Divine Order

The attic space in my head reminds me a little bit of the Room of Requirement. Though there are a lot of broken fragments of ideas floating around in there, some half-forgotten line of poetry or deep profundity out of the dustiest depths of time and philosophy will always arise to meet the need at hand. I am not entirely sure how they all got there, but they don't seem to mind the clutter and mess, and they are generally a congenial bunch, quick to come when they are called.

Today's lines are from a poem by e.e. cummings that I read in my American Literature class in my sophomore year of high school. 

since feeling is first
who pays any attention
to the syntax of things
will never wholly kiss you

I've always enjoyed those odd lines and the rest of the poem that follows, but I feel like it's a fitting tribute to the past week and how it flows into today. As I have just been reading in the book of Acts, God doesn't have a tendency of working the same way twice. And yet every different way that He works, incredible breakthrough follows. As I will explain later, we have had an odd order of lecture weeks, but God's time is perfect time, and I am learning to appreciate that all the more.

Amy Sollars spoke at our school this past week (podcasts are available under Fire and Fragrance: School of Revival and Reformation on iTunes... or just click the link), and she brought some pretty incredible stories that were both challenging and faith-building. But more than stories and teaching, she delivered a word for our school that brought us to our knees in a time of repentance. As she put it, there was a crippling wave of passivity overwhelming us, to the degree that much of the incredible teaching and outreach we were doing was not able to reach our minds and stir our hearts. And she was right: in so many ways, our spiritual sponges had seemed saturated, and so we allowed ourselves to slip a little bit, losing our hunger for the incredible things that God is willing to do if we will only call on Him and have faith in His ability to transform. 

On a personal note, I was definitely experiencing that passivity and have noticed it since around the time we had our faith journeys in November. It was a frustrating decline after the exhilarating first few months of our discipleship training school when Jesus stepped in and taught my heart to hear His voice. How could I have gone from being so lovesick to just being tired?

If I have learned one thing over the course of this school, it is that a loving rebuke is more soothing than empty flattery. Discipline is a doorway to freedom, and I found that for myself in the events of last Tuesday and Wednesday. As my last post indicates, I rediscovered a whole lotta junk that I never thought to see again, but in bringing it into the light and fresh air, none of it seemed so overwhelming as it once had.

So how does a week on the supernatural that involved deliverance, healing, and impartation lead into a week on revival in the Ivy Leagues? God doesn't pay much attention to syntax, but His timing is ideal. You see, God absolutely is in the business of taking broken people and making them whole. But individual wholeness is not an end in itself: it is a means to the end of glorifying God. I am weak, as last week only too well proved, but He partners with weak people that His name would be made great. Although it made no logical sense on paper, the progression of lecture weeks was an excellent one in practice.

Erik Fish and Brad McKoy are our speakers this week, and they come out of a movement that disciples and empowers university students to share the gospel and build the church on their campuses. Grace upon grace and freedom that follows freedom. Our evangelism week during dts phase was not terrible- we actually saw a lot of fruit. But Doug Tunny's means of evangelism push the far limits of my abilities, and the thought of doing that for three months was an exhausting forecast of dying to self moment by moment. Erik and Brad breathed life into tired bones and lifted a burden that I couldn't quite cast off by releasing us to walk in relationship and discipleship, teaching us how to share in a way that would be multipliable rather than a flash in the pan. I think I can honestly say that this is the most realistically encouraged and excited that I have thus far been concerning outreach.

On the topic of outreach, I do have one request to make. God has been abundant in His provision, and my heartiest thanks go out to those who have been a part of that. But I still need approximately $1300 toward the final cost of the trip. I ask that you would prayerfully consider whether you might have something to contribute to that. This is an incredible opportunity to sow into a work that only grows with time. As Erik was quick to note, what happens on a university campus does not stay on a university campus; it moves outward to your home, workplace, and even the nations, thanks to the high numbers of international students. More information on how to donate (and details about the trip) can be found in this post.

Thank you all for your friendship, prayers, time, and consideration! As Carl Bakey would say... Shalom.


Brighter and Brighter...

In the best of times, it is much easier to believe promises than at the worst of times. But then, it would not be considered virtuous to cling to them if it were not difficult. Somehow, the trial of fire seems crafted in such a way that it does not simply burn away the dross: it gives us the opportunity for greatness, the chance to choose what we never thought we would have to. 

One of my favorite verses in Proverbs is the one that says that "the path of the righteous is like the light of dawn, that shines brighter and brighter until the full day." It was an exhilarating promise in the good times, one of those feel good sayings that makes everything warm and fuzzy, like you've just had an extended cuddle with God. 

Change the circumstances: when everything is rough, when all of that stuff that I crammed into that spare room closet over the years suddenly reaches critical mass and spills out in an avalanche of stale air and moldy, rotting junk. What do you do with the detritus of twenty years? Half-baked dreams and forgotten desires, repressed pieces of personality that got hastily shoved out of the way before they could upset the status quo, and a leftover lie that somehow didn't quite reach the trash during spring cleaning three years back, all of these things and more that inundate me, and I don't even know where to begin.

And now, after a day of bawling and another day of shouting, all I have is confusion, exhaustion, frustration, and pain. I could probably cry for another day or two, but the tears begin to feel wasted after a certain point. It is here in the valley that the promise of God is most meaningful. Though it hurts to look over so much that I thought I had gotten rid of, still I know that on the other side of a very long time spent sorting, cleaning, disposing of some things, putting others to use once again, and boxing up still others for a later time, there is a road that leads upward. In the hours before dawn when all is dark, still, and silent, the only hope to cling to is expectation of the sun rise. And even then, the light of the stars shines as a reminder that all is not lost.

Upside Down

A moment crossed my tongue
and for a fleeting second,
I tasted honey.
Crisp air and smoke-scent of autumn
by the warm, sweet breath of heaven.
No weight of glory fell,
no holy wonder mine;
simply joy.
And as the soft rain mingled
with grateful tears,
Love touched me- changed.


City On Our Knees

The longer that I have been at this school, the harder it is to toss off a few lines and post them as if they are worth reading. I'm not sure if it's because He who gave me words leaves me wordless or if it's simply that I have been humbled. Probably the former, since humility is still a work in progress for me.

This week is glorious. Twelve hour prayer and worship every night from 9pm until 9am. I love Jesus. But I have also realized that I have only scratched the surface. At some point in the hectic past twelve hours, I had the sudden revelation that even though we have been spending a lot of time together over these several months and even the course of my lifetime, I have no idea who this man Jesus is. The thing about a revelation like that is that it's not cause for despair... It's the starting point of a journey. 

I know all of life is a journey, and you've heard that metaphor a million times if you've heard it once, but every recognition of the infinite depths of Christ is a hand held out, offering... more. You've walked so far, but "If you tire, give Me both burdens, and rest the chuff of your hand on My hip, / ... / For after we start we never lie by again." ("Song of Myself," pt. 46, Walt Whitman)

He is so worthy of your love. And you'll never regret the choice to choose life over existence, not when it means getting to spend the rest of your life with Him.


For Jed Burkholder...

Because he once told me that we were out of babies, but they would surely be ripe next week.

The glory of well-executed satire:
Jonathan Swift and the Consumption of Babies



How to explain the events of the last few days? Words fail me at times like these, unless they be from Another, who has mastery over all word, all subtle degrees of thought.

Sometimes, I go into conferences or big events with the mind set that I will do the minimum required of me and spend all spare moments resting. With this conference, I knew well in advance that I wanted to be as close to the center of the action as I possibly could, especially after a week in which we had no prayer room time together as a school. And when I sat down in the sanctuary during Burn DC's opening set, it felt like crawling into God's arms and curling up with Him for hours after being away for months. Although He is always with us, still, as with a husband and wife, our moments of deepest intimacy are not perpetual though they are the sweeter for their occasional nature.

The two days following that are a blur of sleeplessness, worship sets in the dark of the night, lattes, cleaning bathrooms, and midnight runs to Sheetz. Sean Feucht released his newest cd, Keep This Love Alive, with a worship concert thingamajig last night that was a glorious party of dancing, jumping, and laughing.

One thing we did last night that was especially poignant was to have a time for baptism within our school. Several people wanted to be baptized for the first time, some wanted to be baptized again to usher in a new season of their lives. I wasn't planning on being baptized and felt no particular conviction to do so, but as I thought over all that God had been whispering to me for the past few days, I felt like it would be a powerfully symbolic act. Above all that He has spoken rings the words, "Behold, I make all things new!" For such a God as this, I will jump in the river fully clothed and with joy, if only He will take me deeper and higher in Him.

Of course with this in mind, one of Sean's latest songs rather overwhelmed me...

Going down to the river
Gonna set my spirit free
Coming back to these waters
Gonna find myself some peace

Gonna lay my burdens down
So I can soar with You so high
Gonna cast my fears aside
As I look into Your eyes...

I will enjoy You, my God!
I will enjoy You, my God!

Oh, I'm swimming in Your love...

May your new year be filled with the light of His countenance and the freedom of His love, and may you be fearless to leap into the river with no reservations, no holds barred, your heart wholly and forever His.