Pat's Ponderings

just thinking out loud...

Oddly enough, I picked up reading through some of the Minor Prophets this past week and have found the prophet Zechariah to have had a ton of insight into the story of our Redemption through Jesus Christ. Of course, I suppose he should have a lot of insight, being inspired by the Holy Spirit and all. Anyway, I was sitting in Starbucks earlier today and read the following passage:
Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the LORD, and Satan standing at his right hand to accuse him. And the LORD said to Satan, "The LORD rebuke you, O Satan! The LORD who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you! Is not this a brand plucked from the fire?" Now Joshua was standing before the angel, clothed with filthy garments. And the angel said to those who were standing before him, "Remove the filthy garments from him." And to him he said, "Behold, I have taken your iniquity away from you, and I will clothe you with pure vestments." And I said, "Let them put a clean turban on his head." So they put a clean turban on his head and clothed him with garments. And the angel of the LORD was standing by.
-Zechariah 3:1-5
How sweet is that picture? A wonderful representation of the salvation that Jesus has purchased for us by His blood. May we learn to walk in the joy of clean garments!

This post categorized under Personal Thoughts.

Two Iraqi women were killed in a controversial shooting by members of a private security company on Tuesday, and, obviously, our media was inundated with columns and opinions surrounding the incident. It seems to be a fairly popular news tactic to smear messages and images of the violence and despair across magazines, newspapers, and the internet. But, when I began to read this article, my heart plummeted to the depths of my stomach. I felt a devastating burden of brokenness, not because of the words describing their deaths - I suppose I've grown far too used to that already - but rather because of the photograph that headlined the article.

The moment I saw it, my heart screamed, "This should never be!" And even now, as I look back to remember the boy's eyes, my soul groans and aches. I look at his once innocent eyes and see nothing but fear. I look at his face that surely once smiled and laughed and see nothing but shock and despair. Oh, what must be running through this boy's mind?! "I will never be able to go outside again to play." "I know the boy whose mother's blood that is." "I walked down that street five minutes before." "I may be killed soon...." I will never be able to express the depth of the pain in his soul. I cannot even begin to form words for how I feel!

And please, don't hear this as political rhetoric on the war in Iraq. Throw politics out the window! The broken innocence of this one Iraqi boy covers the globe. Just this week, an entire village was razed in Darfur, rape has been devastating women in the Congo, and homeless families in New York are facing more red tape. Crises with gang violence in Haiti are still pressing, and protesters are met with violent force in Myanmar in continued conflict. And these are just the ones that could be found quickly.

A man killing another man because of ethnic and religious differences is atrocious as it is. But, when innocence is shattered, like that one Iraqi boy, my gut screams and my soul weeps.

Oh, fix us, Lord Jesus! Heal us! Wipe away our tears, mend our hearts, erase our fears! Let that small Iraqi boy find peace and love in you alone. Only you can do it, Father. Bring your peace! Let us be ministers of Your peace. Love people through us. Oh, for the day when you will make all things new and shattered lives shall be no more!

Revelation 21:4

This post categorized under Personal Thoughts and Culture.

These two songs by Shane & Shane and Caedmon's Call have really meant a lot to me lately and reflect a good deal about where life has been in recent months - from dealing with sin and shame to feeling a burden for ministry to the helpless. I wish that I could write more, but I doubt I'll have the time. So, here are the lyrics:

Embracing Accusation
Father of lies, coming to steal kill and destroy
All my hopes of being good enough
I hear him saying, "Cursed are the ones who can't abide"

He's right, hallelujah, he's right
The devil is preaching the song of the redeemed
That I am cursed and gone astray
I cannot gain salvation
Embracing accusation

Could the father of lies be telling the truth of
God to me tonight?
That if the penalty of sin is death, then death is mine
I hear him saying, "Cursed are the ones who can't abide"

The devil's singing over me an age old song
That I am cursed and gone astray
Singing the first verse so conveniently over me
He's forgotten the refrain.

--Shane & Shane, Pages

Love Alone
No one would love me
if they knew all the things I hide
My words fall to the floor
As tears drip through the telephone line

And the hands I’ve seen raised to the sky
Not waving but drowning all this time
I'll try to build an ark that they need
To float to you upon the crystal sea

Give me your hand to hold
'Cause I can't stand to love alone
And love alone is not enough to hold us up
We've got to touch your robe
So swing your robe down low
Swing your robe down low

The prince of despair's been beaten
But the loser still fights
Death's on a long leash
Stealing my friends to the night

And everyone cries for the innocent
You say to love the guilty too
And I'm surrounded by suffering and sickness
So I'm working tearing back the roof

Repeat Chorus

And the pain of the world is a burden
And it's my cross to bear
And I stumble under all the weight
I know you're Simon standing there
And I know you're standing there

--Caedmon's Call, Long Line of Leavers

This post categorized under Musical Musings.

I was fourteen years old. Most of the time, I was just concerned with enjoying the summer and making sure I didn't look un-cool around the girls. I had just returned from a youth choir trip in Washington, D.C. and was pretty excited about that. I don't remember a whole lot, but I do distinctly remember sitting on the counter-top in the kitchen telling my folks about the trip. I remember feeling like something wasn't quite right though. As soon as my dad said, "Patrick, we have something to tell you," I knew exactly what had happened. My grandmother had died. We found out a few months earlier that she had terminal lung cancer, probably caused from heavy amounts of cigarette smoke when she was younger and before we knew its horrific effects.

I really only remember my grandmother smoking once, though. It was outside the hospital just before my little sister was born. There had been numerous complications with my mom, placing a lot of stress on my grandmother's shoulders. I guess I never really realized how stressful the situation was. I was only twelve. But then, my grandmother pulled a pack of cigarettes from her purse, lit one, and apologized to me. Neither of us knew what that smoke was doing to her body.

I do remember lying in bed crying and getting on my knees to pray after we found out about the cancer. I remember asking God to heal her, asking Him to do a miracle. Everyone said that it was hopeless though. And, I remember watching her health decline with the chemo. I'm sure I have no idea the extent of its effect, but I remember playing cards in her kitchen, while the cold green oxygen tank sat on the floor beside us, small plastic tubes running up to her nostrils. I remember that it was hard for her to walk and then that it was hard for her to sit up, but I wasn't ready for her to go.

I remember the visitation and the funeral, crying because I knew that my Nanny would never be back to play cards or Yahtzee or dominoes. She would never be back to watch us swim in the pool. She would never be back to talk to when things were hard. She was simply gone. I cried because I missed her.

Death just has a certain stinging emptiness. It's a feeling that doesn't want to leave. It brings questions and doubt and loneliness. Looking back, I don't feel the same pain of Nanny being gone. I do miss her, but I've learned how to deal with it I guess. Still, it makes me wonder why life just seems to be so ravaged by death, why things must be so painful. Yet I know that we have a good Father who loves His children, and we must rest in His sovereignty as we joyfully await the promise that pain and death shall be no more.

Revelation 21:4

This post categorized under Personal Thoughts and Family.

Just some sweet quotations that I've come across over the past little while.... Enjoy.


He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?
-Micah 6:8

But may it never be that I would boast, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.
-Galatians 6:14

The grace of God is absolute, the salvation of Jesus is perfect, it is done for ever. I am not being saved, I am saved; salvation is as eternal as God's throne; the thing for me to do is to work out what God works in.
-Oswald Chambers

The passion of Christianity is that I deliberately sign away my own rights and become a bond-slave of Jesus Christ. Until I do that, I do not begin to be a saint.
-Oswald Chambers

Wherever you are, be all there. Live to the hilt every situation you believe to be the will of God.
-Jim Elliot

He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.
-Jim Elliot

So long as there is a human being who does not know Jesus Christ, I am his debtor to serve him until he does.
-Oswald Chambers

The bedrock of our Christian faith is the unmerited, fathomless marvel of the love of God exhibited on the Cross of Calvary, a love we never can and never shall merit.
-Oswald Chambers

When a man really sees himself as the Lord sees him, it is not the abominable sins of the flesh that shock him, but the awful nature of the pride of his own heart against Jesus Christ. When he sees himself in the light of the Lord, the shame and the horror and the desperate conviction come home.
-Oswald Chambers

Faith is not intelligent understanding, faith is deliberate commitment to a Person where I see no way.
-Oswald Chambers

If we are going to be ready for Jesus Christ, we have to stop being religious (that is, using religion as a higher kind of culture) and be spiritually real.
-Oswald Chambers

Simple assent to the gospel, divorced from a transforming commitment to the living Christ, is by Biblical standards less than faith, and less than saving, and to elicit only assent of this kind would be to secure only false conversions.
–J.I. Packer

Powerlessness and humility in the spiritual life do not refer to people who have no spine and who let everyone else make decisions for them. They refer to people who are so deeply in love with Jesus that they are ready to follow him wherever he guides them, always trusting that, with Him, they will find life and find it abundantly.
- Henri Nouwen, In the Name of Jesus

No one who knows and loves Christ can be content to come to Him alone.
-John Piper, Desiring God

I've been reminded recently of the vastness of God's mercy towards us, His children, and it has brought me to my knees with both cries of anguish and of joy. This song by Caedmon's Call seemed to catch the feeling this afternoon:
I am the woman at the well, I am the harlot
I am the scattered seed that fell along the path
I am the son that ran away
And I am the bitter son that stayed

My God, my God why hast though accepted me
When all my love was vinegar to a thirsty King?
My God, my God why hast though accepted me
It's a mystery of mercy and the song, the song I sing

I am the angry man who came to stone the lover
I am the woman there ashamed before the crowd
I am the leper that gave thanks
But I am the nine that never came

My God, my God why hast though accepted me
When all my love was vinegar to a thirsty King?
My God, my God why hast though accepted me
It's a mystery of mercy and the song, the song I sing

You made the seed that made the tree
That made the cross that saved me
You gave me hope when there was none
You gave me your only Son

My God, my God, Lord you are
My God, my God, Lord you are
My God

-Mystery of Mercy, Caedmon's Call
Oh, the great weight of our Father's good mercies! They are new every morning! (Lamentations 3:22-23)

This post categorized under Musical Musings.

Some say David was manic-depressive. John the Baptist wore a robe of camel's hair and ate locusts and honey. Peter, an uneducated fisherman, stood in front of the religious elite to define and defend his faith. Paul was on his way to arrest believers when he was called to preach, and eventually die for, the Gospel he was trying to kill; he's still considered the world's most powerful and influential missionary.

History has known it's share of those branded with the label of lunacy for the sake of Christ: Martin Luther, Adoniram Judson, Hudson Taylor, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Oswald Chambers, Jim Elliot. These are joined by those countless brothers and sisters living in Asia who still today must meet in secrecy, by those in the Middle East facing violent murder each day of their lives, and by all those others who have defied society and government by boldly proclaiming the Name of Jesus. All these saints, by the bold statements of their lives, have joined in Paul's passionate outcry to the church at Philippi:
But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith -- that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.
(Philippians 3:7-11)
This again coming from the man whose credentials precede these statements - a man who, by the standards of social status, wealth, and even the established religious system of his day, had obtained everything considered good. So, when he calls all that wealth and glory the vilest of waste, those around him immediately wrote him off as insane.

But surely these people could not really believe that forsaking comfort and convenience for pain, suffering, and death was truly worth the cost. I mean, that really would be crazy. They must have been exaggerating, right? Far wrong, brothers and sisters! These saints saw the great value of knowing Christ Jesus, heeded His call, and believed His promise: "If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it." (Luke 9:23-24)

So, in light of the saints gone before us, I ask, Where are all the crazy people? Have we melted into society too deeply? Do the comforts of living in the States have us bound too tightly to our pleasure? Oh, I am as guilty as any and, perhaps, more sane than I should be. Let us consider deeply the greatness of what it means to know our Lord Jesus.

Here's the song that started me thinking on all this recently.
Why would I spend my life longing
For the day that it would end
Why would I spend my time pointing
To another Man
Isn't that crazy

How can I find hope in dying,
With promises unseen
How can I learn Your way is better
Than everything I'm taught to be
Isn't that crazy

I have not been called
To the wisdom of this world
But to a God
Who's calling out to me
And even though the world may think
I'm losing touch with reality
It would crazy
To choose this world over eternity

And if I boast let me boast
In filthy rags made clean
And if I glory let me glory
In my Savior's suffering
Isn't that crazy

And as I live this daily life
I trust you for everything
And I will only take a step
When I feel you leading me
Isn't that crazy

--"Crazy," MercyMe
Oh, let me be crazy in the eyes of this world to be in love with my Lord!

This post categorized under Personal Thoughts and Musical Musings.

I have found myself being very encouraged recently by the profound depth of spiritual expression found in the refrains of saints whose sweet melodies have blessed the church for a great number of years. Check out this hymn written by Charitie Bancroft in 1863:

Before the throne of God above
I have a strong and perfect plea.
A great high Priest whose Name is Love
Who ever lives and pleads for me.
My name is graven on His hands,
My name is written on His heart.
I know that while in Heaven He stands
No tongue can bid me thence depart.

When Satan tempts me to despair
And tells me of the guilt within,
Upward I look and see Him there
Who made an end of all my sin.
Because the sinless Savior died
My sinful soul is counted free.
For God the just is satisfied
To look on Him and pardon me.

Behold Him there the risen Lamb,
My perfect spotless righteousness,
The great unchangeable I AM,
King of glory and of grace,
One in Himself I cannot die.
My soul is purchased by His blood,
My life is hid with Christ on high,
With Christ my Savior and my God!

-Before the Throne of God Above, Charitie Bancroft

Mere black text does not permit me to exclaim how great is our Redeemer! The sheer promise that Jesus Christ, the Spotless Lamb of God, stands in my place, eternally fixed as my righteousness, fulfilling the condemnation of the Law, and granting the full rights and inheritance of a true son of the Living God - oh, that promise defies the means of exultation known to my simple mind. It is as sure as the Risen Christ, more certain than the accusations of the Father of Lies, and eternally sealed by the Blood of God's own Son! No tongue can bid me thence depart! Oh, that we would sit at our Father's feet in awe of Who He is and learn from Him! No man can approach the throne of God above without coming away utterly and profoundly changed by His Glory and Grace.

This post categorized under Musical Musings.

I heard this song for the first time in a while yesterday, and it just seemed to resonate with me a bit in light of how busy and hectic life seems to have become and how easy it is to slip into empty methodology. Let us rather run to our Father whose perfect rest and peace are boundless and free. Enjoy!
Seven years on the seven seas
The winds have ceased all is well at ease
There's no tempest to attack me
Afloat on the boat of mediocrity

Way back when You first calmed me
At peace with you I'd always be
But now it's empty methodology
The fine white tomb that no one sees.

I am perishing
Within the grey of faith and form
Arise rebuke my content and my peace
Make my calm, Your storm

I want to navigate out of this lukewarm sea
Into the stream of reality
Let the waves throw their threats at me
Makes me hold on more tightly

I want to set my sails free
Discontent with what will be will be
I want to kill this thief that steals life from me
And kill myself, the Pharisee

Save me I am perishing
In this grey of faith and form
Arise rebuke my content and my peace
Make my calm, Your storm

--"My Calm // Your Storm," Caedmon's Call

Lord, stir my soul for Your glory! Wake me from the sleep of monotony! Let Your storm soak the ground and bring new life!

This post categorized under Musical Musings.

Well, folks, it certainly has been a while since I last sat down in the blogging chair, almost four months to be precise. Sure, I've had plenty of thoughts that I would have loved to write about. I've even scribbled a few down here and there. But, none of them ever developed enough to make it to the big screen, and all have since made their way to the cluttered gathering of jumbled thoughts and lost paper.

Oh, I most definitely would have loved to write, even to just sit and ponder a while, but I was robbed. Robbed of something I never realized could be as valuable as it was - Time. The thief Busyness broke in over the last several months and slowly began taking what he would. But it would not suffice to just steal a small bit of Time. No, he took it all and my life was consumed by this thief. He came wearing the disguise of meetings, school, and responsibility - all good things, none of which I would have wanted to abandon. I suppose, then, that I cannot be completely absolved of guilt myself, for I am the one who opened the door to let the him in.

Such has been my life for a long while now. It started with peripheral things, like blogging, slipping by the wayside and moved on into the night cutting into sleep and leaving me exhausted. Then went a few things that I deeply regret having let slide away - things like deep relationships and adequate study and preparation for various responsibilities. Everything always seemed to be rushed coming down to the night, or sometimes morning, before. Even the time to think clearly seemed scarce. It has been by no means pleasant. And, though a month of rest has greatly helped my body recover, my mind and spirit are taking a bit longer to get back.

Yet still, I must praise God for His infinite supply of long-suffering grace! For, I fear where I would have wandered had it not been for His patience and restoration.

The simplicity of Micah 6:8 is so sweet:
He has told you, O man, what is good;
and what does the LORD require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness,
and to walk humbly with your God?
Oh, that I would live this well these days and the rest of my life!

Lord Jesus, bind my heart to Yourself and be lifted high as I walk through this life.

This post categorized under Personal Thoughts.

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