Wednesday, June 23, 2010

least of these

something God has grown in my heart over the past couple years is an ever-pressing urge to involve myself with orphan ministry, and although i originally approached it in a mindset simply tuned for children's ministry, it has been such a mind-turning journey to see how God has altered my perspective not to see serving these children as a mere act of social justice or humanitarian aid, but rather, as a vivid glimpse into one of the most direct outworkings of the gospel: adoption. more posts to come on this topic soon i hope, but for now, here is but a meager attempt at a poem (or a song if you will) expressing this change of perspective. technical editing is needed, i am sure, but the message is what matters for the moment.

"least of these"

the room was dark and dank
the smell of waste filled my lungs
and in the shadowed crib sat a child
staring at my through the rungs.
his cries echoed with the rest,
yet nary a response ever came.
his arms wearied of reaching out,
and he'd sleep to awake to the same.

what hope is there for such brokenness?
what way to restore them to homes?
how can we save every little one's life
in a world where the lion ever roams?

he is but one in the midst of many
cast out and forgotten, and alone,
packed in an orphanage, waiting
for someone to call him their own.
he is but one in the midst of many
crying out with a heartwrenching wail.
do i open my home to this fatherless child,
or just put a check in the mail?

what hope is there for such brokenness?
what way to restore them to homes?
how can we save every little one's life
in a world where the lion ever roams?

then in the orphan's eyes
i saw where i once had been
ever desperate and helpless
sitting in the excrement of my sin.
but then strong arms lifted me out
and washed me clean of the mud.
now i'm restored to my Father,
adopted through my Brother's blood.

what better glimpse of God's grace,
who saved us and gave us a new name,
than to show His love to the least of these?
weren't we called to do the same?
we were called to do the same.

Christ is the hope for this brokenness,
and Christ is taking us home.
in Christ alone can all lives be saved,
and the lion will no longer roam.
(and the lion will no longer roam)

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

every wind of doctrine

the rippling of a thought
wavering on every wind of doctrine,

far from placid pleasantries

yet disguised so closely as such,

yet to move, nay, swayed

by the persistent pressing

of belief or ignorance

drawing you ever so swiftly,

an intangible dragging of your soul

to the corner of Iron and Time

where the beating of the water

against your brow hastens

to make you blink and miss

the Light, ever present, yet breaking

the blindness of the gray,

loosening the blur of the rain

of philosophic phrases,

oh, to grant just a glimpse of glory

in the hull of your soul,

ever breaking to be redeemed.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

prone to wander

my compass needle spins on the wavering breath

of fickle emotions and fluctuant praise

wrestling the gravity of doubt’s elusive death

and settling in pity’s pasture to graze

with a satchel of bricks between my shoulder blades

the guilty stones of my own making

i tread, reluctant, as my soul Hope raids

my resistance the Word ever shaking

how heavy the eyelids, how stubborn the drum

of my existence to clutch dirt for peace

when His cloak of grace envelops this scum

begging my wandering to cease

Monday, December 28, 2009

missional living

unreached lands. people seeking. and you, gospel in hand, ready to show them the Way.

how many of us share a vision of doing missions? how many of us feel that call deep within our souls to go and share the greatest love story with lost populations across the globe?

and yet how many of us feel that we must go somewhere else to do so? that somewhere in this concept of missions a flight and a passport is a prerequisite. that we must venture into something that is unknown to us, something foreign, whether geographically or otherwise.

how many people do we neglect to tell because of this?

particularly within the past year, this thought has been hammered into my mind every time i travel home. being from that "barren, desolate, chunk of the state in the middle of nowhere," it is a rarity to find anyone willing to make a positive comment about it, let alone anyone eager to travel there. and yet, every time i go home i am continuously made aware of how many people are living without the gospel in mind, if they've ever heard it at all. and it makes me wonder, how is west texas any different than any foreign mission field? scattered all throughout it are little towns pocketed between miles of farm and ranchland, miles from medical care, miles from universities, and spiritually, miles from the gospel.

west texas is just one of many local examples i could mention. and this is not to say that there aren't any believers in west texas, but as with so many places in america today, knowledge of the gospel and seeking a relationship with our Savior is often superficial, and the tragic, too often result is that thousands of people are assuming they are saved and going to heaven when they have no idea who Jesus is or what He did on the cross. in terms of the parable of the sower, they are thoughtlessly assuming they are the fourth type of seed, when instead they have drifted into the comfortable yet treacherous states of the second and third types of seed (see mark 4:1-20).

the point of this is not to rag on any particular region of america, but instead to show the immense need to be missional here. while we may feel called to rural china or war-torn afghanistan or the parisian metro, our ministry is not exclusive to that region. we may end up there, yes, and there is certainly a need to share the gospel there as well, but we should aim not simply to go on foreign missions, but to live missionally, regardless of our location.

a difficulty i have met in trying to be missional back home is that, for some reason, it is a greater challenge for me to share the gospel with people i have known my whole life than it is to share with an entire Ugandan village. that somehow, because they know who i used to be, my message will be disregarded, or belittled, or mocked. that in turn i will feel even more isolated at home, rejected in some form or fashion because of my beliefs. not that any of this can't or won't happen on an overseas missions trip, but somehow persecution from home tends to hit harder, and every time i have difficulty catching my breath enough to try to speak the message again.

even Jesus was rejected at home (mark 6:1-6). yet, despite the pain of it, He never stopped preaching.

will we face resistance to the gospel at home? likely. even if your immediate family are believers, there can still be resistance from other relatives, friends, or acquaintances. yet despite resistance or persecution, what a beautiful opportunity we have to share the gospel in situations where we already have relationships established. let's not watch these opportunities pass us by.

we need to start living missionally. now.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

crazy love

as an english major applying to medical school, i very commonly get asked about books i'm reading, and due to my recent choice of books, it's become an inevitable opener into my faith. during each of three of my most recent interviews, i have had the opportunity to elaborate on books like crazy love and forgotten God by francis chan or preach and heal by dr. charles fielding, often to the disgruntlement of my interviewers. though my interviewers have normally looked irritated and very quickly changed the subject, one reacted in a way i'm unable to forget.

my first interview had started late and ran late, so ten minutes after my scheduled time, i arrive at my second interviewer's door. a few minutes into his questions, something brought up an event or program relating to church that i'd done. he then asked me which church i attended, to which he responded, "so you're baptist. they seem to be nice people. good morals." and he changed the subject.

the questions that followed quickly turned to ethics and abortion and stem cell research and the like, and although i felt i answered them well and made my beliefs evident, i realized that he (being a human geneticist) could very well be a pro-choice atheist. but he kept asking questions, so i kept answering. and his face remained blank and emotionless beyond the scrunch of an eyebrow and a pensive gaze at my file in front of him. a few questions later, he closed my file and pushed it aside.

then, with his hands clasped together on the table, he leaned forward and asked without the slightest hint of a whisper, "will you pray for me?"

my initial shock of his question was quickly outweighed by my excitement at the opportunity to answer it. he immediately began to pour out stories of his struggles in defending His christian faith in his field of research. how he's been discriminated against because of his beliefs. how his lab members shunned him because he wouldn't let a student do research on early embryos. how he'd been beaten down by his colleagues because he'd publicly proclaimed himself as a christian at a guest lecture in another state. how discouraged he was when another colleague who claimed to be christian faltered under the pressure of persecution and is now going along with research contrary to their beliefs. how he'd become so discouraged in the midst of this that he had to be taken to the hospital for his depression.

and how in the depths of that depression, he made the decision to continue to stand up for God, to continue to proclaim His name despite whatever reputation he might suffer or job he might lose. yes, he's still looking for another job elsewhere. but until God moves him, he is still in this place for a reason, and he refuses to sit passively or run from it. yes it's hard. yes it's discouraging. but yes, it's in God's hands.

how encouraging was it to meet this man, who despite working in an incredibly difficult field for believers and receiving constant persecution as a result of his beliefs, continues to share and fight for the Gospel in his everyday life.

to me, this illustrated an example of the "crazy love" i want to have--that i want to live out with every breath left in me--for my God above. but even beyond the encouragement of seeing someone so passionately in love with God and striving so hard to uphold His name despite persecution, how much conviction did i feel in my own actions of that day. how much did i feel myself pulling back or choosing words more cautiously so as not to crack the eggshells i was walking on as violently? how much relief did i feel when the topic finally did change and the pressure on me and my beliefs was lifted? how much did i not use those opportunities to proclaim the Gospel? how much more will i fade on this witness stand, stammering in response to the fire squad, and then rushing, relieved, to my seat in the crowd?

maybe i'm exaggerating my lack of action a bit. i mean, after all, i still talked about the books and made it apparent that i was a christian. i still showed that my reasons for being pro-life fell along the same religious line. oh, and i smiled the whole time. i didn't fail that badly, right?

yes i did.

because the danger in letting my thoughts follow that path is that not only am i justifying my weaknesses in defending His name in my interview, but i'm shifting the focus from Him to me. my actions. my words. my impression on the interviewer.

and then it's not only my responses in interviews that i'm trying to justify, but the conversation about the Gospel that i didn't have with a girl on the bus because it was too early or there were too many people around or they might think i'm strange or ______ (insert excuse here). or only spending a couple days in the Word a week because it's 4am and i'm too tired to really be able to focus or so-and-so said they haven't read much recently either so that's okay; i don't feel as bad if i'm not the only one slacking.

sound familiar?

the point here is not to focus on our consistent moments of weakness or failure to share or defend or even seek the Gospel. the point is not to beat ourselves down and focus on us and how pitiful we are and how we didn't do it right. the point is to recognize this and realign with Him.

do we love Him enough to truly seek Him? to serve Him? to stand boldly and vulnerable and defend His name? do we love Him, or merely the idea of Him?

He is not an idea. He is a supernatural being greater than anything we can imagine, with works more extraordinary than we can ever grasp with our human minds. pick a psalm and read of His glory, His power, His miracles, His mercy, His faithfulness, Him. He is God.

how great is He in your life? (which He created and sustains, lest we forget that truth)

Thursday, October 29, 2009


how urgent the yearning
how desperate the seeking
of one chasing toward the One
yet still such a weakling
that a few paces in, chagrin
as zeal and appeal fade
in favor of dirt and ash,
and the command He bade
is muffled in our memory
forgotten in our fleeing
as sin and shame overbearing
weigh one's eyes from seeing
the upheld promises given
the depth of grace unmerited
nor even begin to grasp
the expanse of blessings inherited
yet how urgent the yearning
how desperate the seeking
when one again chases toward the One
yes, still a weakling,
but strengthened in His grace

"when we love God, we naturally run to Him--frequently and zealously." crazy love

so if we aren't running, does that mean we don't love God? or do we just not love Him enough--more than any other aspect of our life to the point where we can't help but to run to Him?

Monday, October 26, 2009


"the point of your life is to point to Him." - francis chan, crazy love

listen to this song. don't just click play and listen passively while you browse through facebook or read emails. stop the distractions. close your eyes if you need to. for the next four minutes, focus on the message. focus on the point.

if my life could exude such serene surrender to God with every element of its brief existence, how much sweeter would it be to live it. but instead i find myself stressing and worrying and rushing and forgetting the point. how devastating that i should waste one breath of my vapor of a life not praising the One who paid such a high price to allow me to keep breathing.

"take my heart, i lay it down
at the feet of You whose crowned
take my life, i’m letting go
i lift it up to You who’s throned

and i will worship You, Lord
only You, Lord
and i will bow down before You
only You Lord

take my fret, take my fear
all i have, i’m leaving here
be all my hopes, be all my dreams
be all my delights, be my everything

and it’s just You and me here now
only You and me here now

You should see the view
when it’s only You"

david crowder: "only You"