Mysterious Eminence

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Location: Huaraz, Ancash, Peru

Having mastered the University of Montana's IYFD program, I journeyed to Peru with the US Peace Corps. Currently, I'm discovering Peru while living in the gorgeous Andes mountains in beautiful Ancash. Come visit!

Thursday, March 31, 2005

Answers to Prayer

Have you ever just needed to see God in the tangible? I do right now...So I want to hear how God is answering prayers in each of your lives. If you are willing (and you can post anonymously) will you share how God is working and listening to you when you need to conference with him? I would love to hear praises of The Mysterious Eminence from his working in each of your lives.

I'll start:

Lately, I've been a little "blue." I've felt very unloved, but sitting in church one day I could kind of hear God laughing. Obviously, no one else heard this little chuckle, but I did. And I felt him just say to me, "You think that I don't love you...Look around...Think about it. You have all of these people who want to listen to you and care about your day-to-day happenings." I probably started to cry, because I realized just how bratty I was acting, but God took it in stride. His grace is sufficient for me.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

InterVarsity Alumni Make Headlines - In a Good Way

This is an amazing story! Check it out.

Just think, what could we do for the people of Missoula (and around the world) that shows this much love?

And what about this?

Think of all the potential out there.

Monday, March 28, 2005

Many Happy Returns

Alright, I've had a crazy past two weeks so, I'm going to re-enter the blogging life-style with something I've wanted to post for awhile:

10. "I just don't feel called to celibacy."
9. "Did I tell you that my great-uncle was a personal friend of Billy Graham?"
8. "I don't see it myself, but people tell me I look like Michael W. Smith."
7. "What do you think Paul meant when he said, 'Greet everyone with a holy kiss'?"
6. "You have the body of Amy Grant and the soul of Mother Teresa." (DO NOT get this confused!)
5. "You know, I'm really into relationship evangelism."
4. "I'm pretty flexible--I don't think a woman should be submissive on the first date."
3. "Before tonight, I never believed in predestination..."
2. "Just looking at you makes me feel all ecumenical."
1. "I hear there's going to be a love offering tonight."

10. "I'm sorry, I've found someone more spiritual."
9. "I'm sorry, it's just not God's will."
8. "I feel called to the ministry...very soon and very far from you as soon as possible."
7. "I'm sorry, it could never work. I'm a sanguine and you're a phlegmatic."
6. "God loves me and must have a better plan for my life."
5. "You know, I feel like I'm dating my brother."
4. "At least I got a lot out of our Bible studies together."
3. "You need someone with lower standards."
2. "I think we should just be prayer partners."
1. "I do love you, but it's just agape now."

Yes, we do have a sense of humor. Enjoy!

Friday, March 18, 2005


It's amazing how busy we can get that we completely toss God out of our lives. Like it's okay with God that he comes so low on our list. I know he has for me lately. Not by desire, but by being too tired. What an excuse. I often put my excuses in the mouth of Jesus before the cross. Can you imagine what life would be like if Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane had said, "You know my disciples have it right. I'm too tired to pray for my disciples [present and future]. I think I'll just sleep and not go to the cross today."

What a loving God that would be. I don't mean to make myself seem so lazy, but I'm having a hard time not disengaging from the things that I know teach me about Jesus. Sometimes it's just easier to walk away from those things that are tough...especially when we've turned God into a job. I did that recently. I felt like I had some kind of job to do when it came to Quiet Times and fasting and ministry. But the question that I've come back to lately is: Where was Jesus? It's not that he wasn't walking beside me. It's that I didn't care. I had a purpose. But my only true purpose is to let Jesus do his thing and pay attention. It's pretty simple. So I'm not sure why I make it so hard.

Jesus is the reason we do everything. If we're not in ministry because of Jesus, we are going to burn out and find everything wrong with the world. But if we abide in Christ...He will abide with us. John 15:4 says, "Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you, unless you abide in me."

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Another Little Something to Ponder

Psalm 29

Ascribe to the LORD Glory
A Psalm of David.

Ascribe to the LORD, O heavenly beings, ascribe to the LORD glory and strength.
Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name; worship the LORD in the splendor of holiness.

The voice of the LORD is over the waters; the God of glory thunders, the LORD, over many waters.

The voice of the LORD is powerful; the voice of the LORD is full of majesty.

The voice of the LORD breaks the cedars; the LORD breaks the cedars of Lebanon.

He makes Lebanon to skip like a calf, and Sirion like a young wild ox.

The voice of the LORD flashes forth flames of fire.

The voice of the LORD shakes the wilderness; the LORD shakes the wilderness of Kadesh.

The voice of the LORD makes the deer give birth and strips the forests bare,

and in his temple all cry, "Glory!"

The LORD sits enthroned over the flood; the LORD sits enthroned as king forever.

May the LORD give strength to his people! May the LORD bless his people with peace!

What a powerful God we serve. Let's not forget who controls the universe.

Monday, March 14, 2005

Krusty in Christ

It's an old joke between my roommate and me, but when we first became roommates almost five years ago, we had an hour long conversation made from completely random statements. It went something like this.

"Did I ever tell you I could make fried rice?"

"I like puddin' pops."

"We should make leaf angels."

"Have you ever felt krusty in Christ?"

But our conversation was a lot longer than that. It stopped at the mention of being krusty in Christ. I'm not sure what the look on my face said, but I'm pretty sure it was a sight to see. We busted up. We laughed so hard for so long. Yet, the truth is I think we feel krusty in Christ more often then we'd like to admit.

I certainly felt that way yesterday. You know the feeling, where you just can't do it anymore. The feeling or lack of feeling that makes you give up hope. And you admonish God for sending such a perfect sacrifice for such a screwed up person. That's how I felt yesterday. So I started a new book (go figure - me read a book). It's called Becoming a Vessel God Can Use by Donna Partow. And it is really good. Here's a snipet:

"When I became a Christian," she writes, "I had very clear ideas about what my gifts were and how I could be useful to God. My attitude was: God has done so much for me, I want to do things for him in return. Now everybody stand back and watch me work. Unfortunately, my focus was on me and the great things I was going to accomplish for God, rather than on God and the great things he wanted to accomplish through me. Understanding the difference between those two approaches to ministry [will make all the difference in your life and ministry]."

I really identified with this quote this morning. I've been runnin' on my own strength for too long. It's time to get back to the heart of things, and talk to God. Let him take control.

Friday, March 11, 2005

A World of Ill-intent

My name is Ari and I'm addicted to books.

Hi Ari.

It started when I was young. I don't mean to pass the blame, but my mother was always reading. She read to me. She read to herself. She read to other children. So, I was doomed. There was no way to get past it. I was going to be a reader too. My sister is an English teacher and although it took her longer to get the reading addiction, by the time she got to college Siddartha and Shoeless Joe had converted her to the dark side. For me, the addiction came young. I remember my first novel was Grandfather Frog, it has since been the only novel I've read twice. As a freshman in high school I read Les Miserables, Madame Bovary, and Anna Karenina. I graduated to Dickens' A Tale of Two Cities and a whole new world was opened up to me when a librarian told me I could read for fun. What about Les Mis is not already fun? So I began to read R.L. Stine and other meaningless books, but I didn't stray from Uncle Tom's Cabin or Jane Eyre.

I was in college when I read my first Christian book. And it was a divine and spiritural moment. I was in Barnes and Noble just minding my own business when a book jumped out at me, not literally. Inside Out by Dr. Larry Crabb is still high up on my list of all-time most intriguing books. I bring this up because books can become a distraction for me, as one has lately.

I'll admit, the true crime book intrigues me. I was rivited by Truman Capote's In Cold Blood and could barely handle Helter Skelter, but fascinating. My latest addiction: Small Sacrifices. The story of a mother who tries to kills her own children (and manages to kill one) so her lover will leave his wife and be with her. Her lover has no intention of leaving his wife. Oh man, is this woman messed up. She's abusive and manipulative especially to her children. It really makes me angry. I just look around this world, and read stories like this that make me realize that we live in a world of ill-intent. Humans make choices every day to do what is right or what is wrong.

I read this morning on the Reuters web page about a shooting of a judge, a court reporter, and possibly a baliff who were killed by a man on trial. Yesterday, I read of the suicide of the person who probably killed that judge's family from the aryan nation/cult trial. Scary stuff. There are earthquakes in Iran, tsunamis in the Indian Ocean, etc, etc. What to do with all of this information? Sometimes it can be too much. Do we all find a bomb shelter somewhere, load it with food and water and start singing Kum-ba-ya?

Of course not. It's interesting to me that even before the events of recent days evolved, I had been studying the topic of "Why does a benevolent God allow such terrible things to happen?" And the truth is we will not know this side of heaven. Yet, I look to the "end times" with as much trepidation as I do anticipation. There are days when I long for Jesus' return. And still I agree more with the comments made by Rabbi Daniel Isaak, "The issue isn't 'Why did God do this to us?' but 'How do we human beings care for one another?" As a Christian, I could look at these tragedies as God's punishment (which has a Biblical precedent) or as a sign of the "end times" (the "signs" are so numerous, where does one begin?) but I would prefer to see it as a responsibility that God has given us to care for one another in times of suffering. I'll be honest, I do believe God allows suffering, but I don't believe he leaves us to suffer. Jesus certainly suffered (on the cross) and each of us, throughout our life, will face times of suffering, but the question is not, "Why did God do this?" It is, "How does God want me to respond to this?" How can I help my fellow man? Can I cling to my faith with the same strength that many Tsunami survivors used to cling to tree branches and roof tops? I hope so.

There is so much more to this answer, but I think I'll save that for another blog. I really want to finish Small Sacrifices before the weekend.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Where Science and God Collide

Charles Townes is a controversial man, but what does one expect from a UC Berkley Professor? He's said some crazy things over the years, things that many don't agree with, and yet he has now been awarded the Templeton Prize worth 1.5-million dollars. He is a Nobel Prize winner (1964, he shared it with someone else). He developed the maser in 1954 and went on to co-invent the laser. (Can you hear Dr. Evil laughing?) The laser has since led to many breakthroughs in medicine, telecommunications, computers, and electronics.

What's so controversial you ask? Well, Charles Townes was the first Scientist to state that religion and science had a lot in common. His work was groundbreaking and upsetting to many in the religious and scientific communities, especially in the 1960's when he decided to publish a paper on it. The following is from a recent Los Angeles Times article:

He said no greater question faced humankind than discovering the purpose and meaning of life and why there was something rather than nothing in the cosmos.

"If you look at what religion is all about, it's trying to understand the purpose and meaning of our universe," he said in a telephone interview from New York this week. "Science tries to understand function and structures. If there is any meaning, structure will have a lot to do with any meaning. In the long run they must come together."

Townes said that it was "extremely unlikely" that the laws of physics that led to life on Earth were accidental.

Townes said science was increasingly discovering how special our universe was, raising questions as to whether it was planned. To raise such a question is the work of scientists and theologians alike, said Townes, who grew up in a Baptist household that embraced "an open-minded approach" to biblical interpretation. He is a member of the First Congregational Church in Berkeley and prays twice daily.

In 1964, while a professor at Columbia University, Townes delivered a talk at Riverside Church in New York that became the basis for an article, "The Convergence of Science and Religion," which put him at odds with some scientists.

In the article, Townes said science and religion should find common ground, noting "their differences are largely superficial, and the two become almost indistinguishable if we look at the real nature of each." When MIT published the article, a prominent alumnus threatened to break ties with the institution.

In a 1996 interview with The Times, Townes said that new findings in astronomy had opened people's minds to religion. Before the 1960s, the Big Bang was just an idea that was hotly debated. Today, there is so much evidence supporting the theory that most cosmologists take it for granted.

"The fact that the universe had a beginning is a very striking thing," Townes said. "How do you explain that unique event" without God?

Good point. I recently read Krakatoa a book about one of Earth's worst volcanic eruptions, and I couldn't help but see the connection between God and science. To say one is without the other is to create either a very small God or a very ambiguous universe. So why can't we put aside all the hate, and begin to learn from one another how immaculately God designed and carries out the plan of earth. That he has made the human body and this great earth to be extremely diverse and complicated. And yet that he invites us along for the ride. God is not sitting in heaven fascinated by all our scientific discoveries, but that he sits beside us anxiously awaiting the times when the human mind manages to catch just another small glimpse of his majesty. He partners with us in the discovery of his creation. He already knows what he did and how he did it, but he's gracious to let us discover it too. Let's not forget who is the greatest scientist .

And congratulations to you Dr. Townes. This person salutes you and thanks you for being controversial.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

David was a Real Man

So here I sit in a random dorm room in Turner Hall. We are preparing for a very important moment - Gilmore Girls! I am still sick, so I recruited a few friends to help me write today's blog.

My two friends, who will remain anonymous (I mean this is the world wide web we're talkin' about), they have been learning about David. THE David, the man after God's own heart, David. They are explaining to me about the Brook Besor. It's a location where some important things happened in David's life. It is a place of compassion and mercy.

Out in the wilderness David teams up with King Achish of Gath. Together their armies go to attack Israel and Saul. While they are away the Amalekites take captive all the women and children of David's party/town called Zikleg. King Achish releases David and the army returns to find their village plundered. It's in this moment when all David's men turn against him and plot to kill him that he returns to God and asks for his counsel. So they set off to find the Amalekites. When they reach the Brook Besor a third of David's men stay behind because they are so worn out from the previous mission and tracking the Amalekites. While at the Brook Besor they see a man laying in a field and they bring him to David. It is in this moment that we see David's heart for compassion. He takes pity on the man and feeds, clothes, and gives him something to drink. As it turns out this man is actually an Egyptian slave of the Amalekites and he leaves David and his men to the Amalekites' camp. Where they take back all that they had lost. But the story does not end there. Upon returning to the other third of David's men, the two thirds that went with David don't want to give any to the men who didn't go. But David believes that all the people of his army are important, so once again his compassionate heart takes care of those he is called to take care of.

So what do we learn from this? In Psalm 53 it says, "Not a man, not a mouse slips through the cracks" (msg). David learned this from God when he returned to him for prayer and counsel after he found everything gone. And it is something he in turn returns to others. We experience God and so we need to share what we receive with others. Eugene Peterson says, "When we're living this life right, this is what happens. We pass on the experience, pass on the God experience to the people we meet. They experience what we are experiencing in God."

Thanks A and A!

Monday, March 07, 2005

In Sickness and In Health

I am really sick. I'm never sick, but right now I am sounding awful. I'm tired. I'm hungry, but I can't eat because I'm also naseus. Who doesn't want to be me right now.

There is nothing like sickness to bring out the inner child in all of us. There I was unable to sleep, in immense pain, naseus, and all together feeling the worse I've felt in years and all I wanted was to talk to my mom. Mind you it was 3:00 am, and I'm pretty sure she wouldn't want to be woken up in the middle of the early morning. I can remember when I was sick as a child my mother was always there to take care of me. She could hear my cry from one story difference whenever I was feeling bad, and it didn't matter back then...whether it was just a headache or I was very sick. And that's how I felt last night very, very sick. It was a struggle to not pick up the phone. In truth, it was a struggle to pick up anything and all I wanted was my mommy for a little comfort and consoling. But I resisted.

So I was in a bind. I needed something to take care of me, and I certainly hate being alone and sick. I've been reading a book by Max Lucado called Traveling Light. And it's a pretty neat little study on Psalm 23. So I found myself in the midst of my pain and suffering reciting "Yea, though I walk through the Valley of the Shadow of Death I will fear no evil for thy rod and thy staff comfort me." And he truly does comfort me. He is the great Shepherd and Comforter. And I found myself blissfully nodding off to sleep. And the great thing about calling up God, rather than calling up my mom, was that I'm pretty sure I didn't wake him up.

Friday, March 04, 2005

Reference Check

So I've been working at MCT for over 6 months now, and I hate to admit it, but I'm overpaid. You see I make plenty of money, and I often have plenty of time to spare at work. Now mind you, I'm accustomed to jobs where I'm overworked and underpaid, so this might just be a case of working a normal job for once. But it is a little jarring to sit around all day and check what the synopsis of the next Gilmore Girls will be (Luke and Lorelai back together - yeah!). Recently, my boss added a little more sustenance to my working plate, which I truly appreciate. I am now the reference checker for all future MCT Tour Actor/Directors. Yep, that's right, I decide people's fates on a day to day basis based off of what other people say about them.

A large part of my job requires reading between the lines. It means that if I hear someone stammer and stutter about a certain aspect of a person's character, then I need to keep probing until I understand more about the person being referenced. You can learn a lot about someone from sighs, mm-hmms, and complete avoidance of the question. Be careful about who you chose to be a reference for you.

Aren't you glad we don't have reference checks to get into heaven? I mean to think that your eternity could hinge on whether or not someone can articulate your good works or not, would be a little scary. Heck, we wouldn't even be good references for ourselves, because God knows all the sin in us. He reads right through our stuttering and stammering. Instead he gave us the ultimate reference, Jesus. A man who said not only will I speak up for that person, I'll die for that person. Wow!! In the midst of our blahs and mirkies there is Jesus who intercedes for us.

"Therefore, my friends, since we have confidence to enter the sanctuary by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain (that is, through his flesh), and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us approach with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast to the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who has promised is faithful." Hebrews 10:19-23

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Commitment or committed?

I guess I just want to speak from my heart for a minute about one of the biggest frustrations I face in my Spiritual journey. I've been a Christian for a long time now, and I don't know if I'll be able to handle one more person telling me, "I'm too busy" to do something for Jesus or go to a Bible Study or attend church or any number of other things. The truth is, we're all busy. I work 40 hours a week, volunteer 20 hours a week plus to InterVarsity. I then give another 5-10 hours a week to my church. That doesn't leave a lot of time for other things, but somehow God blesses me with enough hours in a week to sleep, study the word, pray, and spend time with friends. It's a matter of commitment.

I recently read a very funny and meaningful book called, He's Just Not That Into You. It's a dating book, written by a male comedian, but it's written directly to women. Here's the premise of the book. Women (men pay attention) if a guy doesn't do the things he says he's going to do, he's just not that into you. You know what the third chapter is all about? It says this, women, if a guy doesn't want to spend time with you or make you a priority, he's just not that into you. It's really true. Think about it. When is the last time you put someone you didn't really care about at the top of your "to do list." If you're anything like me, you haven't. So think about it from God's view. Christian if you do not want to spend time with God or make him a priority in your schedule, you are just not that into Him. How sad? But how painfully true.

There's an old saying that says you can tell a Christian by two things: their checkbook and their Day planner. Have you penciled God in recently? Have you given more than 5 minutes to him in prayer? What about spending time in corporate prayer with other believers? Or attending a Bible Study to study God's word with other people? And are you more than just attending? Or are you just the person who comes when the mood hits or their isn't too much homework. Sometimes we can act like we want to pick and chose from the salad bar of God. Mmmm, today I'll have a little Bible Study, but no prayer. Oooh, the large group meeting looks great, but I'd rather sleep-in Sunday morning and not go to church. But maybe I'll be craving church next week. Once again, if you can't commit to Jesus, you're just not that into him.

I don't want to guilt trip anyone, or make people feel bad, but God isn't a cosmic vending machine waiting in heaven for us to put in our time and solicit a favor. He's a loving God, who sent his son to die for the salvation of the world. What an amazing love that is?! And when you truly love someone, you put effort into meeting with them and spending time with them. You make a commitment. God makes a commitment to us daily, and he made an extremely serious commitment 2000 years ago when he sacrificed his son on the cross. Not because he was upset with Jesus, but because he loved us, his creation. And I'll tell you with all of the opportunities we receive each day to spend with God, it's easy to tell that he is just that into us.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Lightning Rod

Here's an e-mail from a friend that I thought would help others.

A lighting rod is used to protect something from the effects of being hit by lightning. Many people think a lightning rod attracts the lightning but in reality it does not so much do that as provide a way for the lightning to safely conduct to the ground where it will not harm something. In the Midwest lightning rods are used on buildings and while it is the building that is actually attracting the lightning because of its size the rod is place on the top of the building and is now the highest point and it will most likely become the target of the massive heat and energy from the strike.

When you are standing out in the world and preaching the word of God in such a way the amount of spiritual attacks you will be subjected to will increase. Simply being a Christian will attract the lighting in the first place, much like the building does, but when you are so passionate about your love of Jesus, you make yourself the highest thing around and you attract the massive heat and energy of the lighting (The lightning can be seen as spiritual attacks from Satan, the prince of the air). And in so doing you are taking the brunt of the strike and others who are not strong enough are able to withstand the lighting strike as well.

It is meant as high praise to be called such a thing! I know that the higher you are the more intense the strikes will become and so I pray for you. I pray for you to be strong. I pray that you are able to see that you need to fall upon the grace of God. Remember, even as a lightning rod is grounded into the earth where the energy it is hit with will be safely absorbed so must you be rooted in our Lord.

Thanks J.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Doing unto others

"...We have had the Golden Rule since Confucius' time. Our problem has never been not knowing what we should do. Our problem, rather has been that we lack power to do what we know we should do." Paul Little Know Why You Believe

That famous "golden rule" that your mother or teacher or someone else espoused on you, "do unto others as you would want them to do unto you." A truer teaching has never been taught, but people who actually do it are few and far between. (How many more cliches can one woman write?)

Let's face it, when we think about what we do with our lives a lot of our time and energy is expelled in entirely selfish and unproductive manners. I don't know how many lifetimes I've lived in front of the television or lost in a good book. I want other people to take time out of their TV watching and book reading and spend quality time with me. So, if I was really living up to "doing to others what I would want for me," I would put those things aside that hinder me from spending time with or praying for people.

Little is right, though. We know we should be taking care of each other, and in most cases I believe we do want to do that. But we don't trust the one who can help us accomplish that task. I can't even imagine how much power we don't tap into because we don't believe it helps, or gasp, even exists. God is so much bigger than our minds. I've seen him heal my mother of cancer, twice, and bring a friend out of a deep depression, for good, not to mention all the stories we read about in the Bible. That's a lot of power. And he is willing and ready to use it, if we would just chose to partner with him.

He could do it by himself. To face the cold hard facts, he doesn't need us to accomplish his work on earth. He chooses to allow us to be a participant in the glorious story. How great is this God, who did not create robots, but created humans he loved and gave free will to. We have a lot of choices. The first is to believe in him and his complete power. The power that can transcend to each of us "doing to others as we would want done to us." Let's start to ask for big things to happen in the lives of those around us, and maybe if we're lucky God will allow us to do some of the leg work.