January 2009


How long, O LORD ? Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?

How long must I wrestle with my thoughts
and every day have sorrow in my heart?
How long will my enemy triumph over me?

Look on me and answer, O LORD my God.
Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death;

my enemy will say, “I have overcome him,”
and my foes will rejoice when I fall.

But I trust in your unfailing love;
my heart rejoices in your salvation.

I will sing to the LORD,
for he has been good to me.

– Psalm 13

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My baby cousin Peter is someone we can all take a few lessons from. At a little over two years old, he’s got his priorities and values straight. Let me explain by giving you an example of a typical Peter-action.

This past Sunday he was at church with his parents and sister. After the liturgy was over, people mill around and greet each other outside the church. His father is carrying him, when a family friend approaches them. My uncle greets his friend and tells Peter to say hi to “amo”–one of the Arabic words for “uncle.” In Egyptian culture, every male adult that you know is referred to as “uncle” and every adult female is referred to as “aunt.” It’s a part of the respectful and familial nature of the culture.

Peter, being the ever quick little child, looks at the man and very promptly shouts, “Not Amo!!” and smacks the man across the cheek.

It was simple really, the truth as Peter understands it is that his actual uncle, my father, is the person that is referred to as “amo,” not the stranger his father presented to him. Too young to understand cultural connotations, he repelled what to his innocent and simple understanding was a complete lie and guarded the truth he knew with fervor.

I had to stop and wonder how things would be if we all defended the truth that we know within our hearts and spirits with such passion and conviction–if any challenge to our faith and beliefs was met with a metaphorical smack across the cheek. Then perhaps we could sing out with David the prophet and the king when he says: “I have not hid thy righteousness within my heart; I have declared thy faithfulness and thy salvation: I have not concealed thy lovingkindness and thy truth from the great congregation.”

Snippets of my day…

*Phone call from a number I didn’t recognize around 2:30 in the afternoon:*

Me: Hello?

Lady: (words incredibly slurred, she was definitely intoxicated) Hi… Peggy. It’s Miissssssss Vio–t.

Me: Um, I’m sorry who are you looking for?

Lady: Pegggggyyyyy!

Me: I think you’ve got the wrong number.

Lady: I don’t got the wrong number. I know what number I dialed! (She hangs up)

*Later in the day, two older women in identical leopard printed shirts are walking in front of me having the following conversation:*

Lady 1: I’ve never been to church in my entire life, and I don’t like people who go to church.

Lady 2: I hear ya. I don’t get crazy church-goers.

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And so it seemed to the drunk woman, that I had no clue what I was talking about when it came to my own phone number, even though I was sober. To the leopard clad ladies, I was nothing but an insane church-goer they could never understand. Moments like these remind me that I am not at home in this world. You and I simply don’t belong here. In his book The Screwtape Letters, C.S. Lewis writes that we are never made to feel too comfortable in this world so we always remember that we belong elsewhere, so our souls and spirits long to reach heaven.

So the question arises, where does the soul find rest on this earth? I found my answer to the question in Psalm 84 that speaks about the joys of being in the tabernacle: “My soul longeth, yea, even fainteth for the courts of the LORD: my heart and my flesh crieth out for the living God. Yea, the sparrow hath found an house, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young, even thine altars, O LORD of hosts, my King, and my God.”

The church is often referred to as a little piece of heaven on earth. It’s also a little bit of home on earth. For there the soul finds comfort and rest in the House of the Lord. There the soul finds company and has communion with others who seek the same thing. There is a reason so many throughout the ages, believers and non-believers alike, have sought sanctuary in the church.

I’ve been under a rock and just discovered Ben Harper’s music recently. This song of his has been stuck in my head all day, so I thought I’d share. Enjoy!

While having a miniature quarter-life crisis the other day (not to be confused with an actual real life crisis with real life implications but more of a crisis of thought) I stopped myself for a minute and very bluntly asked myself the question, “What is it that you want exactly?” Although it may seem like a question that would open up a thought-filled can of worms, it actually brought everything and all the racing thoughts to a swift stop.

What do you want? What’s your heart’s deepest desire? Where do you wish to be?

We can learn much about ourselves simply by asking, “What do I want? What is it that I treasure?”

Because to pinpoint what one treasures will lead the individual to find his or her heart. You’ll be surprised where you find your heart abiding.

Do I treasure success? Possessions? My family? My significant other? My friends?

Don’t get me wrong; it’s essential to treasure the people in your life, but if the first answer that comes to mind when asking yourself “What do I treasure?” isn’t “God” then it might be time to take a step back and evaluate things.

To treasure God above all else is the only path to joy and gladness of heart and prosperity in life. And the beautiful thing about placing God in the number one spot so-to-speak is that it rests in our hands. WE can choose to place him there. WE can choose to make Him the one we treasure most.

In other words, we are the ones who can shape our lives by placing Him at the very center of our hearts and surrendering our will up to Him. Once He becomes our treasure, our lives overflow with treasures heavenly and earthly in nature. Figure out what or who you treasure and you will find out exactly what you have been shaping your life to become and most likely you may just be able to see a clear vision of your future.

“Above all else, guard your heart,  for it is the wellspring of life.” (Proverbs 4:23)

What enters the heart will run and rule your life. What emerges from it will affect the lives of others. Choose those you let into your heart wisely. Give love from it freely and without restraint.

I will lift up my eyes to the hills—
       From whence comes my help?
My help comes from the LORD,
       Who made heaven and earth.  

He will not allow your foot to be moved;
       He who keeps you will not slumber.
Behold, He who keeps Israel
       Shall neither slumber nor sleep.  

The LORD is your keeper;
       The LORD is your shade at your right hand.
The sun shall not strike you by day,
       Nor the moon by night.  

 The LORD shall preserve you from all evil;
       He shall preserve your soul.
 The LORD shall preserve your going out and your coming in
       From this time forth, and even forevermore.

- Psalm 121

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This is my favorite Psalm, so I thought I’d share it. It’s especially perfect for those “Is anybody out there? Can anybody hear me?” sort of days.

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