New Banner

10:43PM, Thursday, June 28, 2007

Many thanks to my friend Gretchen for being gracious and kind to lend me the image which is now the banner. She is such a ninja with cameras.

Thank you for blessing me with the gift God has granted you, Gretchen. May God bless you for your faithfulness, my sister.

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Running Around in Circles

7:15PM, Monday, June 25, 2007

So on a whim I decided to take one of those silly quizzes I saw on a new friend’s MySpace. I answered honestly, and the quiz seems to think I’m something strange when it comes to relating to people. I don’t ask this with any pretense, but do I relate “too well” for people to take me seriously? Maybe I should become a guidance counselor. Haha.

I will spare you the visual assault that is the evil html code of Internet quizzes — at least in this space. If you absolutely must know, look me up on MySpace.

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I’ve been thinking quite a bit for the past few days with regard to Christian relationships in general (not necessarily romantic relationships). When I meet someone new, I want to find out about them as a person, and a lot of people just aren’t comfortable breaking out of their shells. I delight when I find folks who are comfortable enough share a little bit of themselves with me. I’m delighted when I’ve made a new friend. I enjoy treating people like family even though I may barely know them. But some folks just don’t seem to be comfortable with being truly honest about who they are.

Why is it that we are so afraid to take off the masks? Are we afraid that someone might see us as the fragile or broken person that we are? Why do we pretend that everything is alright and say things like “I’m fine” or “I’m just thinking about things” when really what we want is for someone to hold us while we weep? Is it so terrible to be vulnerable if the people around us genuinely love us? Ok, so not everyone is trustworthy. Many people will see an emotional vulnerability and see it as an opportunity to hurt or use another person. But in the context of a body of people who love, I believe that vulnerability is absolutely necessary if we’re going to relate to one another on the level of brothers and sisters in the Body of Christ.

We’ve got to stop pretending like we’re “good” people and have it all together when the stark reality of the situation is that we are all still struggling with this cancer called sin. We end up so afraid to seek comfort and encouragement when we have stumbled in sin because we believe we’ll get singled out and treated poorly. So we just shut everything up inside ourselves and put on a happy face. We wind up in a downward spiral that leaves us falling deeper and deeper into the anguish that sin brings. Why don’t we just level with each other and admit that what Paul tells us in Romans 3 is true:

“. . . [A]ll have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”

We’re all equals. There’s no distinction among us in God’s eyes. We all miss the mark entirely. We all are utterly desperate and in need of a savior. We all need the community found in the Body of Christ as well: we need encouragement when we’re struggling; we need comfort when we’re hurting; we need rebuke when we sin; we need reconciliation and restoration when we repent of sin. So let’s stop pretending like we don’t sin and that we don’t need these things. Let’s stop pretending like we don’t have a need to be constantly renewed and constantly refined into being more like Christ. We all do, because even the “best” of us isn’t even close to perfect.

I need God’s grace daily. You need God’s grace daily. We ought to love and forgive one another as God does to us when we simply acknowledge our need for it and accept the gift He offers to us. My friends, I pray that God makes us kind, loving, warm, and receptive to one another, especially in times of spiritual need. May He grant us the courage to offer a gentle rebuke in love when it is necessary and also the courage to seek out comfort and encouragement when we have stumbled. May He grant us mercy that we might be merciful to those who have sinned against us. May He grant us the willingness and patience to pursue peace and the restoration of the bond of friendship however it has been broken. May He grant that our hearts would be tender and that we would not selfishly withhold our love for the sake of grievances between us.


First Thoughts on John Piper’s “Desiring God”

1:08PM, Monday, June 25, 2007

I’m rereading through John Piper’s book Desiring God to make sure I didn’t miss anything the first time through and also to refresh my memory on the things I was learning. I started reading it right before Haley broke up with me, so I was in the middle of the book during a rather traumatic time. However I was able to take away some valuable insights.

Here is what I have come to grasp thus far.

To say, as the Westminster Catechism does, that man’s chief end is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever could be more clearly said in this manner: man’s chief end is to glorify God by enjoying Him forever. God is most glorified in me when I most satisfied in Him. God is glorified by His creation no doubt. But it is when we, human beings with free will, choose to seek and find our joy in Him and His will that we glorify Him most. God does not find that our desires are too strong — that is to say that we long for the things of this world too much. Rather God finds our desires too weak. We settle for the empty things that this world has to offer because the world offers a promise of immediate gratification of our longings. But ultimately it is only God who truly fulfills all these longings for peace, for love, for justification, for forgiveness, and more.

We ought to love others as God loves, because this brings Him glory. That is to say we ought to love because we enjoy and find pleasure in loving them. Disinterested love is not love at all, but reluctant service as if out of duty. “Love rejoices in the truth.” Paul tells us. We are commanded to love kindness elsewhere in Scripture. True and lasting joy can and ought to be found in loving those around us. So while we ought not to seek to gratify the desires of our flesh, the proper motivation for our love for one another is that it brings us joy to love others.

I’ll write more as I discover more.


New Layout

4:14PM, Friday, June 22, 2007

It’s a lot brighter and easier to read I think. Let me know if you hate it so I can be sure to delete your comments. lol j/k


The Wife I Desire

8:56AM, Thursday, June 21, 2007

Some friends of mine suggested that I write down what I want in my wife, and then to pray about it. Not a bad idea, and I think writing them down may help me to see what the desires of my heart are for a wife.

1. I want a wife who loves Jesus and has placed her faith in Him for her salvation. If she shares this most foundational bond with me, then everything else in our relationship will benefit. All conflicts can be resolved because we have a starting point to which we can return and work out any differences we may have.

2. I want a wife who values our relationship over any conflicts and is patient with me. If our relationship is more important than any conflict we will have, then we will be willing to discuss problems that are occurring or things that need to change in our relationship. We will not give up on our relationship and bail out because one of us hurts the other or because we feel like the other person isn’t listening because they have hurt us in the same manner as before. We will always work to be reconciled when there is conflict. We will be patient with and prayerful for one another, in order that God will make us into better reflections of His love and glory. We will make it a priority to pray for our relationship.

3. I want a wife who will forgive me when I wrong her and lovingly tell me how I have hurt her. I am a son of Adam. I was born into imperfection. Much as I strive, and as much progress as Christ will make and is now making in my life to refine me into His perfect child, I have not attained perfection, nor will I while here on earth. And as much as I will hate and fight against doing these things, I will eventually do them. I will fail my wife. I will hurt my wife with my words and with my actions. I need forgiveness whenever I sin, but especially so when the offense is against the woman whom I love most. Forgiveness is an absolute necessity on both sides of the marriage.

4. I want a wife who will be honest with me about how she feels. I genuinely care about my friends because of the love of Christ that lives in me. How much more my wife! If she hides her feelings from me, I am no mind reader; I can only guess at what she is thinking and feeling. I may have hurt her. I may be doing something that she wants to see changed. I may be doing something she is uncomfortable with. I need a wife who will be honest with me in private to the point where if I haven’t been listening, she’ll ask me to sit down, be quiet, and let her share what she has to share.

5. I want a wife who desires to worship God wherever she is and will partner with me in this. If she is musically inclined, so much the better. If not, then walks in the woods, praying together, serving together; these types of things will be pleasing as well. I want a wife with whom I can share the experience of the love and joy I find in glorifying God.

6. I want a wife who is emotionally and spiritually mature. I want a wife who can come alongside me in her walk and be a partner to me. I don’t want a wife who plays childish emotional games or gives me the silent treatment whenever there is a conflict. I need a wife who loves me enough to be honest, loves me enough to forgive me when I am wrong and work to restore our relationship, and loves Jesus enough to love me.

7. I want a wife who highly values our time together, irrespective of the activity in which we may be engaged. I want a wife who loves spending time with me whether we’re on a Caribbean vacation, hiking a trail, driving in a car, or even simply cuddling in a chair.

8. I want a wife who will hold me accountable to commitments I have made and to my walk as a follower of Christ. I don’t want a nag, but I do want someone who will lovingly and gently correct me when I am in error. If I am not being a very good listener, I want her to gently remind me that I interrupted her before she was finished. If I have hurt someone with something I have said or done, I want her to gently tell me that I ought to go make things right. I do not desire an overly critical wife, rather one who encourages and spurs me on to godly thinking and living.

So if those are things that line up with your will for my life, God, those are the desires of my heart. Make me into the man I need to be for her, then bring her to me. I am satisfied in You with or without a woman in my life, God. But I do desire a partner for this walk, Lord.


Of Trees and Fruit

6:23PM, Tuesday, June 19, 2007

“For there is no good tree which produces bad fruit, nor, on the other hand, a bad tree which produces good fruit. For each tree is known by its own fruit. For men do not gather figs from thorns, nor do they pick grapes from a briar bush. The good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth what is good; and the evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth what is evil; for his mouth speaks from that which fills his heart.”

— Luke 6:43-45

I read John Alan Turner’s post on becoming the right kind of tree and he has some rather profound insights into how our patterns of thought make us into the kind of people we are:

You go through your day having a constant stream of thoughts, feelings, observations, perceptions and ideas. You don’t even remember the vast majority of them, but your mind is never really still.

And those thoughts, feelings, observations, perceptions and ideas take on certain patterns. These patterns eventually determine the things you do and say — the fruit that you bear.

Generous people are simply the kind of people who have generous thoughts and feelings.

Angry people are simply the kind of people who have angry thoughts and feelings.

Cranky people are simply the kind of people who have bitter, resentful thoughts and feelings.

Loving people are simply the kind of people who have loving thoughts and feelings.

I don’t believe that Jesus is simply calling us to behave differently. I believe that He is calling us to radically alter who we are as people. And this is only possible through His redemptive grace. Apart from Christ changing who we are on the inside, it will be incredibly difficult, if not impossible to change who we are deep down in our hearts. Asking God to make me more like Jesus is to ask that He take what is on the inside of me and transform it into something different, something better and more like His nature. We must seek not merely to produce different fruit, but to become different trees altogether.

New patterns of thought will precede new patterns of behavior, and so we come to what looks to be a rather bold dichotomy between Christianity and all the religions of the world; namely that all the religions of the world say “do X, Y, and Z, and don’t do A, B, and C and these things will make you a good person” while biblical Christianity says “You need to become a different kind of person, and out of that new person the good will flow, and your desire for evil will diminish and ultimately vanish.” Christianity denies that we have the power to do this changing of our own strength because our nature is at its core sinful. It is God who does the changing. We simply make the choice to submit to His changing us into new and better trees.

Paul relates the change that happens to us when we are in Christ in 2 Corinthians 5:17:

“Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.”

When we submit to God and are “in Christ” we are both new people at once and also becoming new people. This is encouraging to me because it is a demonstration of God’s redemptive power on our lives when we surrender to Him. There is hope of becoming new trees with bigger, better, and more fruit. As I have already become a new tree through salvation, God can continually refine me into a tree with more and sweeter fruit as He grafts His nature into my life, prunes away branches that are not producing fruit, and sprinkles fertilizer and water around the soil He has planted me in to help me grow. So as a tree in God’s garden, I should not strive merely for better fruit, but rather for Him to make me into a better tree. Good fruit will flow naturally out of a life that is submitted to God being its gardener.

So God, make us into good trees so that we might bear good fruit. Help us to understand and remember that we ought not just look to produce good fruit because that’s just what we’re supposed to do (i.e. out of obligation), but that we should seek to produce good fruit because good fruit is what ultimately brings us the most joy and You the most glory. Help us to realize our joy through willing obedience.


Companionship and Affection part 1

1:05AM, Monday, June 18, 2007

I long for genuine Christian companionship. If I stop and think about it, this has been something I have long desired, probably since becoming a teenager and never really having too many friends because being a Christian, being one of the “smart kids” in class, and being a musician just wasn’t cool. I think even in high school I saw through the emptiness of the shallow relationships that people all around me seem to form with one another. Noone really cared for or loved one another in any sort of genuine manner. Every relationship they formed was for some quick emotional or physical gratification.

At the risk of sounding like an emo kid, I understand I’m not the most attractive person. There is nothing special about me physically, and I don’t believe that anything about my personality is really all that alluring. My corny humor is lost on most people and I would venture to say that it downright annoys some people. I know that noone is perfect and I am included in that bunch, but there don’t seem to be any real special qualities about Bill Carlisle the person that would give cause for people to choose me as a companion.

And I suppose that even within the Body that there are those who are still stuck in that worldly mode of hollow relationships. Perhaps this is a fault within me for wanting more meaningful relationships with others, but I sense that people are very loathe to consider being anything more than acquaintances most of the time. I see nothing wrong with sitting down with a total stranger, finding a common interest and talking along that point or perhaps just listening to a story that they have to tell or telling one of my own. I am absolutely comfortable with it and I rather enjoy the company of others and sharing conversations about pretty much anything, regardless of the existence of prior established relationships.

Perhaps I ought to be more sensitive to other peoples’ comfort and pace. I’m mature enough as a person that I don’t mind becoming good friends with someone in a relatively short period of time, but others (really it seems like the vast majority of people) aren’t really ready for that sort of emotional pace in their relationships. I probably need to just slow down, but it’s so very hard when the depth of relationship that I long for isn’t readily available at a “normal” pace. Another area to pray for patience? A resounding “yes” echoes through my mind. God, slow me down.

I so earnestly crave a friend to whom I can write 2 and 3 page letters or with whom I can just sit and have a conversation for hours. And not just every once in awhile. And I don’t want them to be another mentor to me. I have a mentor already. I want a companion. I want someone to walk through the woods with me. I want someone to go to musical plays with me. I want someone who will sit and watch the sun set with me and marvel at how awesome God is and how beautiful His creation is.

And it’s not for a shallow reason either. I want someone with whom I can partner in worshiping God. Does that make sense at all? I enjoy worshiping God, and I can do it when I am by myself, but the experience doesn’t seem complete without someone else sharing in God’s glory. And don’t confuse music with worship. Music is but one way in which we can worship God. I’m talking about someone who is a full-fledged worshiper of Jesus who finds a way to glorify Him throughout the day, wherever they happen to be. I want someone who knows what her “chief end” is and will pursue it alongside me.

Ah, there it slipped out. When I think about what I’m longing for in terms of companionship, really it’s a description of the wife I desire. Don’t run scared if you’re a young woman and reading this. I’m not getting involved in any long-term relationships for awhile until God makes it abundantly clear that it is in His plan for a relationship deeper than “just friends” to be formed. So go ahead and be my friend. In fact, that’s really what I’m asking for, since nearly everything I’ve listed is something any friend can do with me. A wife can simply do them to a much fuller extent. And to my homeboys, you aren’t being left out. I need friends that are men too.

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Affection is something that I’ve also been desiring as of late also. There is something about human touch that is so profound and moving. Someone holding my hand is more than just a benign public display of affection. It has effects on my mood, on my outlook, on my thoughts. More on that in a later post. I’m drifting into sleep at this point. I must retire for rest.