Friday, November 19, 2010

'You have arrived...' (Part 2)

So in John 14:6 Jesus says he is the way, the truth, and the life. But what does that mean? More than just a little ink has been spilled trying to tackle that one. Those of you rolling your eyes please don’t be smug… now or ever. It’s just not becoming (and I say this having been smug more than too many times, thanks Nik). Here is the verse in it's entirety.

John 14:6 Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

Alright so ‘to the Father’ sounds like a destination and ‘through me (Jesus)’ sounds an awful lot like a trip; as in “On my way to Texas I went through Oklahoma.” Now this analogy is a little unfair because who really enjoys Oklahoma (sorry PJ)? I mean, I don’t even think I stopped for gas in Oklahoma. But you get the point. I’m gonna end part 2 with this - read John 14:5-14 and yeah I love the subtitle in the NIV ‘Jesus the Way to the Father,’ again with the traveling lingo. Here is the verse in context (thanks to

Jesus the Way to the Father

5 Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?”

6 Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. 7 If you really know me, you will know[a] my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.”

8 Philip said, “Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.”

9 Jesus answered: “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? 10 Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you I do not speak on my own authority. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work. 11 Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the works themselves. 12 Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. 13 And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.

Now let me ask these intending provocation and not conviction:

Are you enjoying the journey?

Are you enjoying the through?

Are you enjoying Jesus?

Part 3 coming soon...

Saturday, November 6, 2010

'You have arrived...' (Part 1)

During my time int the states I drove over 8000 miles (12,875 kilometers) in 5 weeks time. Surprisingly, and thankfully, I never got lost. Many (read 'all') of the students from my youth ministry days will not believe this. They would say I am 'geographically challenged.' And they are probably correct, but I never let that stop me from enjoying the ride.

The truth is I'm as comfortable being 'lost' as I am when I know I'm on the proper course. I certainly desire the destination but not to the point of foregoing the journey. I love the journey as much as the arrival, but if you never get lost the journey could become mundane, and possibly even boring. Please, I do look forward to the destination, but I also don't want to miss anything along the way. I'm not sure of the proper phrasing but I'm only suggesting that the destination is a bonus or reward for having gone through the journey. Which is to say that we could gain something from the journey in addition to the destination.

There's a great line from an older Reba McEntire video (I know, my jaw is dropping too) where she has a family but is in college (past her 'college years') writing a paper.Somehow coffee gets spilled onto some of the pages, she turns in the same pages, gets dually rewarded with high marks and some discerning comments about the coffee stains on the paper. She responds with the line 'I learned more from the stains than the paper.' I love that line. Its sentiments encompass this journey versus destination idea. I wonder if our spiritual journey ought to be the same?

Consider Ecclesiastes 8:15 (copied below) and I'll get back to you in a few days with the next part.

'So I commend the enjoyment of life, because there is nothing better for a person under the sun than to eat and drink and be glad. Then joy will accompany them in their toil all the days of the life God has given them under the sun.' Ecclesiastes 8:15 NIV

Monday, August 23, 2010

Despair @ Kelenfold

Arriving at Kelenföld Pályaudvar (Kelenfold Station) only moments after my bus left I knew I’d be waiting more than half an hour for another departure to Diósd, our village just outside of Budapest. The time and hour were of no concern to me, save my wife would be waiting and I hadn’t a thing with me to read.
Kelenfold marks the beginning, or end, of the line for a number of transport services but also marks home to number of other services as well. This combination makes for quite a spectrum of folks. Degenerates alongside business men, alongside working girls, alongside students, alongside mothers, alongside sons, alongside young lovers and in their midst I took my seat.
Watching passer’s by transition to work, to home, to play, to nowhere in particular, I saw one of the supposed degenerates rifling, through the ashtrays engineered atop the trashcans. He scavenged for the longer cigarettes in order to salvage what un-smoked tobacco might be present. Through the station’s glass sliding doors I watched him maneuver back and forth between the two cans posted there. The doors worked wonderfully, each time he passed the doors opened, letting the heat out and the cold in to us. Whenever anyone extinguished a cigarette with which they were through, he would quickly move in on the smoldering stub. He’d snatch it, examine the leftover offering, and do one of three things.
On the occasion of some still lit but not entirely spent cigarette he’d snare the stub and frantically puff in order to keep it lit. He’d smoke it right down until the even more toxic butt began to melt and smoke and burn and bubble. Then at the seeming favor of its predecessor he’d fully extinguish the now smoldering stub.
In the case it was fully extinguished but not entirely spent he’d simply place it in his coat pocket. It was a simple motion but I’d soon learn that it was not without purpose.
On the rarest of occasions he’d find only a butt with no usable, to him, tobacco. These disappointing times, to those of us watching as well, seemed an obvious let down, and visible upon the already downtrodden man’s face.
Curious about the unspent and savored stubs securely deposited in his pocket, I continued to watch this unshaven, unwashed, and unsatisfied man. From another pocket he pulled out a collection of rolling papers. Next he began to reexamine the unspent stubs in the first pocket and finding one usable he’d remove its previous paper container and filter, if they were present. I watched him sort through 6 or 7, useless to most, cigarettes. He’d rip and tear the filter and then intently remove the tobacco from its machine rolled, man smoked state. The dark pile grew in his bone white rolling paper and eventually he quit searching the pocket of stubs and began to lick and twist and roll this unused paper filled with used tobacco.
He caught me watching once, our eyes locked and I unintentionally saw deeply into this man. He was like an owl with those dark hollow eyes, especially with a beard so long it appeared he had no neck. He looked away quickly, and I felt ashamed.
Once the geometrically correct cylinder had been made he began moving from one person to another searching out a light. Once that was found and used he sat down, like the rest of us. He smoked and apparently enjoyed himself, content with the fruit of his labor and for one fleeting moment he looked almost dignified.
I can’t possibly imagine what that menthol, 100’s, light, Camel, Marlboro, long, filtered, sometimes not, lipstick stained, alcohol tainted, tuberculosis ridden, germ infected tobacco must have tasted like. But there he sat enjoying this ‘handpicked, hand rolled’ cigarette. Once he finished the small piece of paradise he immediately returned to the cans with the trays and their constantly flowing traffic.
Now time for my departure; I headed out into the cold through the still exquisitely working glass sliding doors and took my place in line just as the light began to flash signaling the bus’s arrival. As my bus pulled up I saw a youngish man step out from the line. He removed a package of Marlboro Reds from his shirt pocket and carelessly unhinged one from the package with his lips. I was in line as he lit the world famous cowboy fag and wondered what he was doing lighting up with the bus leaving so soon. I quickly gathered that he must not be riding and was merely waiting with a companion and saying goodbye.
Frequently folks wait together, one boards while the other blows kisses or taps the window and waves. But in this case I saw no counterpart. I took my seat on the passenger side of the bus and watched this same man throw a thoroughly unspent cigarette to the curb just before we pulled out. To my shock he then boarded the bus. He threw that high priced, machine rolled, imported cylindrical package of escape that could not have been more than 1/3 spent right onto the ground.
I rode home with Sun Volt buzzing through my headphones helping to dull the light and sound of a busy bus route. As I rode I thought about these two tobacco users. I wondered what drove them, what compelled either one of them to pursue the same intoxicant. One so intent and the other so careless. I hoped the degenerate found the Marlboro, and I hope he was happy. But more than anything I wonder which of these two men truly had the greater despair, was it the degenerate owl or the pretending cowboy.