haiku

Here’s a medley of some of my winter-related haiku. They usually sprout in my mind as I roam about outdoors.  Later, with a cup of hot tea close by, they are pondered and scribbled into my journal.

 

milk-faced moon,
sighing of cold wind,
hush me to sleep

 

pulsing above
a cold field of cornstalks…
whirlwind of blackbirds

 

the cold morning
sternly kept
its vow of silence.

 

rusted strand of barbs,
layered with ice:
silent, moaning fence.

 

 

The sign says

 

There are events that happen every now and then that seize my attention. And, they demand that I respond rightly. By rightly, I mean that I should take the time necessary to halt, soak in the event, and process it in a manner worthy of its presentation.

Here’s the story. We were on a pre-Christmas trip to Branson, Missouri. We were driving to the Branson Landing to do some shopping. Then, it caught my eye (for the record trees, rocks, the clouds, a hawk, anything of that sort tends to catch my eye). It was a tree that was strangely out of place. It wasn’t growing out of the ground; it wasn’t growing on top of a rock ledge; it was growing out of the rock ledge about 12 feet off of the ground!

So, I slowed the car, pulled off in an awkward location that would irritate other drivers, grabbed my camera, and bounded off toward the tree. I zig-zagged along the grassy roadside to the spot, and with cars whizzing by, and my family worrying about my safety and sanity, I took several photographs of it.

It appeared to be a red oak, and as I approached it, and positioned myself slightly under it, I was awestruck. It was grand. I hadn’t seen anything like this before. In the middle of a busy roadway, in a tourist town, grew an oak that was defying the rules. It was a small dose of wildness among sterile domestication; it was visually poetic.

 

 

image

 

As I backed away from the tree and took several more photos something unexpected crept into the viewfinder–a road sign.

 

image

 

The sign was telling drivers — and a nut like me (though I prefer the term “acorn” instead of “nut”) — not to go this way. Ironically, the red oak stood as a striking contrast to the sign’s message: “WRONG WAY.” The tree was growing the “wrong way” according to common sense and the usual practice of nature. It should have been growing on the ground where its roots could anchor and spread, or in a pasture, or anywhere other than out of a crevasse in a rock ledge.

I have no idea how the acorn that became this daring oak arrived in the gash in the rock ledge. Perhaps a suicidal squirrel dropped it there as it pondered leaping off the ledge. Who knows? I do know this: the acorn did what it was supposed to do in the location that it was placed in. Hmmm. This lesson needs little, if any, elaboration.

Psalm 1:3 states that the godly man (or woman) “is like a tree planted” by streams of water, bears fruit in his/her season, has non-withering leaves, and propers. Note the verb “planted.” The trees (godly men or women) in this verse are planted. You are where you are by design.

This rock ledge-defying tree was not planted alongside a calm stream of water. We usually aren’t either. Like this tree, we are to grow where we are planted. We often have to do it against the “rules” or the expectations of those around us. But we do it. We hold on, grow, drink in the water that God gives, and by His power we bear fruit, resist withering, and prosper. Even on a ledge.

Confirmation number 2929

From the last post you know about my New Year’s goal of looking up Bible verses — ones that I cannot immediately recall or recite — that I encounter while reading Christian books. That new exercise leads into this post. Last Saturday night I ran across a verse that I couldn’t pull out of my mental file cabinet.  So, I looked it up, and then soaked in it for about a hour. So it began…

We live in a society that is nosy, and exhibitionistic, which are a solid tandem for no-good. We often want to know what we can’t know, or shouldn’t know. Hence, the Facebook creeper, or other social media lurkers. This tendency can spill over into our spiritual lives. To be specific, we start trying to figure out what we cannot know rather than focusing on what we can understand and live out. Enter Deuteronomy 29:29. Ahem…look it up before you go any further. It’s a good habit.

The points –and they are pointed ones– in this verse are clear. First, there are things that we do not know, cannot know, and will not know…”the secret things of the LORD.” These secret things belong to the LORD. He is the owner of them. Or, put another way, these secret things are books that cannot perused, or checked out of God’s library. As David said, “such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high; I cannot attain  it.” (Psalm 139:6) Ahem…you know what to do here.

So, the application here is to avoid spending time or energy chasing that which we cannot and will not know. While it is tempting, thrilling, and a natural part of our curiosity, and self-rigtheousness, let the things of God stay where they belong. Instead, let’s settle into humility and the contentment that comes with knowing His revealed Word, which we can know. Let’s use our time to pursue the thing that God intends us to pursue, namely, seeking Him in His written Word.

From the second part of Deuteronomy 29:29 it is worthy to note several simplistic, yet stout truths:

1. God reveals Himself in and through His Word. (Don’t take that for granted).

2. He did this intentionally. In this He makes Himself known, and brings glory to Himself, and edifies us.

3. He has revealed His Word to us, and enables and empowers us by the Holy Spirit to know, understand, and follow His Word (John 14:17  and 16:13). Look ’em up, it’s worth it.

4. We can have, understand, apply, and obey His Word. That’s the tune humming in Deuteronomy 29:29.

In a culture that loves recipes or steps to success, here is one: God has given His Word (and Spirit) to us to know, apply, and follow. He is glorified and pleased in this; we enjoy abudant life in Christ in this.

5. The result of Him doing this is so that we may do the “words of this law.” Deut. 29:29b

 

God has the secret things, and will keep them. He has freely given us more than enough in His Word to know and follow. Let’s not bark at and chase after the exciting unknowns, but rather settle into and study His revealed Word. Here’s a practical hint for doing just that: designate a quiet place, grab a pen and a note pad, and just do it each day. A hot cup of tea might help too.

Begin in Deuteronomy 29:29. You will get confirmation of these things there, and other things too.

Steak or vitamins?

Welcome back to the Bearded Acorn. Here’s something that has been percolating in my mind over the past few days. It all started with a New Year’s resolution. Yes, I know that we all make them, break them, then forsake them. It’s a tired pattern.

Oftentimes a New Year’s resolution —  also known as a New Year’s transient self-suggestion, or for the really undisciplined, a New Year’s wish-that-won’t-come true — is about a major change that we want to make. There are the usual ones such as weight loss, money management, time management, stress reduction, regular exercise, eating less cabbage, etc. These fade because major change is very difficult. So, with this in mind, I set a couple of minor goals for 2015. They are simple, and will take very little time, but will yield goodly results.

The first goal is to do push-ups (not the orange sherbet-flavored ice cream treat for kids) three nights a week. I have to do at least three sets each session. While I won’t ever be able to compete in a body-building competition with this work out system, it will be beneficial to a 40+ guy who tries to take pretty good care of himself. In that vein, I won’t mention my goal for getting 100% of my daily fiber intake each day. But, if you are interested in the reason for it, hopeful outcomes, and ways to determine success with this goal….well, just email me.

The second goal is small, somewhat bookish, but very beneficial. When I run across a Bible verse in my reading of Christian books that I cannot immediately recall to memory, then I will look it up, and study it.

Why do this? Here’s why: any book written about Christ, or the Bible, is a vitamin supplement to the Christian life; the Bible is the meal. Our singular source for eternal, infallible, unchanging, living truth is God’s Word. It’s steak for the soul. In 1 Corinthians 3:2 Paul tells the believers at Corinth that he fed them with milk, not solid food (also translated as meat), because they were not ready for it yet. Ahem…look it up for yourself.

So, here’s the point: don’t try to live on the vitamin supplements of Christian books, gorge yourself on the steak of God’s Word. Christian books are helpful, and have been invaluable to my growth as a Christ-follower. But, there is a tendency to spend more time in those books than in the Book. In sum, I want my reading in books that are secondary to the Bible to drive me back to the Bible, not keep me away from it.

Pushups, more fiber, and verses in books driving me back to the Bible, that ‘s my New Year. What’s yours?

By the way, this process drives the topic of my next post. Stay tuned….

Why do we?

Why do we? Why did I…

“Why” is a word akin to a scalpel. It is sharp and necessary for the removal of hurtful or harmful things. Ask the question “why?” three times and you will begin to find a real answer. Many churches, and a legion of Christians, shrink back from this soul-slicing, motive-revealing word. Why?

The one word question of our day seems to be “how?”We love pragmatism. It gets results. It makes us feel like we are in control. It deceives. “How” should be the last question asked, not the first. The apostles erroneously asked Jesus  “how” several times. Jesus sighed each time, and then rebuked them. That same results-oriented blind spot resides in the church’s rear view mirror today. And it grows.

The truth is that theology drives methodology. It does so in a manner that is unavoidable and undeniable. A weak theology, or wrong-headed one, will drive a weak, wrong-headed life. A sound and deep theology will cultivate a sound, deep life.

I don’t recall Jesus ever saying to the apostles, “Guys, here is how church growth is done” or “here are the four keys to successful…” Paul was silent on this too, no doxological, steps to uber spiritual success, or weight loss. David didn’t pen any self-esteem based or do-it-yourself psalms. Solomon’s pithy Scriptural wisdom omits, “lean on the how-to, in it is success, yea, like results craved by church growth campaigns.”

Sadly, churches today chase any boomerang that is tossed into the air, and will ape most any method that seems to “work.” It will chase and mimic with even greater fervor when the method is advertised by a well known minister. What have we been reduced to? Just for the record, Christ and His Kingdom doesn’t need a marketing team, or a focus group, or celebrities, or carnival barkers. Just sayin’.

So, let pragmatism die a quick death and soon be forgotten. The church has poked its own eye enough with this pointy trinket. Let the church regain her soul, by returning to sound doctrine that sings from the pages of Scripture. Our believing, and thinking from it, will drive our doing.

So, the next time you ask “why did I?” Just know, that the roads of your actions were built by the machinery of your beliefs.

“As a man thinks in his heart, so is he…”

Think more, strive and chase less.