Love, or anything but

Posted in Uncategorized on December 14, 2010 by jbasedow4

About a month ago, I decided to use some inspiration from a friend to return to the blogosphere with some thoughts on love (the romantic kind), dating, and marriage.   I felt especially qualified to provide commentary on all three of these since I currently have nothing to do with any of them.  I wrote almost an entire post, but couldn’t ever find the time to finish it properly.  Since I write almost entirely in flow, I felt it was better to simply scrap what I had written and start over now.  Back to the subject, I am not anyone you would ever want to write a success story about in the realm of relationships, but it is possible that my failures (in love and dating) give me some sort of perspective.  After all, nothing burns my mind like failure.  Also, I am a watcher.  In appropriate settings, I observe people’s interactions, their relationships, their successes and their failures.  I also work with college students.  As a leader in a college ministry, you cannot escape the angst, the joy, the heartbreak and the elation that goes with navigating relationships in community.

 

Certainly part of my motivation in writing is this is that it helps some of my friends who have experienced such pain in this area.  I will go into this later, but I believe my generation is to a large degree handicapped when it comes to building healthy relationships (again, the romantic kind, but there are parallels and corollaries to friendships).  I do not believe that I have all the answers, but some major cultural shift has happened in the realm of Christian relationships and it is our job to recognize that and address it.

 

I really think that Joshua Harris meant well when he wrote I Kissed Dating Goodbye, and I think that book did some good for some people.  After all, he was really trying to point out how amazingly destructive it can be to follow our culture’s framework for dating.  That’s good.  The blame for what happened next really lies on myself and others for not thinking critically enough about how to apply the heart of the book to our our lives (although, part of me really just wants to blame him).   Whatever the case, an interesting dynamic was created in the realm of Christian dating.  I like to sum it up by saying that:

God supports marriage, but not dating.

So, before we go on, clearly Christians date.  I know this.  But stop and think about that statement and let’s think about maybe how it has even infiltrated our dating.

Dating someone won’t displease God if I end up marrying that person, right?

If God is sovereign and he hates dating, then at some point I just have to hope I will be attracted enough to someone to just know that they are “the one.”

And then we follow those thoughts a little further and we are looking to the altar before we even look to the first date.  This is a problem.  The thoughts we allow ourselves to think about another person and the choices we make in our hearts about how to regard them have incredible power to shape what we feel.  We are choosing believe that we can romantically love someone without even really knowing them and then putting ourselves into a situation where we feel pressure to try and prove that we really can and do love them, thereby not offending God.

Step back just a second.

If you’ve ever attended a wedding, you’ve likely heard verse after verse about love in its verb-form.  Love in action is giving, self-sacrificing, kind, patient, forgiving, enduring.  But we could make the case that love in its present, noun-form is knowing and being known in a way that enables the characteristics I just listed one sentence ago.

To put it another way: to really give, to really sacrifice the self, to be kind, to be patient, to really forgive in an ongoing and enduring fashion FOR THE GOOD OF THE OTHER takes a nearly paralyzing level of transparency.  It is not just vulnerability, it is nakedness- to be seen for who you are and at the same time see the other and to then give yourself to be spent for the good of the other.

There’s such awkwardness around the idea of naked, especially for single people.  I believe is because, in theory, at this point in our adult lives, we are the only ones who know ourselves as we are beneath the clothes.  We dress ourselves up to accent our strengths and downplay our weaknesses, which some of our friends know better than others.  But at the end of the day, we are the only ones who know our form as it truly is beneath those facades.  And for most of us, we simultaneously fear the judgement other eyes would render and long for the day when someone sees our body for what it is and stills loves it.  And that’s just the physical reality of marriage- it’s a pretty easy jump to connect that physical representation with love on a heart to heart level.

We long at a base level for someone to see our heart in its entirety, even as we cringe knowing what they must see.  But love is being the person who sees and also chooses to not run away.  Being in love is when both parties commit to doing that. Now back to the problem.

If we can accept that true love involves a sort of intimate nakedness (I’m speaking at a marriage level right now, we can debate dating boundaries later), then why do we think that God would want us to choose who we marry based on the clothes they wear (figuratively)?  All this angst that we put ourselves through before a first date even takes place is unnecessary.

Perhaps the only thing I took away from the movie Avatar, besides the incredible graphics, is the phrase “I see you.”  James Cameron connected it with seeing past the outside of a person and looking straight into who they are.  We all know that clothes, jobs, social statuses, even bodies, can be stripped away and the person remain.  At my core and at your core, you know this.  We are told that God himself looks past all of these things when he deals with us.  That all of the distinctions that we mark ourselves by are of no importance to him.  And yet, when deciding who we shall date (with the intent to pursue marriage), we look at exactly everything but that.

When you first meet someone, in that moment before they speak, you have a purely superficial impression of them- a cognitive silhouette.  If you go stalk their Facebook profile, you will find more detail to add to that silhouette, it might even become a portrait.  But interacting with that person, discovering who they are, has the power to turn them from a cognitive silhouette into a living, breathing, three-dimensional being.  That kind of mapping, charting of a person can only be done over time.  There is no Information section on all of Facebook that could bring you to know the soul behind it.

But so often we are content to know merely what TV shows this person likes, how often they like to work out, what music they listen to, what career they are pursuing, how popular they are, how hot they are.   That’s dating the clothes again.  Ultimately, marriage is such a good picture of God’s relationship with us because, in it’s best form, the physical, emotional, spiritual intimacy found there is beyond the “clothes.”

[Dramatic pause]

It needs to be said here that I’m not saying we need to expose ourselves (figuratively AND literally, don’t be a creeper) in order to find true love.  There are things reserved only for marriage, and that’s one of them.  I’m saying we need an understanding of the end goal if we are to properly respect the process.

If we understand love and what that means at its best, then all of our efforts in dating should be shaped by that.  If you merely want a successful person to add as an accessory to your lifestyle, then do that.  At the least, let’s stop pretending like we could really know someone by content of their resume.

 

—–

Final thought: I don’t hate the idea of screening people based on their resume’s.  But resumes are good for one thing, weeding out the people who have no business applying for whatever position is open.  Beyond that, you must conduct interviews (hopefully several).  I think you know what I mean here.

Love you guys.

 

35,000ft

Posted in Uncategorized on June 21, 2010 by jbasedow4

Right now, as I type this, i’m sitting at 35,000 on a 747, probably a third of the way across the Atlantic, near the southern tip of Greenland, but I can’t be sure- they haven’t shown that little map charting our progress for about two hours now.

I’m not sure what time to say that it is- probably 10 pm Colorado time, which means we’ve been in airports or on planes for almost 11 hours now, with at least 7 or 8 more to go.

I’m listening to music as I type this blog post on my iPod touch, using my Shure SE102 headphones (they’re great! I can’t hear the plane engines at all). The songs of the trip so far have been: Muse’s “Resistance,” Hillsong United’s “You Hold Me Now,” Mute Math’s “Ok,” and Leeland’s “Beautiful Lord.”.

I don’t know exactly what I want to write about but there’s something here, in this moment, that I need to process. To be honest, i’m still not sure what waits for us in Latvia. I know there’s a camp and songs and games, but those are just means to something else. God is doing something, which isn’t surprising, to say that implies that sometimes He’s not doing something. But for me and the other 25 people here, there’s … something.

I suppose a blank slate and an as of yet shapeless sense of expectation is a good thing, it means we are free from the captivity if our finite imaginations, and machinations.

I’ve been trying to keep my focus on one thing, something that it seems, for me, is always in danger of being drowned out by the to-do lists and the stresses that surround me: I want to keep in front of me always the expectation of heaven.

I don’t mean “heaven” in the usual sense of “not hell” or the place where every fluffy thought and feeling comes true. I mean that moment when the brokenness of this world is stripped away and first and foremost we see clearly and unashamedly Jesus, friend and Savior, Son of God, awesome and mighty. I wait for the day when my own weakness is erased and I don’t battle with the world anymore.

I guess what goes with that is a new, no, not new, a better perspective than what I had. Even as we strive and give ourselves to see the Kingdom realized here on earth and to see suffering alleviated and poverty wrecked, it’s a perspective that reminds me that the greatest evil in this world is that so many stand staring across the divide, separated from their Maker.

For all the pain this world has to offer, and for all the joy that it can offer, there is no wholeness to be found outside of God, through Jesus Christ. I need that reminder as much and as often as the youth we are going to serve in post-communist Latvia.

I lost my uncle this last spring to cancer, and I know several others who have lost someone important to them recently. A song that absolutely has wrecked me through the whole process is “You Hold Me Now” by Matt Crocker. I don’t know if any lyrics have ever done a better job of exposing my desire for heaven and helping seal my resolve to face this world armed with the very hope I have for heaven. As you pray for us, the Latvians and everything in between, read these lyrics, listen to the song, give thanks to God, and ask Him again what He wants of you today.

On a day when I see all that You have for me,
When I see You face to face, there surrounded by Your grace,
All my fears stripped away in the light of Your embrace,
Where Your love is all I need and forever I am free

Where the streets are made of gold,
In Your presence healed and whole
Let the songs of heaven rise to You alone

No weeping, no hurt or pain,
No suffering, You hold me now, You hold me now
No darkness, no sick or lame,
No hiding, You hold me now, You hold me now.

In this life I will stand, through my joy and my pain,
Knowing there’s a greater day, there’s a hope that never fades,
Where Your Name is lifted high and forever praises rise
For the glory of Your Name, i’m believing for the day

Where the wars and violence cease,
All creation lives in peace,
Let the songs of heaven rise to You alone

No weeping, no hurt or pain,
No suffering, You hold me now, You hold me now
No darkness, no sick or lame,
No hiding, You hold me now, You hold me now

For eternity all my heart will give all the glory to Your name
For eternity all my heart will give all the glory to Your name

—–

Revelation 21:1-8

Mary, Martha, Mac and Cheese

Posted in Uncategorized on March 31, 2010 by jbasedow4

I’ve had a strange journey recently. I say it’s strange because I knew I was going somewhere, I just thought I was going somewhere other than where I am now. It’s not a good feeling to wake up one morning and realize that you’re not who you thought you were and you’re nowhere near where you wanted to be.

For those of you who know me, you know that I have been pushing pretty hard in my life. I have two jobs, a host of other activities and a dream I’m trying to reach. So I work hard, it’s the American thing to do. In fact, up until about 3 weeks ago, I was super proud of how hard I work and have worked. I took pride in knowing that a lot of people don’t even know all the work that goes into the things I do.

But what about when you wake up and realize that you have let goals and jobs and tasks and dreams supplant the people in your life? Worse, what if these things have usurped God’s rightful place? What if I’ve let all these things take the first fruits of me that were owed to God first and to those close to me second? It didn’t happen overnight. And it certainly didn’t happen because I wanted it to happen.

In many ways I’m still absorbing this realization and beginning to understand the extent to which this coup has reached across my life. I know it started because God called me into ministry and I saw tons of fruit there. I saw lives change, I saw God glorified. And, at the beginning, I knew it wasn’t me doing it. And yet, somewhere along the way, I became much more of a Martha than a Mary.

Let’s put it this way: Jesus is sitting in my living room, just waiting for a chance to be a part of my life, and instead of sitting at His feet and sharing the deepest parts of me, I’m hiding behind the macaroni and cheese I’m cooking in the kitchen. Sure, I know macaroni and cheese is no feast fit for a King, but He knows how much I want Him to enjoy this macaroni and cheese, right?

In fact, doesn’t He appreciate that I stay up so late and get up so early so often just so that I can refine the process of making macaroni and cheese? Doesn’t He get any pleasure out of the fact that I invite others whom He loves into the kitchen and I teach them to make macaroni and cheese too? So they can get to know Him better too? I could invite Him into the kitchen with me, but it would honestly just distract me from the making of the macaroni and cheese.

How did I get here?

There was this one time when I was truly called upon to make the macaroni and cheese. I was super nervous though, because while I had often times helped make the mac and cheese, I had never led the making of it. But I had the call. Jesus wanted me to lead this time so that He and His Bride could enjoy a nice time of communion at the table.

Oh, the joy I felt when I saw His face that day. “This! is what I need to do for the rest of my life,” I thought. And to be honest, it’s possible that my role in life is indeed to lead the making of macaroni and cheese, and that is a noble calling.

But what started as a way to honor my God and to love on my Lord has become the End in itself. Not entirely, mind you. There are times when I manage to slow down enough to sit at the table and just enjoy that time with Jesus. And in those times, He appreciates the offering. Others appreciate the offering too, because they get to sit at the table too. But I, for the most part, have locked myself in the kitchen.

I thought it was the macaroni and cheese that made Him happy, when it was the attention that I gave to Him. It was the parts of me that I gave to Him. But slowly, the very thing that was intended to bring us closer together has replaced Him and the others He put in my life.

So, should I stop making macaroni and cheese? No! In fact, every healthy person needs some macaroni and cheese in their lives. And Jesus sure does love some macaroni and cheese, when it’s given to Him in His honor. But He’s not impressed with my mac and cheese. He never expected to be impressed, He invented the stuff. He loved how it brought it us together. He loved the time in the kitchen together working on it, teaching me how to make it, and then the invitation later for all the others to join in and enjoy it.

Turns out, that’s what I loved so much about mac and cheese too. It really is. But I am frail, I am weak, I am, at times, very stupid, and I am human. I ascribed the holiness and divinity found in those moments with Jesus to the lifeless vehicle that brought us together. I grabbed onto what was good and forsook what was better.

I started this blog as an apology to the people in my life who I have let down, the people that I shut out of my life. I really believe that where your time goes is a reflection of your true priorities. And as such, the message that I’ve sent to most of my friends and family in the last year is exactly this: you are not very high on my list of priorities, please do not count on me to be there for you emotionally, physically, spiritually. But in my exploration of the hurt I’ve caused by doing that, I’ve been wrecked by the realization that I’ve also done the same thing to God. I say, “God, look what I’m doing for you. Look how faithful I am to the calling You’ve given me.” And He shakes His head sadly knowing what I’m missing out on.

————-
I’m stubborn. I don’t learn things without my heart being broken. And I’m an expert in avoiding heartbreak, if there ever was one. Your heart doesn’t have to break if you never let anything into it. C. S. Lewis wrote this passage specifically for me:

To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly be broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket — safe, dark, motionless, airless — it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. The alternative to tragedy, or at least to the risk of tragedy, is damnation. The only place outside of Heaven where you can be perfectly safe from all the dangers and perturbations of love is Hell.

This is not a pity party, it really is the furthest thing from it. My heart is broken and that’s the best thing for me. If I can point to hardship and see God’s hand in it, then I should be overjoyed to know I am not an illegitimate son. Stop and read the passage I linked to there. Please.

I know that ultimately, peace is at the end of this journey. In 1 Corinthians 13, it says:

“12Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
13And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”

I am grateful for this discipline. And I am sorry for losing sight of the important things. This won’t be an overnight recovery for me, God doesn’t work that way. But it will be the right kind of recovery, not marked by doing all the right things externally, but by a change of heart that begins in the deepest part of me as I learn to surrender, and then, hopefully, by the grace of God, you will see lasting fruit appear.

Please don’t feel like you need to reply to this. It’s enough for me in this time that I finally found the words to seek God’s forgiveness. And I know I am loved and cared for by many dear people, but I want you to know that I am sorry for not being the mix, for investing in things and not in people.

I had nothing to say

Posted in Uncategorized on February 12, 2010 by jbasedow4

Two months ago, my Uncle Scott was diagnosed with two types of stage 4 cancer. It was a pretty shocking revelation and I wasn’t really sure how to take it, so I kind of pushed it out of my head.

A little less than a month ago, we realized that this was progressing faster than expected, and my heart went out to my uncle in Phoenix, but what do you say to a guy who has been given anywhere from weeks to months to live? So I didn’t say anything.

Early last week, things got really bad, Scott had a stroke and we saw his cancer markers double in a week’s time. This time I folded under the pressure and just plain couldn’t bring myself to say what I really wanted to say. I couldn’t get it into words. How do you express gratitude to a guy you saw every other year for a week or two? How do articulately say thank you for just being a smiling face and a caring uncle when that bond is so much stronger than the time you actually got to spend together would seem to allow for?

Scott, i’m sorry I couldn’t get the words out. Maybe a hug would have been even better than stumbling over myself trying to speak. I’m sorry I couldn’t be there. I really am. But I hold onto this: I know that you made your peace with God, and I will hold to the promise that the same love that reached through time and space and redeemed me has done the same for you.

At first, it seemed wrong in my mind to take the stage to worship tonight, but no, there is even more reason to sing tonight. I can cry out for the loss, and I can sing for joy because he is experiencing joy now beyond anything I’ve ever known here.

That’s all for now. We’ll see each other again, Scott.

I am Ozymandias, I am Nebuchadnezzar

Posted in Uncategorized on December 1, 2009 by jbasedow4

OZYMANDIAS

I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk, a shatter’d visage lies, whose frown
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamp’d on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed.
And on the pedestal these words appear:
“My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!”
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare,
The lone and level sands stretch far away.

—-

Book of Daniel, Chapter 4

‘”This is what is decreed for you, King Nebuchadnezzar: Your royal authority has been taken from you. 32 You will be driven away from people and will live with the wild animals; you will eat grass like cattle. Seven times will pass by for you until you acknowledge that the Most High is sovereign over the kingdoms of men and gives them to anyone he wishes.”

33 Immediately what had been said about Nebuchadnezzar was fulfilled. He was driven away from people and ate grass like cattle. His body was drenched with the dew of heaven until his hair grew like the feathers of an eagle and his nails like the claws of a bird.

34 At the end of that time, I, Nebuchadnezzar, raised my eyes toward heaven, and my sanity was restored. Then I praised the Most High; I honored and glorified him who lives forever.
His dominion is an eternal dominion;
his kingdom endures from generation to generation.

35 All the peoples of the earth
are regarded as nothing.
He does as he pleases
with the powers of heaven
and the peoples of the earth.
No one can hold back his hand
or say to him: “What have you done?”

36 At the same time that my sanity was restored, my honor and splendor were returned to me for the glory of my kingdom. My advisers and nobles sought me out, and I was restored to my throne and became even greater than before. 37 Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and exalt and glorify the King of heaven, because everything he does is right and all his ways are just. And those who walk in pride he is able to humble.

I had a good talk tonight.  It reminded me of how good it is to tell our stories.  It reminds us of the growth that we’ve gone through and what God has done in our lives for good.  What it reminded me of tonight was the pride that I am so prone to.  Pride can distance ourselves from God’s heart in an instant, it’s poisonous (1 Peter 5:5).  The two passage above pretty much summarize (much better than I can) my thoughts on pride.  But I’m grateful that God is strong enough to humble the proud.  Look at Nebuchadnezzar’s life after being humbled!  The rest of his days he feared God Almighty because he had been humbled enough to know “that the Most High is sovereign over the kingdoms of men and gives them to anyone he wishes.”

Pride detaches us from the knowledge that we need the grace that Jesus gives daily.  It lets us forget that each breath we take is granted by God, and is a gift, not a right.  My pride has caused me more pain than I would have liked, but the breaking of that pride has always left me with a better understanding of my Father in heaven, for that I am grateful.

The sun is shining

Posted in Uncategorized on November 10, 2009 by jbasedow4

It’s hard to articulate what’s flowing through my mind right now.  Riding on 3 hours of sleep after ONE last night (which was HUGELY blessed), I am taking a sabbath (something I’m not familiar enough with) and getting rocked by a combo of songs: You Reign, To Know Your Name, In Your Freedom, and Second Chance.  I’ll post the lyrics that are currently destroying me at the end of this post.

Here are my takeaway thoughts from ONE last night:  we saw a glimpse of heaven last night and it was wonderful.  It is always worth it to give ourselves to worshipping our God.

After ONE, at IHOP, I was thinking about what Brett Whitlow said about tilling the tough soil to make it ready for planting and ultimately harvest.  Then Dylan Curtis brought this idea that he’d be ok if his life was so service oriented that he was a kind of faceless person who was simply forgotten when he died.  I really liked that idea.  It’s something that I’ve often thought of.  I want my life to be kingdom oriented.  I want to know in my final seconds that I gave more than I took, in fact, I want to know I left it all on the table.  I want to know that loving God, serving the saints, and loving the lost was so much more important than my own well being or comfort.

I’m not there yet, which is ok.  But it’s a vision that’s before my face more-so after a night like last night.  If I become faceless, that’s ok.  If I never record an album, own a brand new car, lead a church, whatever, I would be ok if I was able to know that God used to me make every place I went better by serving where needed, and giving to those who need it around me.    That’s all.  Have a great day and enjoy the following lyrical montage!

What could stand before You
As You chose to embrace
A cross so undeserved You took for me
The weight of sin upon You
When You offered Your life
As You walked the streets of men
With fading strength

How could we live but not see
Your sacrifice
Your glory

You reign, You reign
Over everything Lord, You reign
With power, and justice divine
Over everything Lord, You reign

What was Your last thought
As You drew Your last breath
Where the victory was Yours for us to see
And all will know the truth
As we live by Your grace
Every praise to You alone

See now the King of Glory
Love of God become my calling
Father I surrender all I am to You forever

´Cause I know You gave the world
Your only son for us
To know Your name
To live within the Saviour’s love and He took my place
Knowing He’d be crucified
And You loved, You loved
A people undeserving!

You called my name
Reached out Your hand
Restored my life
And I was redeemed
The moment You entered my life

Amazing grace
Christ gave that day
My life was changed
When from my shoulders
Fell the weight of my sin

So it’s with everything I am
I reach out for Your hand
The hope for change
The second chance I’ve gained

Consume my thoughts
As I rest in You
I’m now in love
With a Saviour
Bearing the marks of His love

So I’ll wait upon You now
With my hands released to You
Where a little faith’s enough
To see mountains lift and move

I search for You God of strength
I bow to You in my brokenness
And no other King could have so humbly come
To save my soul and heal my heart
I have nothing more than all You offer me
There is nothing else that’s of worth to me
And I love You Lord
You rescued me
You are all that I want
You’re all that I need

In Your freedom I will live
In Your freedom I will live
I offer devotion, I offer devotion

Jesus knew…

Posted in Uncategorized on November 4, 2009 by jbasedow4

I’m sitting in Starbucks right now listening to two of my new favorite songs: Dance with Me and Obsession, relaxing the legs after three LONG days of work.  But an interesting idea came up and I think it’s time to break the blog hiatus.   One of my favorite theological-conversation-friends and I were talking about how to confront people in the church in leadership positions with behavior that’s not acceptable.  Or at least, the few glimpses we get of that behavior SEEM unacceptable.   My buddy brought up the great point that I need to be unassuming in my conversation with this person, because as of right now, I really have no idea where she’s coming from.  But I disagreed with him when he said that that’s the example that Jesus set for us.

Now we both quickly agreed on the fact that Jesus didn’t have to assume- He is God and He knows.  But I would say that the example Jesus gives to us who do not know is in fact the lack of condemnation that He had even when dealing with people clearly living in sin.

Look at the woman at the well (John 4):

Jesus knows from the beginning that this woman is living sin, and has been for a while, but He’s chosen her to be the one who carries the message of His “living water” to the Samaritans of her town.  He is not concerned for the damage His image will bear by talking to her, He’s not concerned with shaming her, or with using her as an example of the type of person we should avoid.  He’s concerned with her restoration.  From the very first words He speaks to her, He is preparing her to hear His message and be changed by it.

There is a bigger picture here- that the Samaritans in that area responded to Jesus with belief and an attitude of worship.  But I find myself enamored by the individual interaction here.  The care that Jesus takes in revealing Himself as the Messiah to a woman, a Samaritan (despised by the Jews), and a woman living with a man who is not her husband after divorcing many others.  Without getting preachy, this woman would be held in high esteem in our own culture today, much less in that day.

Why are we so intent upon condemning the behavior we see in the others around us?  We are so smugly satisfied and yet disgusted at the same time when we see a brother or a sister fall into sin.  We are quick to point out their fault and distance ourselves, and we are slow to forget.  Galatians 6:1 says that if any our brothers and sisters fall into sin, we should restore them gently.

How much pride must be rotting my soul for me to feel smugly satisfied seeing a brother or sister fall instead of feeling my heart break for the damage they are wreaking in their own life?  Which is why I’m drawn to the woman who finds Jesus at the well.

What an eternal honor to be one of the few in human history to have an audible conversation face to face with the Savior of the world and then to be used by Him to bring others into the Kingdom!   Jesus certainly knew the impact this woman could have on those in her community if her life was changed, but He also certainly believed that the heart inside her was worth saving in the first place.  And He gave her an invitation to her to worship Him.

Think about this!  If He gave her an invitation to worship (this is implied through their conversation about true worship, His revelation to her about His identity, and the many Samaritans who believed by her testimony), then we are to believe that He sought out the worship of a sinner, He brought her to belief, and then used her to change the world around her.

There is a lot more to talk about on this topic, but I think this is enough for now.  At least, it’s all my mind and heart can soak up right now.  Please, I would love to hear your thoughts on this.  Have a great night!

 

 

A Thought…

Posted in Uncategorized on September 3, 2009 by jbasedow4

I wasn’t going to write a blog about this, but after talking with a close friend, he convinced to try and get my thoughts about this out on “paper.”  It’d be cool to get a discussion going on this too, so I’m not writing this as the Final Word, as much as a thought I’m still trying to work out.   And here we go:

This summer was the Summer of the Wedding.  I went to 7 weddings, which is a record for me, and I still have one more to go this year.  Besides just being plain fun, although a little exhausting too, there was an interesting thought that kept popping up at these weddings- a thought that has popped up before and, to be truthful it has bothered me each time.   I’ve noticed that during the period of engagement, the brides become more and more beautiful.  Not in a I-wish-I-was-the-one-they-were-marrying way, but in a way that made me think to myself, “what was I missing before?”  Let me clarify: I’m not saying that these women were never attractive, not at all.  And I’m also NOT saying that I was coveting other men’s fiances; please don’t think that.  What I was noticing is that these women were walking taller, smiling more genuinely, approaching the same everyday tasks with more confidence, and all in all less concerned about what others thought about them.  I guess another way to say it would be that the very traits that made them who they are were shining through more brightly; they had been unearthed.  And that’s what got me thinking.

At first it bothered me that I hadn’t seen those things before, even as a friend.  But the more I thought about it, the more it opened an idea up to me: we can have relationships with many people- some as acquaintances, some as friends, some as love-interests, and very few, usually one in a lifetime, as that person that you love above all others.  It’s no secret, to those of you who know me well, that I’ve been wrestling through the idea of how much of that specific romantic relationship is our choice and how much of it is a mystical sort of bond that forms when the stars align over two people.

I’m going to be totally honest here: in my mind, it makes sense that females put the most work into their appearance when they’re single, then, when they know that they’ve got “their man” locked down, they don’t have to worry as much.  And maybe that actually is how it happens, but still that natural, authentic beauty continues to grow; no, not “grow,” it reveals itself.

In the end, I realized that what made these relationships so special, and what made them so worth celebrating, is that these two have found what is truly beautiful in each other and not only that, but they bring it out in each other.  That’s the key to what I was observing, in these cases specifically: the woman finds a strong man who, after earning her trust in their courtship, sees her at her core and the beauty there.  Then he provides a safe environment in their relationship for that beauty to come out, and as a result, what he saw more clearly than the others (“more clearly” is the key term here, I’m not saying no one else ever saw it) comes out for all to see.  Then we gather together to celebrate their decision to make that thriving relationship a permanent relationship.

This idea has helped me to understand a few things.  One, it affirms the idea that we need to be seeking a relationship where the two are better than one, and better than just the total sums of their parts.  If they both make each other better people, than they will be far better as a team than as two individuals.  Second, it immediately turns the focus off ourselves.  Charlie Sandberg, in a recent sermon, asked the question: are you dating whoever you’re dating because of your love for Jesus?  Well, I had never really thought of it that way.  I always thought that I loved Jesus and dated this other person that I was interested in.  But if, in our relationships, we are looking for the best for that other person, and trying our best to see how we can enable them to be themselves, it will be our desire to honor Christ that ultimately leads to the best for both parties involved.  To be honest, I think there will be many times where, no matter how great we think someone is as an individual, we won’t feel that special connection.  That’s ok.  And sometimes I think we will see that true beauty in someone else and at the same time realize that we won’t be the ones who help make that flourish.  Also ok.

But when you find someone that you can’t stand to NOT be around, and you realize that you see something in them that not only makes them uniquely special, but makes you feel uniquely special, you should probably hold on to that.  That is all.

The Observation Principle and My Condition

Posted in Uncategorized on August 15, 2009 by jbasedow4

I was going through some of the old comments that have been made on my blog and some of the comments that I’ve made on other blogs today.  I found one comment from early in my blogging experiment where I actually wrote that my blog is not written for others to read it.  I just about laughed out loud.  It’s true that these thoughts need to be written down somewhere purely for the sake of letting some pressure escape from my brain, but these posts are most certainly written for people to read them.  And that changes the nature of what they are.  It forces the abstract, frustrating whisps of thought into something at least a tiny bit more coherent and organized.  It forces me to go from, “What am I trying to say?” to “This is what I think and now let me explain why.”  I like that; it’s been cathartic.

And with that, I open my first blog in… months (I’m too lazy to check how long).

Here is an update on my life for any who haven’t heard:  I am staying here in Fort Collins.  I said no to the Phoenix job, not because it was a bad option, but because I really came to the conclusion that my time is not done here in Fort Collins.  I will be spending this next school year working at Best Buy (rock on) and serving at Faith E. Free as the director for The Well (the college service) and one of the worship leaders for Faith’s main service.  I will also be pouring a substantial amount of time into Eikon to see how far that vision can go.

But that little piece of exposition does not by any means tell you the story of my life right now- and that’s why I’m actually writing a little blog post about this.   I titled this post “The Observation Principle and My Condition.”  The Observation Principle has to do with a theory from quantum mechanics that the act of observing something actually changes the thing itself.  I was loosely trying to connect that with how my act of writing this blog has changed by the fact that people actually read it.  But when I added the part that reads “My Condition” I was referring to what I really want to write about: an ongoing issue that I notice in me, an ingrained part of my humanity.

This summer was incredibly hard for a period.  After I had decided to let Phoenix go, school stuff had faded, the reality of no-job set in and I was faced with an interesting segment of my life.  The one constant in my life (school) was gone.   I did not have a career, I did not have my own family, and I did not have a job which meant I did not have money.  Not a great place to be, but, hey, how many college grads have been there?  But then I lost my car, followed shortly by my way, in a sense.  I literally had a space of about 5 weeks this summer where I felt like I was just floating adrift.

When I say adrift, I don’t just mean floating around, moving slowly.  I hope that I can muster the lyrical strength to provide you with the proper imagery here:  When I was in Florida a few weeks ago, I got to ride on a sailboat in the Gulf of Mexico.  It was a fantastic experience, one I will remember for probably the rest of my life.  But I will never forget my impression of one moment on that ride, and I’m not really sure why it made such an impression, because I’m guessing my family members probably don’t even remember this.  But there was a short period when the captain turned the boat’s engine off to just take it all in (yes, I meant to say “engine,” we used the engine to get out into open water).   What struck me at that moment was the total lack of motion; no wind, no lapping waves, not even fresh air.  The air literally was stale as we sat there, warm and stale, kind of like those summer nights when you wake in the middle of the night sweating and you realize the air is just warm enough that you can’t cool down at all, and the air is musty enough that you feel as if you’re breathing air that is twice-used.    You know, where you can fill your lungs with each breath and still feel like you’re suffocating? It gave me a small idea of the horror of being stranded in a life raft for days on the open seas with the sun beating down on you from sunrise to sunset: no escape, no a/c, no fans, no direction, no compass to even know which direction is the right direction IF you were even moving in a direction, sun burns, thirst, that slow feeling of suffocating under a bright blue sky… is this helping you understand my analogy at all?  I kind of felt like that for part of this summer.  I asked myself everyday: “Did I miss the boat somewhere?”  “Where did I leave my compass?” and even, “Is anyone out there even looking for me?”

There are two things that I realized in this state, and these two things I will attribute to divine inspiration:

1)  I am not adrift in a life-raft, no matter how much it feels like it.  I am adrift in a sailboat.  It may occasionally run out of gas for the engine or lack wind for it’s sails, but it is a sail boat nonetheless, given to me by God (this is supposed to represent my life).  And…

2) It’s not my fault that there is no wind to fill my sails.  God brings the winds and He can certainly take them away if He sees fit (Psalm 135:6-7, Psalm 148:7-8).  In my short-sightedness, I may definitely have been the cause of running out of gas, but wind, in comparison, is surely the resource that could carry me round the world over and over, should God so desire to send me that way.

It really came down to a type of defining moment for me.  Because as I sat there wondering if my sails would ever really fill again and a fresh wind would carry me off to some exotic locale, I had to make a choice: I knew that eventually my sails would fill, to some degree, and I also knew that at some point I would be able to get some more gas.  But I needed to choose which I would let set the course for my life.

Will I be a boat that sputters along with a loud and inefficient motor pushing me along at a whopping 6 1/2 knots?  Or will I be a boat that opens the sails full and rides where the winds go, without thought for the return journey?  I know I’m kind of drawing this analogy/metaphor/whatever out, so I’m going to end with this:

On that same day of sailing, later in the day, after the moment of stale calm, after a little snorkeling, and certainly after beginning to wonder if it would be possible to be disappointed with my first sailboat experience, we saw some clouds approaching.  The captain smiled and opened the sails up all the way.  First came the fresh air, cool and fresh blowing in before the storm.  Then the sails began to fill; a gentle rustle at first, then the familiar whipping sound you’ve heard on every movie with a sail boat.  Then the storm front hit: a light warm rain falling in a strong wind.  The boat listed to the port side and we were off.  At our fastest point, which our captain insisted was racing speed, we couldn’t have been going more than 13-15 knots, but it was one of the most refreshing experiences I’ve ever had.  Part of it was the newness of the experience, I am sure.  But there was an intrinsic joy in the experience, something so much different than the feel of traveling at nearly the same speed with the motor.

The sound was completely different, for one.  Even though the sound of the rain and the wind and the waves were washing over us continuously with a natural rhythm, there was a natural peace underriding all of it.  No cars, no planes, no ipods, no cell phones, no business chatter.  But laughter there was.  The sound of laughter surprised me, especially because it started with Abby, who had been laid low by a headache brought on by the stale air and slow pace earlier in the day.  But with each sense that was stimulated came that intrinsic joy.

Images from that time came in snapshots that have become ingrained in my mind:  Abby moving to the front of the boat so the waves could splash her feet and the wind could toss her hair around.  The boat keeling over so far that one might think it would roll, even though we knew it wouldn’t.  The different shades of blues and greens in the water and sky as the storm moved past.  I know that we were likely never further than 10 miles from shore, but there was a sense of racing out into the unknown as our boat picked up speed.  Even our captain, who practically had lived on the water for the last 40 years, left a snapshot in my head: him standing there, legs spread, standing tall, wrestling the boat… and he couldn’t hold back a boyish grin as the rain soaked through his dirty t-shirt and shorts.

It’s hard to describe the smells because the ocean is so new to me, but there was a salty freshness to the moment.  And if the morning had been characterized by air the felt like a living suffocation, this could only be called the freshest air you’ve ever smelled.

And the feeling! Being tossed by waves, moved by the wind, it was … well, here’s my point: I have this tendency to freak out when the wind leaves my sails.   Who knows exactly why God pulls it out sometimes?  Maybe it’s so I can get a rest, maybe it’s because I need to stop and think, and maybe it’s simply because His timing is not my timing.  But many times my first reaction when the wind dies is to check my gas cans, and even if I know I don’t have enough gas to get anywhere in particular, I start up my engine and start moving in some direction, just so I know I’m moving.

This is not a perfect analogy, but the reality of it for me is this: I do not have nearly as much control of my life as I would like to think.  I have a responsibility to stand at the helm of my boat and wrestle it as best I can when the strong winds come, and to stand by it when the winds disappear.  But as long as God is the one who

“makes clouds rise from the ends of the earth;
he sends lightning with the rain
and brings out the wind from his storehouses”

then I will choose the joy of the sails and wind that fills them, and forego the pride of my pitiful gas engine and it’s feeble attempts to control my destiny… I’m saying that life is good.

The Gods at War

Posted in Uncategorized on June 23, 2009 by jbasedow4

Tonight I witnessed the greatest thunder storm I have ever been a part of. It was unbelievable. For about an hour there was a surreal calm over the town as the sun was setting and the clouds rolled in from the north and the south, at one point, I was playing volleyball with some friends and for 360 degrees around us there was lightning but no rain.

But oh, when the rain started, things got GOOD. For at least an hour, maybe more, we were hammered with rain and the sky was lit up as the sky put forth a light show beyond any I had seen. No joke, about a strike a second all around, every where. It reminded me of all those old legends about the gods going to war in the skies above us. I drove up to the mountains to one of my favorite lookouts by Horsetooth reservoir and just watched. The sky would get so bright that I could actually see the colors around me: the greens and browns of the hills across the lake, and the blue of the water beneath the hills. And of course, that beautiful blue-white that fades to purple as lightning sears through the clouds.

I heard once that a single lightning bolt could power New York City for a year. I was trying to grasp that as I watched bolt after bolt fly across the sky. The beauty that went hand in hand with the potential power of this storm was paralyzing. If God was using this to display His might and the devastation of His wrath, it was a perfect example. In fact, I was a little nervous. I posted earlier that I have been feeling a little off recently, more honestly, disconnected from God and many of those close to me. But the thought that hit me as I took this storm in up in the mountains was that if this is God’s wrath, it is no longer directed at me. I’ve been pulled back from the ledge that I threw myself off of and have been spared. This show wasn’t so that I would weep in terror, but so that I would more fully understand what God has withheld from me even though I was fully deserving. And in that same moment, what He has given when I was undeserving.

The beauty that really struck me was not just that I am not going to incur God’s wrath, but that I now am an heir in His kingdom. He was inviting me to enjoy the beauty of that storm as He directed each bolt in His grand symphony. My God is not a clock maker, we are not a set of dominoes that He set up and then sat back and watched as we each fall into our pre-ordained place. No, He is a creative God, delighting in His creation and interacting with it regularly.

I am part of that creation.
I am dearly loved.
I threw it away.
I settled for less.

He gave it back, and so much more.

I am in the process of being restored. I needed tonight though. I had been in such a funk that I had almost forgotten how to really just talk with Him. It’s funny but for me, tonight, a thunderstorm led to repentance.

Last note: there was a point when the storm had moved out east where I was able to get out of the car and breathe the fresh air around me as I watched the storm move away. There were bolts that stretched the length of Fort Collins high above the city. And bolts that stretched from the reservoir to Severance. Each with enough power to run New York City, man’s triumph of modern civilization, for a year. And God was just having fun out there. We’re in good hands.