Why I Don’t Like Easter

Before you break out the hammer and nails to crucify me, take a second to see if you agree with some of the things that I attempt to elucidate in this post.  When you’re done reading, if I’m successful, maybe you’ll share my sentiments.

With the recent passing of the Easter season, I contemplated extending an apology to all of my readers for not submitting a trite Easter post.  The type of post that says:

Hey everyone, Easter is here.  Now go to church to check the “Easter” checkbox.

Well, I thought about the apology and I changed my mind.  Although me not posting wasn’t intentional,  I’m somewhat pleased it worked out that way.  To be perfectly honest, the more I think about what we’ve turned Easter into, the more I realize that I don’t like it very much for the following reasons:

  1. Misplaced Motives
  2. Habitual Hypocrisy
  3. Easter Ends

 

Misplaced Motives

You may be able to relate to my stroll down Memory Lane here.  My earliest recollections of Easter were going shopping with my mother to get a new suit and a new pair of shoes.  I would spend all day in the barber shop (hated it) getting a fresh Easter haircut so that I could look like a million bucks when I stood in front of the church to recite my Easter speech.  Easter to me was more about a flawless look and performance than about celebrating new life in Christ.  My motives were misplaced.  Of course, when I grew up and accepted Christ personally, I realized what Easter was all about.  My motives and methods for celebrating Easter totally changed.  Easter became personal.  Jesus willingly suffered and died in my place before I even had the ability to know or understand that I needed Him.  Jesus subjected himself to the pangs of death.  He loved me so much that even though I deserved eternal death, Christ intercepted that judgment and died once so that I could live forever.  All of a sudden, the new suits and new shoes lost their luster when compared to Christ’s love for me (Thank You, Jesus).

I’m afraid many people still have misplaced motives when celebrating Easter.  This is a systemic epidemic within the church.  The message of the cross has been grossly abused, and we as an assembly have failed to convey and reproduce the power that is innate in its pure, unadulterated delivery.  The message of the cross is designed to initiate change in us.  Crucifixion was by far the harshest form of punishment dealt by the Roman government.  Even for the guilty, it was inhumane.  Within that framework, Jesus was led like an innocent lamb to the slaughter to pay a debt that He did not owe, and one that we could not pay.  The thought alone elicits an onerous emotion within us, thereby causing within us repentance, reverence, and ultimately right relationship.

 

 Habitual Hypocrisy

Another problem I have with how we handle Easter is the  hypocrisy that always rises to the surface.  Hypocrisy takes on many forms, all of which stem from one main motivation:

To appear to be someone that you’re not

The word hypocrite derives its context from the illustration of an actor who wears a mask in a stage play.  I think it’s safe to say that we have all indulged in our fair share of hypocrisy at some point.  However, I would like to cast some  light on a very specific type.  We all know people who don’t necessarily have church attendance as a priority on their to-do list.  Interestingly enough, an incredible phenomenon takes place every year on Easter Sunday as sanctuaries across the nation are packed to the max for an impressive display of liturgical pageantry.  Everyone shows up with their masks erected and dressed to impress.  We all know  and have witnessed what happens when you try to find these same people the other 51 Sundays of the year (they’re nowhere to be found).  I don’t have as much of an issue with this type of hypocrisy as I do with the next type that I’ll explain now.

It seems the people who attend church regularly, carry a different disposition, which I still categorize as hypocrisy.  In a nutshell, it’s the proverbial, “holier than thou” attitude.  I can’t emphasize how much I detest this type of hypocrisy.  The deception associated with this mentality says, “I attend church regularly, therefore I’m closer to God than you are.”  These people think regular church attendance alone is somehow gives them a special status with God.  Nothing is further from the truth.  In fact, this type of hypocrisy was the attitude that fueled the people responsible for killing Jesus.  They were so blinded by their own hypocrisy that they totally misjudged Jesus, because He didn’t arrive in the pretty “Messiah” package they were expecting.

Hypocrisy causes a blindness of sorts.  If you’ve ever worn a mask, you know that you lose almost all of your peripheral vision.  Therefore, when you operate from a hypocritical platform, you’re operating with limited vision.  How can you help others when you can’t see yourself?  In Matthew 7: 1-5, Jesus explains how a hypocritical slant can totally distort your perspective:

5.   Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.

 

Easter Ends

For Christians, celebrating Easter should be a lifestyle.  The concept of commemorating Jesus’ death and resurrection is vital, however, the celebration should never be limited to one weekend a year.  The Resurrection is so much more than that.  It’s an invitation to experience the greatest power known to man through a genuine relationship with the risen Lord.  When you open your heart to Christ, your perceptions change, and everything becomes brand new according to 2 Corinthians 5:17.  When you fall in love with Jesus, and truly walk with Him, you will find reasons every day to celebrate, because it becomes evident that He lives in you.  Each day that you wake up, it’s a day of significance.  According the Lamentations 2, God’s mercies are brand new each morning, thus proving His great faithfulness.  Now that’s a reason to celebrate.

In conclusion, according to Colossians 3, new life in Christ is all about seeking God and discovering new frontiers in Him.  By all means, let us continue to commemorate Easter Sunday, by allowing the power thereof to permeate our lives and produce a lifestyle of results.

Let the celebration continue beyond the benediction.

 

As always, thanks for visiting Wisdom’s Quill.  See you soon.

BE

 

Your Struggle: The Gateway To Glory

If you are reading this post, there is one thing I can tell you about yourself without knowing anything about you.  With a reasonable amount of cerainty, I know that you have a struggle.  Not just any struggle, but one that plagues you perpetually like an opponent that just won’t fall.  The struggle that I’m referring to is the one that keeps reappearing at the most inopportune times, just to fight against all of your best laid plans and your most optomistic motivations.  Whether it’s persistent illness, addiction, a problematic personality flaw, a criminal record…(and the list goes on); these things can make us lose confidence and self-esteem. 

But wait…NOT SO FAST!

Before you tap out and throw in the towel, I’d like to submit to you a profound truth.  One that comes from an authority much higher than all of us.  Consider this:

For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.  (2 Corinthians 4:17)

In essence, your struggle activates the perfect strength and ability of God, but only when you learn how to tap into it properly. 

 

God’s R.O.I.

God is proactive, not reactive.  In other words, nothing about you shocks or intimidates Him.  He knows everything, and I do mean everything, about you.  He knows all of your sins, struggles, and shortcomings (past, present, and future).  He knows the decisions you will make and your motives behind those decisions. He has even made provisions for you when you stray away from Him.  In fact, God has invested His most precious commodity in you…the Blood of Jesus His Son.  He did it because of your sins, and He is “banking” on your struggle becuase in your struggle is where He receives the R.O.I. (Return On Investment) from your life.  That return on investment is called GLORY. 

That’s right!

Right in the middle of your weakness and your struggle, God’s grace is standing by ready, willing, and able to make tremendous power available to you through the Holy Spirit.  The sooner you humble yourself, acknowledge God’s power, and receive His grace, that is when you qualify for more grace.

“But He gives more grace.  Therefore He says: God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” (James 4:7)

 

God’s Glory Revealed

I have been ruminating a very interesting question.  As a matter of fact, that question combined with a powerful message entitled, “An Incredible Invitation,” taught by Pastor Shomari White (Senior Pastor of Have Life Church in Charlotte, NC), gave birth to this post.  Consider this:

Why didn’t God heal Moses of his speech impediment at the burning bush? (Exodus 3) 

We all know that God could have just touched Moses’ mouth like He did when He called Isaiah (Isaiah 6).  But He didn’t.  Instead, when Moses brought it up, God’s response was:

Now therefore go, I will be with thy mouth and teach thee what thou must say.  (Exodus 4:12)

Of course those who are familiar with the account know that He did allow Aaron to accompany Moses, but that was not God’s ideal plan.  Upon closer scrutiny, I realized that this wasn’t the only time God refused to be moved by a person’s weakness.  Let’s take a look at Paul and his infamous “thorn in the flesh.”  I believe it is by design that no one really knows for certain what Paul’s “thorn” was, because it is indicative of our “thorns.”  It’s not labeled specifically in the Bible, so that we all can label it ourseleves, and know that just like God’s grace was sufficient for Paul; His grace is certainly sufficient for us.  Some may say that Paul’s thorn was not significant, but I beg to differ.  It was significant enough for Paul to talk to God about it three times.  Eventually, God answered Paul’s request to remove it and take the thorn away by saying:

My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness.  (2 Corinthians 12:9)

Finally, let’s take a look at Jesus, who was God incarnate.  One day as Jesus was heavily involved in his travelling ministry, he received a message that Lazarus, one of his good friends, who lived in Bethany, was sick and close to dying.  At that point you would imagine Jesus and his crew would have packed up and started the trip to Bethany.  Instead, Jesus took his time getting there.  Needless to say, his friend Lazarus died, and by the time he got to Bethany, Lazarus was four days in the grave.  Upon Jesus’ arrival, he was met with statements of disappointment from the grieving sisters of Lazarus (Mary and Martha) as they approached him and said, “If you had been here, our brother would not have died.”  I love Jesus’ response to their folly:

“Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live.”  (John 11:25)

Then, he proceeded to call Lazarus forth from the dead.

AWESOME STUFF!

 

Fight the Right Fight

Many times the message of grace is misconstrued and misunderstood by the masses. People filter the message through perverted, itching ears, thereby disseminating wrong information.  In no way am I saying you should just lay down and succumb to your weaknesses.  When your struggle ceases to be a struggle, then it’s time for a reality check.  You’re a soldier and your battle is in the arena of your mind.  That’s where the battle is either won or lost.  The skirmish between flesh and spirit is a heated one at times, but we have been guaranteed victory through the name of Jesus.  Paul said it best:

“I keep under my body and bring it into subjection…” (1 Corinthians 9:27)

The friction that comes from this fight within us produces the spark that sets our lives on fire for Christ.   As we humble ourselves, acknowledge God, and fight the good fight of faith (1 Timothy 6:12), we open the gateway for God’s grace and glory to flood our lives and shine through us.  God’s grace works best in the presence of our frailty, and shines brightest in the dungeons of our deepest struggle, if we choose to acknowledge Him.  This is why Jesus came clothed in grace and truth, so that we may behold the perfection of his person.  Christ carried the burden of perfection so that we wouldn’t be required to. 

I encourage you to speak faith.  Say what God has already declared about you ,and let this be your confession:

“For when I am weak, then am I strong.”  (2Corinthians 12:10)

Now go forth, and expect to see God’s glory revealed in your life today.

 

 Acknowledgements:  I would like to thank Pastor Shomari White, Senior Pastor of Have Life Church (Charlotte, NC ) for allowing me to reference his inspirational words in this post.  Thank you for living a life that demonstrates the power of the Holy Spirit.  You are truly an inspiration to me.

As always, thank you for visiting Wisdom’s Quill.  See you soon.

BE

 

 

Ebullience: An Acrostic

Evening brings the sun’s demise

Before my eager, sun-kissed eyes

Ushering in the sounds of night

Layering skies with Sailor’s Delight

Love is the lens that stills and captures

In a moment of time the feelings of rapture

Expressed by my passion for sunsets in spring

Nurtured by the peaceful panacea they bring

Captured by this moment, a word I seek to find

Ebullience is the word I seek that fills my heart and mind

 

BE

Copyright Symbol black Copyright 2014, Brian Evans for Wisdom’s Quill

Shimmering Salutations

Hello, Sun

I almost didn’t recognize you

It’s been awhile since I’ve seen you

My goodness, you haven’t aged at all

You look the same as I last remember

Me? Not much has changed

I’ve grown a little since I’ve seen you last

In whatever state I’m in

I’ve learned to be content

Even if it means

Not seeing you for a stint

The illusion of pain

Caused by the rain

Produces the grain that feeds hungry brains

So I’ve learned to need the rain

Although I must say

I love the way you shower me with gifts in spring

You spread diamonds across the tops of oceans and seas

For all to see

As they shimmer with infatuation

From the gaze of your attention

And it’s all beautiful to me.

BE

Copyright Symbol black Copyright March 2014, Brian Evans for Wisdom’s Quill

The Anatomy of a Promise

When I was a child, Saturday in my household was our family-fun day.  My mother would take my sister and I to run wild and play until our hearts were content.  We would go bowling, skating, to the state fair, to the park, to visit family, and tons of other amusements.  We would get super excited when Saturday would finally arrive, because we had something fun to look forward to.  Sometimes, extenuating circumstances would arise and spoil our fun day.  My mother would try her best to expain why we had to postpone our anticipated adventures.  Even though we tried to be understanding, the disappointment of expectations turned upside down would sometimes overwhelm our intellect, causing exteme bouts of pouting.  However, much to my delight, all was not lost.  As fate would have it, one day I discovered a powerful secret; one that I would like to share with you now.

 

The Power of the Promise

I know your ears are burning to know my secret…right?  Well, here it is:

I learned that when my mother promised us a weekend adventure, she took her word very seriously.  She was literally bound by her promise to take us to have our fun-filled day.  Once I discovered this secret, I would try to coerce my mother into making us a promise early in the week in order to cash in on that Saturday’s escapade. 

As I grew older (and wiser) I learned how promises really work.  I also learned that even my mother’s promises, as golden as they were, had their limitations.  Sometimes it would rain on the day that we planned to be outside.  At other times, my mother would fall ill and would have to take a raincheck on our weekend fun. 

As humans, when we make promises, they sometimes fall prey to circumstantial occurences. 

Enter the contingency.

A contingency is something that may happen, but isn’t certain to occur.  In other words, it’s plan B…or C…or D.  A contingency allows room for things we can’t control.  Therefore, the power of our promise is limited by the unknown.  Eventually my mother developed a strategy of her own, and started presenting the contingencies of  her promises to my sister and I.  If we planned an outdoor activity and there was rain in the forecast, either a contingency was presented or the fun day was postponed to a later time.

 

Contingency vs. Condition

God’s promises are not based on contingencies, but rather on conditions.  Contingencies preserve the integrity of our promises by providing other options.  Sometimes, contingencies are abused.  We’ve all been exposed to abused contingencies.  They’re called excuses.  Do you know a person that always makes promises, but seldomly fulfills them?  These types of people frequently make excuses and present weak, watered-down contingencies after the apparent failure. 

Not so with God.

Because God cannot lie, He doesn’t need a “just in case” contingency plan.  He doesn’t have to say, “I’m going to bless you, Brian…I promise.”  When He declares a thing, it instantaneously and automatically becomes truth right then and there.  As a result, once a condition has been attached to that truth, it immediately becomes a promise.   Furthermore, when it comes to the promises of God, He has placed certain demands on us to meet explicit conditions in order to activate those promises.

A condition is defined as a premise upon which the fulfillment of an agreement depends. 

Please allow me to wax scientific for a moment.

Generally speaking, there are two types of motive energy. 

  1. Kinetic Energy– Energy associated with motion
  2. Potential Energy– Energy based on the position or arrangement of an object

Picture this:

An arrow is positioned in an archer’s bow.  It is highly unlikely that the arrow by itself would be capable of dealing a lethal wound.  It must be acted upon in some way if it is to be directed toward its target.  As the archer pulls the string back, the energy in the archer’s arm acts on the bow as the arrow is drawn back with the string.  When the string is released, the energy stored in the bow (potential energy) transfers to the arrow through the string which sends it flying with great force (kinetic energy). 

The promises of God work in similar fashion.  God has attached conditions to his promissory words, and those conditions are potential energy.  Once we act on the promise, and meet the appropriate conditions, our action sends the promise into motion causing manifestation.  That’s why the words we speak (and our actions) are like triggers. It is so important to monitor what we say and do if we expect to walk in true power and favor.  Time after time I have struggled with saying the wrong things, via complaining or “venting,” instead of just simply activating God’s word.   

In essence, the promises of God are just waiting for the right person with the right amount of faith to come along and activate them by saying and/or doing the right things.

Will that person be YOU?

Ready, Aim, Fire!

 

As always, thank you for visiting Wisdom’s Quill.  See you soon.

BE

 

You: Under Construction

What do you do when you come into contact with “that person?”  You know which one I’m talking about.  The obnoxious, repeat-offender that can’t seem to keep their comments to themselves.  How about the person that feels like they’re always right, and never admits their own fault?  I’m pretty certain you have a name floating around in your head right now.  As much as you may hate to admit it, just like you have that someone in your head, other people may have YOU on their list of the obnoxious ones.  Hard to believe, isn’t it?  I know. 

The problem is, whenever there is personal interaction, the probability of personality conflicts will always be present.  Furthermore, depending on the environment and personalities involved, that probability soars.  It’s just the risk you take by interacting with others.  Scientifically speaking, it’s called entropy, which is the natural tendency of the universe to be in chaos.  In others words, no one/nothing is perfect.  Have you ever wondered why you have to clean house so often, or say the same things over and over and over again to your kids or spouse?  It’s all epitomized in one word…entropy; and entropy equals chaos.

When it comes to relationships, very little can be done to control other people.  However, there is one thing you can control, and that is your perspective.  Either you can view difficult people and situations as major sources of pain, or you can view them as God’s scaffolding preparing your life for growth.

 

Your Life: God’s Construction Site

Now, here is where you say, “Brian, what do you mean by God’s scaffolding…” and this is where I insert a true story to explain.

Because I travel quite a bit with my job, I have tons of time to think and observe.  One day, as I was travelling along a very familiar route, I noticed a construction site in the distance.  A building was going up, and workers were scaling the edifice like ants over an ant mound.  I also noticed a familiar site surrounding the building.  It was a huge network of scaffolding.  The workers were able to work at altitudes that would not have been possible without the scaffolding in place. 

Nothing spectacular about that, right?

Well, quite some time had passed and I found myself travelling that old familiar route again.  As I came upon that same construction site, I noticed this beautifully erected building that was now standing tall and majestic.  However, something was missing that was there before.  You guessed it…the scaffolding was gone.  You see, your life is like a construction site.  I don’t know about you, but I’ve never seen a neat and tidy construction site.  In my experience, construction is always messy.  Heavy vehicles crawl the site transporting building supplies and materials.  In most cases, it becomes necessary to bring in scaffolding, because there is only so much work that can be done on ground level.  By definition, a scaffold is a temporary or movable platform or structure on which a person stands or sits while working high above the floor or ground.  While God is building you, he allows you to be surrounded with the scaffolding of difficulty, so that the hard, fallow ground in your heart can be accessed by His Spirit within you.  If it were not for the resistance of difficulty, you would never gain the strength and fortitude to expand and rise to higher heights.  I believe difficulty serves as a heart-opener.  Just like fruit is pressed to unleash the sweet juices that we all enjoy, so our lives release the sweetness of ministry when we are pressed and broken.

God is the Great Architect and Master Builder.  He knows how to use difficult people and tumultuous situations to build you up and work for your good.  One of the most beloved scriptures in the Bible states:

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.”  Romans 8:28 (NIV)

 God takes all of the messy things in your life (your past failures, bad decisions, and set-backs) and makes something beautiful out of it all like only He can.  In fact, these things are designed to make you taller, stronger and wiser.  You can be complacent and  remain at ground-level, but at some point, if you desire to fulfill the command of God upon your life, the scaffolding must be brought in and you MUST grow. 

Therefore, embrace the scaffolding of difficulty as part of God’s building process in your life.  See yourself rising to heights and altitudes never before experienced.  Yes…that person is unpleasant.  Yes…that experience is uncomfortable.  Keep in mind that until you learn how to endure and navigate through the pain of expansion, your growth will always be impeded. 

 

YOU: The Finished Product

Scaffolding is usually temporary.  By the time the finished product is revealed, the scaffolding has already served its purpose.  However, in many cases, the scaffolding is put in place before the growth begins.  You can always tell when you’re about to enter a growth phase by the intensity of the fight in your life.  I know it’s a challenge during these times to remain encouraged, but remember the words of the Apostle Paul as stated in 2 Corinthians 4:17 (NIV):

“For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.” 

God is about to reveal what He has been working on in your life all this time.  He’s about to pull back the curtains of your life to reveal the masterpiece of YOU.  You’ve been surrounded by scaffolding while God has been working, and your life has been a mess because of the imperfections of your past.  You’ve been like clay on the wheel of the Potter, and have endured the discomfort of the Refiner’s fire.  Be encouraged, even though you may not realize it, this has made you stronger, smarter, and more tenacious. 

So the next time you see “that person” approaching, don’t do a “180” and run the other way.  Instead, stick your chest out, hold your head up and say to yourself…”It’s GROW time.”

As always, thank you for visiting Wisdom’s Quill.  See you soon.

BE

Indestructible Beauty

As I approached the exit of my workplace, I noticed the wind and rain was especially boisterous.  I was initially hesitant to proceed, because I didn’t have my umbrella, but then I decided to “man-up” and make a mad dash for my car.  “Here goes,” I said to myself in a futile effort to psych myself out before I tore the door open and began my sprint to my car.  The rain was cold and the parking lot was a muddy mess; as rivers coursed across the pavement.  Upon approaching my car, I saw a peculiar-looking object lying on the ground.  I slowed my pace, as my curiosity got the best of me, so that I could make sense of what I was seeing.  Much to my surprise, right there on the pavement in the mud and rain was a single, solitary red rose.  I assumed someone had dropped it as they were en route to their destination.  As I gave pause in the rain to take in the scene, the writer in me was immediately awakened.  Prose and poems permeated my mind because of the paradox I was beholding.  From this paradox I would like to lift some simple truths to share with you. 

 

Your Beauty is Indestructible

Have you ever thought about what makes a rose (or any flower for that matter) so beautiful?  Roses have the unique ability to captivate us with their visual and aromatic appeal.  No matter the setting, climate, or variety roses are simply beautiful, and their beauty is indestructible.  When I saw the rose lying on the ground in the rain, it caught my eye.  On such an ugly day (from my perspective) surrounded by such ugly conditions (rain, mud, broken pavement) this rose was still beautiful.  The harsh, external conditions didn’t diminish the innate splendor and appeal of the rose.  In fact, I would venture to say, the beauty of the rose was heightened, because the surrounding conditions were so obscure.   

You may be in an ugly situation today, with mudslides and potholes all around you, but your life is like that rose.  You’re amazing because God made you that way.  According to Ecclesiastes 3:11, God makes all things beautiful.  God is working on something in you, and even though you may not look like it right now, you are a masterpiece in the making.  Some of the most beautiful gems start off as dirty, undesirable rocks.  However, with the right amounts of pressure, heat and time precious jewels are born. 

 

The Beauty of Connection

We are in an age where almost everyone is obsessed with physical, exterior beauty.  Unfortunately, this obsession has perverted the true ideal of what beauty really is.  Furthermore, one may ask, “What determines beauty?”  I believe out connections enhance our intrinsic beauty.  You can tell a lot about a person based on their connections.  It is vital to know what connections give you life and fulfillment.  These are what I refer to as essential connections.  Three of my essential connections are as follows:

God

Family

Writing

I won’t bore you with a long list of what inspires me, but I encourage you to spend time discovering what those connections are for you, and the power and beauty they usher into your life. 

One solemn fact that later dawned on me about the rose in the rain was there was no connection.  Even though the rose possessed residual beauty, I knew what the ineluctable fate of that rose would be:  Death by disconnection.

In much the same way, when we fail to connect with our Source (God) and what gives us life, we wither.  Our beauty fades when we remain disconnected from our creator and our purpose.  Psalm chapter one illustrates what proper connection looks like.  When we remain connected to God through meditation and communion, we become productive and flourish in our seasons.  Remember, your life is a stunning bouquet designed to reflect God’s beauty.  Your external circumstances will never be able to destroy your intrinsic glory, because your beauty is and will always be indestructible.

I would love to hear from you.  What are some of your essential connections?  Who inspires you to pursue greater? 

As always, thank you for visiting Wisdom’s Quill.  See you soon.

BE

The Ghosts Within

Welcome to Wisdom’s Quill.  Please enjoy this original poem by yours truly.  Feel free to leave comments for discussion in the comments section.  I would love to hear from you.

 

The Ghosts Within

By: Brian Evans

 

Memories,

like ghosts of childhood past,

manifest in my mercurial muse.

Then, like vapors,

vanish into the air of my reality.

Some ghosts are friendly.

 

Like the ones that whisk me away

to eternal Summers and Dog Days

filled with June Bugs

and ice cream, homemade.

Then, away to late-night freeze tag

with family ties and fireflies.

 

Life was then a virgin,

not yet kissed

by the lips of demons in disguise.

Everything is pretty to innocent eyes.

Love was like snow,

freshly fallen and untouched

by the feet of curiosity.

Some ghosts are friendly.

 

Then, there are those

that carry a maddening haunt.

Like the ones that pull me

into cellars sworn to secrecy,

then leave me

to develop in the darkroom of photographic memories.

Some ghosts are enemies.

 

As vapors evanesce, leaving

their condensation on the windows of my reality,

I assent to this one brief soliloquy:

We are now, because of who we have been,

and we will be, because of the ghosts within.

SELAH

Copyright Symbol blackcopyright 2014

 

Published in Words & Images In Flight: Poetry and Visual Arts (Poets and Places).  March 2014

 

As always, thank you for visiting Wisdom’s Quill.  See you soon.

BE

The Chronicles of Marriage Part 3: 20/20 LOVE

Welcome to Wisdom’s Quill.  This is the final installment of my series The Chronicles of Marriage.  I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.  Feel free to share your wisdom with us in the comments section below.  See you next week.

I will never forget the moment I realized I needed eye glasses.  I was sitting in my college orientation class copying notes from the blackboard when all of a sudden, everything on the board was a blurred mess.  No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t bring anything into focus. 

When I went to the optometrist, he told me that I had Astigmatism.  In other words, the shape of my eyes had changed, and this caused light to be misdirected onto my retina, causing blurred images.  He gave me a prescription for my first complete pair of eye glasses, which consisted of two lenses in a frame.  When I tried on my brand new glasses, it was like I was seeing the world for the first time.  Everything was clear, sharp, and beautiful.  It’s amazing how acuity affects how we perceive beauty, and in much the same fashion, when it comes to love and marriage, we must have a certain level of clarity. 

 

The Lenses of Love

In no way will I even attempt to articulate the meaning of this vast and convoluted thing we call love.  Nor will I try to deceive you into thinking that I have attained a certain apprehension of the laws of love.  One need only pick up the treatise by C. S. Lewis called The Four Loves, to really understand how deep the rabbit hole of love goes.

I would, however, like to submit to you an unusual consideration.  It occurred to me, while contemplating love and marriage, that my eye glasses and my marriage have quite a bit in common.  You may be wondering how.  Well, they both have a frame and two lenses.  The frame of my marriage is love, and the lenses of love are compassion and calibration.  Compassion and calibration work together to provide the perfect image of love in marriage. 

 

The Lens of Compassion 

1 John 4:8 reads, “He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.”  We are all familiar with the side of God that loves.  We are constantly recipients of that love daily, even when we’re unaware of it.  As a result of that love, compassion is not a foreign concept to us.  When the average person thinks of Jesus Christ, and how he loves, the most salient aspect of his personality is compassion.  It is the overwhelming sense of wanting to help others.  Compassion is a sympathetic response to someone else’s needs.  When we say “I love you,” at some point it must love must validate itself by action.  In the frequented script of St. John 3:16, God so loved, and the corresponding action was…He gave. 

Our motive in marriage should always be to give to each other.  If each person in the marriage is primarily concerned with meeting the other person’s needs, then it creates an atmosphere of security in the home.  We should be able to detect when something is wrong with our spouses.  The lens of compassion helps us to perceive the void and then move into action.

 

The Lens of Calibration

The second lens of love is that of calibration or correction.  We all need recalibration at some point in our lives.  Correction can be a sensitive topic among husbands and wives.  Methods of correction can vary from external consequences, to internal resolution.  In the sphere of marriage, correction should be approached from the standpoint of calibration.  As a mature adult, we should consistently aspire to improve in all areas of life.  Growth must be intentional.  Relationships have an uncanny way of sparking growth in areas of our lives that would otherwise be inaccessible.  Sometimes, the only way we would know if a personal trait or habit was undesirable is if someone we were in relationship with brought it to light.  Certain traits may be harmless to you, but to others they can be afflictive. 

Marriage facilitates a certain level of correction or calibration, because it forces us to consider another person in all that we do.  Life is no longer all about you.  You now have someone in the passenger seat. 

My wife and I have a “No Judgement Zone” type marriage.  We are so serious about that until we made it part of our marriage vision.  We promised each other that we would always allow room for honesty (in love).  We talk about everything from what made us laugh that day, to what made us angry.  We talk about the things that we adore about each other, and the things that need correction or “recalibration.”  Since the correction always comes from a place of love, we both internally resolve to modify those behaviors within ourselves.  My wife is literally my best friend.

 

Perfect Love

Love is like a complete pair of eye glasses.  The two lenses are compassion and calibration, and love is the frame that holds it all together.  Correction without compassion makes the heart obstinate.  Conversely, compassion without correction spoils the heart.  When we put on complete and perfect love, we are able to see our spouses the way God intended for us to see them, as Christ sees us.  This is perfect love, and perfect love removes all fear. 

As always, thank you for visiting Wisdom’s Quill.

BE

The Chronicles of Marriage Part 2: What Penguins Taught Me About Love

Welcome to Wisdom’s Quill.  This is the second post in the series called: The Chronicles of Marriage.  Please come back next week for part 3. 

Love ever gives,

Forgives

Outlives

And ever stands

With open hands.

And while it lives

It gives,

For this is love’s prerogative

O give, and give, and give.    by: John Oxenham

The concept of love is multi-faceted in expression and experience.  If you were to poll 100 people for a definition of love, undoubtedly you would likely receive 100 different answers.  Why?  Because we all give and receive love differently.

The salient differences become even more pronounced when discussing how men and women express love.  As men, we tend to get a bum rap when it comes to understanding and expressing our love.  As I pondered why this was, and began to search out reasons for this paradigm, I came across an astounding model of love.  There is a fascinating species of the bird family we’re all familiar with called the penguin, which changed my perspective about a man’s responsibility to exhibit love.

 

Searching For A Soul-Mate

Is there a such thing as a soul-mate?  This question is definitely a hot topic of discussion, especially during this season.  I don’t really subscribe to the vox populi as it relates to soul-mates.  Most people believe that a soul-mate is a singular person that is meant for you, and no one else, and if you don’t find that one person in the whole, wide world, then you’ll never really know true love.  I do believe, in many cases, God gives us the ability to choose who we love, and based on that decision, we grow in love with that special someone for the rest of our lives. 

I am definitely an advocate for monogamy, and this is where penguins shine.  Generally speaking, penguins are monogamous.  Once they choose a partner, they stick with them.  Some species (i.e. the Adelie Penguin) even keep the same partner for life.  It appears that there are certain laws of attraction in play when it comes to choosing a potential mate.  We all have different things that we are attracted to, but there are certain common threads of attraction among the sexes.  Woodrow Wyatt once stated,

“A man falls in love through his eyes, a woman through her ears.” 

When it comes to finding a suitable partner, I believe it boils down two things:

  1. Prayer
  2. Attraction

These two things together act as a compass for finding “the one.”  Don’t make it exclusively about one or the other.  Utilize both prayer and attraction to guide you to that right someone.  I remember the first time I laid eyes on my wife. I sensed an amazing initial attraction to her that I couldn’t articulate.  It was like when I saw her, I just knew I had to meet her.  Our first conversation reaffirmed that attraction and the rest is history.  Thinking back to those moments, I ask myself, when did I know I loved my wife?  Was it a feeling?  Was it butterflies?  No.  Although these feelings were (and still are) present, feelings are fleeting; they come and go.  I knew I loved my wife when I chose to love her.  I believe when we mutually chose to love each other, we became soul-mates at that moment.  I chose to surrender to love’s work within me when I first saw my wife, and later realized that it was love in its infant stages.  One day my wife asked me “How do you know you love me?”  My answer:  Because I choose to love you.  I don’t believe in love at first sight in the traditional sense, but I do believe in love at the point of decision, which can take place “at first sight.”  When you choose to love someone, that is the most powerful aphrodisiac there is.  Choosing to love a person, just because you want to, is like Super Glue; it holds you together forever.

 

Submitted To Sacrifice

The penguin shows us a powerful picture of paternal piety.  Once the female penguin lays the egg (usually 1-2), she hands it over to the male penguin, and departs in search for food.  The male penguin incubates the egg carefully by balancing the egg on the top of his feet in a body pouch for up to 70 days. 

During this time, all of the male penguins gather together in a huge huddle and brace themselves for some of the harshest conditions on Earth while incubating the delicate eggs.  Temperatures drop as low as -40 degrees with shearing winds.  Huddling in a group is the only means of survival during this period.  While the female penguins are absent in search of food, the male penguins patiently await their return, which can take up to 2-3 months.  By the time female penguin returns, the male penguins will have gone a full four months without food, and lost roughly half of their body weight.  How about that for sacrifice?  This brings true perspective to sacrificial love. 

Sacrifice requires love, and love is an investment.  When we, as husbands and fathers, invest our love into our families, we reap love compounded, and this is one of the greatest returns on an investment.  Love always softens the blow of sacrifice.

 

Sensitivity To My Spouse

As a husband, I am realizing daily the importance of knowing my wife’s voice.  By voice, I don’t mean the tone of her voice, but rather the heart of her voice.  Can you hear what your spouse is really saying when they communicate certain things to you?  I encourage you to invest some time learning your partners love language. (Recommended reading: The Five Love Languages by: Gary Chapman) 

The 5 languages are as follows:

1.  Words of Affirmation

2.  Quality Time

3.  Receiving Gifts

4.  Acts of Service

5.  Physical Touch

When the group of female penguins return from feeding, they call out to their mates in the huddle.  Amazingly, each male penguin recognizes the voice of his partner when she calls.  He is so sensitive to his partner, that he knows the sound of her voice among the hundreds of other female penguins.  When we learn this type of remarkable sensitivity, I believe we will fulfill our roles as husbands, and become amazing lovers.

In conclusion, whether you want to admit it or not, your partner is a reflection of you.  You chose your partner based on your value system, because what you value is what you seek.  When you come into contact with that special someone who speaks to your value system, they become irresistible. 

Love is a choice, so let’s take a lesson from the penguin and choose to love for life. 

Feel free to leave comments in the comments section, and as always…

Thank you for visiting Wisdom’s Quill.

Reference websites:

http://www.antarctica.gov.au/about-antarctica/wildlife/animals/penguins/emperor-penguins/breeding-cycle

http://blog.farwestclimatecontrol.com/2012/02/21/the-romantic-life-of-penguins/

BE