Smeagol is Free!
A hermitudinal view of...stuff...



I'm really supposed to finish up the work I have here in the computer lab, but I figured I'd take a little breakety-break to share a little as to what exactly is going on within this most disturbingly hirsute pate (relatively, of course) of mine.

I'm tired. I really am. I know I know I know, I've been saying that for a while now. Well, so I have; yet, such a backdrop renders this weariness no less valid. In fact, if these past few weeks hadn't been so hard, I wouldn't be as worn out as I am right now. I'm looking forward to the end of the semester, but not simply so that I can be done. No, I really do need the time to heal...desperately, in all honesty.

I told Scott last night after Dorm Meeting that I just really need the Lord right now. Father, in Your grace, draw me near. I told Scott that I feel drained; not really dry, but drained. It's as if every little bit I've received from the Lord has been quickly sapped up by the circumstances clouding my heart. Father, show me Your glory. If I'm to truly be healed, it'll be when the Lord fills my heart with His living water to overflowing.

*Sigh* know what? I have a sneaky feeling I'm looking at this with such a human perspective. What I mean when I say that is that I think that I'll look back upon this one day and realize that the Lord has filled me and sustained me far more than I would've ever suspected. Although I've felt lonely and so much in the dark, He's sat right next to me and watched over me. Although I've felt like I've been doing all the work, straining and scratching and clawing my way through each weary day, He's removed everything that would've been too much for me to handle. *Sigh*...yes, my perspective is far too human for me to truly see the Lord's faithfulness.

That just reminds me of how I really need to thank Him that He knows what He's doing, you know? 'Cause I sure don't :) Hmmm...maybe, just maybe, I might already be realizing how He's sustained me...and how much more I'll need Him to continue sustaining me.

posted by Bolo | 8:46 PM
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It's been a while since I've been that excited about trains, but's been a while since I've worn overalls, too :)

posted by Bolo | 5:53 AM
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Happy Birthday :)

Kason's 4...before you know it, he'll be coming to his Uncle Johnny for biblical wisdom, coaching on the baseball diamond, and fashion advice. That'll be many candles away, though...I doubt he'll still have a Thomas the Train cake at that point ;)

posted by Bolo | 5:53 AM
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Chillin' with his cars at Chuck E. Cheese. Andrew and I agreed we'd never go there again, save in circumstances where family members forced us to...but that's another story.

posted by Bolo | 5:49 AM
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Kason and his cars. Hmmm...he really looks like Dad in that picture...his nose...his smile...heck, even his hair. If he was missing his two front teeth, it'd be perfect...hehehehe.

posted by Bolo | 5:16 AM
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Gold and Dross

Here's a quick thought before I head out for the day. In talking to Jeff last night, he was telling me about how some things that I've written had touched him quite deeply. He cited various blog posts, using his own prior knowledge of me and my personality to back up what he observed. (Keep in mind, Jeff's my old roommate from the Lime Street house, so he's seen quite a great deal of my personality in all its gory glory.) What took me by surprise wasn't so much that Jeff was affected; Jeff's always had a keen and deep insight into life once he sees and grips what the Lord wants to teach him. No, the surprise came because what had affected him to such large degrees weren't necessarily the things that had affected me to the same degrees.

I know, I know; you're going, "John, what the heck are you saying?!?!?!?!" Let me have my one discombobulated paragaph, and I'll make things clear and obvious from here on out, alrighty? In essence, what I realized was that God does use the things we go through (pain, joy, silly and profound) to teach others. The thing is, we aren't the ones to decide what teaches or touches others, how others are touched or taught, or when they're touched or taught something by what we've gone through; God is. In sharing what the Lord showed him through what I'd gone through, Jeff helped me to realize that my life truly is for my brother. The life I live is not mine; it is Christ's! I must give it away as Christ did, for only in doing so will I truly gain it. I must embrace and take up my cross, dying to myself daily. Should my brother be encouraged by my rising up after my falling yet again, so be it; should my sister see my treatment of another sister and take heart, I praise the Lord heartily; should a younger brother see and be drawn to Christ through His work in my life, I shall weep with humble joy!

The point is quite simple. I must be holy, for He who called me is Holy. I know not who is watching, nor do I know what they take from observation. It's like Gary once told me, "John, you will have many godly teachers in your life. I am humbled that I can be one of them. Take the gold, get rid of the dross, and teach others."

posted by Bolo | 9:20 AM
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Fear and Joy

We are to fear the Lord, and we are to rejoice in the Lord. In fearing Him, we approach Him with the understanding that He is Holy, Holy, Holy, utterly separate and unique and worthy and higher than us. In rejoicing in Him, we approach Him with the understanding that He is good to us despite our unworthiness, sovereignly providing for and sustaining us as He sanctifies us in Christ. The two of these commands seem to be so very different, yet so very appropriate when considering just who the Lord is.

Think about it...when I consider Your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and stars, which you have ordained. The Lord not only created all we see and do not see, He also sustains them! The stars we see swooshing across the inky night sky...He causes them to swoosh! The waves Andrew lets go by him in a memorial of my absence...they're His creation! The frosty peaks of the Himalayas, or the tiny, tendril-like fingers of a newborn baby...both were crafted by Him and Him alone. What is man that You take thought of him, and the son of man that You care for him? In light of God's power and might and glory displayed in His creation, it is a wonder to me that He went public with His glory in order to share it He gives to us the rain and fruitful seasons, and His provision is often fulfilled through the earth and sea and sky. It is a wonder to me that we can know the Lord's power, yet know His tender touch. Indeed, what is man that You take thought of us, Lord?

To behold the swooshing stars and to give thanks for our food should be done in fear, knowing that the Lord is the great I Am who from everlasting to everlasting reigns sovereignly. Yet it should also be done in joy, for it is He who creates the stars to swoosh and the food to sustain our frail frames that we might know that He is the Lord. Thus, we can cry together with David, "O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is Your name in all the earth!"

Speaking of fear and joy, I'd be remiss if I did not confess that my heart is filled with both today. The fear is more than just a reverential fear of the Lord, and the joy is more than just the pure joy of knowing the Lord.

I told Jim just a little while ago, "I'm so afraid!" I'm afraid of what I must do, and I'm afraid of not being able to do it. The past three weeks have been painful, ever so painful. The valley I found myself in was dark and endless, it seemed, so much so that to suddenly find myself in the bright light once more...*sigh*...strangely enough, it fills me with fear, it does. What does the future hold? When will my heart tumble into such a valley once more? How has going through this pain strengthened my resolve, and how has it granted me perspective and wisdom? How will I lead...can I do so in complete surrender to the Lord? So many fears are in me...yet such joy! It's a sober joy in knowing that the Lord is good, and seeing and tasting that He is indeed good! My eyes have that happy crinkle they usually do...that crinkle hasn't been there for a while. I look around myself, and I keep thinking, "relax, sober...don't get ahead of the Lord...let Him lead...stop grinning like a in Him...Proverbs three, verses five and big monkey, people are going to think you're the village idiot with that big grin!" Oh, what the heck, I'm happy! I told Jim that the birds are singing a happy song, the world has vibrant color once more, and my soul is smiling. I think the very words I speak verge on song...a happy song...a joyful song.

How do I reconcile the two? How can it be that a fear that causes my knees to shake and my heart to quake can pour forth from the same springs that cause my face to grin and my feet to dance? Aaaahhhhh...God created women...only He knows.

By the way...thanks for this chance :)

posted by Bolo | 3:25 PM
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Oatmeal Nazi

Not only did Diane cause some of my scalding hot Holiday Blend to spill out of my tumbler, but upon my request for some oatmeal topped with brown sugar she and Anthony both turned on me, eyes piercingly bright and lips sneering as they opened wide their respective maws to let out a resounding, "NO OATMEAL FOR YOU!" My goodnss gracious, great balls of burning gas and blue light specials! A simple "no" would've sufficed.

Ok, maybe it was just a simple "no." Maybe I exaggerate. Perhaps my story is touched with a dash of the facetious. The point remains that I was disappointed; not hurt, mind you, just disappointed. No oatmeal this morning, no brown sugar to put a little oomph in my giddyup. Hehe...I'm still just a regular guy ;) Hah! John made a funny!

posted by Bolo | 1:45 PM
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Two to Four

Today is Kason's birthday. He's now four, and the last time I saw him he was just two. He wouldn't talk to me tonight 'cause he was quite out of it. Why? He'd gotten a booster shot in his leg earlier today :( Lisa said he was hobbling around like an old man. Poor little guy...he just grabbed his Thomas the Train toys and went into the other room, away from everyone else.

On another note, I heard from Jim that Leeman's on a special diet, called the "LGN Diet." Those initials, whose meaning I'll not explore here, had me laughing for quite a while :)

posted by Bolo | 10:44 PM
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Blessing and Praise

Psalm 34:1

I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth.

When is it appropriate to bless the Lord? At all times. How often is His praise to be found in my mouth? Continually. Before thinking about how much or how little I bring blessing and praise to the Lord, I must ponder one thing: Why.

Why should I bless the Lord, and why should I praise Him? Yet that question hints at an even deeper one: Why or how is it that I can bring blessing and praise unto Him? Think about that. I can close my eyes and look forward with my heart, rejoicing in the hope of the day when I will one day behold as with unveiled face the Son of God, my Savior, Jesus Christ. I will gaze upon His glorious face, and I will not be ashamed! How can it be? Such a sight ought to be a terrible and horrible sight. My sin had sealed my fate so long ago, and to deter or elude such a fate was beyond the realm of hope and reason.

I should not be so quick to assume my right to bless and praise the Lord. To assume such a right is to rob the blessing and praise of its inherent depth and meaning! Blessing the Lord, or giving thanks to Him, by its very definition is an act that ought to be filled with fear, trembling, and immense joy! The Lord...the is He that provides, He that rejoices to sweetly condescend and hold tight His children in a grip of irrepressible grace! Do not pass over this astonishing thought! He does not relinquish this task to another, He does not allow this delight to pass to His angels! He Himself died shamefully upon a cross; no other would do, no other sacrifice would suffice. Do not assume the right to bless and praise Him! We do not deserve such a privilege, and to forget this is to lose the wonder of the glory of the cross of Christ. Have you forgotten your first Love? Do not forget that He makes His glory our joy, that He ties in His glory with our enjoyment of Him...forever.

In Christ, I lack nothing. Why then should I not bless and praise the Lord? How can I not? *Sigh*...I do not bless and praise the Lord as I ought, for my eyes are ever looking not unto Christ but unto circumstance. Yet He is faithful! Yes, He is faithful! I will bless and praise the Lord because He is faithful; He will wipe away my every tear, He holds me during my every wretched sob, He provides for me my every ounce of strength, He grants to me grace to be forgiven for every sin, He fills my heart with the truth that renews and transforms, and He loves me with a love that claims me and will never let go. If He did not do such, I could not bless, I could not praise. Why will I bless the Lord at all times, why will His praise continually be in my mouth? Because He is the Lord, and He is worthy.

posted by Bolo | 7:42 PM
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Thanks, Part 3

I'm thankful for the cross. All the thanks I reflect upon or speak of today will, in some way or another, find its root in the cross. If not for the cross of my Lord Jesus Christ, I have nothing to give thanks for, nothing that I can hope in, no hope that I could share with others. Though I behold it through tears, the beauty of the cross is not lessened; if anything, that beauty is intensified and purified, for such tears are evidence of the Lord's hand drawing me ever closer to the cross. It is in such a drawing close that my tears find their true meaning, and all the reasons for giving thanks gain depth, if not clarity.

When I think of the way God has orchestrated my salvation...*sigh* know what? I must confess, I don't think of His gracious work the way I ought to, or as often as I ought to. In all honesty, I just don't care. I take it for granted in ways I'd be ashamed of proclaiming publicly. If it were not for the Lord's continuing sanctifying work in my life, I'd forget that I was justified, seen with the righteousness of Christ. The righteousness of Christ! How quick I am to speak of such a glorious thing; how slow I am to truly savor it. And when I do savor it, should not the savoring be slow and...well...savory? *Sigh*...unfortunately, my savoring of the glories of the cross of Christ are quick and ever so fleeting. 'Tis no savoring at all, truth be told.

Which is precisely why I'm thankful for the cross. My heart betrays me and does a splendid job of displaying my many qulities as a sinful ingrate time and time again. Were it not for the cross, I would have no reason to be thankful. Were it not for the cross, I would continue in my ungratefulness and would despise the surpassing riches of His grace. Were it not for the cross, the Lord would not be able to draw me back to Him time and time again, cleansing me and purifying me that He might present me holy and blameless before Him. This, all because of the cross! today, I'm thankful for many things, but I'm thankful for them because I give thanks through the cross.

posted by Bolo | 1:11 PM
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Thanks, Part 2

I'm a dork. No, you don't understand. I really am a dork. Seriously. I looked high and low in my car for the bag of Taco Bell Chalupa's that I swore I tossed back there earlier, and it wasn't there. That happened after I rushed out of the office at ten 'til ten 'cause I wanted to make sure I got to McDonald's in time for breakfast, discovered that all those fast food joints on Blankenbaker Parkway are closed for the Thanksgiving holiday (yeah...imagine that...closed on a holiday), and drove back with the consolation that I still had that bag of leftover Chalupa's to look forward to.

But we've already covered the fact that the Chalupa's weren't there, haven't we? Yes we have.

So why am I a dork? Because just as I was about to console myself with the fact that I still have a banana, a granola bar, a couple of chocolate-covered macadamia nuts and a little caramel-apple dessert thingy to hold me over until 5:30 this afternoon, I glance over and see the bag of Chalupa's sitting on the desk. The bag that I myself had put there.

Yeah, I'm a dork.

Today, however, I'm a grateful dork...a thankful dork. I've much to give thanks for. What hit me moments ago was the friendships I have. I was telling Darren last night that it amazes me how faithful the Lord has been to provide guys to surround me and keep me afloat. Andrew, Brian, Scott, Kevin, Rob, Jon, Gary, Leeman, Goose, Chriyus, Mike, Brandon, Jim, Jared, Jeff, Royce, Ruszkiewicz...the list goes on. Most of those guys I'd have absolutely nothing in common with were it not for Christ. In Christ, however, I am my brother's, and he is mine.

Such friendship and fellowship has gotten me through some of the toughest times in life, in particular this past month. When I was down (which was often), Pablo would come along and give me a hug. When I needed a word of exhortation, Scott was there. When I needed someone to vent to, Chriyus and Mike listened well. When I needed to talk pidgin, Kev was good for that. When I just needed to talk to them like we've always talked, Andrew and Brian were there to talk about everything...God, girls, surf, school, and food...and not necessarily in that order :)

It's good to know I'm not alone in this life. I'm thankful for that; there was a time not so long ago when I couldn't say that I knew that. It's odd to me that people on campus here don't realize how much of a reclusive person I am; the John they see is the John that knows everybody both at Boyce and at Southern (not something I myself claim, just something that others proclaim), not the John that grew up shutting himself in his room for days on end. They don't know the John that took half his 7th grade year off just because he didn't want to be in school with everyone else. They don't know the John that used to go to a shrink periodically and played chess with the said shrink for over a year. They don't know the John that once had hair, that once hated to be in the ocean, that was known for being a bookworm more than a socialite, that nearly failed his high school sophomore English class...yes,, they don't know that John.

*Sigh*...that John is still here, but he's changed. He's gained perspective through the peaks and valleys the Lord has led him through. Right now, he's in a valley, a long valley, a deep valley, but you know what? He's not alone. The Lord has given him friends to call out to him and help him when he's lost and hurting, and for that, John is thankful.

posted by Bolo | 10:36 AM
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Thanks, Part 1

Gah! It's snowing outside! Ssshhhh. I can hear your responses now. Well duh, John, it's not going to be snowing inside, is it? Yeah yeah yeah, whatever. Imagine the horrified look upon my agonizingly animated countenance when just moments ago I looked up and saw SNOWFLAKES. On top of the fact that I was already freezing with the wind whipping through my layers of fleece, polyester pseudo-police/rentacop uniform top, and longsleeve cotton polo, the wind decided to taunt me with little flakes of snow.

There are worse things in life, though, aren't there? Yes, there are. I have much to be thankful for. The fact that I can come in from the cold to a warm bed is one of them. I won't be hitting my bed anytime soon, as I'm in the early portion of my 16 hour Thanksgiving Day security shift, but still...I'll be able to stay warm here at work. That alone makes me smile and frown all at once. There are people who don't have a warm place to stay, and I don't just mean weather-wise.

I remember how it was for us growing up. We never had a lot of money; it always seemed we were on the verge of being "out on the street." I don't think that ever would have really happened, as there were too many friends and family members who would have taken us in. Still, mom was always worried about where she'd get the money for food and rent. Living like that was par for the course; I didn't realize until later that not all the other kids lived like that. Part of it was the way we were raised. My older siblings were always there to take care of us, and it was ingrained within all seven of us from an early age that we were in this together; everyone looked out for everyone else, no matter what.

Thus, it is with a grateful smile that I think back upon my childhood. Did I ever lack anything? Never. My mother prayed for us...whatever else she did or did not do, she prayed. Whatever lack my father created by his not really being there, my mother tried to fill. Did she fill it completely? No, but that's not her fault. Her prayers count for far more than I'll ever know, and I genuinely feel that that's the Lord's biggest vehicle of grace in my life. Through it, graces untold have been brought forth and will be brought forth.

I mentioned how I have a warm place to stay through this chilly night. I always had a warm place to stay growing up. My house was filled with love, I never doubted that. There were times when I was blind to it, times when I didn't understand it, even times when I despised it, but I was never left out in the cold. I always had a warm house to go in to...a warmth that came from love. For that, I give thanks.

posted by Bolo | 2:40 AM
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Only the Lonely

While conversing last night with Scott, the dialogue shifted toward our loneliness. His loneliness centered on not having people around; it's Fall Reading Days on campus, which means that almost all the hustle and bustle of student activity is kept to a minimal, and the normally idiotic things that would bother someone in the midst of studying are now missed in a strange, "I miss my moron of a brother" sort of way. Ok, maybe not. But close enough.

I told Scott that it's been the opposite for me. I don't really miss everyone in the same way he does. If anything, I'm more than grateful for the solitude; I not only get to commune with the Lord in a way I haven't been able to in a long while, but I also get to hang with some people I've been meaning to hang out with all semester long. Yesterday was a good example of this, as I sat down with Patrick (nearly 7 foot tall Nigerian...what a sight he is) and we filled one another in on our life happenings for the past several months. Had it been that long since we last spoke? Yes, yes it had been. I was also able to rouse Darren Thomas from the dead; he'd been out cold all day with clogged sinuses, and when I went into his dorm room at somewhere past 8 pm, he was still out. We went to Java for some good buzz buzz brew; Justin later joined us. All in all, the evening was grand. I got to spend it with some great brothers, and they encouraged me greatly.

Back to the solitude. The past few weeks have been...well...hard. Really, really hard. I feel disoriented at times, and undeniably distracted. I keep wondering when it'll all end; I don't think that's what I'm supposed to focus on, though. If I remember correctly, it's not my job to worry about tomorrow. My job is to obey the Lord today, in whatever way His grace allows. If I'm not seeing things with the same clarity or depth that I'm accustomed to, is it my lot to fret over a perceived lack of discernment? Hardly. The Lord knows what I must see, He knows what I must do; He'll provide the wisdom and strength for the tasks He gives me. If my heart aches deeply, I can only be real about my aching. Pain does not lessen the tasks I have set before me, but the tears that come with such pain do water the seeds that will grow into sweet fruit in the end. Such fruit will be harvested with joy; the Lord is faithful, and His promises never fail! His grace is sufficient for me, for power is perfected in weakness. And oh, I am indeed weak!

I told Scott that it's not so much that I miss people in general...I just miss someone. Gah. One day, perhaps, it'll lessen. One day...just not this day.

posted by Bolo | 10:16 AM
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Old School

On the right, you should see a new selection of links under the title, "Old School." What those links lead to are some old posts that make me smile, fill me with conviction, or even cry. I'll rotate the selection of those links each week or so, depending on how I'm feeling. I wanted to do this after reading through some of my old posts this blessed me tremendously to remember some of the things the Lord has done...hopefully, it'll do the same for you.

posted by Bolo | 8:23 AM
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Jaimeson told me a little while ago, "you have a way about you." Her comment which was in all seriousness utterly serious, came forth while discussing Mike's comment about me on his blog: "He could totally destroy your life and you would love him for doing it." When I first read his comment, it made me laugh out loud to myself and grin and laugh out loud over and over again. It's a good thing I was by myself when this all happened, 'cause I would've snorted out some snot while trying to hide my effervescent amusement while around any other sentient being.

Now that I've been removed from the immediate hilarity of the situation for a couple of days, I can now comment on it with some sobriety. I have a way about me? I told Jaimeson that I'd like to understand this "way," because it's something I don't really see. She said it consists of gentleness, kindness, and compassion (at least, I think those were the three...close enough, I suppose), in addition to the ability to communicate with people. Hmmm...ok. I suppose that may be the case, but's not something I really see in myself, so it's somewhat odd, if not shocking, that two of my very well-respected peers should say such things of me.

I'm taken back to something Leeman once said to me. I remember the moment with a fair degree of clarity; we were on our way to my house after a late night on campus, and he was driving. It was always a scary thing when Leeman was driving, so each time I stepped from the vehicle I praised God for His provision in providing a ride as well as His provision in keeping my body intact. But I digress. Leeman essentially told me that I listen well. This came from someone who, despite his tendency to seem somewhat distant and distracted during a conversation, I thought listened well himself.

Recently I told Chriyus that what frustrates me at times on our campus is that I feel like people don't listen. We're like Job's friends, quick to offer advice, quick to admonish, slow to listen. I told Chriyus it's something I see in myself, and I hate it. I despise the ways I try to solve a problem with a verse or passage of Scripture; I despise more deeply still the way I won't even take the time to listen to someone's problem. Do I listen to someone, truly listen? Or do I simply wait for them to get to the end of their story so that I can show them how well I've paid attention in Dr. Draper's Interpreting Isaiah class? *Sigh*...yeah...I think you know the answer I'm thinking of...

Still, I'm not discouraged. If I'm falling so that others might see me continually getting up after each one of my falls, so be it. I'll rejoice in my weakness, and pray that I would listen to others as they share their own falls along the journey.

posted by Bolo | 1:25 PM
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To Quote...

Remember that little dinner at Olive Garden that I shared with Mike and Chriyus a little over a week ago? Well, Mike tossed up a post on his blog about it. I told Scott that Mike's quote about me made my semester. Well, almost ;) At the very least, he gave me something to grin about and laugh out loud at when nobody else is around. One step closer to senility!

posted by Bolo | 1:11 AM
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Shepherd's Shock

My co-worker made a comment about hating Christmas, hating what it stood for. My interest, to say the least, was piqued. His little comment brought on about an hour's worth of conversation. Our dialogue covered everything from the historicity of the Catholic Church's involvement in bringing about a Christmas celebration to the beauty of the gospel as foreshadowed in Hosea. I shared with him the sheer wonder God places in my heart when I think of those shepherds tending their flocks at night two thousand years ago. They, mere shepherds, found themselves surrounded by a heavenly host of angels declaring one thing: the Savior had come! He was born! I shared the awe God bestows upon me when I think of the four hundred years of silence suddenly broken publicly; and the message? There is indeed a Savior! I shared that the purpose of the Law was not only to show us what we had to do to live in righteousness before the Lord, but even more, it was to show us that we never could live in righteousness before the Lord, and therefore we needed a Savior. I shared that our Savior abolishes the Law not because He renders it entirely useless, but that He abolishes it because He fulfills it on our behalf. I shared a lot with him...yet I found myself wanting to share so much more.

Today as I think about the meaning of Christ's birth, I find myself silenced. Stunned. Awed. I imagine being one of those shepherds, sitting or lying out in the fields while my sheep were doing their sheepish duties. I imagine being scared out of my wits while an angel appeared to me and the rest of the scruffy shepherds. And what did the angel say? "Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger."

My goodness. Try to imagine the emotion that must have gripped the shepherds; I cannot! Such a message was longed for and hoped for, yet the manner in which it would be delivered was not known, nor was it known what tidings the message would even bring. That the Messiah was to come was no doubt a part of their upbringing as Jews; but to hear that the Messiah was a baby, one that had been born that day? Mysterious and wondrous beyond measure! Even as I sit here and type out this entry, I find myself weeping with joy and wonder. Why would Jesus deign to put Himself in human flesh, much less baby flesh? Why would He allow Himself to be put in a manger, of all things? I cannot answer these questions. And when I look at the cross He was born to embrace, I am only all the more silenced and humbled.

Those shepherds went to see the Lord...the Lord! They were told of His birth that they might go and adore Him, and they did not disappoint. They rushed to see their Lord, their Savior, whom they would find as they were told: wrapped in cloths, lying in a manger. Thus, even in the manger He was worshiped.

I told my co-worker that for me, Christmas is not the glitzy glam of Santa Claus and presents and Christmas Trees and parties. Don't get me wrong; I love a good Christmas party as much as the next guy. Heck, I love a good day in the mall during the Christmas shopping season much, much, much more than the next guy (or girl, for that matter). No, Christmas is a time where I can take the extra time to reflect...and wonder...and weep...for like those shepherds, I also find it wonderful that my Savior was born as a mere baby, wrapped in cloths, lying in a manger. I find it mysterious that He should call me to come and adore Him, much like those shepherds. I find it amazing that He should be born in this humble manner, all so that He might die a humble yet horrible death.

posted by Bolo | 11:42 AM
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Here's a silly little poll to take up some of your time...

posted by Bolo | 11:06 PM
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Thought to think on

I was hit with a thought the other day. Two days ago, to be precise. And, as is God's wont, He hit me with its application yesterday. Truth be told, I'm still being hit with it.

I hadn't spoken with Jared in a long while. It wasn't as if I hadn't seen him or was avoiding him. No, nothing so silly as that. It's just a matter of being busy, not having our schedules match up, and a continual promise to get together "at some point." Some Point was two days ago. We were sitting down in Founder's after having run into each other near the mail room, and he started talking about sin. The jist of his point was that as humans, we tend to be sorrowful over our sin because of how horrible it makes us feel rather than how it offends the Lord.


Jared and I had spoken about that aspect of sin before, and at length, but I hadn't thought about sin in those terms in a really, really long time. *Sigh*'s so very humbling to think on that. The Lord's still working on me in regards to that; how much do I grieve over my sin? And for what reasons do I grieve? Am I horrified by sin because of the depth to which I have offended the Lord, or because of the depth of pain I feel in my own heart? Am I relating to sin according to how I see it, or how the Lord sees it? Even now, with my heart numb toward my own sinfulness, I find it despicable to see how I would answer those questions. I know I am shallow, I know I am blind.

Yet, it does not end there, does it? There is hope. The mere fact that I am in the least bit sorrowful over my sin is a sign of God's grace. The cross is beautiful, and it is there to heal, to proclaim the Lord's victory over sin. Though I do not understand or hate my sin as I ought to, though I do not see and rejoice in and revere the Lord as I ought to, the cross still stands as that which reconciles my sinful self with the Holy One of Israel. I must rest in that, because I cannot rest in myself.

posted by Bolo | 10:48 AM
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One day...

Weakness. Oh my, how I feel it lately. If there is any good within me, any strength, any love, any joy, any peace, it comes from the Lord. I've not felt so weak in so's been years, in all honesty. I told Jared today that I get tiny, piercing glimpses of the Lord from time to time, but for the most part all is pain and confusion. I wish it were not so, of course, yet I cannot help but rest in the fact that the Lord has His purpose in the pain. Indeed, I must relish in my weakness, musn't I?

I must, for I don't have a whole lot that I relish in right now. I'd be lying if I said life was grand, and I were looking forward to things. My semester has taken on a sickly pallor, and I refuse to color it any more brightly than that. That is how I feel; that may not be the truth of the cross, but I would lie if I said that I saw with clear brilliance the cross in all its glory. No, the brilliant beauty of the cross still shines brightly; it's just that the darkness upon my soul keeps me from perceiving it as I wish I did.

The time seems to pass not nearly quickly enough; when will the pain end? When will I see clearly, when will I not feel as if confusion has permanently fused itself to my soul? I don't know, and I don't think I'm supposed to know. Knowledge of the path before me is not necessary for me to walk upon it. I didn't know what blessings the Lord had in store for me when I left home, and I don't know what hidden blessings He's smiling about right now, either. One day, I will look back and smile. One day, I'll look back and rejoice. One day I'll do those things naturally, I know I will. But right now, smiling and rejoicing are far more difficult than I let on.

posted by Bolo | 11:57 PM
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The other night at the Olive Garden, Mike spoke about how the Lord's teaching him once again to relish in our weakness. I told him that that's something the Lord put on my heart a while back, but that hearing him speak of it brought it back to mind once more.

I told Pablo the other day that I feel drained...not empty, but drained. There's a difference. It seems that every little bit of Living Water the Lord pours into me is quickly sucked dry, and every moment of brilliant joy is quickly dimmed by a cloud of pain and loneliness. Yet not all is dryness, nor is all darkness. My weaknesses are not something I am to be ashamed of, nor are they to be avoided; quite frankly, the Lord is very clear and unashamed in that it is in proclaiming my weakness to the World that He exercises His power in my life. See what His word says in 2 Corinthians 12:7 - 10:

Because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, for this reason, to keep me from exalting myself, there was given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me--to keep me from exalting myself! Concerning this I implored the Lord three times that it might leave me. And He has said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness." Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ's sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.

Oh, to relish in my weakness for Christ's sake! That is what Paul speaks of when he speaks of "boasting" and being "well content" in and with his weaknesses. *Sigh*...I would be a liar if I said I wish I were not so weak. Such is the state of my soul, that my pride blinds me to the grace the Lord bestows upon me through the means of the shining forth His glory in my weakness! In my foolish pride I want to be the strong one, the one who others look to for strength and comfort. Yet that is not my lot, is it? No, for that is Christ's! I am weak, for I am but a Man! I am beset with weaknesses and difficulties, beset with fears and hopes and dreams that all seem to come crashing down around me at once more often than not.

What do I do when I no longer desire Him? What do I do when I no longer desire His word? In recent days, I have stood upon the edge of despair and gazed down into its suffocating pits. Though despair taunts me and rages 'round me, the Lord sustains me. Though I crawl away from the edge but slowly, I know He is helping me along. And when I desire to turn back, He is faithful to hear my plea for more grace. Quite often is the time, however, when I suddenly find myself at the edge of that pit once more, and I wonder if I'll ever crawl far enough away not to slide back once again.

Yet what does the Lord say to that? "My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness." And my response? It must be as Paul's when he says, "most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me." My weaknesses have more than just a lesson, they have a purpose. That lesson is Christ's power, that purpose is Christ's glory. I would despair if I did not know that the Lord causes all things to happen for the good of those who love Him...that He is the rewarder of those who seek Him...that His mercies are new every morning...that I have a Great High Priest who sympathizes with me in my weakness, and who has atoned for my sin and ever lives to intercede on my behalf...that the Lord calls me "beloved," and says of me, "you are Mine!" Yes, I would despair if my weaknesses were all that I would ever know. But they are not, therefore I do not despair; no, I relish in them.

posted by Bolo | 11:35 PM
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A little explanation is in order. If you've already read the previous post, go ahead and read this one. If not, read the one below this one first, and then come back and read this one. Cool? Cool.

This post will serve as an addendum to the previous one, written roughly twelve hours ago. This morning, as I pondered what I had written last night, other thoughts on the subject of marriage, as defined by Scripture, came to me unbidden. Thus was born this follow-up post, which I hope further clarifies and undergirds my thoughts from last night.

Hosea is such a strange book. In it, the prophet Hosea is told to marry Gomer, a "woman of adultery"...a prostitute...a whore...the scum of the earth. Not just once is Hosea told to do this, but twice! The second time involves public shame, for Hosea must go into the marketplace and purchase her back like the cheap whore that she is. Is this not strange? Indeed, it is! Should it shock us? Indeed, it should! There is a very explicit point the Lord is making through the prophet Hosea and His adulterous wife; we would do well not to dilute this point. Over the years, however, people have called into question the validity of Hosea's experience. Some have argued that God wouldn't tell one of His people to marry a prostitute, let alone have one of His prophets do such a's far below God to do so! Yet isn't that precisely what God did with Christ on the cross? Is not Hosea's marriage to Gomer one of sacrifice and service, one of redemption and sanctification, one of love? It is! The picture there is clear. Just as Hosea's love for Gomer should be shocking, so ought Christ's love for us be shocking. We should not take it for granted; instead, we should revel in the grace God lavishes upon us.

In the same way, husbands are to love their wives to the point of shaming themselves. Wives, as it says in Ephesians 5, are to "be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord." As to the Lord! Why? Because they should be able to rely upon the love of their husbands being as the love of Christ to His bride, a love that is shameless in the pursuit and redemption of its beloved, a love that is never ceasing and all-consuming. That is why they can submit as to the Lord!

*Sigh*...when I told Andrew it burns in me, I spoke not necessarily of the desire to be married. I must clarify this, lest I find myself in a situation much like Tom Hanks' character in Sleepless in Seattle, with crazy women writing in to find out who he is in order to gain the opportunity to throw themselves at him. *Shudder*. No thanks! To be perfectly honest, I'd prefer to be able to be single. Seriously. As much as I am a hopeless romantic, if God gave me the choice, I think I would tell him that I would like to be single, with no desire to be married. It would be easier on me, that's for sure; I could indulge in my own selfishness, and I wouldn't have to worry about anyone else. As it is, I'm not sitting here looking for a girl to be with me. Those that know me well will say that's never been the case, either. I'm a selfish person, after all. I'd love to be able to call up Andrew every day for the rest of my life and say, "when are we going surfing today?" It's a beautiful thing to be able to do that. By God's grace, however, He did not make me that way. I know that and I rejoice in that, just as I would rejoice if that were not the case.

So you see, the burning I spoke of really isn't a burning desire to be married right now; rather, it is a burning desire for the truth, for the gospel that we blind ourselves to when we take marriage and water it down into an end all its own. *Sigh* is not simply a way to procreate, not simply a fulfillment of hormonal or emotional desire! God gave us those desires in order that we might learn to love as Christ loves, that we might experience the love of Christ far more intimately and truthfully than we would have otherwise. Those desires speak of and point toward a higher calling, a deeper truth! God gave us marriage that we might learn to love as Christ loves and the Church in turn loves, and learn to submit as Christ submits and the Church in turn submits. That is what burns...the truth...the truth is what burns.

posted by Bolo | 11:24 AM
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I told Andrew it burns in me. It positively burns.

We both were pretty hardcore Bachelor to the Rapture devotees. The shirts were going to be printed, Goose was President of the club, and our lives were to be grand, spent in service to the King. It is, then, in some ways so very strange that I should tell Andrew that this burns within me. It is even stranger still that I, the Most Single Man on Earth, the Old Single Guy at Boyce College, should be writing this.

Today, I will speak of marriage. I almost hate to write this because logic says I have no right to speak of what I have not experienced; yet as I told Andrew, it burns in me. Therefore, I must speak of it.

In the past two months, I've been forced to consider Ephesians 5:22 - 33 in an entirely different light.

Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body. But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless. So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself; for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church, because we are members of His body. FOR THIS REASON A MAN SHALL LEAVE HIS FATHER AND MOTHER AND SHALL BE JOINED TO HIS WIFE, AND THE TWO SHALL BECOME ONE FLESH. This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church. Nevertheless, each individual among you also is to love his own wife even as himself, and the wife must see to it that she respects her husband.

As I thought about this hitherto uncouth desire to be single no longer, the Lord showed me something that I now rejoice greatly in: His amazing grace at work in my heart. How so? It comes down to what marriage is. The very definition of marriage is trampled upon with reckless abandon. I speak not of secular marriage, but of marriage within our churches. I speak of the horrible examples that Andrew and I have had growing up. I speak of my own parents, particularly my father, who never truly understood what marriage is. I speak of the myriad marriages I see around me or can think of back at home that do not truly honor the Lord, all because their understanding of marriage is flawed to begin with.

Do you see why I'm so hesitant to speak on this? This isn't your standard Preaching to the Choir. This is the Single Guy telling the Married people what's wrong with their marriages. Oh, the irony is profound. Maybe someday I'll enjoy it, because right now I'm only saddened and broken.

Ephesians 5 speaks of marriage being a picture of Christ and the Church...not the other way around. The Lord did not send Christ as the Bridegroom to redeem His bride in order to give us an idea of what marriage is to be like. NO!!! He gave us marriage to remind us ceaselessly of how Christ relates to His bride! He gave us marriage to remind us that it is Christ who has laid down His life for His bride, who cherishes her as His own flesh, who nourishes her because we are members of His body! He gave us marriage for us to see that Christ sanctifies us with the washing of water with the word! Why? That we the Church, His bride, might be holy and blameless and having no spot or wrinkle or blemish when we are presented to Him! That is the purpose of marriage, and if we miss it, we are doomed. Why? Because if we do not understand that marriage is to be to us the very living out of Christ's love for His bride and her surrendering love to Him, we will never truly embrace the God-given roles that we have as men and women. Marriage will never be as full as it was meant to be unless we see and savor the truth of not only Christ's love for His bride, but also the truth of her submission to His loving and sacrificial service to her. It is in the interaction between husband and wife that we are to see the interaction between Christ and His bride.

I told Andrew that my heart burns with that burns with the desire to cherish, to nourish, to lay down my life for my bride, that I might sanctify her and cleanse her with the washing of water with the word. I do indeed desire to love her and to serve her, for she would be to me as my own body, and I would be the head. Andrew knows me well. I told him that I'm one of the most laid-back, non-leading type of guys anyone could run across. He knows that well. If I do any leading, it's because the Lord would have me lead, and I embrace whatever the Lord would have me do. By God's grace, He's changed me and molded me tremendously in this regard, and I now have no qualms stepping up and taking charge as I ought to. Still, there are many ways I must still be molded. This especially holds true in marriage. I'm not the type of person who will instinctively want to take charge of something; I'd rather be someone's right hand man, the guy in the background doing the dirty work, making sure things get done. Yet in regards to marrage, there is no doubt in my mind that I would lead. I would have to; if I forget that, all I have to do is look at Christ. His leading, however, is not what we often think of it as being. He does not, as many husbands often do, simply claim to "lead by example." That's a phrase that's often used as an excuse. Christ led by service. He serves His bride. He laid down His life for her, He sanctifies her, He cleanses her, He cherishes and nourishes her! First and foremost, He serves His bride!

Being at Boyce College, I'll often hear about how women are there to support their husbands in their ministry. True. Yet, I would ask this: who did Christ minister to? His bride. We as Christian men so often speak of ministry, of a calling to ministry, of leading and loving properly. Unfortunately, we get our priorities wrong. We think that our ministries come first; hardly! There may come times when we are not in the pulpit, but there will never be a time, so long as our brides live, that we will not be husbands! We are in a covenant relationship with our brides, and such a covenant is sacred to the Lord. Look at what it signifies! It points to the Cross! It points to the redemption of Christ's bride! It points to the glorious sanctification of His beloved! Do not forget that!

Yet we as Christian men do. We neglect the bride of our youth. We neglect the covenant we have before the Lord, and we make a mockery of the cross of Christ. We say we neglect our wives for the sake of providing for them and for our children; what a horrible lie! We are forgetting, we are turning away from the glorious truth!

Often men will blame women. We'll joke around and say utterly moronic things like, "I want a quiet girl, 'cause those are the ones that are easier to get to submit," or, "Yeah, so-and-so really tamed that one, didn't he? I never thought anyone would get her to submit!" What idiots we are to think that way. Submission as laid out in scripture is not something that is meant to be difficult! It is an act of love, one of joy and peace! As the Church submits to Christ, so wives are to submit to their husbands. Why is this joyful and peaceful? Because their husbands are to serve them as Christ serves His bride! They are to submit not out of frustration or fear, but out of joyful love, knowing that her husband is there to serve her and cherish her and nourish her. It is he who is to her a type of Christ, a type of savior, one in whom she places all trust and love. I told Andrew that I realized that it is not the weak girls who submit best, but the strong ones. It is they who realize the truth of the gospel, they who embrace their God-given roles, they who are better able to savor Christ as He was meant to be savored as they live out their marriages.

*Sigh*...I told him that that desire for my bride is utterly and clearly from the Lord, because the truth of the gospel in regard to marriage is not something that I've seen a lot of, nor heard much of. When marriage is preached on, it is often diluted. I never got excited about marriage when I was younger; I now see that there was a reason for that. Am I bitter toward my examples? No...hardly. Am I saddened? Yes, extremely so! Saddened to the point of despair? Not a despair beyond all hope. A despair in my weakness, a despair in my own flesh, but a despair that drives me toward Christ, toward joy and hope.

I now see marriage as far more beautiful and glorious than ever before. I can only rejoice as I ponder how much more beautiful and glorious it will continue to become in my sight. I told Andrew it burns in me; it will only continue to burn more fiercely still.

posted by Bolo | 11:57 PM
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Triune Dinner

Tonight, Mike and Chriyus and I sat at a table at the Olive Garden out on Hurstbourne. We had a blast...what a great evening. We sat there, long after our meals were done, long after the bill was paid, just talking of life and love and learning. We're a strange set, the three of us. We're all analytical in our own ways, all full of conviction, yet we express them differently. Never was that so apparent to me as it was tonight. Mike's opinionated, yet communicates his opinions in a clear and gentle manner. Chriyus is quietly opinionated as well, yet his opinions are worn on his sleeve when he's around those he trusts. Me? I would like to say I'm the quiet one of the three of us, but that wouldn't be true, either. I'm not sure where I'd stand. Hmmm...interesting...I wonder what they'd say...I'll have to ask.

*Sigh*...I'd love to write more, but I'm absolutely exhausted. I'm still trying to get over this sickness...coughing up and blowing out the nasty stuff isn't very fun right now, but it's necessary. I almost want to jump into the shower just for the heck of it, you know? At least it'd be warm :) Alas, such shall not happen. I'm warm enough, and I think I'll just blow my nose the conventional way. Like you wanted to know that... ;)

posted by Bolo | 11:06 PM
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The other day...perhaps yesterday...I thought about something Jeff Maguire once told me. In speaking on the difference between me and another person, he said that I feel emotions very deeply, while the other person felt their emotions very quickly. That wasn't to say that I don't feel emotions quickly, or that the other person doesn't feel emotions deeply, but rather that my "native mode" of experiencing things was to experience them "deeply," if that makes sense. I hadn't thought about that conversation in a long time...I think we were in Spaghetti Factory when he told me that...either there or in Starbucks at Ward...but the conversation came to mind yesterday, for some reason. I guess it's because this week has been so up and down for me emotionally.

Looking inside myself, I've had to learn to once more look outside of myself for the answer. It's so hard, sometimes. I find my mind wandering, I find my heart starting down a path it doesn't need to tread. I find myself experiencing emotions so deeply buried by time and circumstance that I hardly recognize them. know what comes to mind as I write that? Time and circumstance will take "junk matter" and turn it into beautiful diamonds. Perhaps that's what the Lord's doing in me now. Yes, maybe that's what He's doing. Someday, He'll unearth the things I've buried, and they'll come out beautifully :)

posted by Bolo | 11:50 PM
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What I'd see when I'd surf: Diamond Head.

posted by Bolo | 11:49 PM
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Where I'd go surf: Kewalo's. I wouldn't mind it right now...I'm feeling quite the sick boy. The salt water would be good for me :/

posted by Bolo | 11:49 PM
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Lessons in Learning

Church kicks my butt, then it helps me back up. The first mid-term was somewhat bittersweet. Dr. Brand is infamous for having difficult first mid-terms; if you pass at all, you did fine. So it was with only a minor degree of disappointment that I garnered a score that was somewhat "like everyone else's" in the class. Still, Mon nailed me when she said, "John Boy, you're not everyone else." Ouch. She'd given me the mommy look when she said that, too.

The second mid-term was taken last week, and we got it back today. Stomped on that thing. By God's grace, I nailed it. You know what Mon will probably say, though? "Well you should." That's what sisters are for, right? I feel the love, I feel the love ;)

On to more serious matters.

The hurting lessens somewhat. I put it this way to Gary: it's gone from the intense, sharp pain you get when you sprain an ankle to the dull, almost itchy ache you endure for a long, long time while it heals. The Lord has been so very good through all of this, though. He's caused me to see His faithfulness, His love, His grace. Those are just words in my mind, more often than not, yet through this they've taken on a tangible weight and texture that my heart has felt keenly. As I look over the past several days, I've come to recognize that I'm learning a lot and will continue to do so. However, such learning comes not by consciously apprehending and comprehending the lessons, but by simply waking up in the morning and reminding myself to breathe. God's teaching me, and I can only hold on for the duration of the lesson.

posted by Bolo | 10:23 PM
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How well do you know me? Get tested...

posted by Bolo | 2:29 PM
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The Weekend

What a weekend. *Sigh*...Lord, is life really supposed to be like this? Yes, yes it is...I know makes the cross that much sweeter to gaze upon.

I have so many people to be grateful for. Andrew, Boss, Scott, Jim, Leeman, Jon, Kev, Goose, Cassie, Lauren, Emily, Pablo, Jenn, Jan, Keith, Chip, Mon, Malia, Mom, Bailey, Kristin, Chriyus, Brandon, Rob, Detroit, Jared, Ruszkiewicz, Brooke, Lindsey...whoa. That's a pretty hefty list. They all saw my hurt in some way and helped me to begin the healing process.

Friday truly was the best and worst of times. It hurt the most on hurt a lot on Friday. Cassie and Lauren went shopping with me that afternoon at The Summit. That made me much happier for a while. As Scott put it, "good! Go shop, feel some clothes, be the Gay Friend for a while." Not really a gay friend, mind you, but the Gay Friend...oh, nevermind. The two young ladies listened to me sigh and reminisce and watched my lower lip tremble while I shed some tears; Lauren said, "that's the saddest story I've ever heard." Later on, Scott and Pablo and Emily joined me and the other ladies at my place. We (Cassie and Lauren, really...I just pulled out the stoneware) baked some cookies to go with the ice cream and coffee we had while we watched Sleepless in Seattle. I objected to the movie at some points, but at least I did so humorously :)

Saturday, I woke up praying out loud. I asked God, "why does it have to hurt so much!?!?!?!" I then called Jim...he sounded so sad for almost made me even more sad, if that was possible. It was so strange for us to be cordial, because Tennessee and Notre Dame were playing each other. Yet when I called him later that evening, he said, "if it were any other day, and if it were any other team beating UT, I would be upset. But because it's today, and because it's Notre Dame, I really am happy that we lost." Wow. Now that's love. I also talked to Jenn on Saturday. I haven't talked to her in...oh....I think somewhere around two years? Seriously. Since before I left to come here. I mean, we've communicated, but not talked. Jenn's a good friend...we've known one another since we were Freshmen in high school, I think. It was good to talk to an old friend again. I needed one.

Yesterday was better. *Sigh*...I was able to focus somewhat. I led a small group in the high school Sunday School, and I also got to pray for Joe before he got baptized. When I talked to Boss last night, I told him that yesterday's worship service was one of the sweetest one's I'd ever had at my church. That went right in line with what he reminded me of: God's using this to cause me to worship Him more, to see His love more, to experience His love more. I love Brian's because I see and experience God's love through him.

Now, reality hits. I still have that Church History research paper due tomorrow...just like it's been due tomorrow for a long, long time ;) I've got my thesis formulating, and I've become somewhat familiar with my research material, so the outline will soon be set and I'll be off and running. After my nap, that is...

posted by Bolo | 7:38 AM
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The Kids

Kason. What a little hottie ;) He used to wink at the girls...I'm so proud! Oh, you can see my dad's head over the top of the chair. Pops is 70 years older than Kason. Whoa!

posted by Bolo | 5:14 PM
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This is my view of Kyle right before I tackle him, hold him down, and threaten to lick his eyeball. *Sigh*'s been a while since I've done that.

posted by Bolo | 5:08 PM
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Kayla...she's the white one in the family...she once told me, "Uncle Johnny, you're the black one, and all the rest of us are brown." I said, "no, I'm the black one, you're the white one, and everyone else is brown." I miss our intelligent, articulate, back and forth conversations that would go, "nyuh-uh!" "uh-huh!" "nyuh-uh!" "uh-huh!" I should give her a call...

posted by Bolo | 5:04 PM
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The Word

Lamentations 3:19 - 24

Remember my affliction and my wandering, the wormwood and the bitterness. Surely my soul remembers and is bowed down within me. This I recall to my mind, therefore I have hope. The Lord's lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness. "The Lord is my portion," says my soul, "therefore I have hope in him."

Indeed, I have hope in Him :) Last night, Leeman reminded me of something I needed so desperately to hear. He said that it is in the times like these, the times where we are in the utter pits of despair, that make us to worship the Lord with fervent sweetness. And oh, what a sweetness! For He is my portion, and He is my hope!

Psalm 6:6, 7

I am weary with my sighing; every night I make my bed swim, I dissolve my couch with my tears. My eye has wasted away with grief; it has become old because of all my adversaries.

I have no adversaries in this pain. I have brokenly shared my grief, and I have been lovingly and gently comforted by friends. Yet no one is with me at night, no one is there to comfort me in the loney quiet hours, no one is there to hold my heart. No one, save the Lord. What better hands could I be in than His? He knows a pain deeper than mine, a brokenness I can only imagine. Oh my Lord, how could you bear such pain? Chip said that when we are bruised by You, we are drawn closer to You through the sufferings we graciously share in. In this I rejoice, for I am being made more and more like my Lord for whom I will gladly suffer loss. And oh, such loss!

Habakkuk 3:17 - 19

Though the fig tree should not blossom and there be no fruit on the vines, though the yield of the olive should fail and the fields produce no food, though the flock should be cut off from the fold and there be no cattle in the stalls, yet I will exult in the Lord, I will rejoice in the God of my salvation. The Lord God is my strength, and He has made my feet like hinds' feet, and makes me walk on my high places.

*Sigh*...yes, and I will rejoice. Though it seems as if so much is missing, so much is gone, what have I lost? The Lord is my strength still! He must be, for I am weak with my sighing, weary with my weeping. I have nothing left to give; perhaps that is what He's wanted all along.

Hebrews 12:1, 2

Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

It's bittersweet to look at this circumstance and realize that, by God's grace, I did indeed lay aside the "encumbrance" that was there that I might not "sin." Yet how could I not? Is not Christ my goal? Is not He my desire, my hope, the author and perfecter of the very faith I walk in? Yes! As He prayed in the garden, so I prayed: "Not my will, but Yours be done." So I continue to pray, for so I heart aches still. Christ endured the cross for the joy set before Him. It is the very same hope that I take part in, is it not? Yes! So I will run the race with endurance that is set before me with hope and with joy...for so I must.

Isaiah 43:1

But now, thus says the Lord, your Creator, O Jacob, and He who formed you, O Israel, "Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are Mine!"

I am His. What's more, His covenant promises say that He is mine! What is more astounding, that I should have a claim upon the Lord, or that He should sweetly condescend to brokenly and shamefully proclaim His claim upon me? Truly, the two are one. My claim upon Him is only as strong and deep as His claim is upon me! And He says of me, "you are Mine!" *Sigh*...I must remember that. It's been hard to do that, but He's reminding me that I am still His. Slowly, as the hurting becomes less overwhelming, I realize that He has been weeping with me. I also realize that He has been smiling over me, for He has orchestrated this for my own good...for your own good...remember that...

posted by Bolo | 1:53 PM
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Take My Hand

These are the lyrics from "Take My Hand" by The Kry. I love this's very much what I'm hearing the Lord sing over me this weekend.

I know there are times

Your dreams turn to dust

You wonder as you cry

Why it has to hurt so much

Give Me all your sadness

Someday you will know the reason why

Wih a child-like heart

Simply put your hope in Me

Take My hand and walk where I lead

Keep your eyes on Me alone

Don't you say "why were the old days better?"

Just because you're scared of the unknown

Take My hand and walk

Don't live in the past

'Cause yesterday's gone

Wishing memories would last

You're afraid to carry on

You don't know what's comin'

But you know the one who holds tomorrow

I will be your guide

Take you through the night

If you keep your eyes on Me

Take My hand and walk where I lead

Keep your eyes on me alone

Don't you say, "why were the old days better?"

Just because you're scared of the unknown

Take My hand and walk where I lead

You will never be alone

Faith is to be sure of what you hope for

And the evidence of things unseen

So take My hand and walk

Just like a child

Holding daddy's hand

Don't let go of mine

You know you can't stand on your own

Take My hand and walk where I lead

Keep your eyes on Me alone

Don't you say why were the old days' better

Just because you're scared of the unknown

Take My hand and walk

Hebrews 11

posted by Bolo | 12:11 PM
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Missing a friend

Do you know what I miss? I miss the crust you didn't like to eat, and the playful anger I evoked when I'd tease you about it. I miss telling you your memory wasn't as good as mine, and having you get frustrated when you lost our little spelling bees. I wish I could lose one to you right now. I miss the way you laughed; your laugh was almost as loud as mine. I miss having you tell me not to laugh at you, even when I wasn't. I miss having you tell me I needed to go study, and then scold me for not getting enough sleep. I miss being nervous when we'd chat online, and not being able to type. I miss losing my "edge" because of's still gone, by the way. I miss the people-watching we'd do together, laughing at some of the fashion casualties on exhibit. I miss sitting next to you, wishing you could put your head on my shoulder. I miss wondering if it'd be ok to call you while I was at I don't have to wonder at all, 'cause it's not ok. I miss the way you'd answer the phone, and I miss coming up with different ways to mess with you when you'd answer. I miss the way I wouldn't have to say it was me...we could just say, "hey." You know what? I could feel your smile every time you said that. I miss wearing purple just 'cause you liked purple...and I do look good in it :) I miss having you punch me for teasing you, or having you throw that medicine ball at me for telling you to stop whining like a girl :) I miss calling you "Cracker" or "Slacker"...or saying "bad juju" and freaking you out. Ironic, isn't it, how one of my sayings ended up being your nickname? I miss the long drive to see you, the 130 or so miles I was always traveling in my heart. I miss knowing exactly what you were thinking, exactly what you were feeling. I miss telling you, "I'm sorry." I am sorry for all this, I really very sorry...I broke my promise, didn't I? I miss my friend...oh, how I miss my friend...only now, you're not even a friend.

Through my heart-wrenching tears, I thanked Jim this morning. He had introduced us, and he gave me a friend for a while. I told him there are so many things I wish I'd said, even though I couldn't really have said them. I think you knew a little of it, at least. But now, I won't ever tell you. You know what else I won't ever do? I'll never give you a hug...and I wish I could, 'cause I never did give you one. *Sigh*...oh how deeply I do miss you...we were never really more than friends...but now, you're not even a friend.

posted by Bolo | 10:37 AM
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Hurting all over

I told Chriyus, "you know where I hurt? All over."

Today, my soul hurts. Every single bit of it hurts. It knows a pain it hasn't known in so very long. Along with that pain came a lot unrest this morning...I woke up somewhere around 6 am...after I had gone to sleep at 2:30 am...and my alarm was set for 8 am. I lay there in bed for an hour, asking God, "why?" I went into the computer room where Mon was on the computer, and I curled myself up into a ball on the couch. She asked me what I was thinking. I said to her, "I never had to break up with a friend before." She held me for a while, and I finally began to cry.

That was six hours ago, and it still hurts. I've talked to Chip, Chriyus, Jessica, Kristin, and Scott. I absolutely cried like a baby in front of Chriyus, and I let out a good scream while going through the McDonald's drive-through with Scott.

What do I do now? Where do I go from here? What does the future hold? The first question I can answer. I'll finish this blog entry, walk out of Kristin's office, and I'll sit down in the Patio Room with Scott. The second? We'll see. I need some time to heal. That'll happen over the coming days. The third? As with all of my life, only the Lord knows.

Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head, and he fell to the ground and worshiped.

He said,

"Naked I came from my mother's womb,

And naked I shall return there.

The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away.

Blessed be the name of the LORD."

posted by Bolo | 1:46 PM
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The Outfit

The following was written several weeks ago for my English class. It was to be a paper in which a process is detailed. I had a somewhat difficult time figuring out what process I would describe until I realized I could describe something I do every morning: dress myelf. Well, kind of. I decided to make it into a lesson of sorts, one that could be used for almost any wardrobe. And yes, this paper is meant to be silly ;)

It was brought to my attention yesterday that some of the young men of Boyce College are found to be undoubtedly shabby in their appearance. Since this revelation came from several of the young ladies of Boyce College, I will admit that their observations are probably entirely too valid. Though this does not say much for our young men of Boyce, I do believe that there is a remedy. Here, I will share some of my thoughts on selecting the various articles of clothing that will comprise an outfit, with the hopes of showing the men of Boyce that selecting an outfit can indeed be a pleasurable task.

First, one must take into account the weather. This may sound absurdly simple, but it must be done in order for one to accurately gauge the amount of clothing, the type of material, and the colors one will wear. Going to check the weather for the day from is one good way to do this, because not only does this website provide information for any area you could want, but the forecasts are broken down to show the predicted weather patterns for the entire day. For example, if the forecast calls for light rain, it may be wise to cover up in a coat. I prefer leather, but a waterproof nylon jacket will do, as well. Once the weather has been accounted for, the next step can be taken.

Second, I often select one particular item I would like to wear for the day. Sometimes this item is dependent upon the weather, as when I will choose to wear a leather coat. At other times, the occasion forces my hand, and I will choose a suit. Yet upon other occasions, I will select a particular tie to wear, simply out of a desire to wear that tie. This item, of course, is not limited to coats or suits or ties. A shirt, a pair of jeans, or even shoes may determine the rest of the outfit in any given situation. For instance, the other day I wanted to wear a purple, diamond-patterned tie. Being that I had no other shirt that went with it except one of my crisp, white, spread-collar shirts from Express, I donned that as well. Next, I selected a pair of charcoal-gray wool slacks. These slacks feature a flat front, meaning they have no pleats, and a sharp crease. Over the shirt and tie went a black, gray, and white horizontal-stripe v-neck sweater. The v-neck works well with a tie because it creates a nice frame that upholds the tie as it comes out from beneath a collar. From head to toe, I was dressed in black and gray and white, with a dash of purple. This color scheme was not overpowering, yet it was extremely classy and robust. Thus, the purple tie had a strong part in determining the entirety of my outfit for the day.

Third, and perhaps most importantly, I will approve an outfit based upon its feel. What I mean by feel is not rippled roughness of a wool crepe suit, nor the pleasurable softness of a silk-cashmere blend sweater. No, by feel I mean the way an outfit comes together on an individual. A person’s body type has much to do with this. Do they slouch? Are they skinny or fat? Such things have a large bearing upon how an outfit feels on them. For instance, horizontal stripes do not work well on wider gentlemen, as those stripes will call attention to their already obvious wide proportions. Rather, such gentlemen ought to try a pinstripe suit, which has a slimming effect. A person’s skin tone also plays a large part. Those who are already pink complected ought not to wear pink, as it only calls further attention to their lack of melanin. I myself prefer to see pink worn on those with a darker skin tone, as the contrast sets the pink tone off nicely. So you see, the feel of an outfit comprises not only the outfit itself, but the individual. One might say that it is the interaction between the clothes and the individual; such an interaction is vital!

The process of selecting an outfit need not be an arduous task. It can indeed be a pleasurable one, and I hope that it becomes one for more men of Boyce. I do think that, much like I, the women of Boyce would enjoy seeing such a movement take place.

posted by Bolo | 7:23 PM
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Tom Brokaw did the unbelievable just three minutes ago. In speaking on President Bush's chances of winning the election, he said, "Alls he needs to do is..."

Alls. ALLS. ALLS! That's just too funny! He made himself sound like a Yankee Redneck :)

posted by Bolo | 11:40 PM
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Too Much Erasing

Remember in elementary school, when we had to do our homework with pencils, rather than pens? Remember the beginning of the school year, how everyone would have a fresh set of pencils with unused erasers at the tops, and a really good eraser that was super soft and erased everything so that your folder paper looked like it had never been written on, but it still had the indentation of your writing still left on it? Remember how at some point during the school year, you somehow lost the good eraser and had to use the regular erasers at the top of the pencils? Remember how you'd use those erasers so much that eventually they wore out, and you'd have to be careful not to tear the paper when you erased something 'cause the metal covering the rest of the eraser was now exposed?

I feel like that eraser on the top of the pencil. I have to be careful, lest I tear into someone when I'm trying to erase the effects of my sinful nature.

Father, I feel so worn...even when I'm not tired, I feel worn out, stretched too far like a rubber band that can't even stretch anymore. Daddy, when will I rest? When will I find solace in You? I know, I know...I do, even now. I take shelter in the shadow of Your wings; You are my Shepherd and the Guardian of my soul; I am Your beloved, You have called me by name, I am Yours; You give and You take away, blessed be Your name! *Sigh* is so hard, though. The very things that are a joy to me are an ache. The very things that cause me to smile cause me to weep. Is this what life in Your Son truly is like? Am I supposed to be this confused, constantly fighting against the haze that renders all so unceasingly unclear? I know, I know...I am to be transformed by the renewing of my mind! Transform me, Father, transform me...

posted by Bolo | 1:37 AM
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I've Got Mail!

One of the greatest little joys in life is receiving a pink card in your post office box at school. Such a card signifies that you are important, you are loved, you have mail! More specifically, you have mail that's too big to fit into the box.

Today I received such a card. What hidden treasures were in store for me? What little joys would be mine to receive? I hadn't ordered any textbooks within the recent weeks, so such a package was unlikely. What, then, would be waiting for me? What could be waiting for me? Only the post office ladies could end the suspense.

My package was from none other than the infamous Andrew Uchida. I would have recognized the return address even had he not put his name above it; I've spent enough time at that house over the course of nearly half my life to know it well. As I sat down in Founder's, ready to tear into the wrapping on the package, I'm sure there was more than just a little bit of spittle forming in my mouth. There was a gleam in my eye, a bounce to my step, and a song upon my lips that indicated I held high hopes for this package. Truth be told, I surmised it probably held far more than a measly textbook!

Andrew did not disappoint. The glorious total of its contents? Brand new copies of the latest Chris Tomlin and Tim Hughes albums, a copy of all of Andrew's recorded songs, the latest issue of Free Surf, a surf magazine based in Hawai'i, a package of li hing pickled mango, a package of li hing mango, a package of li hing gummy bears, a package of shinagawa maki (rice crackers wrapped in seaweed), a package of prune mui with apricots, three packages of chocolate-covered macadamia nuts, two packages each of Maui Caramacs and MacNut Crunches, and a Starbucks tumbler from the infamous North Shore. Oh, and he tossed in a bag of Ruff 'N Ready cookies for Mon. Wow. It makes a guy grin large to see such a spread sent to him in the mail :)

posted by Bolo | 4:56 PM
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Seeking Satisfaction in His Face

Our souls were created for one thing, one beautiful thing: to glorify God by enjoying Him forever. In Psalm 27, two verses ring brilliantly with that heart-lifting truth: 4 and 8.

"One thing I have asked from the Lord, that I shall seek:

That I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life,

To behold the beauty of the Lord

And to meditate in His temple."

"When You said, 'Seek My face,' my heart said to You,

'Your face, O Lord, I shall seek.'"

In thinking this past week about being satisfied in the Lord, really truly satisfied, I had to do some self-examination. (The Puritans were often in the habit of searching out the depths of their souls; it would go better with me if I learned to be in the same habit.) I thought of how shallow my desires for the Lord are, and how easily "satisfied" by Him I am. By no means, however, is this anything for discouragement, for such is human nature! Though Clives Staples Lewis once said, "we are far too easily pleased!" we do not have to despair. What it comes down to is what we do with our shallow satisfaction. Do we press on and seek the Lord in such a way as to continually thrust forth our little Dixie cups into the abundant waterfall of His grace, drinking as deeply and as often as we might despite the fact that we can only take tiny portions of His grace at once? Or do we walk away from that waterfall of grace, content with the one mouthful of grace our Dixie cup portions will grant us?

In looking into my heart, I see the shallow satisfaction I take in the Lord, and I shudder. Why? Because I allow that shallow satisfaction to be all that I seek of the Lord! Though the Lord makes a way to overcome my tiny capacity to enjoy and savor Him, I walk away from His waterfall of grace holding naught but a tiny portion of that Living Water, horrifyingly content. Oh Lord, forgive me! Do I press on and seek more and more, drinking as much as I may at once, yet seeking still more? Do I kneel before the Lord, constantly imploring Him for the One Thing that David spoke of, the One Satisfaction my soul truly longs for and was made for? No, for I am asily satisfied by the tiny portion of grace I sip at daily! Oh, how I make a ockery of the surpassing riches of His grace!

One thing. My heart reveals so many "things" that it has sought out, and they all fall short of the glorious pleasure to be found in God's grace. Do I truly desire to dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty and delightfulness of the Lord, and to meditate in His temple? Is my one true desire to behold the Lord, to see His beauty, to cherish it and delight in it? Do I desire to be consumed by His holy presence, to rejoice that the Lord has called me, a wretched worm, to be His beloved child? That I can be in His presence at all ought to be stunning; that I am called "beloved" is beyond all comprehension.

David could not have written these thoughts of the Lord unless the Lord had placed them there in his heart. It was said that David was a "man after God's own heart." I think that perhaps a little of this intimate interaction between the Almighty and the man is revealed in verse 8, when the Lord says to David, "seek My face." (Whoa. Just killed a fly while it was in mid-flight with my hand. Heck yeah...who'z yo Daniel-san now? I don't even need those stinkin' chopsticks! Hehe.)The very command from the Lord to "seek My face" is one that ought to cause us to pause. At the very least, we need to be aware that our sinful nature causes an infinite rift between us and God, an irreparable rift that we are helpless to do anything about. We are, in our sinful nature, suppressors of truth, stiff-necked and obstinate, unfaithful as a prostitute, objects of God's wrath, and enemies of God. So why would the Lord tell David to seek His face?

In the Old Testament, the face of God is something that seems to signify a particular holiness or intimacy. The Lord told Moses in Exodus 33:19, "you cannot see My face, for no man can see Me and live!" The Lord then puts Moses in a cleft of a rock and shows him His backside. In the vision of the throne room of God that was granted to Isaiah in Isaiah 6, Isaiah cries out in dismay and says, "Woe is me, for I am ruined! Because I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts." A seraphim then takes a burning coal to Isaiah's lips, thus taking away his iniquity and forgiving his sin. In contrast to Exodus 33 and Isaiah 6 we can look at Numbers 6. Here the Lord instructs Moses to tell Aaron and his sons that they are to bless Israel by saying, "The Lord bless you, and keep you; the Lord make His face shine on you, and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up His countenance on you, and give you peace."

In yet another contrast, another portion of Exodus 33 says that the Lord would speak to Moses "face to face, just as a man speaks to his friend." This is a part of the narrative that comes before the Lord telling Moses that he cannot see the Lord, as no man can see Him and live. How do those two depictions of God's face reconcile? Are they at odds with one another? Or is it simply that the Lord is holding back the fullness of His glorious presence when Moses speaks to Him face to face? In verse 18, Moses does request of the Lord, "show me Your glory!" Perhaps this request is one that Moses is not, in his sinful human state, truly able to handle, and the Lord knows this. Perhaps in this way, the Lord is showing Moses that there is far, far more to meeting with Him face to face than even Moses had ever thought, and that the intimacy between Moses and the Almighty still did not go as deeply or as gloriously as it had potential to.

Still, it seems odd that the depiction of the Lord's face seems to be so varied. In some cases, we have a transcendent nature clearly showing through, as when He told Moses, "you cannot see My face, for no man can see Me and live!" Isaiah's vision also seems to confirm this. In other cases, it seems that the Lord still desires to "make His face shine" upon us, despite the fact that His face is something we're not worthy to look upon. Indeed, as that priestly blessing indicates, by shining His face upon us the Lord would "be gracious" to us. Perhaps this is a little of what we're seeing in Psalm 27 with David. There's a distinct transcendence and condescendence that's being portrayed here; the Holy One of Israel, the Lord, is making Himself intimately known to David.

Perhaps the Lord is portraying yet again how we ought not to be able to seek His face so intimately and freely, yet in Christ we are able to do far more than just that.

We can ask to dwell in the house of the Lord, that we might behold His beauty and meditate in His temple. We can, as Paul wrote to the Corinthian church, behold "the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ." Such a thing is cause for amazement, that in the face of Christ we can behold the infinite glory of the Lord, that glory which Moses longed for, the very glory which caused within Isaiah such a fear and trembling as I have never known. In Revelation, John writes of Christ's face as being "like the sun shining in is strength." Is not His glory shining forth in this depiction? Indeed it is! John's reaction to this glorious presence? He says, "I fell at His feet like a dead man."

It seems so very mysterious, yet so very beautiful, this salvation that we have in Christ Jesus. We see how the Lord's glorious face, though it is utterly beyond us, has come to be near to us. His glory is revealed and made our own; the Lord can say of us with near-complete satisfaction, "You are mine!" We are, like David, commanded to seek His face. We are commanded, in essence, to seek satisfaction in that which we should not be able to seek, in that which should be a horror and a death to us, not a satisfaction beyond all other satisfactions. As mystifying as it is, in Christ we are made worthy to behold the face of God; indeed, in Christ, the ord's glorious face is revealed and made a joy to us! What could possibly be more atisfying? Nothing! David seems to bring Psalm 27:4 and 8 together in Psalm 17:15.

"As for me, I shall behold Your face in righteousness;

I will be satisfied with beholding Your likeness when I awake."

posted by Bolo | 1:50 PM
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