Monday, October 31, 2016

A Poem: On Wonder and Knowing

'Know less' is modern's saving grace;
Waiting, bowing, veiling face;
Finite humbling giving way to space.

Wise ancients, happy not to know;
Looking, bowing, peaceful, slow;
Holding loosely, angels fear to hold.

Last year I entered a poetry contest with three poems. Two were free verse and then this one with a repeating meter that doesn't flow easily. For that and many reasons unknown to me, the poems received no mention, not even "honorable-." But it was good to try for I loved to learn to morsel ideas, words and phrases until just right.

And then there's the peril of putting it out for others who, should they give the time might not think it worth it. For sharing ideas is to feed the soul, the heart, the mind; draw to better things and ultimately, to God. I wonder. That is the beginning and sometimes the happy end.

The One who holds all things we know but a little. With Him, that is enough. (big smile)


Night Wonders
Night wonders, wander 'cross the sky:
Swaying, saying, “Wonder why
Erie, mystic, curling shades go by?”

We ponder question silently.
Solar dust the answer be?
Hueing, sheering dark in mystery?”

This science, knowledge of the mind;
Barely passes its own kind;
Finds itself in miniscule bind.

Head study offers wherewithal;
Nature's doings crystal ball;
Sky's largesse ridiculously small.

'Know less' is modern's saving grace;
Waiting, bowing, veiling face;
Finite humbling giving way to space.

Wise ancients, happy not to know;
Looking, bowing, peaceful, slow;
Holding loosely, angels fear to hold.

Heart-longing, knowledge 'lone can't see;
Science all things cannot be.
Yearning's answer found in mystery?

Night wonders, wander 'cross the sky
Calling, lisping, “Soar and fly;
Knowing knowing's song is prone to lie!”

We're hinting,” seems we hear them say.
Living, beings only way;
Fleeing – holding certainty at bay.”

See further, past the answer's test;
Veiling, lighting -- we suggest:
'Distant distance clues eternal rest.'”


Friday, September 16, 2016

Robert P. George on Marriage and the Meaning of Children

The most helpful principle I've found in the mind-numbing discussion of marriage in recent years is this: the matter of sexual ethics is grounded in marriage.

All the questions and discussion about what is permissible, etc. must be traced back to a careful understanding of what marriage is. As always, the pesky requirement of definition keeps us from meaningful discussion because we don't, literally, know what we are talking about until we carefully define.

One practical way this plays out is in the oft-repeated slogan in support of a given political initiative: "CHILDREN FIRST!" Casual reflection indicates that without some conception of family as primary there would be no children. And furthermore, without a sound understanding of the sexual union from which such children come, there is no way to think of putting them first. Indeed, to put children first is impossible and thus a faulty and doomed approach. But it sounds good and raises money so onward we go.

Thus -- hopefully the connection will become clear -- when I read a chapter in the Clash of Orthodoxies by Robert P. George, Princeton scholar and truth-beauty advocate extraordinaire, I once again found him deeply helpful as he discussed moral neutrality and same-sex marriage. Stunning in philosophical rigor; honest-as-always in engagement with critics; helpful to the layman who needs bolstering of understanding and life.

I leave only this for now:

Reproductive-type acts belong "to the only class of acts by which children can come into being, not as 'products' which their parents choose to 'make,' but, rather, as perfective participants in the organic community (i.e., the family) established by their parents' marriage.

"It is thus that children are properly understood and treated -- even in their conception -- not as means to their parents' ends, but as ends-in-themselves; not as subjects of justice (and inviolable human rights); not as property, but as persons. Not all cultures have fully grasped these truths about the moral status of children. Our culture's grasp of these truths is connected to a basic understanding of sex and marriage...which is under severe assault from people who have no conscious desire to reduce children to the status of mere means, or objects or property."

His thesis is that traditional understanding of marriage is the only one that established this intrinsic value of children.

Thus the loss of traditional understanding gives myriad symptoms, not least the wanton destruction of human life in the womb, the rational for which is grounded in a depersonalization of the person, in particular the mother first, and then the 'product of conception', itself a term that belies the damning and damnable effect of separating sexuality from persons. (The intrinsic connection of personhood to traditional marriage is much the heart of the essay.)

I trust this can be helpful in some way, critics aside. The God I endeavor to trust and acknowledge in all my ways calls us to blessing. And George's gifted explication helps us see why He lays out that path in this critical area of sexual behavior. Children are surpassingly good because of something beyond both parent and child.

Whence the obvious otherworldly nature of sexuality? Certainly not created by us! We can destroy by demeaning -- sinful nature makes us prone to that in great measure. But we could never create such a thing, nor, on our own as if self-originating-- (this is the point entire) -- could we create the surpassing good of other creatures like ourselves. Rather we acknowledge the gift, receive, and participate. As we participate in life with God -- wonder beyond wonders -- so we participate in life with one another in countless ways and also in procreative acts within marriage -- a secondary wonder; and then, in turn, those creatures we are blessed to create continue the celebration of life which genesis can only come from the One who made and loved and exults in it all for all eternity!

Help, Lord! I love the thought, the truth, the wonder!
And to know You are in and through it all, that is the best of all!

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Musing on Marriage

Faithful loving-kindness, though gut-wrenchingly hard sometimes, can win the day. 
The pain of its loss should elicit a deep hunger for restoration, and prayer to the One who shows the way to make it real again in our lives with one another.

I have watched marriages die because the husband could not overcome depression. He was unable to be happy, to engage, to make the life for his family that he so very much wanted.

The wife, for her part, had the same desires but could not get there either. So they split ways and she eventually began to live again. He descended into deeper depression and could not grasp the boot straps that he hoped would lift him out and make him the husband and father he longed to be.

Was he wrong? Was splitting the answer? Though it seems he was wrong in ways that go beyond the debilitating nature of depression, I do not know all the issues involved. Nor, sadly, do they for such things can be desperately inexplicable. 

A good friend lost his family after 15 years and 4 children. He wrote me in anguish for the lost love and hope and dreams. He was holding on, but his wife had let go. I do not know why, nor does he, nor does she, our human-ness being what it is. The pain of such things is a self-feeding vortex. Is there an answer, a way out of the descent?

Surely, it is this: a love which “does not alter when it alteration finds." A love that "bears all things, hopes all things, believes all things, endures all things.” Its loss makes the longing all the more acute.

Successful marriages teach many things, and this: keep on keeping on. There is a value in refusing to quit that always pays richly in the long run. The virtue of endurance is its own reward.

I have seen it and so have you: the wife who will not give up, the husband who endures long, a marital love that clings to one another through the pain and struggle that every marriage can be. Think of those examples. I am thinking of one, and another, and then of my own parents who threw away the key and devoted themselves to one another and their home.

Easy? Ha! But worth it, though the value was not always obvious and only became clear over time in the lives of children and their own families.

And so I weep for those who are losing this battle, and I pray for the wind of the Spirit to blow and rejuvenate and defeat the onslaught of pain and hardship that can topple any family if given half a chance.

What can I do? What can you do? Look around you and find one family that would be prone to losing their grip, overwhelmed with the various realities of life. Give a word of encouragement, take time to pray for them, provide for some need.

And deeply re-commit yourself to the community of those who refuse to give up. Weep with those who weep, know that but-for-the-grace-of-God you lose, and receive His enabling as one step goes before the next. Your marriage is worth it and your example will matter.

Faithful loving-kindness, though gut-wrenchingly hard sometimes, can win the day. The pain of its loss should elicit a deep hunger for restoration, and prayer to the One who shows the way to make it real again in our lives with one another.
Today I pray that prayer for myself, for you and for the broken world around us.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Imagine there's no...

You've heard the song. Beautiful. Wildly famous musicians made it world-famous and its magic lingers on.

Imagine there's no heaven, It's easy if you try,
No hell below us, Above us only sky;
Imagine all the people living for today...

Imagine there's no countries, It isn't hard to do,
Nothing to kill or die for, No religion too,
Imagine all the people living life in peace...

You may say I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one,
I hope some day you'll join us, And the world will live as one.

Imagine no possessions, I wonder if you can,
No need for greed or hunger, A brotherhood of man,
Imagine all the people Sharing all the world...

You may say I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one,
I hope some day you'll join us, And the world will live as one.


Those who know me may brace and cringe for the diatribe, the disgusted dismissal of the drivel. (Come to think of it, that sounded about right!)
But no, a song that has such appeal deserves thoughtful attention. A few bullets and I'm done:
  • The music is beautiful and enchanting.
  • The words are too, combining for magical aesthetic harmony and otherworldly power.
  • The meaning expresses grand longings of the human spirit, coupled with impossibly obtuse philosophical awareness.
  • The meaning mocks the reality we live with.
  • While we dare not mock the desire for peace, the means by which such peace will be gained is cruelly naive.
  • Peace will never happen this way, because people are fallen. Every. One. Of. Us.
  • Christ brings the now and not yet. Real peace from the inside out now. That reality giving tangible hope for the 'yet-to-come' -- the new heavens and earth where the curse of sin is no more and peace rules.
  • Proof? The mystery and glory of the cross.
So I find, in the end, the lyrics damnable and damning, as is anything that fundamentally denies reality. I understand the truly figurative meaning of the various words. By "religion" for example he can only mean organized religion as such; for to disallow the concept of religion would negate the song's message. He is doing nothing if not proposing a new religion of peace.

But in a world wildly afflicted with something badly wrong; and with a purview that disallows both sin and possible real personal savior, the song fails. Deeply sad, because so beautiful. And that makes it all the worse.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

News Flash: Old Guy Runs for Funds in Midnight Sun Run!

On Easter Sunday I stepped off the proverbial cliff and announced I would run in the Midnight Sun Run. At the time I thought it was a 5K. It is a 10K. No I was not in shape! No I do not have a death wish!
I did feel it was right, for the fun of it, and for the cause of raising mission funds. I have been training and plan to run Saturday night at 10 PM. 

The form below says a bit more and gives options for contributing if you would like. 

Smiles and gratitude and giving it my best -- thanks to all for friendship and prayers. I am looking forward to it! (be sure to read my stellar qualifications at the bottom!)

We'll let you know how it turns out!

                                           
   

 Fun Fundraiser for Missions

10K for $10K



Pastor Huff caught a vision to raise money for missions by running in the Midnight Sun Run this year. You read that right – he will run in the 10K! Skeptical? Good reason for that! Here are some ways to respond if you want to:


    I'm amused. I'll come to town and see if he makes it. _____
    I'm not amused! Does he have life insurance? _____
    I'm amused. If he survives I'll give $________
    I'll donate a wheelchair or crutches. _____
    I'm concerned! I'll come and encourage him! _____
    I'd like to run, too. (Register online) _____
    I'd like to run and raise mission funds too! _____
    I will give “per K” he actually runs. Gift amount per kilometer ran: $100 ____; $50 _____; $25 _____; $10 _____; $ Other amt. ________. (ex: A pledge of $50 per K means if he runs 6 kilometers the gift will be $300.)
    Additional snide remarks: __


What will this fundraiser support exactly?

This fund will support short-term projects that arise from time to time. This could include helping one of our own on a mission, village projects/VBS, or emergency needs. Please give as you feel led. If you wish just to give to the fund and pray for Randy's health, simply mark the gift accordingly and place in the offering.

But...is Randy qualified? YES! Consider:

  • he's breathing
  • he ran the ½ mile in 8th grade
  • he can stand for 30 minutes in line at the donut shop
    (Seriously, he has been training for a while and thinks he will be able to run at least 5K. Pray!)



All gifts are tax-deductible and will be prayerfully administered.

Gifts can be mark 'mission fund' and mailed to:

NPMC ~2485 Dawson Rd.~North Pole, AK 99705

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Alaska Weather



When I saw this Alaska weather pie chart I had a good belly laugh. Yes, winters are long, but 85% of the year?!?! Not quite, but it can seem that way!

Monday, June 13, 2016

On Understanding Gospel Songs

I have found a resting place when sore distressed
Jesus Rock of Ages strong and true
In a weary land I in His shadow rest
He is my strength in all that I do.

(chorus)
Jesus Rock of Ages, let me hide in thee
Jesus Rose of Sharon sweet thou art to me
Lilly of the Valley, Bright and Morning Star
Fairest of Ten Thousand to my soul. 

A few days ago I posted the words above and considered their meaning. Today I remember how easy it is to miss the import of words like this. I have tended to do one of the following:

1. Assume the writer wrote during a time of euphoria.
While this is certainly possible, and no doubt sometimes the case, I now see it differently. Expressions of adoration and high praise for God can spring from many sources within, all of which may be sincere and indicative of a genuine and sustained relationship with God.
 
2. Closely related: I disconnect the suggested experience or understanding from any real sense of living that way on a daily basis.Well, just because something is expressed in flowery lanuguage, even hyperbole, does not mean it fails to reflect something real.

3. Move thoughtlessly through the words regardless of their merit, rationality overpowered by the [somewhat super-] natural power of the music.This seems the largest difficulty. Ironically, the music 'blesses me' while the actual lyrica meaning is passed over. Perhaps more accurately, the music adds to the rational process a language of soul that brings body, mind and spirit together and confirms the meaning of the text.

Hmmm...not sure where that leaves me, except this. I want to know Jesus in the way this song-writer describes. I need that kind of friend.

That is all.