Monthly Archives: June 2008

The Wastefulness and Faithfulness of God

I came across a quote today by one of my favorite authors, C.S. Lewis:

In the midst of a world of light and love, of song and feast and dance, [Lucifer] could find nothing to think of more interesting than his own prestige.

Wow!  I hope we are not the same but I suspect we often are.  We are so caught up in ourselves that we miss everything going on around us – the infinite amount of gifts God bestows upon us.  While we are rarely aware of it, every single unconscious breath is a gift.  While we usually don’t notice, our brain is continually deciphering between 50,000 distinct cataloged smells.  While we barely think about it, the human hand performs thousands of intricate movements without us directly telling it to do so and with no conscious thought.

And surrounding these fabulous luxuries and all the others inherent in our bodies are all the gifts of creation at our disposal – an endless adventure of the senses and the spirit which we mostly ignore while we’re camped out in the AC in front of the TV watching ET or some other mind-numbing, life-sucking fictional/barbiturate IV.  Not saying that this is all bad but the excessiveness of it and the distraction of it away from that which really matters and the many other life-giving pursuits is fabulously ungrateful and mindless in response to what we’ve been given.  Clearly, we live in a culture where we live mostly lives of privilege, and think of most of our privileges as rights.

But I’m not really writing about us or Lucifer.  What I’m enthralled about is that despite Lucifer and his deception, despite our fallen state, and despite the world and its foolish misappropriation of creations gifts — God has provided it with an extravagance that is overwhelming when we get past our selves long enough to consider it.  What an amazing, loving Father!!!

On the surface, it is hard to say that God is wasteful.  It seems wrong.  But there is a certain sense where this seems obvious too.  That he would give up His son Jesus for the chance of the hearts of those who called themselves his enemies is an economy hard for us to comprehend.

I once shared a story about a man who chose between saving the life of his son who knew Christ or that of a friend of the son who did not.  It was an emotional story about how a Godly man might choose to go after the lost even at great personal cost.  The person I shared it with rejected the story commenting about how he could not get over the foolishness of such an economy. 

Perhaps this is why there are references in the Bible to the wisdom of God seems foolish to men 1 Cor 1:18 – though in reality, the foolishness of God is wiser than our wisdom 1 Cor 1:25 and the wisdom of this world is foolishness before God 1 Cor 3:19.

But even if God considers it necessary and worthwhile to send His son to die for us to redeem us and to overcome death (which can seem so foolishly wasteful to us), was it necessary to give us a billion stars at night, and massive oceans repeatedly pounding waves on the shore, hummingbirds, thousands of different types of flowers and plants and animals, the ability to imagine and create, endless different variations in the appearance of sunrise, sunset and the moon?  Do we really need to be able to distinguish 50,000 different smells? 

He has lavished us with so much more abundance than we can ever use of even be aware of.  We could easily fill several life times just trying to learn all that we could be thankful to Him for and still be less than 1% aware.  All of mankind’s story on earth and all of his learning, yet we still is seeing him in a dim and dark mirror.  It is hard to not see his abundance as wasteful from this perspective.

Yet with all this before us – we still miss God.  Another quote of Lewis from The Weight of Glory spells out the reality:

“If there lurks in most modern minds the notion that to desire our own good and earnestly to hope for the enjoyment of it is a bad thing, I submit that this notion has crept in from Kant and the Stoics and is no part of the Christian faith. Indeed, if we consider the unblushing promises of reward and the staggering nature of the rewards promised in the Gospels, it would seem that Our Lord finds our desire, not too strong, but too weak
We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.”

Perhaps God does need all these methods — all this wastefulness — just to get through to those he loves.  It is like the way a young man is "wasteful" in wooing the woman he loves, pouring out all sorts of praise and gifts upon her.  Perhaps, God’s "wastefulness" only seems that way to us because we don’t like His girlfriend so much – the way a parent or friends of the young man will council him, "she’s not worth it".  Of course, if the young man loves the girl, none of these brutish admonishments mean anything.   So this too should be an encouraging gift to us – God clearly loves us because we ourselves can argue "we are not worth it" and yet, Christ is fully committed to his bride.

In reading A.W. Tozer’s The Knowledge of the Holy, and looking at God’s attributes and considering specifically the attribute of "faithfulness", we can see that all God’s attributes are true at all time – this is what His attribute of faithfulness means.  So God is faithful to us at all times, even when we are not faithful to him.  And this is not because of who we are, but because of who He is. And He is faithful!  But he is not just faithful to us – that might be easy since we are so happy with mud pies.  He is faithful to Himself.  Since that level of faithfulness is infinitely above what we need, His faithfulness to us is more than secure – it is part of who He is, for his sake, for his glory Is 48:11

God’s wastefulness is only wastefulness in the economy of men who are too foolish to see that the wastefulness is all part of God’s glory and he is showing it to us “24/7/365/a life time” because that’s who He is. Because of who He is, he longs to know us and bless us, simply because He loves us – even if we do not love him.   If we’re appalled by that wastefulness, there is but one solution, accept Him!  Then, in view of all these mercies, gifts, and lavish, abundant wastefulness of the lover-king toward his beloved, give him all of yourself daily and forever since you know that without doing so, your life would be truly wasted.

Lately, I’ve been reading Pray All Ways by Edward M. Hayes who shares dozens of ways to have a rich fellowship with our Father through every aspect of our lives – a way to recognize and give ourselves to him in all the day-to-day gifts He gives us.  I highly recommend it as well as The Knowledge of the Holy by A.W. Tozer.    Also, a beautiful representation of the love of God toward us – in the context to the difficulties and tragedies of life can be found in The Shack by Paul Young – here is a cool blog and video with the author:

·         http://catalystroadtrip.com/2008/03/27/the-wastefulness-of-grace-paul-young-ernie-johnson/

That book ends with a great quote with I will end this post with it:

Earth’s crammed with heaven,

And every common bush afire with God,

But only he who sees takes off his shoes;

The rest sit round it and pluck blackberries.

        – Elizabeth Barrett Browning

Item84 at Red Eyed Fly / Encore!

Got a chance to go see my 17 year-old son, Jeremy and Item84 play a set at the Red Eyed Fly in Austin this week.  The cool news is that they were asked to come back and open for some national bands on Tuesday, July 1 at 7:30pm.  Come check them out if you can.  They’d love the support.

Here is the evite if you want to let them know your coming – Item84 at REF Evite

Item84 at Red Eyed Fly

Happy Birthday Kris Kristofferson – 72

Long before we reconcile with our Father in heaven, he is leading us to that eventuality.   In fact, the Bible says, “God commends his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”   There are many things that I can point to that made me long to rush into his arms while I was still too prideful and selfish to admit the desire.  One was clearly the song, “Why Me Lord” by Kris Kristofferson.    Kris turns 72 today (on June 22nd) and I really appreciate his role in my journey even though I’ve never met him.  I looked him up and he recently released a new CD called “This Old Road” which is appropriate.  I definitely plan on buying it.  You can check on the video of the title song here:  http://newwestrecords.com/kris/vid/

In case you don’t know the answer to Why Me?  God tells us that answer in his word.  It is because he loves us as I mentioned above.  And if you say but why does he love us?  it is because God is Love and for his own sake, to express who he is faithfully – he loves us even when we do not love him.  Isaiah 43:25; Isaiah 48:11  But it is so much better when we do, because then the love of Christ compels us and the freedom of Christ empowers us to live in love with our Father in heaven and his children here on earth.  Thanks again, Kris, for helping me along the way when I was lost.  Happy birthday and congrats on the new album. 

Why Me Lord

Written by Kris Kristofferson
Published by Resaca Music

A     E    B7   E    E7   B7                        
              E                A  
Why me Lord, what have I ever done
                 E 
To deserve even one
                       B7  
Of the pleasures I’ve known
               E               A
Tell me Lord, what did I ever do
                          E 
That was worth love from you
        B7              E        E7
Or the kindness you’ve shown.  

|A                                   
|Lord help me Jesus, I’ve wasted it so
|        B7                  E    E7
|Help me Jesus I know what I am  
|A                         E           
|Now that I know that I’ve needed you so
|        B7                       E   
|Help me Jesus, my soul’s in your hand.

Tell me Lord, if you think there’s a way
I can try to repay
All I’ve taken from you
Maybe Lord, I can show someone else
What I’ve been through myself
On my way back to you.

|Lord help me Jesus, I’ve wasted it so
|Help me Jesus I know what I am
|Now that I know that I’ve need you so
|        B7                       A        E
|Help me Jesus, my soul’s in your hands.

Encore Careers

One of my current interests is exploring how God works in the lives of people to move them from one place to another.   This interest has grown out of the work God has been doing in my life since 2000 – a restlessness in life that I am persuaded that God is using to prepare me for a new focus in the latter part of my life. 

For a long time, I have tried to use the lessons that I have learned in the first part of my life to define, plan and move into a new direction.  The is my normal mode of operation and has been very successful for me in the past but one of the learnings of this journey has been – what got you here will not get you to where you’re going – in fact that is a trap, a prideful archor that slows down progress.   It’s taken me awhile to learn it. 

Consequently, I have recently decided to quit focusing on defining, planning, and executing and shifted to enjoy exploring, experiencing and celebrating for awhile – trusting God to use this to guide me – removing it from my control and surrendering to only His.   This category in Viewed Mercies will be a place where I will keep up with and share my exploration.

This morning – God shared with me an article that was very interesting:

ROBERT POWELL: Is there an ‘encore’ career in your future?

 

Retired Bridge

Retired BridgeI love old bridges.  I don’t know why but I will go out of my way to travel on them.   This bridge no longer knows the feeling of passing cars.  It has been replaced by the new road on which I stood as I created this image.  However, it is able to be walked upon (although I’m likely breaking some law to do it).

It is haunting and a bit scarey wondering about those that traveled it in the past while considering whether it will still hold me as I walk across the wood slats and observe those no longer there. Bridges connect us – from one side to the other. But in this world, they eventually must be retired as rust and the elements consume them.   Everything in this world passes away.  

It reminds me that God knows this reality and He knows we cannot create a bridge that does not pass away nor can we create a tower, stairway or bridge to heaven.  For that to occur, would require material not of this world and it would have to overcome the decay and death of this world.  And that is why He sent his son from heaven – because nothing of this world would do.  And that is why Jesus had to die and be raised again – because the bridge He created had to span the chasm between death and life.

I love this old bridge, formed with the wood of the cross, that connected me with my heavenly Father and all of his creations forever.

Birthday Blessings

I decided not to let my birthday be just one more day this year.   Celebrated in a variety of ways including hanging out with family and friends and getting a great massage from Stacie Lemire of Healing Touch Therapies.   Until less than a year ago, I had never had a massage – I was always a little uncomfortable with the idea.

However, I met Stacie at a business network event a few years earlier and was very impressed with her.  Still, it took me a few years to try it out.   I tend to be more mental in my faith but I have to say that I have found a deep, authentic and very needed aspect of spiritual life though this experience in the few times I have now participated.  

Of late, God is leading me more to experience Him then to just know about him – and working out, message, eating right — all that earthly, bodily stuff is surprisingly essential.  This is why the Lord ate and drank with sinners, marveled at prostitutes that cried on his feet and whiped them with there hair, and gave us to remember him this ritual: eat this bread, drink this wine. 

While other gods wouldn’t stoop so low as to touch mortal things, the Divine Jesus replies, “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.  Revelation 3:20