Sunday, December 16, 2007

PAIN

PAIN

Pain is a tool that we can actually learn from. Naturally, when we are young children, and we put our hand on the stove, and it burns, we have hopefully learned a lesson.

But, when we are older, and have endured much more of life, our pain tends to be, more often than not, emotional rather than physical. How do we process that kind of pain? Is there a band-aid for emotions? Is there salve to soothe the burning dark holes of our souls? What are we learning from this pain that residually tears at the depths of our hearts? We might learn to run from it. We might learn to hide from it. We might ignore it. We might cover it up and protect ourselves, with things like alcohol and illicit, meaningless relationships. We might become the comedian that everyone enjoys having around. We might become driven in our work, our professionalism, or athleticism. Ultimately, though, none of those things will ever fully quench the thirst of pain.

Nevertheless, pain is a useful tool. Suffering will either drown us or drive us into the world of others...to see that we are not alone...that others experience pain, and when we can begin to see the light at the end of our dark tunnels…our cold winter's nights…that there is something to gain from pain. Yes, the growth in ourselves is freeing, but the ability to see other's pain is the reward. And, in this, we find an experiential gift to empathize and help the broken ones.

From here, we can realize how unaware we were of the larger purpose of our lives. We can begin to live for something bigger than ourselves. This gives us reason. Reason to live. Reason to avoid moral shortcuts. Reason to live a life that becomes a legacy. Something beautiful that we may never even catch a glimpse of.

Psalm 119 in the bible is a great place to explore. Fascinating adventures of the heart lay waiting for you in that long chapter of the Word. To me, a fan of the Chronicles of Narnia, it is almost like entering C.S. Lewis' wardrobe. Climb past the musty fur coats and enter the enchanted land! Psalm 119:71, for example: The suffering you sent me was good for me, for it taught me to pay attention to your principles....

I also examine the lives of faith lived through the Biblical accounts. Don't you see the pain and agony those people lived through, even under God's blessing?

Man, I look at the life of Ruth. Knowing the background and the culture of the time, I see how much that life must have really sucked! She remained committed to Naomi because she could see no other choice. She led a hard, hard life. In the end, when her story, like yours, turned around, she realized her blessing. But little did she know the complete impact of her life...leading to the throne of David, and the birth of Christ. I encourage you to read the Book of Ruth, if you haven't.

Well, thats what was on my mind this afternoon.

Don't hang onto all those old "been there done that pain and processing" T-shirts. Maybe it is good to keep some, to remember. But others, use them for rags, or discard them.

~ RBR, June 10 2007

Friday, November 23, 2007

No Stars Visible Tonight


No Stars Visible


No stars are visible on this cool, dark October night. The invasive halogen lights pierce through the concertina tipped fence outside my steel barred windows. As I stare up into nothingness, I become blindingly aware of the vast and incongruous expanse of the Creator's universe. There are no borders or subjugating walls out there. There is only infinite and undefined freedom. In the same way, I realize the true freedom I have within my own God-given soul. My failing heart and unmet yearning for a righteous life are not chained to my past or cursed by original sin when I finally give up my futile attempts to be something I am not; When I relinquish the controls I have so rigidly emplaced on my own concept of destiny, I begin to experience that freedom.

This Man-made prison cannot contain me. For the first time in my brief life, I am truly alive. I have committed my ways to the LORD. My darkness is overwhelmed by a righteousness that will shine like the dawn. The justice of my cause will be as bright as the noon day sun! I have been so wrong about so many concepts. I have hurt the very one's closest to my heart. I have let my guard down and accepted the bait of the evil one's snare. But, the Lord brought me up from the pit of failure and eternal destruction. God's just anger only lasts a moment, and although weeping may cause pain and restlessness through the long night, rejoicing is promised in the new morning.

So with that banner lifted high before me, and armed with a renewed mind and transformed being, what is the direction of this new found freedom trail? Where does this journey of a broken and penitent heart lead?

Anywhere.

Without fear.

Without bars.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Love and Cancer

"The disease of self runs through my blood
Its a cancer fatal to my soul
Every attempt on my behalf has failed
To bring this sickness under control."

- Charlie Peacock's (and DC Talk) In The Light

This early October Saturday was emotionally conflicting for me. This morning Ryan and I left pretty early to meet some guys at our church, and then we all drove to a small village about 30 minutes north for a landscaping and cleaning project at Rob and Melanie's home. Rob and Melanie and their little girls are moving from Germany in two weeks. Rob just learned he has inoperable cancer wracking his body. There is nothing the medical professionals can do. The doctors say he may have 2-3 months to live. Rob is only 30 years old. Five years younger than me. As we entered their home and began weeding the yard, cleaning gutters, and taking out trash, I just witnessed an amazing calmness. The daughters were happily playing in the living room. Melanie was focused at her tasks at hand. Rob helped us work. He loves Jesus and he isn't afraid of dying. He is sad that his kids may not grow up with him around. But he learned that he has had this cancer for about five years, so he praises God that his kids were even born into this world, and he got to spend at least five years with them. This completely shreds my already broken heart. The Air Force is going to medically retire him and will ensure his family is well taken care of. The family will return to New York, where they can prepare for this inevitable future. Our church and countless others around the world are praying for God's miracle in this seemingly tragic circumstance. I enjoyed being able to help them for a few hours, before I hit the trails for an exhilarating ride with my mountain bike club on this very crisp fall day in western Germany. But, it was difficult to enjoy the beauty of this world, when my mind raced so furiously in response to the many broken relationships that I see and experience in this vast world. Some relationships are broken by our selfishness and purposeful decisions. I know this from very personal and painful experience. Some relationships are torn apart by unexpected tragedies that emerge from black holes in our peripheral vision. I praise God for the many beautiful things we do get to enjoy in this world, but I am struck by the contrast of this family's ordeal. Rob shared that he and Melanie have been more in love in the past two weeks than in five years of marriage. I am envious of that, but my heart and soul cry out that they would have more. More of the good things of life. I suppose we would all live life with more purpose. We would become serious about our responsibilities. That we would become selfless in our relationships, if we fully realized that our lives will come to an end in this world. May we see that reality today. If you have not ever admitted your mortality and the wrong things you have done, if you have never engaged in a personal relationship with our creator, I hope that you do it soon. God certainly allows tragedy. That has been evident and inherent in man since original sin. But God loves us so much that, according to His written word, sent his only son, to become a mediator between us. He took the burden of our deserved punishment for selfishness and disobedience, so that we could have eternal life. I hope you will realize there is much more to this than some man-made religion to appease the masses and make us feel good about an unknown future. I know that Rob has accepted this as truth, and not as a drug to make him or his wife feel better. May you experience truth before tragedy. I love you.

Monday, August 20, 2007

The more you know, the less you feel...


Mountain biking with blood brothers was exhilarating this afternoon. But now my arm is throbbing and begging for antihistamine or amputation after it hit some high growing stinging nettle. An incarcerated friend I correspond with has a better attitude about life than me. My soon to be classic mercedes is missing its mercedes decal because a German youth felt vandalistic (I created that word).


Is it true that the more you know, the less you feel?

King Saul was afraid of the people and did what they demanded. He didn't fear God. Do we do that? We are more afraid of what people think, than what God knows.

Sanctus Real sings a song that professes the realities of my own heart condition. I am thankful for those of you that have stood by me in this past year. You are literally God sent and life savers. I want you to know that, because of you. I'm OK. I'm being real with you. And I'm going to be OK.


But, I'm not alright…

If weakness is a wound
That no one wants to speak of
Then "cool" is just how far we have to fall
I am not immune
I only want to be loved
But I feel safe behind the firewall
Can I lose my need to impress?             
If you want the truth, I need to confess   
 
CHORUS:
I'm not alright
I'm broken inside, broken inside
And all I go through
It leads me to you, it leads me to you
 
VERSE 2:
Burn away the pride
Bring me to my weakness
Till everything I hide behind is gone
And when I'm open wide
With nothing left to cling to
Only you are there to lead me on
Cause honestly, I'm not that strong


I cannot live behind a fa├žade of some character…

I can let go of the past.

But that does not relieve the pain.

Currently listening :
The Face of Love
By Sanctus Real
Release date: 04 April, 2006

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Disney Characters



I visited Disneyland in Paris this weekend. I helped my friend take his little girls to experience the old Magic Kingdom. I enjoyed showing his kids the glitter and glimmer of that fantastic place. But, man, it flooded back the memories of taking my own little girls on that same adventure six years ago. It was very difficult.

I could deal with 50 minute waits to ride on Dumbo the Flying Elephant. I survived It's a Small World (I can't get that song out of my head), but I must say that I least enjoyed the chaos of the masses that engulfed that place. It is in my character to enjoy nursing an espresso at outdoor cafes while people watching, but this was something different. It was mind-controlled madness. It was a cultural melting pot of people from all over the world determined to spend as much money as possible on worthless things. The food and language was definitely French, no matter how much they tried to Americanize every aspect of the park. The workers tended to be North Africans. The visitors were from everywhere. The thing that captured my attention the most was the abundance of apparent Muslims from Arabic, Persian, and Asian Islamic countries touring and enjoying themselves in this Iconic American Pageantry. Yes, and the women wore Minnie Mouse ears over their Hejabs and Burkas. For real. It was a stark contrast to the multitude of western women wearing barely anything at all. (see the photos and videos on this page for evidence). We live in a world that makes no sense.

But, all I truly perceived were lost people, trying to find joy and excitement in something that will never satisfy. I felt lost in a sea of faces. Truly, everyone in that place was playing a character. Not one person could be serious. I felt like I was living in a fantasy world (Yes there was a tinge of Rob humor mixed into that diatribe).

I would like to say that it is good to be back in reality, but it really isn't. I face judgment in three weeks. I don't enjoy that feeling. I have good friends and Jesus loves me. What else do I need? An adventure maybe? I feel like my life, this expedition to ascend my K2, or as Ken Gire writes, the North Face of God, has been called off because of bad weather.

"Isn't it Ironic?"
…sings Alanis Morrisette.


Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Traveling and Boundaries

I have been traveling a lot in the past 6 months. I suppose its a natural escape from conflicting and restricting boundaries that I have lived in for so long. I thank God for the freedom to travel. I thank God for his boundaries. Psalm 15 gives us direction for living in God's sanctuary. Have I met all of those standards? Absolutely not. But I seek that victory earnestly. God gives us freedom to win and freedom to fail. But, I am most thankful for the boundaries in which I know He sets before me, because he wants me to succeed. Psalm 16:5-6 reads, Lord you have assigned me my portion and my cup; you have made my lot secure. The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance.

What a promise! As I travel the world, from the beaches of Normandy, where so many died for my freedom, to the slopes of the Austrian Alps, the waterfalls of Switzerland, and most recently to the Artic Circle, I praise God for his wonder and awe. I am thankful, that I can enjoy this world within those boundaries. As I traveled to each of these places I was so keenly reminded of the hidden dangers that lurk around us. One wrong move on a slippery snowboard could have sent me hurtling from a cliff. Venturing too far off the path in Prudhoe bay could have brought me face to face with an angry bear.

I am well aware of overstepping those boundaries. I have reaped the ugly consequences and brought harm to many because of those poor choices.

Live within your boundaries. Love the lot God has given you. Enjoy life.

(and check out my latest adventure photos).

Tomorrow, Mariah turns 13. I praise God for her. Please pray for her.

RR

Friday, June 1, 2007

Deepest Disconnection

DEEPEST DISCONNECTION

rbr - December 2006

Disconnection

Loss of balance

A quest for prodigal return

Incomplete

Unsatisfaction

A desperate yearning to be forgiven

These are the

Deepest wounds

Incapable of healing

Unsutured

Always bleeding

No amount of penitence

Or compression

Will halt this

This lifeblood flowing

Out of us

Cynical

Finished with me

Running from every possibility

Unwilling

Or unable

To risk new pain

From these eyes

From this voice

Inured by the curse of shame

But, I, despite it all

Cannot be defined

By the worst thing

I have ever done

All I know for sure

And can believe

Is this grace and mercy

I've Found

Down on my knees

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Essay #11


Everything inside me wants to flee and leave this destructive world in the past. I have a faith in something I cannot see, but I am overwhelmed by the journey of life: the consequences and happenstance of it all. I struggle with the ironies found in the with and the without, freedom and captivity, self-worth and God's worth, lies and truth, fastidiousness and relief of all responsibility, ugliness and beauty, joy and desperation, goals and apathy, my hurt and the hurt of countless others around me, reckless thoughts and precise intuition, peace and chaos, loyalty and shame, obedience and simplicity…

But how can I wallow in such utter seclusion when I look above the horizon of my navel and see the plain unhindered reality of this world. I look at the history of people who lived by faith no matter what. A faith that overthrew kingdoms, ruled with justice, received God's promises, shut the mouths of lions, quenched flames of fire, escaped death by sword. In all of these circumstances WEAKNESS was turned to STRENGTH.

Then I see others who trusted in God, but were tortured, preferring to die rather than turn from God and receive their supposed "freedom". These people placed their hope in the resurrection to a better life. Some were mocked, and their backs were cut open with whips. Others were chained in dungeons. Some died by stoning, and some were sawed in half; others were killed with the sword. Hungry, oppressed, mistreated, they wandered over deserts and mountains, hiding in caves and holes in the ground.

And, all of these people received God's approval because of their faith. But you know what? None of them received all that God promised. What's up with that?

Faith is the confident assurance that what we hope for is going to happen. It is the evidence of things we can't even see.

I pray that you would also have a real faith.

Running with an endurance that doesn't come from my will,

Ciao.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Your Pain Realized in Me

April 2007: YOUR PAIN REALIZED IN ME

I cannot come close to empathizing with the magnitude of pain that envelopes you...but I can feel the cut and stabbing of your wounds ripping deeply into mine.

As you cower in your pain and hate, losing yourself in your world of chaotic retreat and exposed discomfort, I only wish I could remove it from you and make you completely whole again. I want desperately to consume and absorb it, to set you free to live the life you were called to life...to deliver you from this enigma of destruction...

Nothing thats beautiful hides it's face. Nothing thats honest hides it's name...

~C.S. Lewis

Now we see but a poor reflection, as in the mirror; then we shall see face to face...

~1 COR 13

Monday, January 1, 2007

Random Thoughts from Three Seasons in 2006

When your best friend stabs you in the back, do you forgive him seven times seventy times and become best friends again?

"Why is light given to those in misery, and life to the bitter of soul, to those who long for death that does not come, who search for it more than for hidden treasure…"? (Job 3:20)


My heart aches for the hurt of the ones I love. I also miss them terribly.


The eye is the lamp of the body…(Matt 6). It is also the window of the soul…

Does the penalty pay the debt?

My purpose: To do the will of the Father. Will I be sold out like Jesus?


When man is disconnected from God, the woman is disconnected from the man.


"Evil triumphs in the world when good men do nothing"- Edmund Burke. It says the same thing in James 4:17.


"Keep loving Jesus more than anything"- Jon Graham


God, I thank you for this current discomfort and disruption to my life. I deserve my consequences, and my hope is in you.


"You gotta listen to Hosea, and follow the @#$! Plumb line"- Inmate


ME defined: Who I am, not what I do.


The Apostle Paul knew: Suffering and pain are the truest ways, the only ways for some of us, to draw out that within which answers the purpose of it all.


ESSE QUAM VIDERI- TO BE, RATHER THAN APPEAR


Who can give a man this, his own name? God alone. For no one but God sees what this man is.—George MacDonald.