Saturday, August 16, 2008

Untitled Poem

To stand at the edge, and look upon the falling path before
To stand at the edge, and look up on the ascending path before
Is to be almost alone
Is to be surrounded by masses

They tread not the paths
They tread not

Another way would seem easier, where there are no edges
An other way would seem better, where there are none but edges
And those who would tread beside
And those who would never dare

They fear to fall
They fear

To see the vista, to look upon the beauty from the peaks
To see the vista, to gaze up on the beauty from the valleys
Is to be daring and true
Is to be timid and unsure

They do not love the valleys
They do not love

Another vantage point would call, where the vistas are unnoticed grandeur
An other vantage point would follow, where the vistas are ever-noticed grandeur
And those who would tremble but walk
And those who would tremble and stop

They hesitate to strive
They hesitate

And there is love
And there is joy
And there is life

And there is apathy
And there is despair
And there is the cold of death

To fail to live
To fail

To dare to love
To dare

Sunday, August 10, 2008

A year

I stand at the juncture again: the beginning of a new school year. As long as I can remember, my life has been measured in school years. I have memories prior to that, but my sense of the progress of my life is measured thus. And I come now to the beginning of what may well be the end of my years in school. I know not exactly what follows this season - whether a job, or graduate school - but I know this: it will be very different from all the years that have come before.

And so I look into this year with expectancy of all that God will do, I wonder. I could not have seen all that came last year, nor even imagined most of it. I knew then that God had great changes ahead for me, and a deeper calling and vision than I had known previously. But most of what the year held I could never have imagined. And so it will be with this year.

Things I do see ahead:
  • Continuing to pursue Christ. What this looks like this year, I'm still learning, as ever I will be. But I know that it's going to be deeper, richer, harder, better.

  • Continuing to grow closer to Jaimie Dawn. I have a few ideas of what the next months hold, but given how much every day with her surprises and amazes me, I've no doubt God will continue to amaze us and challenge us.

  • Ministry: the details of which are slowly shaping up, but which will undoubtedly look different from what I anticipate. They always do.

  • Friendships: old friendships will continue, and undoubtedly a few new friendships will be formed. I am praying for God to move in this area in particular, and waiting expectantly to see how He answers.

  • Family: God has great things for my family, and for Jaimie's family, and I cannot wait to see how we get to be a part of that.

  • School: research will continue, and I'm looking forward to my classes. Undoubtedly here, too, there will be surprises. Hopefully they're good surprises. And hopefully - I pray! - I won't have any major physical travails this year.

  • Work: Continuing RA work, and hopefully finding another job as well, so that I can save money for major expenses that will come up very quickly after I graduate.

I've no idea how else God is going to move. I just know that He will, and that it will be good!

- Chris

Thursday, August 7, 2008


I don't know how to pray for myself as I ought. Of course, I don't know how to pray as I ought in general, but in particular, I don't know how to pray for myself. I have some idea of how to pray for others. But for myself - I realized yesterday that I don't have a clear picture of what I ought to pray, where I ought to start.

A striking recognition, that. It started to cross my mind a few weeks ago as I began to develop a daily prayer plan - and realized that I was including only prayer for others. I made a note to myself: develop a personal prayer plan.

That seems so elementary. Yet as I walked into the student union on campus yesterday, it was as though the Holy Spirit spoke to me. I didn't hear a voice, but I was powerfully convicted. You don't know how to pray for yourself. You almost never pray for yourself. I blinked, paused to think about it. You're right, Lord, I thought. I don't. I don't have any idea what to pray about.

We excel at asking for His help; we effortlessly pray for our needs to be met. We may even pray for direction and vision. But beyond that... What are the questions to ask? What is to be the focus of my prayers? How am I to go to a deeper level in this, to grow in maturity in praying for the work of the Spirit in me, in praying for righteousness and for deliverance from sin? I, for one, don't really know how what that looks like. Or I didn't; I'm starting to catch the tiniest of glimpses.


If we are not ever mortifying our sin, it is killing us. Period. I've been reading slowly through a volume of John Owen's works titled Overcoming Sin and Temptation, a compliation of three of his treatises on that topic that was published a few years ago. Writing centuries ago, this Puritan thinker challenges me immensely. Every time I make it a page in this book, I am forced to grapple with how powerful sin is, how deep and penetrating its hold on my heart, how ineffective my own efforts to combat it and how terrible the need to daily combat it with the graces of the Spirit.

Owen comments at one point that we often react - quite naturally - in opposition to sin, rising up with all the power in our human souls to attack various sins. He notes, however, that this doesn't necessarily mean we're truly seeking to kill the sins that fill us: all too often, this stirring of our combative faculties is but the attempt to quiet a troubled conscience or do enough against sin that we have respite from the convicting promptings of the Holy Spirit.

To truly mortify sin in this life, he contends, is to daily do battle with it, to intentionally seek out every crevice in which it hides and shine their the light of the graces of Christ. Our only hope of defeating sin - though we shall not see it dead in this life - is to pursue it as a great enemy and seek its defeat at every opportunity, actively engaging in the fruits of the Spirit and denying the fruits of the flesh. And to see sin brought to its lowest in this life comes only by not relenting when sin is quiet in our lives, but instead to press on all the more firmly, intent on not merely leaving it temporarily subdued but on its utter eradication.

Love against hate and apathy, joy against despair, peace against turmoil, patience against rashness and impatience, kindness against a critical spirit, goodness against , gentleness against a critical spirit, faithfulness against fickleness and disloyalty, self-control against laxness: this is our battle against sin, daily. Humility wars with pride, doubt with trust, and the victory is contingent on the strength of Christ worked out in us always.


The Spirit spoke through Owen and Jaimie Dawn to me yesterday. I have been wrestling these past weeks with this idea, quietly and not even aware, not recognizing how much of the undercurrents of my emotions were the Spirit leaving me unsettled until I was willing to confront this head-on.

Most of the time, God has to do something drastic to get my attention when it comes to sin issues in my life. Even in areas of ministry focus and direction, it often takes the spiritual equivalent of a smack across the face for me to realize what God is saying. Why is that? There's a connection between the two.

It's in my pursuit of Christ. It is not enough for me to continue to grow in my walk with Christ as I normally have thought of it: increasing steadily along this path. There is more, and I'm beginning to catch a glimpse of it.

We must have no less intentionality about praying for the fruits of the Spirit than against the fruits of the flesh. We must daily press in against the sins in our flesh, never growing even slightly complacent lest it burst out against our laxness. And in just as deep a measure, we must daily press in toward the fruits of the Spirit. And this is to be active!

Wherever we are at in our walk with Christ, we are called to more. It is not enough to pursue Him today as we did yesterday: it simply will not do. We begin to understand this, and then the enemy throws us a lie and we buy it.

What is the lie? It's that the way in which our pursuit of Christ is carried out doesn't change or grow, just the measure to which we know Christ in that pursuit. We must continue to grow not only in the measure of our pursuit of Him - that is, in the breadth of the pursuit - but in the manner, as well - that is, in the depth of the pursuit.

As we grow we do not merely take in more milk - we learn to eat solid food.

I have not led that speak to all of my life. To my reading and study of Scripture, yes - but I must learn to eat solid food in prayer, in mortification of sin, in evangelism, in everything. Milk doesn't cut it anymore.

May the grace and peace of Christ be your joy and your strength!

- Chris

Sunday, August 3, 2008


Emotions flaring. Anger, sorrow, sadness, joy, happiness, contentment, all mingling in one tangled swarm rushing over me like microbursts: cloudless skies suddenly pouring down rain and then blue again.

And in all of this, God is King. He is great, mighty, awesome, the savior who will redeem, who has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.

This past week has been one of frustrations, slowly being submitted to the King. Work was difficult. Life was topsy-turvy. Emotions that I set aside came flaring up when I least expected it. And in all of this, the steadfast love and faithfulness of God abounded. Rightly so - that is who He is! He is a God gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness. I see that a bit more every day. Most often I see it in the times and places that are trying.

As with seasons I've had before, I have no major trials at the moment. Instead, I have a flurry of small to medium-sized difficulties on my plate. And that can be far more discouraging and even debilitating than large struggles. Quite simply, we take each one too lightly in general because they are so small, instead of realizing that as with every trial we face they require not our strength but that of Christ. Our own strength will ever and always fail us - but we are more likely at stages like the one I am currently in, somewhat reliant on God's strength but not entirely there - to trust ourselves for the small stuff.

When we do thus, we find ourselves tired, falling apart, unable to press on and wondering why. Ultimately, it's for that simple reason: that we are not to operate even in these smallest things out of our own strength.

And in many ways it's far more difficult to surrender those small moments to Christ. We are far more tempted to think our own strength sufficient to handle a small emotional letdown after a rough day at work than to think it sufficient to deal with cancer. (The latter takes an entirely different set of graces working in our hearts!)

We find, however, when we are willing to admit our own utter insufficiency - not merely a partial or incomplete insufficiency - that Christ's strength is indeed great enough for the small things. I say "great enough" intentionally, though it might seem the opposite of the normal understanding: it takes a truly great strength to deal with the smallest issues of another, instead of brushing it off as not worth one's time. One of the many amazing ways in which the greatness of God is revealed is His passion for what we often see as banal and meaningless.

He calls us to be faithful in little if we wish to be faithful in much. He calls us to be holy as He is holy. He is faithful equally in the little and the great. And when we are not faithful, still He ever is, for He cannot deny Himself, cannot be other than He is.

And in this we put our hope: not our own strength, but in the work of Christ, the future but so-solid promise of a city with foundations and a Lamb for its lamp.

Grace and peace cover you.

- Chris