Monday, September 15, 2008


I seldom forward e-mails and I try to be very careful about the things I recommend. Books, movies, devotionals, blogs....
But I have a friend, a very gifted friend, whose writing I admire and whose opinions I share, whom I feel compelled to have you read and discover.
Her name is Tara Lynn Thompson and you can find her very informative, humorous, thought provoking, video rich blog at:
Savor. Enjoy. Share.

Sunday, September 7, 2008


We took Jay's car to church today and he drove. This has become a highly unusual phenomenon in our two-person household. I decided on our 25th wedding anniversary that since he drove most of the first twenty-five years, I would drive the next twenty-five. The problem is, that neither one of us likes the way the other one drives. Think "Mr.Magoo vs. Mario Andretti," and you'll have a pretty good idea of things. For the record, Jay is not Mario.
Not only do I drive, we take my car. For two reasons. First, Jay is still driving the only brand new car we ever bought--which we purchased just a couple of weeks before I found out I was pregnant with Jessie. She just turned 21. It hasn't had a working air conditioner for over fifteen years.
The other reason is that we have this unspoken rule that whomever is driving has first say in radio stations. I don't follow that rule much, because Jay listens to ulcer inducing talk radio. Those guys make my blood pressure rise to unhealthy levels so it's really not good for my health to have it on. Ever. I like my tunes!
I just washed and vacuumed the RAV yesterday and since it looked like rain, decided it would be better to take Jay's car. Or what's left of it. Anyway, I didn't turn the radio station and there was some guy on there whose name was never mentioned during the short ride to church, and he was wondering what it is that compels people to be such risk takers.
I turned up the volume. I had just been wondering the same thing as I watched the movie about Antarctica that I mentioned in the last blog. As I was watching these men peer over the edge of a live volcano, or risk death to dive under the ice shelf, or live in a place you couldn't fly into or out of for seven months of the year, I was wondering what inner compulsion drives people to take such grave risks.
The man on the radio this morning mentioned Christopher Columbus climbing into three dinky little boats to get to the west by going east. Lewis and Clark searching for an overland route to the Pacific. Men attempting space flight and landing on the moon.
I was thinking of Steve Fosset the billionaire who has apparently lost his life trying to fly around the globe in a hot air balloon and the Wright brothers trying to understand the key to flight. The list goes on and on.
Of course, my first thought was that all this was just a reflection of us being created in the image and likeness of God.
Radio guy confirmed my thoughts. He read from Genesis 1:26-28. "Then God said, 'Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.' So God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created them. Then God blessed them and God said to them, 'Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth,'"
He went on to say that the Hebrew words translated subdue and have dominion, means to conquer or subjugate every living thing. Mankind was to overcome all obstacles and challenges. In other words, I realized, this desire, this compulsion, this need for people to conquer has been hard wired into our DNA.
It makes sense. God Himself is a risk taker. What bigger risk could He have possibly taken than to create beings with free wills? Unless it was the risk of offering salvation to those same people. Either way, an incalculable risk was involved.
He went on to say that our job is still to overcome. To the seven churches in Revelation God clearly stated the rewards to those who overcome.
To the church of Ephesus, the loveless church, He says, "To him who overcomes I will give to eat from the tree of life which is in the midst of the Paradise of God." (Rev.2:7)
To the church of Smyrna, the persecuted church, He says, "He who overcomes will not be hurt by the second death." (7:11b)
To Pergamos, the compromising church, He says, "To him who overcomes I will give some of the hidden manna to eat. And I will give him a white stone, and on the stone a new name written which no one knows except him who receives it." (2:17)
To the corrupt church in Thyatira, He says, "And he who overcomes, and keeps My works until the end, to him I will give power over the nations." (2:26)
To Sardis, the dead church, He says, "He who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments, and I will not blot out his name from the Book of Life; but I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels." (3:5)
To the faithful church in Philadelphia, "He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he shall go out no more. I will write on him the name of My God and the name of the city of My God, the New Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God. And I will write on him My new name." (3:12)
And lastly, to the lukewarm church of Laodicea, He says, "To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne." (3:21)

At the dawn of creation, God brought everything into existence and told the crowning glory of that creation to overcome and conquer the created world. The fall hasn't changed that. We are still compelled to overcome and subdue things.
But after the fall, the picture changes. Now we are to overcome sin through the power of the Spirit. We are to conquer the deeds of the flesh the same way. We are to remain faithful to the One whose Spirit indwells us. We are to overcome the works of the evil one by the power of God and pray that, "His Kingdom come, His will be done, on earth as it is in heaven."
This life is only a training ground for the next. I've said it a million times, but it needs to be said a million more.
"Eye has not seen and ear has not heard, and which have not entered into the heart of man, all that God has prepared for those who love Him." (1 Cor. 2:9)
We can't even conceive of all that God has in mind for us to do in the life to come. But much of it will be determined by how well we allow Him to prepare us for the next life in this one.
It reframes everything. Suffering, disappointment, trials. Our attitude as we navigate this life, our utter dependence on Him to meet every single need, our treatment of His body, the hope that keeps on looking unto Jesus, these are the things that will determine the responsibility God entrusts to us in eternity.

Friday, September 5, 2008


For those of you who live in Tulsa, I must tell you about the quaint little Circle Cinema "at the very large corner of Admiral and Lewis," to borrow the phrase from Ziegler's commercials.
It is a true hidden gem. They specialize in indie and foreign films and great documentaries. I have recently subscribed to receive their e-mail announcements of what's playing and what's coming, so hopefully I will never have to miss a great movie again. They do NOT show your typical (yawn or yikes!) Hollywood fare. I haven't seen a movie yet that didn't make me think about the wonder and vastness and creativity of God and how we are created in His image and reflect His likeness.
Here are just three of the ones I have seen recently: Man on Wire, Tell No One and Encounters at the End of the World. I've found that if you look for God, you see Him everywhere.
Let's work our way backward, and see how He reveals Himself, shall we?
In Encounters at the End of the World, filmmaker Werner Herzog, "sets his sights on the rarely photographed beauty of Antarctica." Ha! That's pretty much in contention for first prize in the understatement of the century contest! This is not a movie about penguins. Herzog does more than "set his sights." He pulls you in. He introduces you to the unique quality of highly educated and skilled people who seem literally pulled, as if by it's powerful magnetic force, to the South Pole. We are given snippets of their compelling stories and shown their scientific endeavors on the endless, barren tundra of ice where, for half a year, the sun never sets.
We watch a hole being drilled through eight feet of ice and sit mesmerized, shivering even, as the men, with ice crystals forming on their beards, drop a rope of dynamite sticks to enlarge the hole with the express purpose of putting on a mummy's worth of layers and entering the frigid water that is minus two degrees Celcius. The enormity and shock of the explosion nearly lifts you off your seat.
We watch the silent, almost reverent ritual of the divers putting on their gear and inexplicably, dive without lead ropes, knowing that if they get lost, disoriented or simply drift too far from their six foot wide entry spot, there is no hope of rescue. We follow along as they slowly move through a world of altered space and time. We watch their air bubbles rise and dance across the bottom of the sky blue ice shelf. We see the rhythmic, hypnotic, fluttering of giant, translucent jelly fish, their long tendrils indicating the direction they are swimming. Impressive as it was, I know what a jelly fish looks like. I even know what it's sting feels like!
But even more fascinating were both the microscopic and visible creatures no one has ever seen before. It was a good day for the diving scientists: they found three new species never before known to exist. Three!
We watched as others set up a camera over one of only three volcanoes on the planet where you can actually peer over the edge all the way down to the lava bed. Right there in one incredible spot you have the hottest and coldest extremes on earth! It was, quite simply, an astonishing sight.
All I could think about was how incomprehensible God is, how creative, how mind-boggling. Truly, "The whole earth is filled with His glory!"
Of course, there was all this talk of evolution and the Big Bang. And while I imagine that when the voice of the living God shouted into the void, it was a big bang of sorts, it was difficult not to weep that these very brilliant and dedicated scientists were blind to the God whose handiwork they are so taken with. I wanted to shout at the screen, "He's right in front of you! You're staring at and studying His incomprehensible brilliance! He's revealing Himself to you! LOOK and SEE!"

Tell No One is a thriller extraordinaire! For some reason, this movie has stayed with me like no other in recent memory. I am going to see it again. It's in French with subtitles, but it is not at all difficult to read along and follow the action and suspense. And let me assure you, there is action and suspense! The book made it's author a household name and the film maker deserves highest kudos for making a movie that keeps your heart pumping and your mind guessing from start to finish.
I left the theater praising God for the creativity and skills He has given the human beings He created and adores. As a writer myself, I kept wondering how a complex plot, with all it's requisite twists and turns, became a comprehensible story. The mind of the man who thought it all through intrigued me. The mind of God makes me fall to the ground in wide-eyed wonder and astonishment.
He has given us such imagination and creative powers! Yet it is merely the slightest reflection of His own creativity, imagaination and power. We are created in His image and likeness and when we utilize those things that reflect Him, we are reflecting His never-ending glory to the delight of His own great heart!

Man on Wire (the title comes from the terse lines on the police report) is a documentary, replete with original footage, of Phillipe Petit, the daring tightrope walker from France who "walked" between the Twin Towers in mid-air shortly after they were built in 1974.
It's such a great story! This aspiring tightrope walking Frenchman read an article in a doctor's office about the Twin Towers being under construction and immediately became consumed with the idea of suspending a wire between them and walking across! It's a story of an obsession becoming a reality and the years and commitment to his purpose that were required for him to achieve his dream. It's also a story of a team who worked together to help realize one man's goal; of intrigue and deception to scope out the towers in order to formulate a plan and execute it; and of the power of the mind to accomplish what it desires to do.
There is so much original footage you can't help but think Phillipe himself must have known this was an event that needed to be documented so the story could one day be properly told.
Of course, he pulled it off, or there would be no reason for the documentary! He literally danced on the wire for over an hour, suspended above the ground how many feet in the air? with no net. As if one would have helped at that height....
Not only did he have to take into account the up and down and side to side sway of the wire, but it also twists back and forth like a pepper grinder. Can you imagine? Yet he was so in his element, basking in the realization of his dream, that he was completely relaxed. He laid down on the wire, he walked backward, he did ballet turns. All with a giant smile on his face.
I don't mean to spiritualize every single thing, but that movie inspired me beyond belief. It reminded me that God, who has endless capabilities and potential has armed His creatures with the same. I kept thinking of Phillipe's obsession and all I could think was, "As a man thinks in his heart, so is he." Phillipe believed, truly believed, even when his skeptical friends were fearing for his life and sanity, that HE COULD DO IT. And so he did.
And we can too. If Phillipe could do what he did without the direct intervention of God, just think what any of us can do with any insane, impossible thing God tells us to do. It was eight years from the time Phillipe read the article until he took those first tentative steps onto the high wire. The police were sure he was insane and, quite frankly, so were some of his closest friends. But he had faith. No matter what, he would not be disuaded.
He did the impossible, the unthinkable, the risky.
I can't think of a better epitaph than doing the same for the Kingdom of God and His eternal glory, because He has equipped us with the power to belive and to do "above and beyond anythign we could ask or think." Let's do it!