most of my really good stuff comes to me while i’m driving. i wish i had some sort of system where i could just dictate these essays that float across my consciousness as i drive; i guess just give tech a few more years and we’ll be there, right? well speaking of technology, that’s actually what got me thinking. tomorrow my family heads to Las Vegas to be in town for the start of CES, the biggest tech show on the continent. every year we go, and it is always a ton of fun. this year my wife’s parents are coming too, the plan being they’ll help with watching the kids and also enjoy the venue. my father in law, however, does not do well with crowds, and yes, it will most certainly be crowded. what caught my attention, though, was that i do. as i thought, i realized that a fact of myself is probably peculiar to most: i hate suburbs, but love cities and the country almost equally. i love being in the middle of nowhere, nothing but plants and critters for miles, and i love delving deep into the concrete jungle, surrounded by civilization and convenience. epiphanies are funny in how they are so similar to a slap to the face; not always painful or surprising, but always jarring. i realized that i love the country and cities for the same reason: they remind me of what i imagine Heaven will feel like. Heaven, a place where i am eternally isolated from anything not directly created by and praising the LORD; and Heaven, the place where we will be surrounded forever by innumerable crowds of the saints gathered together.
my sister has a nickname for me, as do i for her; i am mouse, colloquially referred to as mouser pouser or just plain mouser for shirt, and she is kitty. i have no idea when this started or why, though knowing us it is likely related to a cartoon somehow. but the funny thing is, i am not the country mouse, only at home in the field and lost in the crowd, nor am i the city mouse, perplexed by the simpler life and only content in chaos; no, i’m just plain mouse.
martin Lloyd-jones, “truth unchanged, unchanging”
an excellent read that proves that not only is the Gospel always relevant, but that there is o attack the enemy has constructed that the saints are not equipped, through His Word, to destroy
overheard a staff member talking about the situation with his daughter. he was speaking of her, and her life, and her money, essentially. his story unfolded, sharing how ironic it was that his daughter had been saving the many for years to buy a house, only now she is marrying a man who already owns one, so no need. now what to do with all this money? but we were supposed to be buying a house. we were supposed to be those people, with those kind of lives. our kids would be surrounded by all of these wonderful, stimulating activities and toys, attending great private schools and sitting in safe, comfortable cars. you know why i didn’t want to talk about the apartment yesterday? because we were supposed to be buying complexes our kids could live in if need be, not renting one ourselves. we were supposed to be on top, not glenn, not people with no college and no foresight. you get angry with God, and wonder what He’s doing or what’s going on; you say you’re growing bitter and hate the situation. you ever wonder how i feel? sure, i made some mistakes. name one person who hasn’t? i look at doctors who are far worse people, neglecting the emotions of their patients, cutting corners in their practices, no heart or compassion, and who took 6 years for undergrad, 5 years for med school, also couldn’t pass their steps, yet i am the one that can’t be let in. there is a poem ravi likes to recite that i wrote in the back of my red book. it talks about how God treats people He calls; how He molds and breaks and reshapes them into what He wills them to be; i messed up, to be sure, but maybe my only real mistake was ever asking God to be used by Him. yeah, i know that when this life is done i won’t regret that choice. i know that what we are going through now is indeed conforming us to His image, making us into better disciples, and preparing us for a great work in paradise. but in the meantime, in the meantime… how to describe this feeling? it’s not anger; how could i be angry with God when i know Him, and know that He loves me. the kids don’t get angry with me for spanking them, because they know me, and my love for them. like last night, how nariah didn’t say no, or stop, or why; she said “please not too hard.” she knows this is her father she’s dealing with, not some monster. it’s not regret i feel either, because while i wish i had not made those mistakes, as i said, i know it is not them that keeps me from moving forward, but my all powerful, all loving Father. and besides, i can’t regret a path of so much fun, and memories, and adventures, especially when i can see Him with me all the time, keeping and guiding me, even through my rebellious moments. it isn’t fear, because again, this is God we are talking about. my son isn’t afraid to ride in the car with me, despite his complete lack of control or power, or even view of what lies ahead; he knows his father is in charge and will get him to his destination safely. last night i watched another episode of fullmetal alchemist. i love anime for its honesty and purity; even though most of it is made form a “pagan” perspective, it is amazing just how much doctrine seeps in. in it, there are 7 artificially made people, each named after one of the 7 deadly sins. the character greed is lecturing the protagonist on what greed truly means. he says that everyone mistakenly thinks of greed as a desire for money or power, but “everyone wants something they don’t have.” that’s my problem. i look at my life, and then look around me, and greed begins to well up in my heart. i want the house; i want the scooter, i want the residency position, the suits and ties, the vacations, the comfort. so, my name is kamarr, and i have a greed problem. when i look at the lives of those around me, i seethe with desire; but God is working on me, and for that, i am eternally grateful.
we have a new pastor at our church; after more than a year with a truly amazing and loving interim pastor to tide us over from the unexpected death of our shepherd, our church sat waiting to see if God had sent us a messenger, or if we just got hit by one of the far too numerous number seeking to use His Word for personal gain. to assuage our fears, but more importantly even, to start off the year united in Christ, our new pastor decided we would forego our usual two Sunday services for one, united gathering. it was awesome, and my wife and i hope it becomes a normal occurrence. in the grand tradition of church-going Americans, my wife and i tend to spend the car ride home discussing the day of worship, and today, my wife had one particular thing she had been dying to talk about. see, the sermon was centered on Romans 12:9-10
“9Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. 10Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.” (ESV)
now, the body of the sermon was about our need as a congregation to be and exhibit love if we plan on being of any value, being “irresistible” in the world; but at one point, he said one thing, and let’s just say my wife didn’t like it so much. his statement? if someone says they love you, but they are causing you harm, then they don’t really love you. so there we were, a few hours or so later, and my wife had some words.
“sometimes people who love you do hurt you; in fact, often times it’s the ones who love you the most and are closet to you that cause you the most pain; that’s true with us.” gotta love wives; they definitely help you find out if you know the Word as well as you pretend to. so we talked about the exercising of love, and how it isn’t always present in the interactions between two people who love each other; in the end, i was able to help her understand the point our new pastor didn’t really have time to fully belabor from the pulpit. one thing came out in our exchange that deserves a little meditation. as parents, we have seen that sometimes, in exercising your love, though you are not harming them, you may indeed cause pain; this pain, rather than harm, does one good, leading them in the direction they may most want to go. like a bit in the mouth of a horse, or the rudder on a ship. i am reminded of an awesome song by Beautiful Eulogy that speaks on the function of love in the lives of Christians as the kite string that enables us to soar to the heights of our purpose in being. i am also mindful of how this explains why the world just doesn’t understand how i can read Scripture whereby God demands the lives of entire civilizations, women, children, and even animals, and still call Him love. but, see, my feeble mind can already begin to understand how a loving, caring person is willing to be called the villain, spit on and cursed at for causing some pain, all to avoid the real harm to the loved one. my little pea brain can begin to fathom that sometimes the view from one place blocks the sight of the aggressor who is already charging towards me, so when i am shoved into a thorny bush, that is actually saving me, preserving me, keeping me from harm. my poor excuse for intelligence has begun to realize that love, real love, sometimes hurts, so that it can keep the object of love from injury. the world would have us believe that we are crazy for saying God is love, pointing to the Word as evidence of Him as a genocidal, bigoted monster; but when i look at the Scripture, i see my loving Father, who stops at nothing, not even withholding His only Son, to keep those He loves from the most worrisome of all harms: the flames of hell.
“If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing. Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known. So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” 1 Corinthians 13 (ESV)
love is putting the recipient above all else; being willing to even “be the bad guy” if that’s what it takes to exercise love for them. thank You, Father, for loving me enough to see through Your plan for my life. thank You, my Savior, for loving me enough to take on human form, suffer, and die in my place for my sins. thank You, Holy Spirit, for loving me enough to dwell in me, work through, by and for me, and continually purify me in preparation for a reward that i not only don’t deserve, but never could’ve earned. thank You, LORD, for being love.
Os Guinness, The Call
please, if you can afford to buy it, and are longing for a sense of purpose or direction, buy and read this. it has been an instrument of God as I try and make sense of things this past year.