After Long Furlough

There are many ways to start this, except that for perhaps the first time in the history of my blog, I don’t know where I’m taking the topic today.  I sat down to do this because I haven’t in over a week and the backlog just keeps piling up.  The topic I was going to write about last time seems to be less pressing in light of another development in the past nine days.  Yet, I’m not sure I should take this post in that direction.  Perhaps I will give it a go and see what happens in the future.  Again, this is the choice only because it is more seasonally sensative than what I’ve been holding back on the past few weeks.

Two Sundays ago was Father’s Day.  It was a hard time for me and has been for a few years now.  I know it’s a time to recognize fathers and to show them we appreciate what they do and all that, but the only thing I have been able to think about the past three years at this time is the desire to be on the other end of the festivities of Father’s Day.  I love young kids.  I love playing with them. I love how dependent they are on adults.  I love the simple, silly, innocent things that come out of their mouths and show how their minds work. 

So on Father’s Day, Jason’s sermon was on “The Big Two” responsibilities of fathers, instruction and correction.  I was sitting next to Johnny Brunk in the front row as I always do, taking notes as I always do.  At the end of the sermon, which was very good, Jason asked all the fathers to stand.  Jason worded the instructions in such a way that if people hadn’t known it was Father’s Day, every male in the sanctuary would have stood up.  Johnny peered at me as if gauging me to see what I would do before closing his eyes and bowing his head for the prayer.  I remember thinking to myself about how badly I want to have kids one day and I stayed sitted even during the closing song just wrestling with all that those thoughts bring up.  Of course, for me to have kids now would be to put the buggy in front of the horses, as anyone can gather.  I wrestled for a while and went about the rest of the day, probably visibly withdrawn.

Then, this Thursday, I went to do some drywalling at the church before and during Worship practice.  The four year old C was there half unsupervised.  He’s a frequent play buddy of  mine and tore me away from my tedious work with joint compound to throw a ball backa nd forth. Next, we ran around the sanctuary as all young children do. We played basketball with the ball we’d been throwing and then weent into the nursery to eventually play baseball with the stand from a toddler’s colored ring toy as a bat.  To put it bluntly, I had a great amount of fun and so did he.  It is these moments that are so bittersweet for me right now, because of that “not yet” aspect.

Obviously, the “not yet” is because I’m still single, or just simply single.  yet, I was also reminded of that fact this past week.  A friend from church that I graduated with got married Saturday afternoon.  We’d been in the same college class our first semester before the experiences spiraled us into different spheres.  Still, another person I grew up with was married, joining quite a handful of couples.  I have always felt out of place at big weddings and funerals and similar gatherings, like a fish out of water.  I am a introvert, only recently outgoing enough to start a conversation with my friends, much less strangers, yet in a gathering of this kind, there were far more people that I didn’t know than there were that I did. This contributes to my awkward, uncomfortable, reserved moods at these events.  In light of the previous week, my struggle just below the surface raged on.

After the reception, I went to church to finish the drywalling I’d done.  About 6 o’clock, the Yost’s came to church to set up their sunday school class.  J and A wanted to “help” me with some sanding I was doing.  I told them it wouldn’t be the best idea, since they were still all dressed up from the wedding.  Nevertheless, J took the sanding block and began to rub it across the spot of mud I’d been working on all week.  A noticed I had a length of tape wrapped around my thumb and asked me what I’d done.  I told her about an incident the afternoon before at work where I’d been careless with a razorblade. She wanted to see it and I offered to show her the cut on sunday because I didn’t want to get drywall dust in it.  That was acceptable and within a few minutes, the Yost’s had left me to my work.

Redundancy rings bells in my head, as it did with Storms and my dream about snakes.  In this time, all I can do is cling to 2 Tim 1:12b;  “For I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that he is able to keep what I have committed to Hm until that Day.” Now, to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, to God who alone is wise, be honor and glory forever and ever, Amen.

…And Jesus Wept…

Saturday, June 20th, 2009

I was going to write a blog yesterday after work, but got caught up in other things and ran out of time.  I thought the timing was perfect because of the things that have been going on around me.   I had oddly had the urge to write it on Thursday, but again got carried away after worship practice.  Now, I think it was Providence that I didn’t, considering what has been on my heart last night and this morning.  granted, I believe that all things are providentially ordained, but that’s for another time, perhaps.

This past week I’ve struggled with a sin that has been a daily battle dragging on for many years.  I had thought I’d been granted victory in this area and then the temptation came again and I took the fall.  Most certainly a bit of a pride issue, but again, a side note to what I want to say now.  It’s interesting that I can always see a correlation between times of great victory  and getting into the Word and digging deep into it and times of struggle and eventual fall into sin when I’m not as diligent to seek God.  Perhaps that is the first great sin, but that’s for another time too.  (It’s actually in the works; one of those blog ideas I have yet to unveil because it’s not thought out to my standard)  If you haven’t guessed it yet, I’m saying that this past week I haven’t been in the Word as much, not sustained by Christ and His bread.  (I do this because I don’t want to assume things all the time, especially not here)

Needless to say, I was “behind” in my bible reading schedule, or at least in the Old Testament passages.  The last chapter I read previously was Ezra 4 a few days ago.  Last night at the SALT retreat, I spent several hours reading my bible and praying after everyone had settled down to sleep.  I read quickly through the next 4 chapters, until I came to chapter 9.  Verse 3 said that when Ezra had heard that the children of Israel had disobeyed God’s law and intermarried with the pagan peoples of the land, people God commanded them to not associate with but even further to destroy and wipe out from the land, he tore his garments and plucked his beard and fasted in silence.  In verse 5, Ezra bows in prayer to God and asks for God’s mercy on the people and confesses their sin before the Lord.  The first verse of chapter 10 tells us that he was weeping and the people wept with him.  Such was their sorrow over their sin.

It struck me that Ezra saw a great evil being done and, in the tenderness of his heart toward God, he wept for himself and all Israel.  His heart broke with sorrow over the reproach it brought to his people and his God.  At this point, I spent a lot of time praying about this and journaling etc, but I want to pile scriptures on this before I get to that.  This fasting and mournful prayer is a themetic sign of repentance throughout the Old Testament and a physical showing of Jesus’s emotions in the New Testament.  Most often, the fasting and weeping was first done by someone not directly involved in the repenting, but rather one who saw the injustice or sin being done and broke before God.

Nehemiah was the next book I read, after I was finished reading and meditating a bit on Ezra.  The first chapter is about Nehemiah seeing that the walls of Jerusalem were broken down and the people were in distress and reproach because of it.  The first thing he did was sit down and weep over Jerusalem, mourning many days, fasting and praying before the Lord.  Again, he saw his people in lack, in calamity, and his response was to weep and mourn before the Lord, praying and fasting.  His heart was tender to their need and he mourned over them.

In 1 Samuel 7, verse 2 says “all the house of Israel lamented after the Lord.”   Then Samuel said, “If you return to the Lord with all your hearts, then put away the foreign gods and the ashtorehs from among you, and prepare your hearts for the Lord, and serve Him only, and He will deliver you from the hand of the Philistines.”  This began a day of fasting and crying to God in repentance, saying, “We have sinned against the Lord.”

In 2 Samuel 112, we read that, after David had sinned with Bathsheba and she bore a son, God’s judgement was that the son should die.  David pleaded with the Lord for the child, fasting and laying on the ground.  Then, the child died and David went to the house of the Lord and worshipped.  His servants asked him, “What is this thing that you have done?  You fasted and wept for the child while he was alive, but when the child died, you arose and ate food.”  His response was interesting:  “While the child was alive, I fasted and wept, for I said ‘Who can tell whether the Lord will be gracious to me, that the child may live?’  But now he is dead, why should I fast? Can I bring him back again?  I shall go to him but he shall not return to me.”  Again, it is probable that David wrote Psalm 51 during this fasting and weeping.

In 2 Chronicles 34, when King Josiah was read a book of the law that was found in the temple, he tore his clothes.  In verse 27, God says “because your heart was tender, and you humbled yourself before Me when you heard My words against this place and against its inhabitants, and you humbled yourself before Me, and you tore your clothes and wept before Me, I will hear you…”  This began a time of seeking the Lord by all the house of Israel as the people repented and God prospered them, even though God, like in David’s story above, did not relent on the punishment he would bring on Israel through the Babylonian captivity.

I bring all of this up because each of these stories is about people who saw God’s judgment on sin or God’s glorious name being tarnished and in reproach because of the disobedience of His people.  In each case, their response was to fast, pray, weep and mourn.  Even Jesus lamented over Jerusalem in Luke 13, desiring that they would believe in Him and be gathered again to their Father.  I imagine that lamenting was similar to the emotion of the famous shortest verse in the bible–John 11:35.  The people around Him remarked “See how He loved him!”  Two verses earlier, John relates that Jesus “groaned in the spirit and was troubled.”

Back in late August, I was in worship, singing on stage and I felt the urging of the Holy Spirit to kneel.  I believe the Lord told me that the church was under attack, like the Israelites of Exodus 17.  The thought came, “Will you be Joshua and fight the battle?  Will you be Moses and lift your hands before the Lord in intercessory worship?  Will you be Aaron and Hur who supported his hands?”  By the time it was over, I was crying and had made a puddle of saltwater on the carpet.  I believe I am supposed to be the leader like Joshua, zealous for God and defender of His people.

Several Sundays ago, I had a similar experience without the weeping part, except I was only reminded of this thing which had happened back in August and the insuing events.  I remember times these past many months when I wanted to just weep, to mourn, to release past hurts and pain, but I’d forgotten how.  Last night when I read how Ezra heard and tore, saw great evil in God’s people and wept in the tenderness of his heart, My heart cried out, ” Lord, teach me to weep again; make my heart tender toward You.  Cause my heart to break when Your heart breaks and mourn with the depth of Your emotion; to hate sin as You do.”  God, help me to understand how Your heart breaks when Your creation choses to reject You in the way they live.  Cause my own heart to break in repentance when I choose not to follow You in everything I do, say, and think, but even more that I would desire to always glorify You with those things.

JA Menter

Would if the paradox of God’s Sovereignty and free will were only a matter of perspective? ~JA


So after almost a year wait, I have bought a laptop.  I wanted to get one last summer but school was going to cost the usual arm and a leg so I couldn’t spare a few fingers.  Even this year there were a number of hurdles before I could actually get it.  First, I was going to get it during the school year, in an effort to help with note taking and such, but the taxman took all my life savings at that point.  Then I had a bunch of expenses that required my attention once school got out, such as a new bookshelf and summer clothes and shoes of various occassions.

Tuesday, I went to the computer store and looked at laptops, having received my first paycheck from my summer job almost a week before, bloated with a few hours of overtime.  The first store  I went to had computers that were expensive and I couldn’t have really afforded them.  I went to my parents house to talk to my dad about getting the best deal and checked and then went to BestBuy.  They had exactly what I wanted in my price range.  In fact, the computer I was looking at was at BestBuy for the same price.  That was nice.  Now I had picked out my computer.

There were only two sales reps in the computer section of the store and so I waited for about a half an hour for my turn. the people in front of me in the pecking order didn’t really know what they wanted at all.  Anyway, I had to tell the guy four times that all I wanted was the computer.  I didn’t need to hear what it could do, because I already knew. I didn’t want to hear about extra services for assorbatant extra fees, I couldn’t afford them anyway.

Finally, after being on the hunt for several hours that Tuesday, I was in the checkout.  Unfortunately, checks were my only payment option.  Needless to say, the $480 check didn’t clear with my driver’s license, which he tried five times.  Next, we tried to set up a BestBuy charge account, but that didn’t work either. Without other options, they held the computer for me until yesterday. 

Yesterday, I went to the bank over my lunch break and withdrew $500 to pay for my new tool.  That took the entire time so I didn’t get to eat lunch at all.  After work, I biked to the store and slapped 5 $100 bills on the counter for the laptop. Still, I hadn’t eaten anything substancial that day and needed to get home to take a shower.  I was done with everything except eating by 5, which surprised me greatly, because I thought it would take me much longer to go to the store.

So, in addition to the new bachelor pad, I now also have a computer and unlimited access to the internet.  It has been said that I wouldn’t have the self-control to not be online playing games 24/7. I think that is one thing that separates me from a number of people. When I was 11, I saved my allowance when other people were spending it at my dad’s candy store. When I first got my bank account, I gave my dad $93 I’d saved up to deposit. In an era of sixty cents a week allowance, that kind of money was hard to come by.  Basically, what I’m saying is that for me unlimited access doesn’t always mean unlimited continuous use.  In fact, I won’t be on this any more than I was during school.

Lastly, what it does mean is that I’ll have the internet to post more regularly. Now, granted I still will probably not post just for the sake of saying I’ve posted. That’s not how I roll, as I’ve already said, but it will mean that the backlogged posts will be forthcoming when I decide the right order etc.

Finally, I’ve been labeled a bum by Joe and Dan. This hardly makes sense considering the circumstances but there it is.  They both say it is because I don’t have a life.  I’m assuming that they believe they do.  This “Life” that they have doesn’t seem to me to be something to search for and aspire to.  Joe doesn’t have a job but is in ROTC and will have training later this summer, which limits what he can go in terms of work anyway. He has a fiance that he spends almost every waking moment with, again understandable but it means that there is nothing besides that. Dan works two jobs, so he has that on me, but working is not what they mean by “a life” or Joe wouldn’t qualify.  Daniel also has a significant other that he spends a great deal of the rest of his time with, the time he’s not working, attending classes, and I would say doing homework but that has become a group activity. In other words, if having “a Life” means isolating yourself from the rest of the world and devoting all your energy and attention to a single person, I don’t want a part of it.  I have tried the isolating myself part and it’s utterly destructive. It leaves a bad taste in my mouth and when I see other people doing it, I wince at the knowledge of where it leads. That path is not scenic nor healthy by any means.

Consider this an excited tease with the hopes of delivering more posts soon.

JA Menter

“Can a woman forget her nursing child, and not have compassion on the son of her womb? Surely they may forget. Yet I will not forget you.  See, I have engraved you on the palms of My hands; your walls are continually before Me”  Isa 49:15-16