What Can I Believe?

O God, I am so fragile:

         my dreams get broken,

         my relationships get broken,

         my heart gets broken,

         My body gets broken.

What can I believe,

          except that you will not despise a broken heart,

          that old and broken people shall yet dream dreams,

          and that the lame shall leap for joy,

                 the blind see,

                       the deaf hear.

What can I believe,

         except what Jesus taught:

         that only what is first broken, like bread,

                 can be shared;

          that only what is broken

                  is open to your entry;

          that old wineskins must be ripped open and replaced

                  if the wine of new life is to expand.

So I believe, Lord;

           help my unbelief

                   that I may have courage to keep trying

                           when I am tired,

                   and to keep wanting passionately

                            when I am found wanting.

O God, I am so frail:

       my life spins like a top,

             bounced about by the clumsy hands

                     of demands beyond my doing,

       fanned by furies

              at a pace but half a step from hysteria,

                     so much to do,

                            my days so few and fast-spent,

                                   and I mostly unable to recall

                                          what I am rushing after.

What can I believe,

       except that beyond the limits

               of my little prayers and careful creeds,

        I am not meant for dust and darkness,

                but for dancing life and silver starlight.

Help my unbelief

        that I may have courage

                to dare to love the enemies

                       I have the integrity to make;

                to care for little else

                       save my brothers and sisters of the human family;

                to take time to truly be with them,

                       take time to see,

                                take time to speak,

                                         take time to learn with them

                                                  before time takes us;

                and to fear failure and death less

                       than the faithlesness

                               of not embracing love’s risks.

God, I am so frantic:

       somehow I’ve lost my gentleness

                in a flood of ambition,

       lost my sense of wonder

                in a maze of videos and computers,

       lost my integrity

                in a shuffle of commercial disguises,

       lost my gratitude

                in a swarm of criticisms and complaints,

        lost my innocence

                in a sea of betrayals and compromises.

What can I believe,

       except that the touch of your mercy

               will ease the anguish of my memory;

       that the tug of your spirit

                will empower me to help carry now the burdens

                        I have loaded on the lives of others;

        that the example of Jesus

                will inspire me to find again my humanity.

So, I believe, Lord;

help my unbelief

        that I may have courage

               to cut free from what I have been

         and gamble on what I can be,

               and on what you

                     might laughingly do

                             with trembling me

                                     for your incredible world.

                                                                                       –Ted Loder




Keeping Clean

This is a sermon I heard a little over a year ago.  It’s given by a man named Sy Rogers, and while he speaks a bit about his struggle with homosexuality,  what it speaks to in a larger sense is the title of the message:  Keeping Clean in a Dirty World.  Take a listen if you have a chance–it’s about 45 minutes long.




Better Questions

I’ve been thinking a lot about my older brother lately.  This is a man I have not had any sort of contact with since I was in my early 20’s.  He no longer lives in California, and in truth, does not associate with most of the family.  I don’t think this is really by design on his part, or on any of my sisters, but it is nonetheless how we are.  And to be honest, I don’t care if he lives in a chicken shack somewhere in Kansas–I just don’t want to see him, or really even know about him. 

So why am I thinking about him then?  Because it bothers me that I don’t care about him.  This is a person who is responsible for many of my literal and figurative scars, and many of my core woundings, and on the surface, that might even make sense–he doesn’t deserve to be cared for, right? 

I know in my heart that isn’t the truth, and I’m trying to find a way through those feelings.  I believe I’ve been through forgiveness for my brother, but I’m finding out that isn’t the same thing as love, though it is a part of it.  I don’t feel like I love Tim, and I can’t imagine right now that I ever possibly could.  How many times should I have to forgive him?  Seventy times seven, I know, I know. 

But how do I move on to love?  I want to.  It doesn’t feel right to have a vacuum in my heart when I think about a person.  And that’s exactly how it feels.  Forgiving is not forgetting, and I’d like more than anything to be able to forget and move on with things.  Should I forget?  Probably not.  Certainly not, even.  I know Jesus’ heart broke for me during the trying times, I know that in my own heart, and that truth has been part of my own healing journey with Him.  And I suppose I even know in the abstract that Jesus’ heart broke for Tim as well.

There’s a reason somewhere for the boy he was, and the man he became.  He has his own woundings, and scars, and all those things I have. We had the same parents and upbringing.  Yet he got it a little more hardcore from my parents than I did–all I got was apathy to my existence.  So what do I do? 

Obviously, I need to ask Jesus about it, and this is certainly something to bring up during therapy.  How does a man move from hate, to indifference, to forgiveness, to apathy, to love?

Do I simply try to remind myself that this person who so profoundly affected my life is also, like myself, someone Jesus died for?  I’m sure that’s part of it.  Is it OK not to love your brother?  It doesn’t feel like it.   How do I get healing for something that doesn’t really even feel like a wound most times?  Can a heart be soft in some places, and hard in others?  Have I really even forgiven?  Can I be forgiven myself?  Is there something within me that I need to ask Tim’s forgiveness for?  What does brotherly love even feel like?

So much to pray about, and talk to Jesus about.

….sigh…I have better questions, than I have answers…

Unchanging one

Last year was my first time at Spirit West Coast (SWC is a large music and culture festival for Christian bands and speakers–sort of like Ozzfest, but without most of the wordly trappings, like drugs, alcohol, and tattoo stands, not to mention the rampant occult…influences).  Early on in the afternoon, a guy came on that I’d never heard, or heard of before.  Todd Agnew.  His lead guitarist sat down in a chair and placed his guitar across his lap.

Great, I thought. Country.  He tore into his first song, Reached Down.  Not country at all–more like a fusion of electric blues and rock, and it woke up the crowd pretty quickly.  Todd’s just a normal looking guy–jeans, t-shirt, standing on the huge stage barefoot, with an acoustic guitar in his hands.  And he seemed very humble.  After that first song, he spoke for a minute, telling the crowd that he and his band had just come from the airport, and had not even had time for a sound check–they just came on and played that first song.  Then he stopped and prayed for several minutes.  I don’t remember exactly the words he used, but it moved me deeply, and after his set (which was incredible), I purchased a couple of his CDs at the merchandise table. 

Todd affected me like no Christian artist I’d ever heard.  It wasn’t just about lifting up your hands to heaven (though it was that, too).  He looks at God, and his relationship with Him, the way I try to (and don’t always succeed at doing).  He talks about the constancy and sureness of God’s love, in the way you don’t hear about it from a lot of Christian bands.  His pictures aren’t always pretty, but they’re always real.

Anyway, if you’re a fan of Christian music, or just a fan of really good blues-rock (or a fan of both), I suggest checking out Todd Agnew.  His first CD, Grace Like Rain,  had several hits.  The following song is from his follow-up, Reflection of Something, and I recommend that, too.  This is a good example of his lyrical style…

Unchanging One

I looked for love in every single situation
For something, someone
That would last a lifetime, a love that never dies
And I find


You know when I wake, when I rise, when I pray, when I curse You
And You love me the same
You know when I stumble and fall, and You’re there through it all
The only unchanging one

I looked for faith on the edge of my roof
No fear, daddy’s here
Still I struggle to trust You with the rest of my life
When I could just fly


You know when I wake, when I rise, when I pray, when I curse You
And You love me the same
You know when I stumble and fall, and You’re there through it all
The only unchanging one
I looked for God.


You know when I wake, when I rise, when I pray, when I curse You
And You love me the same
You know when I stumble and fall, and You’re there through it all
The only unchanging one

You know my inmost being
You know my deepest scars
You know my darkest secrets
You know and You love and You love