotel. Air conditioning hums, people squirm as they settle in. Fresh-scrubbed, earnest faces above greenish carpet in rows of plastic chairs. At the front is a temporary stage and an overhead projector.**

"Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for coming to our 'Missions 2005' conference. We're sure we're going to come up with some great ideas for a fresh approach! Now we all know that the church is in crisis. People falling away, losing interest, losing touch with the unsaved. We need to reverse that, so this conference is dedicated to finding a way to reach the world. I will now invite our first speaker to come up. He'll introduce our theme."

"Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Folks, we have a problem. The church's voice is getting lost in the modern bustle. We just can't compete with all the other voices: video games, movies, television, cellular phones. There's a lot of talk going on, but not much communication. We need to reverse this trend."

At the back of the auditorium is a man leaning against a pillar. He shows the body language of someone listening intently.

"What are we going to do about it? We're going to introduce the personal touch! Yes, that's right. We're going take other people on mission with us! Isn't that great? Look around you. Your friends, your contacts, the people you meet on the street. All of them going on mission with you."

The man in the back shakes his head. He raises his hand.

"I'm sorry. We can't take questions right now. This matter is too important to interrupt."

He quits leaning, turns and walks away. Just before he opens the door to exit the auditorium, he turns and says, quietly so that only a few hear, "The Emperor is naked." The door closes and the conference drones on. The man walks away, praying that the Holy Spirit will manage to get a word in edgewise with those people.

Now, just what does this mean? I'm sure that some marketing guru came up with this expression. Marketing types are like popcorn: heat them up and all these wonderful phrases come out. In the heat of the moment everyone says "Oooh, that's wonderful!" and the new plan is adopted. No one asks, "Ummm, what does this mean? How will we do it? What do we expect to get out of it?" No, it sounds great so it's spread around through churches and meetings and organizations. After a while people sort of lose track of it and then the new idea comes along and the pattern repeats.

"The key is taking people on mission with you." The first time I ran into something like this in my Christian experience was in about 1972, when there was this big seminar. The Bill Gothard Institute in Basic Youth Conflicts," something like that. People went to it, said it was great, showed me their big notebooks full of illustrations and parables and instructions... and in a couple of months the whole thing had been forgotten. There was no long-term effect that I could identify. This has been true of just about all such things I've seen.

There's a strong desire to fix things, which is good. People want to help. The problem is that they jump onto bandwagons instead of letting them go by and thinking about what actually will solve the problem.

Now, consider an alternative. No bandwagon, no conference, no big-name speakers and all the usual hoopla. What about individual followers of Jesus, listening to the Holy Spirit, ready to speak a word or act in a way that shows God's love? You can't reduce that to a cute, memorable formula. There's not much comfort in a slogan, but there is comfort in the Holy Spirit.

So, what we really need is churches that introduce new Christians to the Holy Spirit and to the idea of a powerful relationship with God. What we get instead is worship of ideas. Some new meme becomes the current hot item in the Christian ethos (see, I know the words too) and everyone goes out vigorously thumping the new tub. The tune is the same.

Who do they think they're kidding? Do these organizers think they're reaching out to newborns? The very means they're now touting to spread the Gospel are the same means that allow the ones who are being reached to see that the whole thing is hollow. If the church looks like society, what's the point of going through the doors?

I stayed with Mosaic in Beverly Hills not because of the trendy language, pastors with goatees, incomprehensible videos or the privilege of sweating early on Sundays, but because, through the people's meta-language I could see the Holy Spirit. He lit up the whole place like neon. God was THERE! Even I could see him, and I was helplessly attracted, my dead feet drawn to this lively path.

Folks, the medium is NOT the message! Forget the culturally relevant insensitivity. Now church leaders are jumping onto the Blog bandwagon. I think this is great idea, but not when you use a Blog to pass on the same dead words that come out elsewhere. Dig deeper! Show people what it's like to follow Jesus and be a leader at the same time. I'm tired of the well-polished ideas that no one turns over to see what's underneath.

Our message is unique. There is a Living God, the One who made the Universe from its largest cluster of galaxies to the smallest microbe on the root of a blade of grass. He made me, too, and you, singing us joyfully into that black expanse because he likes our company. Can't we give our world, and our God, more than the backside view of a buck-naked, bankrupt and bony Emperor?

God won't fit in any words. Nothing will contain him. All I can do is make my words representative of Him in as big a way as I can, and that means making things lively. He is a very lively God. Committee-speak isn't the way. Dig deep, make the truth yours, and rather than giving back the same tired phrases you picked up in a book, take Jesus' hand and go wander around the new land and find your own words. Or paintings, Or...

Monday, May 16, 2005


Sand sculpture 05F-5 (May 14)

I had an idea when I went to the beach, but very little of it is apparent in the sculpture. It took a hard left turn and kept going. Like the last one, it's a mix of old and new: the older, 1997-era strong vertical elements, with the more recent thin surfaces and microsculpture curtain wall. I liked it.

Saturday, May 07, 2005


Time Off

Thursday... I slept fairly late. I'd been up the night before playing "Uru," getting lost in places I thought I knew. Lorna called and said they wanted to do something for my birthday. I told them I had no plans. The discipline switch was turned off. Firmly.

I got up and stumbled around the house, feeling no great pressure to do anything. I should do this, I should do something else, but what I did was be quiet and read a book. Ate some breakfast.

Somehow the conflicts of the last few weeks were damped. Knock-down, drag-out fights with God are exhausting, and this one had been protracted. The introduction of hope into my life has been very harrowing.

I'd rather live with locked doors than doors that open to reveal hints of a promise and then slam shut just as I reach the threshold. Forget it. I'll live with my ashes and stone, thank you, and make it work.

But that is not God's way. Hope, it seems, is central to something. I'm not sure. My evidence for this belief is indirect: the amount of time and effort God has put into making me able to conceive of, and feel, hope. He wants me to live in a larger world with living things growing in it. He has his ways of, well, getting his way.

I could keep fighting. I could work to stay in my world. But this is work, constantly resisting God's efforts. He won't overrun me, but he does push and fighting the push makes me more irritable than I am normally. If I just let God work his will, if I just sort of follow along, the world becomes strange but I'm more able to meet it.

Still, it's tiring. Thursday was calm. No prodding. I had lunch with my friends, got sloshed on red wine (a hint: wine is stronger than beer) and the ambled home in the light rain. It was fun.

Later on I began to wonder what had happened. Life seemed uncharacteristically calm. I liked it. But where was God? I'm so used to either fighting or intensely needing him at every moment (or both at the same time) that this calm was odd. Is he God only when I need him? Only when I'm arguing?

What is a relationship with God really like? I'm so used to this adversarial kind of thing that friendship is a new idea. Is it possible to be friends with God? To just sort of hang out and enjoy each other's company?

Well, I know he enjoys being with me. Why? Who knows. Do I enjoy being with him? Mostly, not. Mostly I'm waiting for the next set of commands, the next notice that something I'm doing isn't the best. Waiting for judgment. Now, how long would you stay with a human being if this were the ruling concept? Not very. Not me, anyway. But I expect it from God. He is... God. He has the right to do anything he wants.

And it seems that what he wants to do is hang out with me. I wonder if I can learn to hang out with him.

Friday was another calm day. I played more "Uru," did some reading... and then went out and did a sand sculpture. Rich's son Eric was here and wanted some beach time. I did a free-pile under the hard clear light, and Rich gave me cookies. It was very windy and the sand mediocre, but it was a good time anyway. Just hanging out. As the tide reached the sculpture, we parted and I walked north along the beach, looking at the clouds as the wind thrashed my hair and spread salt all over my face.

Wind... a caress from God, along with the sunlight? I was too tired to think, but I'm glad he gave me the gift of sculpture. Nate and Debbie and I talked about this at dinner. I got sloshed again and was very eloquent. Debbie said so.

It's nice to have time off and friends to enjoy it with.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005


Uru and Sand Sculpture

I've been active in the Uru Obsession forum for several months now (centered on the Cyan games Myst, Riven and Uru, and their derivatives) and recently some other members have become interested in sand sculpture. Here's a link to the resulting discussion of sand sculpture.

This was all spontaneous. It resulted from another thread, where a member made a signature image of a beach, and I posted an image of a sand sculpture for the beach. The forum is made of an interesting mix of people, of all ages.


One, Two, Three

"Don't quit." The voice is silent, the night deep, sleep far away. I don't know, 0200 or something. When God starts talking like that I know something is headed my way.

"And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love." (1 Corinthians 13:13 NIV)

Faith? You're crazy. Faith is for idiots and losers. I deal with facts, and figure them out for myself.

Well, maybe God is crazy. He was crazy enough to send his love to us in his Son. He was crazy enough to keep track of me for years as I ignored him, waiting for the moment when the idea of faith could become something other than fantasy. His love was fierce enough to protect me from some really stupid things.

When the time came to change or die, faith wasn't really that hard to come up with because of that background. How much coincidence does it take to become no longer coincidence, but the finger of God? I can figure things out for myself, even faith.

"Without faith," it is said, "it is impossible to please God." The corollary is that with faith it's just about impossible to displease him. I just sort of took hold of Jesus' coattail and tried to hang on.

Faith, it turns out, isn't the whole story. It's one brick in the foundation.

God started giving me intimations of hope about a year ago, and ever since then life has been difficult. I don't want to hope. Hope is just one lie after another. If faith is for idiots, then hope is for suckers. People who buy lottery tickets and start planning what they're going to do with all that money. People who are just one step away from making the big deal that never happens. I prefer to deal with what I can hold in my hand and make something with. No hope is needed. Just go out and do things. If I can't do it, it doesn't get done; there's no point in waiting around hoping something will change.

"Ah," God says, "but that's just what you've been doing all of your life. Hoping something would change."
"Go away. Hope is a lie. I don't want to hear it."
We played tag for a few months. You want to see the Snark-O-Meter get floored, just mention hope in my presence. I become, um, irritable. Snarky. Owly. It is hard to deny the truth, however, and as much as I've wanted to just kill hope off completely, pull it up by the roots and replace it with solid stone, it just didn't happen. Perhaps it's mechanically impossible.

God is right. I never really did give up. I could have walked out of that first Mosaic meeting unchanged but instead hope flared within me and I once again jumped aboard the change train. But it was a leap informed by truth and faith, so I told myself I was dealing with facts.

When the going really gets tough, though, hope is about all there is. God really is serious about this life-change stuff. He's serious enough to show me exactly what he's doing and why. He wants me there, he wants me paying attention, he wants me to follow him and there's no reason to do so if there's no hope. I tried to reduce following Jesus to walking along a path from solid stepping stone to stone.

Many of the steps are into darkness. Unclear, confusing, terrifying, inevitable, unavoidable. I can not know. I don't know enough. I'm not God. If I were a good guide for myself my life story would have been much different, but I'm incompetent. The problem is that I've taken that incompetence and made it the guide for my life. Make do, work around, if it can't be changed then live with it or do without. God won't allow any of that.

All those old ideas are like unbaked bricks in a foundation. They fail under pressure and thus the failures come at the worst moments. History, secular and church, is filled with examples. Life finds the weak points and they explode. Like one of my sand sculptures, when parts start to fall they take out everything that depends upon them. Modern Christianity tends to suggest that people just keep moving fast enough to stay ahead of the problems, but eventually we get tired.

I'm tired. I'm tired of running. God knows this, which is why he's been being so nice to me in the last few days. And yet niceness sends me running again. Niceness leads to hope, to a desire for more soft things in my stiff life, and that's danger of the highest order. God whispers to me to slow down, to quit running from him. He's been getting more forceful lately, as I try to distract myself from these horrendous internal changes. Reminding me that he's there and that he cares.

Well, maybe not of the highest order. Second highest. There's still love on that short list.

"Don't quit," he said last night. The sense was not that of a command, but of a request, a hope, a kindness that I could do him. He wants me to go on, even if it's by little tiny steps and with my eyes averted from anything but his robe. "Just don't quit."

I'd like to quit. It's a lot of work, walking with Jesus, and I'm not even doing very much. I talked with a few people I knew at Mosaic last Sunday, and they were all busy with their plans. I tried to stay out of the way, being both shy and post-sculptural. Yet I can't quit. I know where life comes from, and hope really would die if I really turned my back on God again. That's truly dangerous. We're getting into serious things these days and I need to hold his hand even more tightly than I've been doing heretofore.

And as long as I keep looking at Jesus the path is possible. Most of what burns up my energy and makes me snarky comes from trying to run. You can't be blessed very well when you're running. It'd be like going to a drive-through for food and then expecting them to run after you to deliver. Staying put is hard. He's God! He knows everything, he made the universe, he should have nothing to do with me.

But Jesus took away my filth and keeps it away. God looks at me and sees his own dream of perfection, not my dirty daily reality. God can't have anything to do with sin, so he doesn't have to. His plan is perfect. I just have to stay still long enough to accept this. It's hard. The roots run deep.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005


Snarling At Tenderness

Struggling with God is one thing. Snarling at him when he's nice is a whole different thing, and it tends to upset both of us.

Nothing pegs my Snark-O-Meter (TM) like having God be nice to me. He tries to refresh my soul by showing me how to slow down, and I back into a corner and get downright nasty.
"Don't you DARE be nice to me! Back off."

I know all about rules and behavior. I'm used to them. I choose which to obey and which to forget, based on life experience and various other factors. I know how to do things. I know what God expects, too. Perfection. So, I know the steps required to get there, and the process and all that.

It's a stressful life. Changing the rules is never easy, and I don't expect it to be easy. God never said, however, that it had to be nose-to-the-grindstone every damned moment of the day, but that's what I expect of myself. Serious business here, and I need to get it done.

Well, it's never gonna get done. No matter how high on the mountain I climb there's still a lot of mountain above me. Put it in low gear and keep on grinding.

Well, that's necessary. I do have to keep moving, but why so fast? I suppose one reason is that I'm afraid that slowing down equates with going backward. I know myself and my characteristic failure modes.

But nothing ramps up the Snark-O-Meter like climbing impossible hills. What I really want to do is quit, go home, gather my marbles, move out and find some place quiet. Far from this crazy-making city.

But who's making me crazy? Certainly not God. He has given me holidays before, but I never really believe it. In the back of my mind I have this image of Jesus standing up there, tapping his foot, waiting for me to get it out of granny gear and really start moving. Wrong image.

What's true is his appreciation. He's glad I'm still here, still even thinking about change, still allowing him some access to my heart. Well, I am desperate. Change or die. I try to justify what I'm doing that way. But the truth is that I'm being dissolved by his kindness and this just plain scares me. Who will be strong for me? No one has done so in the past; I've been abandoned to the wolves.

Who lives in me? The Holy Spirit. He's the shield, the constant blessing, the one who salves my wounds... If I let him. After he does so I usually become VERY snarky because the process shakes the deep foundation of my rigid world. Yet I keep having to turn back to him because life without him is much worse than the alternative. He won't help me go backward. Look back and I'm alone. Look forward, keep my shaky eye on him instead of the howling wind, and he helps hold me together.

Yah, it's ridiculous. Why would I expect the God of the Universe to care a bit if I'm hurting? But he does. I didn't start it, I didn't do it, I can't do it. Now that I'm on the path I'm not sure I want it any more: his changes go deep, way down there to things I'd rather not know at all, and he repeats each lesson until I really get it.

So, if you see me someplace with a thundercloud for a face and ready to spit nails, you'll know that God is still being nice to me. At least now I have an idea of what to ask him for: Lord, please help me accept your blessing with grace.

Monday, May 02, 2005


Avoiding the Trees

Erwin builds his messages from modules. He has the modules memorized and assembles them as needed into the day's presentation.

Yes, I was over at Mosaic on Sunday. At least as much for the bike ride to Culver City as for the celebration, and also because I needed to see Phil or one of the other men. Ran into Phil right away, so that problem was solved easily.

Erwin's focus was on focus. Concentration. As I concentrated on what he said, I noticed that he looks tired. He's too young to look that haggard, and I wondered if perhaps he's being pushed by the media machinery. Interesting that as he's talking about focusing on one thing and limiting distractions, I note that he looks for all the world as if he's way overextended.

One of his key points is an idea I learned through mountain biking: you hit what you look at. "Don't look at the tree," Erwin said. "Look for the spaces between the trees." He's exactly right.

I rode over to the Control Center with a co-worker, who mentioned some people he'd talked with who described being physically attacked by demons. "It's not biblical," he said.
"It's certainly not productive," I said.

It's a related idea. Look where you want to go. Do you want to be a demon? Then look at demons. Do you want to be like Jesus? Then look at Jesus. Erwin brought a volunteer juggler up to the stage to demonstrate how this works. When left to himself, the juggler looks at where the balls are, not where his hands are. His hands moved to the right place to catch, and his eyes were focused three feet above his hands. When Erwin had him look at his hands, balls went all over the place. Look where you want to go. The physics will take care of itself in many subtle biomechanical movements and feedback: you know where your hands are.

You see the space between the trees and the bike follows your vision. You see where the ball is and your hand moves to the right place to catch it. You keep your eyes on Jesus and the wind doesn't seem so bad because he's a fixed point in the middle of the storm.

It's about all I can do. The wind is stronger than I can fight, the waves big enough to swamp the Queen Mary, and all I can do is hang onto Jesus' hand.

Now, trusting him with my life is sort of like holding hands with a whirlwind, or riding a tiger. Jesus has a mind of his own, and he is fiercely determined to do the best he can at remaking my life. This isn't necessarily what I want; I'd be content to lead a nice, quiet, uneventful life. No huhu, as Robert Heinlein's characters used to say. Just keep the boat on an even keel. If a storm comes along I'll just hunker down on the floorboards, pull the covers over my head, and wait for it to pass.

But if I were any damned good at running a life, I'd have a life. Hunkering down on the floor is a survival tactic, not a life, and Jesus didn't give up his own life so that I could squeak by with a barely passing grade. No, he has bigger ideas. If I really want his kind of life I need to be out there in the storm, looking straight at him as the water thrashes around, holding on... and feeling his shielding. The waves really aren't that big if I'm not looking at them.

The trees I'm careering toward loom up, and then fade away if I keep looking at Jesus. If I look at the trees they keep getting bigger and then I hit one. Bam. The Snark-O-Meter (TM) hits the peg and I go into floorboard-hugging mode. Don't bother me. Every time the boat rolls a tiny bit it feels like a crisis and I frantically react by trying to bring it back upright.

No, the way to handle these things is to be loose. Steer for the spaces but expect the bike to move around a little. The body knows how to correct. After all, it gets hurt too, not just the brain. Going upright between the trees is good for everyone.


Sand Sculpture April 30

Some old ideas, but made in a new way. More definition, lighter sections. Not what I set out to make, pretty much as usual. I'll try the other idea another day, assuming I remember to, or am not distracted by something else.


Wouldn't It Be Nice?

Here's something to think about. I applaud their attitude, but think they're perhaps going about it the wrong way. I can dream...

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?