Wednesday, March 28, 2007

We Pray for the Children

This has been my favorite poem since I was in fourth grade. It's been on my heart a lot lately, and I decided to post it.

We pray for the children:
who put chocolate fingers everywhere,
who like to be tickled,
who stomp in puddles and ruin their new pants,
who sneak popsicles before supper,
who erase holes in math workbooks,
who can never find their shoes.

And we pray for those:
who stare at photographers from behind barbed wire,
who can't bound down the street in a new pair of sneakers,
who have never had crayons to count,
who are born in places where we wouldn't be caught dead,
who never go to the circus,
who live in an X-rated world.

We pray for the children:
who bring us sticky kisses and fistfuls of dandelions,
who sleep with the dog and bury the goldfish,
who hug us in a hurry and forget their lunch money,
who cover themselves in Band-Aids and sing off-key,
who squeeze toothpaste all over the sink,
who slurp their soup.

And we pray for those:
who never get dessert,
who have no safe blanket to drag behind them,
who watch their parents watch them die,
who can't find any bread to steal,
who don't have any rooms to clean up,
whose pictures aren't on anybody's dresser,
whose monsters are real.

We pray for children:
who spend all their allowance before Tuesday,
who throw tantrums in the grocery store and pick at their food,
who like ghost stories,
who shove dirty clothes under the bed,
who never rinse the tub,
who get visits from the tooth fairy,
who don't like to be kissed in front of the carpool,
who squirm in church and scream in the phone,
who tears we sometimes laugh at,
and whose smiles can make us cry.

And we pray for those:
whose nightmares come in the daytime,
who will eat anything,
who have never seen a dentist,
who aren't spoiled by anybody,
who go to bed hungry and cry themselves to sleep,
who live and move, but have no being.

We pray for children:
who want to be carried and for those who must,
who we never give up on,
and for those who don't get a second chance.
For those we smother...
and for those who will grab the hand of anybody kind enough to offer it.

We pray for the children.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Wait Training

I like the idea of "wait training." It's this idea that I got from FCA about how we have to really practice waiting on God and allowing His timing to control our lives. We honestly live in a world of drive-throughs, of instant oatmeal and of speedy conveniences. (And believe me, I am just as attached to having my weather pop up on Google every morning...) Everything these days is so accessible, readily available. God is the most readily available, but often His timing doesn't line up exactly with ours. And that's when we get frustrated. We're interested in momentary satisfaction, in instant gratification. Whether we're ready for God to answer a prayer or to make a clear statement of direction in our lives, we want to hear Him and we want to hear Him NOW.

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make straight your paths." -Proverbs 3:5-6 (ESV)

Here's an example: the story of Jacob and Esau. Esau "came in from the field, and he was exhausted. And Esau said to Jacob, "Let me eat some of that red stew, for I am exhausted." Jacob said, "Sell me your birthright now." Esau said, "I am about to die; of what use is a birthright to me?'" (Genesis 25: 29-32, ESV) Esau needed momentary gratification. He wasn't interested in the long-term consequences of what he chose to do. We have this saying that we use from the speaker at Cornerstone: "Don't touch the red stuff," which refers to the stew that Jacob was cooking. I was thinking the other day about the example of dating, but I had to relate it to something more concrete so I used money. Here's what I thought about...and this might not make any sense at all...Okay, so imagine if God held up a ten dollar bill and said to you, "You can have this ten dollar bill right now, or I can promise you that in five years, if you don't take the ten dollars now, you can have a million dollars." I wanted to relate this to other things in life, to waiting for God's best and not settling for anything less. Here's the difference, though. God doesn't hold up the five-years-from-now option. We see the here and now, and we don't see what is offered in the future. And I think that might be why it's so hard to wait for God's timing and to not settle for anything less than the best God has in store for us.

"For we walk by faith, not by sight." -2 Corinthians 5:7, ESV

Second, I'm going to look at the story of Lazarus. (John 11) Mary tells Jesus that Lazarus is ill, but Jesus stays where he is (out of town, basically) for two extra days. Lazarus dies, but Jesus raises him from the dead. Here comes Jesus, days late, but He's still on time. God's timing is always perfect.

The last thing I wanted to look at is from Mark chapter 1. There are a lot of references to time in this chapter, and in the ESV translation, the word "immediately" appears again and again. But basically, Jesus is going around doing some pretty incredible things, from preaching the gospel to telling Simon and Andrew to follow Him, to casting demons out of a man, to healing Simon's mother-in-law, Mary, to cleansing a leper. But in the middle of all of that, He takes time off by himself to pray. Simon and the others are freaking out because everyone wants to see Jesus, and here's Jesus hanging out with God and praying. I think it's interesting because I don't think Jesus really needed to go off somewhere to talk to God, because He was God, so His connection to the Father is inherent. I think He did this, a) to demonstrate to us the importance for rest and solitude and constant communication with God and b) to exemplify this idea of God's timing. If God wasn't ready for Jesus to continue healing people and ministering to everyone, then Jesus would wait.

"Wait for the Lord; be strong and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!" -Psalm 27:14 (ESV)

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Amazing Grace

I went to see Amanzing Grace, the movie, with Laura Jo last night. The movie was outstanding, though they never sang the entire hymn the whole way through. At the end, though, the hymn is played by bagpipes, and even though I didn't cry during any of the movie, I started crying while the bagpipes played. The movie, again, was outstanding, and I highly, highly, highly recommend it. The movie showed me a bunch of different things that I don't always think about enough. 1) Abraham Lincoln ended slavery in the United States, but years before that, thanks to the dedication and perseverance of a few individuals who were willing to stand up for what they believed, the slave trade was outlawed. 2) Slavery is something that repulses me completely, as it does most of us. But the truth is that there is such a thing as modern-day slavery, and if nothing else, we ought to be praying for those fellow human beings who are oppressed and controlled by others.

Here are a few quotations from the movie that I especially liked:
-after two young men race across a field, they start to walk back toward the house. "Why is it that thorns only hurt when you stop running?"

-the same two young men are talking about climbing the ranks in parliament and making a difference:

"No one of our age [has ever done it]."

"Which is why we're too young to realize that some things are impossible."

-"Although my memory is fading, I remember two things very clearly. I am a great sinner and Christ is a great savior."

Friday, March 09, 2007


Joy is not the absence of pain, but the presence of God.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

All for Love's Sake Became Poor

I'm sitting under an overpass, between the clay earth and the concrete that comprises the bridge. There are four other students around me and a volunteer. The man we're talking to is homeless. He's a little intoxicated and so his speech is slurred. I'm only catching about 90% of what he's saying. All of his earthly possessions surround him and the smell of alcohol fills the air. It's maybe ten o'clock at night. We've brought him a hot meal and some snacks, but what he really wants, I soon realize is just some company. So we listen. And we talk. We talk about God, about mistakes, about life. Cars whiz by overhead and he looks at me. "Do you believe in God?" "Yes," I tell him. "Do you love me?" "Yes," I tell him, "because God has loved me and has taught me how to love." I wanted to tell him that everything would be okay. That tomorrow would surely be better. But I realized that this sort of hope can only come from faith in Jesus Christ, from the truth that "our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all" (2 Cor. 4:17). How do you explain to someone who has nothing and is lonely that God can and will do you tell them to believe in something that they don't see evidence of?

I was frustrated. The best way to explain this frustration is to use a metaphor. The board game Monopoly. All twenty-something of us GUPYs got into small groups on Saturday night and played Monopoly. There were three rules: 1) regular Monopoly rules apply; 2) you cannot quit, you can lose, but you can't quit; 3) whatever the "leader" (four staff workers, one for each group) says, goes. Basically, what happened was that three of us only got a few dollars when we passed GO, while the others got $500 or something. The "privileged" people could build houses on properties, even if they didn't have the complete set; they could build double hotels on their properties, and buy hotels for merely the price of a house. The rest of us were "taxed" at random times, and quickly lost our money either to the "system" or to the wealthier players. In the game, I was at a disadvantage and quickly wanted to give up. I was tired of not being able to take a step the cartoon characters who run on the rug that just piles up behind them, I got nowhere. Meanwhile, the privileged players were asking why we didn't just "try harder." As though the roll of the dice was in our control, as though the system actually noticed whether we tried or not.
But in real life, I was left wondering why I was one who got more when I passed GO...why others got so little...

King of all days, Oh so highly exalted
Glorious in Heaven above
Humbly, You came to the earth You created
All for love's sake became poor.

At GUPY, I re-learned about Reconciliation, Redistribution and Relocation. Christ is the ultimate example of these three. In coming to earth, He gave up His place in Heaven to become man. He would experience pain, temptation, suffering, etc. That's serious relocation, and all for the sake of reconciling us to God the Father. As for us, the Gospel is worth whatever the cost is for us to follow Christ's example. I'm still trying to digest everything from GUPY, so I'll try to post some more later.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Isaiah 55:10-12

For as the rain and the snow come
down from heaven
and do not return there but water the
making it bring forth and sprout,
giving seed to the sower and bread to
the eater,
so shall my word be that goes out from
My mouth
it shall not return to Me empty,
but it shall accomplish that which I
and shall succeed in the thing for
which I sent it.

For you shall go out in joy
and be led forth in peace;
the mountains and the hills before you
shall break forth into singing,
and all the trees of the field shall clap
their hands.

-Isaiah 55:10-12 (ESV)