Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Writing with Meaning {The Art of Carving}

"And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written.”  John 21:25

The above verse is the conclusion to the gospels.  These words have always made me step back and ponder a little.  There’s so much more story to this Jesus than we have on paper.  The world itself can’t contain all that He is and all that He has done.  What a beautiful verse.

I’ve thought about how God often instructs people to write things down. He tells Isaiah…write this down.  He tells John the Revelator…write this down.  He bubbles up through Moses and David and Paul as they write down words that simply must be told. There is a grace-threaded story and God had mere man as a collective inspired whole tell it on the pages of scripture.

Words matter.

You and I aren’t writing words that will ever go into a Holy book, but it doesn’t negate the significance of them.  Our words can point to the never ending story of a God who manifests Himself to a blind world.  Our words can point to His anvil that has pierced the sin and allowed the cracks of Holy Light to radiate forth.

There is no measuring what Jesus did for us on the cross that day.  There aren’t enough books to hold the magnitude of such a mysterious sacrifice.  It’s so simple that even a child can be redeemed and yet so heady that even the most intelligent of scholars still disagree on the complete dynamics of such an act.  There aren’t enough words…

But, God still asked certain men to be a part of the telling of the story.  He breathed through each one, allowing only truth to radiate onto wood and parchment until the story was complete.

It’s such an amazing word when dissected to its core.  Written.  “Now there are also many other things that Jesus did.  Were every one of them to be written, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written.” John 21:25

Written.  It’s “grapho” in Greek and means to grave or write.  “The ancient Greeks equated grapho with xeo, to carve.  They carved figures with meaning on wooden tablets and later replaced these when letters were developed.  The engraved tablet was covered with another, and being tied together and sealed, constituted the form of an ancient letter.  The Septuagint several times applies the word in this sense of engraving, carving, or cutting out.” Lexical Aids to the New Testament

I can’t help but think of God taking tablets of stone and engraving his law deep, carving out His holy standard. “The tablets were the work of God; the writing was the writing of God, engraved on the tablets.”  (Exodus 32:16)  Is it any coincidence that these God-words were carved on stone and that Jesus is called our stone as seen in this verse?
“I will put a stone in the ground in Jerusalem.
    Everything will be built on this important and precious rock.
Anyone who trusts in him
    will never be disappointed.” Isaiah 28:16

God carved the law onto stone, knowing only the Stone would be able to fulfill the law for all who trust Him. The Son-Stone was one day placed on the cross, and once again was pierced and cut into as mere nails held him in place. 

You are engraved- carved- written on this beautiful and Holy God.  Your story matters.

Before parchment and paper, words meant to last were always cut in with some sort of incision.  The Word was cut in with nail pierced incisions.

If our words are to make a difference today, then how should writers go about the craft?  Sometimes, I throw my hands up in anguish and tell Him that I don’t have enough words to describe Him.  When I try to get Him on paper, I wonder if I’m like a child that’s been locked inside a closet her whole life and yet she is asked to describe the sky.  He is so much more.  There aren’t enough words to contain Him.

But, if I can offer a piece of my story, then others might get a glimpse of who this beautiful God is.  If I can make an incision into my own heart and let all of the joys and sorrows intermingle out into one grace swirled and bloody mess, then just maybe readers will get a taste of this Good-Good Father who loves deeply.

If we are going to write well, then we must cut into ourselves and bleed out.

The stories that carry the greatest impact are the ones that are carved deeply and bleed forth the beauty that only results when suffering collides head on with grace, birthing joy along the way.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Ambassador {Representing the Character of the King}

This is something to chew on for the weekend...

Redeemed, blood bought.  Now, we represent the One who paid the price and rescued us from the dark pit of slavery.  Do we represent the King well?

I heard two different highly intelligent Christian men both use the word "Ambassador" in the span of a few days.  One was Chuck Missler (you can find him on You Tube and I highly recommend him) and the other is Dr. Darrell Bock.  Both said that if we are going to take the name of the King, then we better be prepared to represent Him as an ambassador.

Ambassador:  an accredited diplomat sent by a country as its official representative to a foreign country.  We are aliens/foreigners/pilgrims in this land.  We belong to a different Kingdom.  We represent a King.  We have the title of emissary and representative as we walk this sin filled land.  Do we represent the character of the King well? Do we blend in?  Do people even know we are part of a different Kingdom? We care not about our own opinions; we are here to promote the opinions and truth of the King and His country

"Therefore we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us:  we implore you on Christ's behalf, be reconciled to God."  2 Corinthians 5:20. 

Bock says we are on a rescue mission. Do we offer life and healing to those who belong to the Kingdom of darkness?  "A wicked messenger falls into trouble, but a faithful ambassador brings health."  Proverbs 13:17

There is so much behind a name.  I am convinced there is so much depth behind the names of God and Christ that we probably skip right over.  When God tells us one of His names, it is a definition of His character, a revealed manifestation of who He is.  Missler says "to take His name in vain" goes far beyond swearing.  It implies that we (as ambassadors) don't represent Him accurately or fully. "Vain" implies hollowness and emptiness.  If we take His name in vain, we aren't fully or accurately representing Yahweh.  Piper says we aren't to empty his name...don't rob God of his weight and glory. {Ouch and ouch.}

Our mission as ambassadors is reconciliation between a lost world and a Father head over heels in love with that world.  Christ achieved this possibility of reconciliation on the cross.  We only have to spread that good news, practicing grace along the way.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Jeff and Brenda (A Tribute to the Sacredness of Marriage)

This beautiful couple is Eric’s uncle and aunt.  I’ve known them for over 18 years.  They made the gorgeous flower arrangements at our wedding, hosted us on a trip to Colorado, and provided us with lots of laughter over the years. They are the real deal…steadfast towards Jesus and one another…no matter what is thrown their way.  Brenda has ALS.  Jeff buried his brother, Herb (Eric’s Dad) in January and then was faced with Brenda’s diagnosis.  (Not to mention Jeff and Herb lost their Dad, Carl Stuart, to ALS.)  Life is hard and it hurts.  I don’t know where we’d be without the hope of a Savior. Our bodies just can’t keep up with our youthful souls…but God will one day clothe us in skin that can.

Taking these pictures and editing them was a sob fest.  I want you to know that marriage is sacred.  There is something holy about a husband taking care of his wife until the end.  There is something holy about a woman suffering with grace and without anger, despite the pain.

Trying to find poses that would work with Brenda without putting her in pain was challenging, but I was happy with the raw emotion we captured.  It’s obvious these two will love one another forever.  Nothing can take that away from them.

As I’ve thought about ALS and how it has stripped her muscles bare, preventing her from lifting her neck, I can’t help but think of this bible verse.  She is covered in grace, no matter how her body tries to reject her.  “But you, O LORD, are a shield about me, my glory, and the lifter of my head.”  Psalm 3:3

May God be merciful to them both in the days ahead.  Today, I just praise God for the witness they have had on so many during this journey.