And Yet…

Blessed be the artist,
For to him is given the dream of creation.

Whilst others scramble in mud,
He may dream that it is liquid silver.

While others scream over a bent fender,
He may imagine them in chivalric fashion,
A pair of armored sea lions at the tilt.

When a fish flies from the sea,
Trailing a shimmering blade of water,
He is blessed to see more than mere water;
To him is given sight to see and ears to hear
The music of all creation,
Played in between the patter of rain
The roar of the windy surf
In the booming voice of the thunder
In the scintillating fingers of lightning
Which split the sky like rivers of fire.

Blessed be the artist,
For God has opened the door
To the artists’ studio,
And given him brushes and paints,
Pens and inks and eyes to see
The beauty which lie beneath the substance.

Beauty is only skin deep,
Unless you have the eyes of God.

Marvel you artists! Marvel all,
At God’s glorious artistry!
Every gleaming drop of water,
Every flowing electron,
Every quivering proton,
Every gallant sunbeam,
Every furious thunderclap,
Howling wind, rattling rain
Roaring fire and trembling Earth
Pounding hooves and beating wings
The choir of the crickets
The harmony of human voice
And dove’s purring warble and
Ten thousand thousand songs and sights,
Made by the greatest artist of all!

The only artist whose sculptures breathe.

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Overtake

I’m tired of my condition.
Always inattentive.
Driven to stray.
Made to fail.

The inferior man.
No excuses.
No escape.

Every mistake.
Every heartache.
My life they take.
My soul, forsake.

I don’t know where to go.
I am lost, Elohim.

Please.
Help.
Me.

I feel you, o Father of Love.
I hear you, o Spirit of Justice.
I see you, o Savior of Souls.

May the cracks in my skin
Shine with the light of Your Law.
That I and all my earthly kin
May kneel in awe.

Every mistake.
Every heartache.
My body breaks,
That Your Glory may Overtake.

To Serve His House

I yearn for His presence,
Yet I shy from His duties.

I wish to cast off my burdens,
as I add daily to my shackles.

I do what I ought not,
And do not what I ought.

I fear to rest or relax,
For when my guard is laxed —
Sins come in hordes,
Till all left is to mourn.

I am hateful to myself,
A stranger in my own skin.

A sojourner in a cursed body,
A wretched soul in a blameless corpse.

I cannot shoulder the blame,
to a body which cannot think.

I am responsible, I alone;
But my sins too great to atone.

Christ is all I have, pauperish me;
Can you not see it, that He came for thee?

Too great a miracle, sayest thou?
Otherwise to save thyself how?

Canst thou not see it?
The miracle stands before you.

God’s grace is unearned,
God’s grace is infinite,
God’s grace knows no limits of man.

You are forgiven by His blood!
It is not your power not to sin, but His!
Let His will flow through your veins!
To be ever more sin’s eternal bane!

Letters to my Son: Letter I

Dear Son,

Son, I’m writing this to you because I love you. I don’t know you yet, but I hope that when we meet, I will be a man you can happily call Dad.

But until we meet, there’s a lot that I have to do. I’m not your father yet. I’m a rotten man, a hypocrite, a rebel and a stubborn goat who will hear the truth preached to him all the day long and still not heed the words of wisdom. I’m unworthy in every way to be your father, and it frightens me that I might never become that man.

Or it would, if I did not have a better Father of my own. He’s not the man whose funny crooked teeth or thick hair I inherited, but He has been as much of and far more of a father than the one who conceived me.

To point, I want to be a good father to you. My father provided for me, but there’s quite a few lessons and points of guidance which he never gave to me, but which God graciously provided to me by His providence when I needed it, and even now He continues to lead me for His namesake – and I fully expect that when I see you, He will still be guiding us, me and you both. He is your Father too, and He knows you better than I ever will, for He made you with His hands, and breathed life into you in your mother’s womb.

I’m a writer, my son. That means that when God gives me good thoughts and words, I write them down. Right now, in my youth, it doesn’t seem like there’s much else that I’m good for, so it’s what I do whenever I’m not earning my wages. And that is one of the tough truths that we have to wrestle with under God. There are things we want to do, things we would want to spend all our days doing nothing but, and yet we cannot. Writing is not profitable. It is risky even to try to make a subsistence living as a writer, because unlike a standard 9 to 5 job, there’s no benefits package and no overtime pay. You live off of royalties, advances, and ad-revenue, depending on what you write. You have to practice for years just to get into the craft, and then once you’re in, you can never stop practicing.

And right now son, I’m afraid. I’m ashamed. I’m not brave enough to risk it all to get my dream career. I’m afraid of shaming myself in the eyes of those who love me by forsaking conventional labors for my writing. I’m afraid that I am just indulging laziness by wishing for this. I’m afraid that I would be acting in pride to gratify the desires of my flesh, and forsaking the God who has delivered me from my sins many and myriad. I’m ashamed already at the ungodly desires of my heart, the unrighteous intentions of my flesh, of my weakness in entertaining these traitorous thoughts.

Son, there will be a great many people in your life who will tell you to ‘pursue your dreams.’ They will tell you life is an open book, that the possibilities are limitless, that the world is your oyster.

They are lying to you. The world is not an oyster, it is a barren field. There is much possibility in it, but to extract from the bitter soil your dreams will require of you undying toil, remarkable luck, and toil again until your very bones wear out. To fulfill all your earthly desires by your own hands will consume you like a flame until you come to the end of your road and wonder what you gave up your life for.

Do not desire the things of this world. Even good and glorious things like fame, like doing something you love for a living, these things should not be your heart’s desire. Your desire must be in the Lord, or you will die unsatisfied. I know, because I chased these things and even baser desires for too long in my life, ignoring the appeals God made so gently upon my heart.

Please, my Son – do not be like me. I am not proud of my writing. I am good at it, and I know I was unarguably better at it than many of my peers in school. And there is some joy when I write well, a finely put together sentence, a good day which brought forth more words than usual. And if you become a writer like me, my son, by no means do I discourage you.

But if you are a writer, I want you to do one of two things. If you want to write because you want your name on book covers, because you enjoy it, because you’re good at it – don’t quit your day job. Secure your living first, and indulge your passion when the sun sets. Please, think hard before you give your life to art.

Did I say two things?

My son, no matter how much I want to give you that dream, of being able to do nothing but write for a living – I can’t offer it to you now. I don’t have that dream. I wonder if I even have the self-discipline to manage it if I wasn’t so hemmed in by shame.

God loves you. And if God wills it, it will happen. But when you pray to our Father, you cannot have doubt. You must know what you want, want it truly, want it for the right reasons (read: the glory of God’s Kingdom, the salvation of the unredeemed, and the deliverance of His people), and be faithful that God can do all things.

The Lord knows no doubt. He knows no fear, none of the vacillation that you see in this letter. He is not afraid of being shamed, He is not afraid for His reputation or his 401K or His marriage prospects. He is our bold and fearless King, who humbles all the wicked and proud of this world and heals the sick, feeds the hungry, and shelters the weary. It is our good and gracious God who liberated me from the lusts which consumed my whole being, our kind and merciful God who spared my grandparents from rapacious invaders and conveyed them safely to America, our holy and generous God who gave to me the woman who will be your mother, blessing me a million times in excess of that which I deserve – including by giving me you to rear and teach.

All the gifts you will enjoy, from your food, to your shelter, to your parents (hi there) to the nature present as it may be, to every single talent and ability of your body and mind – all these come from God, and they are purposed for His glory – that all should hear His Word, call upon His name, and be rescued from their evil. As our God smites the wicked so He also redeems them, saving awful sinners like me, who did only evil in His sight with no regard for good.

Our God – and I hope your God – is a delightful savior, who makes my heart sing with joy as I write this very line. For I know that a day will come when these worries will trouble me no more, when I will finally find rest when all I have known is toil. I love my God because He is good, because He first loved me when I was unlovable, and never expected a single thing in return but that I would believe in Him and look to Him as Father. And even these things are gifts from Him, to be given back to Him with loving shouts of praise.

I love you, son. I will write to you again soon. Please take to heart all that I have said, and treasure the wisdom I struggle to pass on to you.

May the peace of God be with you, offspring of mine.

Sincerely,

Dad.

Race to the Red Light

It’s fun sometimes, on an afternoon drive home from the warehouse, to observe the people who around me are making the same commute.

Fun is too strong a word. Amusing is more appropriate.

Watch the Honda Odyssey swerve across four lanes of traffic to go screaming down an exit ramp doing 65 in what will soon be a 35 zone. Take note of the open topped Ferrari driving ten below the limit, inducing the flash orange Dodge Charger behind him to cut in front of you with inches to spare, gunning it only to get stuck behind a dump truck. Or maybe you’ll be making a turn down a small city road past empty parking spaces when a girl with a top-knot and a frappe blows through those parking spaces in her daddy’s Audi A8 and nearly removes your right side mirror. See the Cadillac Escalade who in rage guns it to get around you and races towards the red light 50 feet ahead.

Why do we want to go so fast (the Ferrari notwithstanding)? What do human beings get out of getting 50 feet closer to home, at the risk of pulling a stupid and killing themselves with erratic, wild driving?

And why does this impatience carry over into the rest of our lives?

I can only speak for myself, being neither God nor one of His angels – but I know that I’m impatient. I have a decent enough job cutting metal at 12 an hour, and I’m trying to figure out how to get to 50,000 a year (preferably in two years or less.) I already have a contract to write adventure supplements for an RPG, but I want to have a publishing mill for stories and books. I want to marry my girlfriend (now would be nice!) but – I’ll be brutally honest  with myself – I still struggle day and night to stay above the temptation to look at pornography, praying to God for courage and resolve and for forgiveness and mercy to this dirty wretch down here.

Everything in its own time comes – for every thing there is a season, so sayeth Solomon. And like so we are admonished again and again in the Proverbs to lean on the wisdom of God and not on our own understanding of the world: (3:5) “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And do not lean on your own understanding.”

There is no profit in racing to the finish line, for first place in the race that we can run on our own feet of flesh and bone is death. Wait upon the Lord and run His marathon, and when your bones are all worn to dust and your flesh shriveled by time, though your feet will be tired, your soul will be rested. Wait for the Lord’s deliverance or seek your own salvation – one will see you safely aboard the Inheritance, and the other will find you bailing water out of a sinking hulk.

Worrying is like racing to a red light. God will deliver you when the time is right; why waste your gas?

Desire’s War

I am still too long.
Again and again it comes,
like a war in the trench,
volley by volley,
an unceasing bombardment.

I fight, fight and die to myself,
Time and again and repeat,
chained to my rifle,
red from the fire,
rhe flesh minions,
soaking the ash-blackened soil.

Leave me be!
I will not stand
your presence-your
moaning wail
siren call
hellbound hail
I need none at all!
I need not your defeat;
There are no seats,
on the train of grace,
for your monstrous race.

Away with you, witch’s sprites,
temptresses and idols!
I do not want
your cheap trinkets,
half-minute pleasures,
short-stopped sensuality.
Your attentions are delicate
like the spider entombing her witless victim

God has set aside,
this one for greater glory;
He will not be had –
Neither Him nor His servant!

A Guilty Mind

And here he sat, comprehending his own villainy, the muck and murk of human myopia and his fleshly urges to short-lived pleasures, all but castrating himself over his indescribable badness, refusing to qualify the foulness of his sin against such terrors as the kings of history and prehistory when suddenly the page spoke and said:

“Then confess if you’re so guilty. But keeping it all to yourself like this, obviously you don’t feel that bad about it.”

“Evil exists to be forgotten. When all men are dead, the good men will have gone on and left the evil ones behind in the place of no names.”

And while you might disagree, someone infinitely more important than you has decided you’re an alright sort of bloke. Without opening the door on unbridled hedonism, know that it really doesn’t matter.”

“You recognize the wrongness of it. Disassemble the transgression, examine and multiply its parts. Realize the brute pleasures come of someone else’s expense, virtual or real. And thereby brand it as the valueless thing that it is.”

“Move on. Giving up is only proving one thing.”

 

You can be a good Christian.

He’s already forgiven you.

So forgive yourself.

It’s Been a While, so Here’s a Game!

Something I didn’t make clear in my previous D&D centered posts is my absurd and self-flagellating obsession with modding. Tabletop games, that is, not computer games (which at this stage still overwhelms my capacity for code lingo.)

I find D&D a flawed system— but only in the same sense of a large hunk of unsmelted iron oxide. With a forge, hours of labor, a few watts of electricity for computer power, and the anvil of my desk (using my forehead as the hammer), I can make nearly any imaginable creation from it.

Continue reading It’s Been a While, so Here’s a Game!