Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Quote of the Week

"Living out of the false self creates a compulsive desire to present a perfect image to the public so that everybody will admire us and nobody will know us."
-Brennan Manning

Saturday, March 25, 2006

The Score

"Quit keeping score altogether and surrender yourself with all your sinfulness to God who sees neither the score nor the scorekeeper but only His child redeemed by Christ" -Thomas Merton

Even after numerous sermons on grace, Thomas Merton's words pierced my heart with new revelation. It is so easy for me to see God as a the scorekeeper. I imagine Him shaking His head in disappointment everytime I fail.

"Phil, Phil, Phil. When are you going to learn?" He must say to Himself.

I have disappointed Him again. Knowing this, I look for some way to even the score. Some kind of peace offering. All those sermons on grace has taught me that Jesus isn't holding God back from striking me down with lightning every time I sin. But I still think I need to appease Him.

Then come Merton's words with the new perspective. I can't help but cry when I realize it isn't God who's keeping score, but me. He sees me as the His child, the one that Jesus died to save.

Father God,
I am so glad that You love me more than I can imagine. I know if You loved me the way I imagined You did, I would be lost. Please continue to break down my misconceptions of You, showing me who You really are. Fill me with Your love. Fill me so full I can't contain it, so it spills onto everyone I meet.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

An Irish Blessing

As you slide down the bannister of life, may the splinters never point in the wrong direction.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Fear Revisited

I have this reoccurring fear. I am afraid that I will disappoint the people who care about me. Once I disappoint them, I am afraid they will no longer like me. So, I do everything I can think of to please the people around me. I say I agree with them when I don't. I laugh at the their jokes that aren't funny. I agree to do things I don't have time for or interest in doing. Then when I am unable to meet someone's expectations, I hide from them. That is the easier thing to do. Better to think someone is disappointed in me than to know I have failed.

This fearful person is a liar. I do not like this person. I chastise myself for not being the person I want to be while I remain in hiding, my heart paralyzed by the fear.

Why am I so afraid of what other people think?

Reading my Bible, I find a story near the beginning about Adam and Eve. Adam and Eve were hiding from God knowing they had disappointed Him. They had been friends with God. They walked with Him often in the evenings. Now, they didn't want to face Him. I wonder if they were afraid God would no longer love them when He found out how they had disappointed Him. This is my greatest fear. I fear I will disappoint God and He will no longer love me.

At first I think God no longer loves Adam and Eve because He throws them out of the garden, never to return. If that were not enough, he curses Adam and Eve causing work and child birth to become more difficult and painful. But then I read something that seems out of place. God gives them clothes. A new picture came to my mind. I now saw Adam and Eve like a couple of teenagers who have knowingly broken the house rules. God, as a responsible parent, is enforcing the rules and the punishment for the infraction. So, as these rebellious teenagers are sent out of the house, this loving parent God filled with love and concern makes sure they have clothes.

I don't like the consequences of my actions. Especially when it disappoints someone I love. But, I am finding that people don't love me for what I do. They love me for who I am. This is even more true about God because God loves perfectly when we do not. In Hebrews 13:5 He says He will never leave us or reject us. There is no condition to this promise.

I am still afraid. I think because I don't completely understand yet. But the more I look at God, the more I learn about Him, the more I spend time with Him and really get to know God, the less I am afraid.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006


I wanted to write something very profound about beauty. I imagined people saying, "I never thought of beauty that way before." However, it seems that what comes out is anything but beauty.

I have noticed that I haven't been appreciating beauty recently. Especially simple beauty. Instead, I have been looking far too much at ugly. Failures, disappointments, lies. Have you noticed how ugly ugly is? It only takes one ugly to ruin a beautiful day. The stranger making a rude gesture at me from the car next to me. My friend doesn't like what I spent the last two months writing. I overdrafted my bank account again. While some ugly is small and only annoying, other ugly cuts to the core of my being. The ugly I hate most is the ugly I find within. When it is the ugly in me hurting others.

Because ugly occupies my mind so much, I find myself wondering if ugly is more powerful than beauty. After all, how often does one glimpse of beauty make my day? It happens rarely. After a day full of ugly, beauty is a dawn after a long dark night. It gives birth to hope when ugly is all around.

So what is the difference? Why is it on some days one ugly spoils and others beauty restores? It comes down to what I have chosen to look at. On a day when I am being annoyed by a small ugly, I storm by the simple beauty along the path. Any of which would bring a shaft of sunlight through the dark gloom in my mind. Perhaps this is one reason the Creator made flowers beautiful. To give me a reason to stop looking at the ugly and look at the beauty.