Hannah is sitting on the floor in front of the Christmas tree, wearing a Santa hat, singing, “la, la, la, la, life’s a happy dream”. She is only 6. There are 20 little kids her age who had life stolen from them before they even got to Christmas this year.
Kind of disconcerting when driving and Nathanael is yelling “Go, go, go!” from the back seat as soon as the lights turn green.
I got to spend my Friday with my two girls at their school fun day yesterday. In Connecticut parents are being told their children have been murdered by an evil young man with a gun. Heartbroken for them, gutted that this world contains such evil, thankful for my own kids and at a loss to know why these things happen.
So this is how the zombie apocalypse will come about!?
Eight years ago, the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office launched a campaign called “the Faces of Meth” to address Oregon’s methamphetamine problem. The images showed the jarring effects of meth on addicts’ faces through before-and-after pictures from their arrest records.
In the absence of clearly defined goals we become strangely loyal to performing daily acts of trivia.
Do you ever have, “how could I have been so dumb” experiences? When you suddenly realise you’ve had something completely wrong, especially if it has been in front of other people.
I had such an experience this week, and the dumbness has been public – on this blog in fact.
For several months I have been floundering around trying to ‘figure out’ what I want to be writing about, in some ways wanting to imitate others who have sophisticated artistic blogs. The problem being that the creators of such blogs are sophisticated artistic people whose passion is creating fantastic work. In my more realistic moments I have to concede that such a description does not fit me well.
Then I happened to be reading 1 John chapter 2, particularly:
And the world is passing away along with it’s desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever. (1 John 2:17)
Suddenly I could see why I felt so stuck for writing inspiration – there is a topic I am passionate about: God and knowing Him through Jesus Christ. The reason I’ve been stuck is because I haven’t even been on the road! Heading off on my own path has simply resulted in me becoming lost.
After resolving to focus on writing about ‘God stuff’, the ideas have begun to flow again. Back on track!
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Over the last few months I have been slowly re-reading One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp. This week I read the final chapter and seemed to finally grasp what she is getting at. It now makes sense why Ann included a chapter about her trip to Paris and her response to a Rembrandt painting.
I could bless very God.
Not take anything. Not ask anything, demand anything, petition anything. I could simply give something to God. A gift to Him! (One Thousand Gifts, p216)
When we love someone it is a delight to give to them. I can bless my wife by giving her some thing she would like, or by doing work for her which relieves a burden from her, or by praising her – letting her know how I delight in her. This is powerful, to be given the gift of being deeply valued for who you are. When genuine and truly given with no motive other than love, such a gift goes deep into the soul of the recipient – an act of love.
This seems to be what Ann means when she writes:
God, He has blessed – caressed.
I could bless God – caress with thanks.
It’s our making love.
(One Thousand Gifts, p216)
A brief passage which has upset some folks. Yet deep spiritual interaction with God is what most of us are desperate for, even in our crazed pursuit of everything other than God. To find the core of what it means to truly live is a source of constant unrest, unease and anxiety because we know it is essential to find it.
I know this is what drives me – beyond all else I must know God. So when someone describes knowing Him in the closest way possible, I pay attention. Even if a word used forces me to reach for the OED to confirm the meaning as being: “communion between human beings and God.”
… this is intercourse disrobed of its connotations, pure and unadulterated: a passing between. A connection, a communicating, an exchange, between tender Bridegroom and His bride. (One Thousand Gifts, p218)
If God is saying, “enjoy Me”, I am a fool to not do so. Purposely being mindful of thanking and praising God for all He gives is a precious interaction with Him, the form in which we each do so is not overly important. I continue to write out my thanks to God, but am no longer numbering or keeping count as this can be a distraction for me personally.
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Image: WikiMedia Commons
An interesting glimpse into life in Burma:
Businesses scatter the streets of Yangon offering to fix broken wares.
I have been thinking about what blogging means for me over the last few weeks and am returning right back to the very basics, the underlying motivations behind my writing. Why write? Why put what I’ve written on the internet for all to see?
Over the last three years I have learned a lot about the technical aspects and ‘etiquette’ of writing a blog, discovering that overwhelmingly the goal of most writers is to gain more readers. The reasons why folks desire more visitors to their website vary, some want their art to be seen and noticed, others want to earn more money, some are seeking notoriety. Yet, more visitors is the goal, the measure of success, regardless of what specifically motivates the ambition.
When I first began writing blogging I would eagerly check visitor stats every day, wanting some sort of verification that somebody was reading my words. Gradually this need for validation decreased and cynicism overtook it – many visitors were landing on my posts in search of images or keywords which were not actually the point of what I had written. Then there are the numerous hits from spammy places such as Nigeria which don’t really count.
What I have discovered is that I really do enjoy writing. Putting it on the web for others to read helps me to write better and analyze what I say to ensure it does actually make sense to someone other than me. So this at least covers these two aspects – I enjoy the writing so am motivated to continue, and publishing it as blog posts makes me a better writer which in itself is a personal goal. While it is nice to have people read my posts, at this fundamental level I have reasons to blog regardless of who those readers might be.
Apparently even some of the more prominent bloggers have a similar viewpoint:
If someone were registering a blog for the very first time today, what advice would you give him/her?
I would tell him that he should blog first and foremost for his own benefit. I don’t mean for that to sound selfish! Here’s the thing: blogging can be a great joy if you are content to keep writing regardless of whether anyone else reads along. When you can do this, you can avoid being driven by the numbers of visitors and you can avoid the allure of writing very pragmatically, choosing what you write about only because you think it will generate buzz. If you can be content with blogging for an audience of one, you will find much more contentment in blogging for an audience of one hundred or one million. (4 Questions With Tim Challies by Mike Leake)
After this Jesus revealed himself again to the disciples by the Sea of Tiberias, and he revealed himself in this way… (John 21:1)
Miu is a elderly Shan grandma who is a widow with no children. She lives alone and with no income. Her daily pilgrimage to the Buddhist temple did not relieve her feelings of loneliness. One night this last year, when she was already asleep and the door was locked, a man in shining white clothes, with white hair came into her room and the room was brightly lit up. When she asked him who he was, he said that he was the Lord Jesus Christ. He sat on her bed and told her that he sees her and loves her. She was amazed that he spoke to her in Shan. He promised that he would come and visit her again.
Lord we ask that Miu’s faith and understanding of Jesus will continue to grow and be strengthened, despite harassment from her village headman.
Lord for those Shan that are being persecuted we pray for:
- Power of the Holy Spirit
- No fear of man, only fear of God
Jesus reveal yourself to the Shan through:
- Deliverance from demons
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Image: Michael Woo