Psalm 0



i think trust must be


that someday i will be


somewhere a

good ways off (a

good time hence),

and not


it was all different.





Your steadfast love, O Lord, extends to the heavens, your faithfulness to the clouds.  – Psalm 36 : 5


Not long ago i had the joy of attending a reunion of some of my friends from high school. Initially i had quite mixed feelings about the event. There were, of course, a few friends who i was very excited to see, knowing that our friendship from school remained (mostly) intact and untainted. Overwhelmingly though i felt a tremendous sense of dread about encountering many of the attendees; i had not left a good impression on many people while in school, and i could only begin to guess at how much this would still be a factor.

The evening was quite pleasant at first, comprised primarily of the standard exchange of updates. Conversation centered around jobs, children, living locations, and other sundry pieces of data about each person’s current situation. It wasn’t long, however, before talk naturally shifted to more nostalgic ground, and tales from our time together 15 years prior began to surface. This, of course, was the part of the evening i had been dreading all along.

i will spare you the details, because some of the stories i heard about myself are truly too embarrassing to pen, but suffice it to say that even i was shocked at the level of callousness, selfishness, and utter depravity that the character Rich Wilson exhibited in some of these stories. With no exaggeration, i can honestly say that i was such a pompous and disgusting ass in high school that i had forgotten some stories that most people would remember with cringing horror. In essence, i had done so many awful things to people that my memory could not contain them all.

Reflecting on this later in the evening, i found myself shaken to no small degree as a result of these encounters. This event revealed two things about my heart, things which i knew to be true but clearly needed to be reminded of. First, it still matters to me a great deal what people think of me, so much that i believe it is somewhat idolatrous. While it is true that i should be concerned with how i come across to other people, i should only have this concern in the context of my identity in Christ. My primary concern should be reflecting Christ’s love to the world, and not what opinion people may have of me. If anything, my self-image issues frequently get in the way of this reflection, and often i find myself less bold about the gospel than i ought to be for fear of seeming crazy or silly. Secondly, i have a tendency to dwell on the mistakes of my past, so much so that sometimes this becomes my identity. My mistakes and inadequacies also have relevance only in the context of the gospel: they display, if i allow them to, how deep is the Father’s love and how powerful is His redemptive might. If He can love even me, He can surely love anyone.

Somewhere between the abject blind selfishness i showed in high school and the co-dependency i exhibit in current relationships lies the proper place for my heart. This place creates a man who is aware of his failures and yet not afraid to show them because in them Christ’s ultimate grace is displayed. This place creates a man who is concerned with how others see Christ, not himself. In this place, my image is of no consequence; in this place, i am not afraid in the least of looking like a fool so long as it is done for the sake of loving God and loving others well.

Outside of this place, there is only worry, guilt, shame, and dark, weary stories from the past. i do not want to forget these stories entirely, because they remind me of who i was, and they remind me of who i would be without Christ. At the same time, i need not fear these stories nor run from them any longer. i may concern myself with how others feel about them for the sake of healing and amends, but i myself can be free to feel nothing about them. That man, praise God, has been and is being put to death each day.

Ultimately, the only opinion of me that matters is God’s. It would be great if these people learned to love me, but if they do not, God has chosen to, and that is not only enough, it is everything. i would be lying if i said i understood it, and even to say such is humbling beyond words, but for purposes of His own He has chosen to see in me His child. i pray that i will learn to see myself in the same light.


The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end.  – Lamentations 3 : 22



i won’t ask


(this bag of


that i carry


on my back


only few meager


and is already


so i won’t


don’t need to


why you are


as long as


please just stay,



frost shall go one way, and i another


if it is so

(begs the question:

why then are wormless my

earliest morning larks, and

still pining for grease my

squeakiest wheels

(then it cannot be also:

things are best when

coming to

the patient


if it is so

(i have found true:

when up it goes

first down must it

first come

leaving others loftily perching

(then cannot, must not it also be:

that perfect is the grape

and practice the vine


if it is so

(i could not tell you:

for i am unread and


and proverbs speak to

the wise only


that some sad thing she telephoned to you


bundles trundles of words wonders

to ache our heart pour out pout our

face long and worn our

imminent demise desire decries

stick that in anger that sad that


slick hands can’t grasp that load that

pangs pains sang prongthings that

    just explained away

can’t be


oh bundlest    rundles can i

pour out our about this about

face into you

how do you spell that

thing i want to say want

shriek to speak too sick too

spic-n-span life with this


moments too arctic and logcabin and

days too greys too haze to faze this

phase this face

the facts






Awake! Why are you sleeping, O Lord? Rouse yourself! Do not reject us forever! Why do you hide your face? Why do you forget our affliction and oppression? For our soul is bowed down to the dust; our belly clings to the ground. Rise up; come to our help! Redeem us for the sake of your steadfast love!

– Psalm 44 : 23 – 26



this is supposed to be a poem

but it will not be

the very thing i want to say is the thing that keeps me from saying it

there is somewhere

some remedyless bleak some ire some fire

some particular breed of nameless molasses malaise

that slogs and clogs and plugs

and sticks and icks and gets me right where i am

most sore

gumming up the works, the worth: the worst

feeling i know that somehow just feels like almost

nothing at all

there is a black and senseless night in me that

wants to simply want, that tongues the mouthsore soul, presses into the hurt and

loves it

therapy is the burning ache that

i starve

so the aching may go on.

not much of a poet, am i


Guess this is my version of a psalm. i love Jesus and i can’t wait to see God in His glory, but sometimes the plan is hard to discern. i know it is in place, i know that the victory is won, and i know that all things work together for good. But sometimes i just ache for this life, and i have to fight the urge to just live in that ache and let it embitter me.

When i started the above rubbish, i had no idea where it was going. It was just pouring. i am grateful that God does not approach His writing the same way. He will reveal the conclusion only when the time is right. Looking forward to it. Earnestly.


And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.

– Romans 8 : 23

fact and faction, myth and mystery


The arguments rage on. There is no shortage of data to choose from: piled on desks, arranged in neatly labelled folders, staring us in the face empirically as matter or facts, compiled into dense tomes or concise pamphlets. They are ubiquitous, obvious, confusing, and overwhelming. Evidence for God. Evidence for atheism. Creationism. Evolution. Even within the confines of each possibility lie a myriad of micro-arguments, sometimes even more divisive than the greater subjects themselves. Specifically in the Christian realm there are hundreds of doctrinal dichotomies waiting to ensnare: Catholic vs. Protestant vs. Non-denominational, Works vs. Grace, Calvinism vs. Arminianism, etc. etc. If we chose to, we could spend our entire lives debating these topics, and very likely we would be no closer to settling these issues than we are now.

Facts bombard us constantly like thousands of tiny music notes: even though we all have access to the same ones, depending which you choose you can make nearly anything sound beautiful and fulfilling. Given this broad spectrum of possibilities for “truth,” it can be quite difficult sometimes to know what to believe. Currently this is manifesting itself in my life in the shape of one particular question: how much of my salvation depends on me?

You can make very convincing arguments for both “none of it” and “all of it,” and for probably every balance in between. Granted, salvation was initiated by God both collectively for us (in the form of Christ) and particularly for me (in the form of many different interventions and circumstances in my life.) Yet i am still responsible for my response to these interjections, aren’t i? Or is it truly the case that i am utterly powerless, so even my response to the opportunity of salvation must be set in motion by God? And if that is so, how can i be judged for my sin if i need Him to rescue me from it?

i have no intention of answering these questions, for one chief reason: i have no clue what the answers are. There is some mystical balance between God’s handiwork and my activity in that handiwork that is far beyond my comprehension. One thing i do know: if we believe into Christ we are saved. That is what is explained, and that is what i need to know. Paul must have faced similar debates in his time, and his response was thus:

And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.

1 Corinthians 2 : 1 – 5

There is only so much debate on difficult topics that will do us good. i do not think we are called to suspend wisdom, nor do i advocate for ignorance and turning blind eyes to subject matter that is hard to understand. There are many instances in Scripture where we are also called to learn as much as possible about the Lord and about His redemptive work on our behalf. In fact, Paul goes on to say in the next verse:

Yet among the mature we do impart wisdom, although it is not a wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are doomed to pass away. But we impart a secret and hidden wisdom of God, which God decreed before the ages for our glory.

1 Corinthians 2 : 6 – 7

Yet nevertheless we will encounter (and i think in fact the more we dig into complicated issues the more we will do so) places and doctrines and issues where human wisdom will never suffice to explain or comprehend. We must learn to let go in these instances, and this for two reasons.

First, the imminent danger when we come up against subjects we do not truly understand is painting a picture to look like whatever happens to be convenient to doctrine or principles we currently hold true. Though i will no doubt incite the masses against me here, i think the fossil record is a perfect example of this kind of historical or philosophical Gestalt perception. Given enough arbitrary bones and significant tectonic upheaval, we could come to believe in the existence of all kinds of mythical (but unfortunately a million years extinct) creatures, and there would be little anyone could do to disprove our claims. i have no intention of launching into a debate on the historicity of the fossil record here, i merely use it as one example to demonstrate that throughout the years, many different “creatures” have been “proven” to have existed, only to be invalidated later by other suppositions. And even in saying this, i am falling prey to the very pitfall i am warning against: where facts and figures leave our knowledge incomplete at best (and if we are honest this is almost all of the time) then all we do by choosing sides is divide ourselves from those on the other one. Specifically as it relates to Christian doctrine such division is dangerous and fatal, and can be extraordinarily harmful to not only our personal walks but our cause at large.

The second reason, when i finally grasped it, opened my heart in a way that had not happened before. We must let go, and should let go, of these issues, not because we cannot know the answers, though this is true, but because truly we do not need to. There is a profound and liberating freedom in the realization that not only are we not supposed to be our own god, but we do not have to be! We do not need to know everything if we rest in the One who does. i do not need to fully understand the mechanisms of salvation to participate in it, because it is undeniably initiated by grace in the first place. Letting go of being God, of needing to know, had a monumental impact on my life when the revelation struck me.

Someone please explain this paradox then: knowing that i do not need to know, and yet not knowing how to live in that knowledge. Profound mysteries abound.


For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.     – Isaiah 55 : 8 – 9

urban pastoral


The evening promised to be grand. A three hour river cruise beginning and ending on the outskirts of the city that would take them on a tour of some of the most scenic areas nearby. Thirty minutes into the trip, he was on his second complimentary beverage, and the riverboat was making no effort to hasten to its destination. The time was 7:15, and the sun was beginning to appear only furtively over the hills and woods, a shy child in pajamas peeking its face out periodically in the limbo between dinner and bed. Everyone aboard was jovial, at ease; casual late spring dress, feet propped up on empty chairs, sunglasses on faces, conversations paced amblingly to match the careful slow turn of the paddlewheel. Charlie, glass of white in hand, had found a luxurious bit of elbow room on the east side of the deck as the boat churned its way north. Around him the crowd mingled well, laughter jumped out in periodic bursts, some dined, some huddled in tight corners for romance, some reclined leisurely at tables. Charlie himself felt quite bold, lusty; celebratory for no reason he could determine.

A few minutes later, Charlie found himself indeed enraptured by the scenery. He had never known such opulence existed, and so close to his own modest abode. The east bank was lined with enormous houses, monstrous exorbitant mansions the prices of which he could only begin to guess. The first was rather Romanesque, ringed with pearly columns and archways, narrow poplars like centurion spears guarding the grounds; in between them Charlie caught visions of the orange of the sun glistening off windows like flash bulbs in sharp sporadic blinks. The next more reminiscent of Vermont, tall and foreign pines holding secrets from distant lands and times, the house itself apparently the result of stacking neatly together ten or twenty log cabins. The next lot was a landing ground for creatures from space, their massive arcing and waving white craft nestled firmly down on acres of green lush lawn. After that, a minor earldom dominated by a fortress of natural stone and turrets and small round windows, the river a moat navigable only by the personal watercraft moored nearby in a private bay.

Most of the passengers at this point gathered on the other side of the boat to witness the sunset. Someone called out to him to join, but he did not hear. The sun was sinking below the horizon at last, wearied from its play, and was throwing furious temper-tantrums of gold and pink across the sky, lighting the river ablaze with crimson and orange in a last horrific and spectacular display before accepting its fate in melancholy blues and purples. The birds circled overheard in luxurious dances mourning the passing of the day, singing out their last evening dirges. Charlie saw none of this, however, catching only a fleeting glimpse of the day’s repose in the immense floor-to-ceiling windows of an impressive riverside manse.

As the sky blackened with the onset of night and the craft made its way further from the metropolis, many aboard marveled at the expanse of stars which were generally not visible from inside the city limits. Charlie marveled at the lighted pathways of dockside homes, the lingering yellow-gray haze that signified the city in the distance. The river grew then peaceful; the water lapped gently against the sides of the craft as it lumbered along, and the hoots of a few owls were heard in the distance. The din of speedier craft and partiers and jet skis diminuendoed a niente, and Charlie’s fellow travelers fell to pianissimo to match the evening’s dynamic. Charlie merely gazed ashore and wondered at the source of raucous laughter, finding his answer when they passed a home filled with vibrant music and jammed with well-attired celebrants.

An hour or so later, the craft finally came to rest where it had begun. Most aboard were gleeful, new friends and acquaintances having been met, phone numbers exchanged, experiences shared, sights seen, jokes told, stories relayed, drinks imbibed; relaxation was satisfactorily accomplished. Happily they made their way in various states of confidence down the shaky ramp to the dock, and happily they went their separate ways, couples arm in arm, friends still chuckling at anecdotes, confidants conspiring about their next haunt.

Charlie alone was sad upon leaving, for no reason he could determine. Once ashore, he checked his pockets a few times to relieve himself of the nagging feeling that he had left something important on board. He found nothing significant missing, and was convinced after a few patdowns that he was still in possession of everything he had brought with him. So he shrugged his shoulders privately, chalked up the feeling to the booze, and made his way slowly back to the place from which he had come.