10.31.14

mark driscoll: psychology and the book

Posted in Uncategorized at 8:17 pm by Administrator

for the whole week before i left for vacation, i found myself absorbed in the news surrounding mark driscoll, the seattle-based megachurch pastor renowned for his writings, his preachings, and his straight-shooting style as head pastor of the Mars Hill Church that he founded. within the past couple of months, driscoll has been forced to step down from the pulpit, and congregants are quickly deserting the once-dominant church of 18,000. all of these recent developments have occurred in the wake of multiple accusations from lay and pastoral leaders of Mars Hill who have charged that driscoll’s authoritarian leadership style has created a threatening and untenable environment of work and worship.

there was something about the story that immediately resonated with me in a very sharp, almost painful kind of way. on the surface, it was easy for me to understand why. at one point in my life more than eight years ago, i also suffered personal accusations about my personal style, resulting in a formal review of my behavior and relationships. like driscoll, i was accused not of incompetence but rather of being unreceptive to criticism. in driscoll’s case, the accusations against him have gone further, to allegations of coercion, intimidation, and bullying, on account of his position of authority. i came out of my review largely exonerated, but i was profoundly scarred by the experience. and so i know that regardless of how driscoll’s investigation goes and how history judges him, he will also emerge feeling betrayed and haunted in ways that will plague him and shape him for many years.

but my engagement with driscoll’s story has gone far deeper than simply empathy or concern. there is something about the story of his ministry that has struck me as an important signal, a bellwether or even a sign in the road, that can help point me in a specific direction here at a crossroads in my life. for this reason, i began researching mark driscoll. though i’d never listened to any of his sermons before, i began to listen to some of his on-line teachings. i thought about him on the plane ride to italy. during our trip, i talked to my wife about my reflections regarding him and his church. and by the time i returned from my trip, i began to see some clarity amidst the sundry feelings and ideas i’d wrestled with. i became convinced of a few things, both familiar and perhaps new. i began to peel back what the story of Mark Driscoll’s failure and humiliation really means to me, at this time in my life.

first, i think that Driscoll’s story makes me think of black and white—and the gray in between.

from listening to mark driscoll’s sermons and reading comments about him, it’s obvious that driscoll is black and white in his approach to teaching the bible. similar to a lot of conservative teachers of the Reformed tradition, driscoll practices a fairly literal reading of many scriptures that pertain to doctrine and praxis. i think this has been part of driscoll’s appeal; his straightforward and candid treatment of complex issues has made him appear bold and uncompromising, in ways that attract seekers mired in the ambiguities inherent to postmodern deliberations. in this way, he poses quite a contrast to other pastors such as tim keller, who appeal to the postmodern generation by validating their questions and focusing on modes of inquiry rather than definitive answers.

being able to draw clear distinctions between truth and untruth is certainly part of the calling of a spiritual leader, and holiness is a central theme of the biblical narrative. but there is a downside to projecting utter certitude. put simply, someone who is always and ardently certain appears less receptive to dissension or to an honest dialogue about differences. i learned this the hard way. and when i first realized how my personal style was affecting others, i believed (not entirely incorrectly) the problem lay with my detractors, who were chickenshit (or “anonymous”, as driscoll labeled his rumbling detractors). it took me a long time, but i eventually learned that creating space for uncertainty does not have to equate to personal compromise of my identity or beliefs. and the more i tempered the expression of my beliefs, the more i was able to personally recognize where i had failed to see the gray area between opinion and conviction. i began to actively seek feedback on my style; i learned how to look for correction even when it was not offered. this was wisdom that came from repeated failures. i learned the lesson of jim collins’ “level 5 leader” by reckoning with my failures and coming to understand how my personality necessarily stifled the voices of others.

in the world of theology and ideas, there is a place for black and white. but in relationships with people, more of the truth lies in the gray. a leader has to be comfortable with the gray. he has to prove he is comfortable with the gray by placing himself in it—a place where he can publicly and repeatedly demonstrate to his peers and followers that he does not know, that he doubts, that he needs to grow.

second, Driscoll’s story reminds me that age and experience matter—perhaps even more than the quality of one’s faith—when it comes to understanding the nature of leadership.

driscoll himself admitted in recent months that he understood he could no longer operate singularly as the “angry young prophet”. in other words, he didn’t have indefinite license to rule by passion alone. a vibrant and personal relationship with Jesus Christ is no guarantee that one will learn the art of listening to and understanding people. a minister of God, just like a politician, a doctor, and a sales representative, has to learn how to handle tough relationships and tough situations by experiencing them, reflecting on them, and changing as a result of them. it’s good old age and experience; there is no substitute for those things, when it comes to the nature of leadership. God can strike you blind and knock you off your horse; but mountain-moving faith won’t make you a better counselor or friend. you’ve got to learn that by growing alongside real people.

driscoll is a young 43 year old man. this might be one of his few true watershed moments he’s had, and it might be the moment that ends one stage of his life and begins the next. i’m a real believer in the life stage paradigm; and i think driscoll’s prime years lie ahead of him. but for now, he needs to heal. he has some hard work ahead of him, and much of that work lies in meditating on the criticisms that were leveled against him, seeing the truth in some of those hard words, and piecing together a plan for deep personal change with the help of a counselor or a therapist.

third, and most importantly, Driscoll’s story convinces me that psychological insights are highly relevant to the work of the pulpit, whether it lies in preaching, counseling others, or examining oneself.

i was impressed that at one moment during his interview with kevin miller, driscoll forwardly dismissed miller’s paradigm as driven by a bias toward psychology. driscoll insisted that hell is a biblical truth, and he implied that anyone who dips into counter-theories must have an agenda rooted in secular thinking.

the trouble with dismissing the contribution of external disciplines to the interpretation of the Bible is that one can fail to accurately assess the personal biases that impact one’s own hermaneutic. i think it’s reasonable to suggest that there may be a relationship here between driscoll’s approach to scriptural interpretation and to his self-interpretation. as he allowed no nuances or relativities in his approach to the text, neither did he ever appear to seriously consider any assessments of himself other than his own. psychology, in its focus on modes of interaction and perception, always matters very deeply in life and in ministry, because the one constraint one can never escape in his pursuit of the truth is his own mind, shaped and oriented as it has been by his upbringing, traumas, experiences, and personal fears.

to me, mark driscoll’s crisis on the one hand signals the necessary transition all people face as they move from one life stage to the next. on the other hand, his crisis is the postmodern crisis of our times: a reflection of our need to allow ambiguity, doubt, and critical reflection to permeate our ongoing dialogue about the scriptural truths, however difficult that may be.

10.30.14

post-trip reflections

Posted in Uncategorized at 1:30 pm by Administrator

there are a number of things that i gave some thought to while i was away. i’m going to write a bit about mark driscoll, Old World catholicism, and american psychology in future entries. but for this entry, i’ll just put out some very raw observations, as i’m in a raw state of mind after all the fury and bustle of travel…

i managed to scrape up enough italian before the trip to actually engage in conversation with locals. i quickly learned that is a bad idea. i was out of my depth after the 2nd or 3rd layer of conversation, and even more interestingly, the whole nature of conversation became noticeably more brusque the more we ventured away from english. for a lot of italy’s small towns that are entirely dependent on international tourism to survive, english is their language of service and gentility. i was not putting them at an inconvenience when i spoke english; i was merely defining the rules of engagement. thus, by my 4th day in italy, i was more than happy to use English exclusively, and in fact i was frequently complimented on the quality of my English—this being something of a novelty when it comes to tourists of the east asian variety.

as cynical as i have recently been of americanisms, i have to say that i came away from the trip with a generally more favorable view of americans, specifically in their behavior as tourists. the american tourists we encountered, witnessed, and even spent time with were classically american in the usual ways. they were voluble, ingenuous, assertive, and demonstrably in love with everything italian. the italians loved it. they had a dynamic with the american tourists that was synergistic; american enthusiasm brought out their cheery best. by contrast, i saw them somewhat more subdued if not frankly stupefied by asians, africans, and certain europeans. i was struck by this observation: native hosts like to know the expectations of their guests, and american tourists are simply easier to please.

of the three regions we visited (amalfi, rome, and tuscany), tuscany seemed most ardent in their particular way of life. in some towns on the amalfi coast, the international tourists outnumbered the locals 5:1, and rome was so stereotypically protean in its offerings, but Firenze, despite its heavy traffic of tourists, seemed capable of absorbing outsiders without compromising its distinct character. i found this true even in the smaller towns of Tuscany, where we found ourselves utter strangers among the men and women who manned the stalls and worked the fields. everything in italy was unique and uniquely beautiful, but Tuscany is where i lost myself, in that most pleasurable manner of self-loss.

better than the wine and the pastas were the cheeses, which was problematic given my lactose intolerance, but i indulged myself regardless and chose to enjoy my subsequent regularity. the lustrous softness of soft cheeses and the poignant sharpness of others piqued my palate in a way that was delightfully unfamiliar. i’m accustomed to overwhelming my tongue with strong tastes—hot peppers, fermented cabbage, salsas, sriracha—and italian food was relatively bland in comparison. but where there were subtleties to be appreciated, i thoroughly enjoyed the cheeses. i drank wine and nibbled on breads so that i could enjoy the cheeses. not that that italian wines were so bad; but i’m just not a wine person. i would gladly have taken home italian cheeses just so that i could nibble on them with a cognac or a good scotch whiskey.

i’ve never taken a trip like this before, and it’s already a painfully fond memory. my single favorite experience was a private boat tour of the island of capri; but my day alone roaming through the galleria degli uffizi may prove to be as memorable. my wife and i were so captivated throughout the trip that we barely were aware of each other, must less reflective about our ten years together. on the other hand, we were virtually inseparable during the journey, and that is something we’ve never experienced before, and of course her unceasing companionship was truly what made each experience as profoundly enjoyable as it was.

the trip changed me, but i’m not sure exactly how. i’ll be reflecting on that in future entries, as there were certain things i found myself meditating on in italy that gave me fresh insight into my personal struggles and ambitions. but all that is rational processing. as i wrote in my journal on my last day there, i did not go to italy to escape my life; but my time there made it impossible in a way for me to return. i returned with a mandate, however vague and unrefined, to make a new home for myself here, to put an end to the mechanistic and torturous transactions of my daily living, and to experience more of what i love in the things that i love.

i am thankful to God, who let me experience these things. as always, i hinge upon and revolve around every little thing He gives me; and in italy, He gave me so much

10.28.14

a chosen thing

Posted in Uncategorized at 9:19 pm by Administrator

if there were something i should remember,
in that intimate kind of remembering
like the immersion of total embrace,
it ought to be this:

green seas lapping against rock cliffs
where sun-darkened men perch in the grottos and crags,
lazily drawing in fishing lines that seem like anchors
for their listless ruminations.

the mind cannot be told what to remember.
i will forget these things,
it cannot be helped.

our captain points out the villas upon the heights
and famed sea stacks that rise, like the knuckles
of capri’s fingers spread beneath the waters.

what is it about this place that makes me feel
so vastly removed from it all, from the land
and from the all the things i have imagined to be real
beyond these shores?

in mid-afternoon, our boat comes to an idling
by a tiny beach of broken rocks
and innumerable green and gray shells.

my wife descends into the water;
it is cold, but quickly delightful.
she tosses back her head with pleasure
and beckons me to come in.

i stand at the edge of the little boat’s baked wooden deck,
the sun at my back pressing upon me
but i cannot bring myself to dive in.

i am like the men in the times of Tiberius, so long ago,
waiting on the high cliffs to be thrown to their deaths
upon these very same green shores.

i am only a step away, but transfixed
miles or even years removed from the waters beneath.
this, of all moments, becomes the thing i recall:

the sun and its heat,
the water i cannot feel
except in the wishing.

10.11.14

stuck

Posted in Uncategorized at 6:29 pm by Administrator

i’m at a point in my life where i need a good book. i’m not talking about a good read. i’m talking about a story that can help me refocus my journey.

there’s something inside of me, like a clock or a timer, that tells me when i’ve been going down a dead-end road for too long, and i feel it nowadays. the job is wearing on me; i’m not feeling vital or interested in my various communities; and i’m not exploring new opportunities of any kinds. i’m rehearsing a lot of old, vague philosophical objections to various social and political things that really are not worth my time. that’s a bad place for me to be in. it’s not a state of depression, like what i experienced unremittingly five years ago. but i’m on a path that might go there eventually. i feel it, and i feel the need to be cracked open and to be transformed. i can sense that God wants me to change. He wants me not only to feel differently about the state of grace i exist in but also to see life and opportunity in things that matter to Him.

for me, it’s invariably books and the ideas they contain that allow me to break through. the lessons i learn from relationships tend to accumulate in all the familiar mental boxes i customarily maintain, and i can’t see their relevance or potential until i empty out those boxes, read the pages for the blueprints that they are, and build out the new rooms that they prescribe. that’s the birkman blue; i’m a man that can learn on the fly, but i’m a man who won’t really get better at living or working until i engage in deep reflection. books take me there.

on this gray and foggy morning, my mind wanders back through the murk of the imprecise and blurry progressions of things to those rare and remarkably clear moments when i surfaced from a book and found myself changed:

Joshua, by Girzone: my Sunday School teacher Linda gave me this book when i was in the fifth grade. she gave it to me because she thought of me as a child with a special mind. i read it because i believed in her belief in me. the book transformed me; it set me against the church as i knew it, and it planted in me the dream of a church as it ought to be. i became self-aware in my religiosity; i owned my marginality.

Untitled, by Thomas Kim: my friend Tom published an autobiographical poem in the high school literary journal during his senior year (my sophomore year), and it remains one of my favorite poems of all time. there are still so many phrases and turns from the poem that i remember with great feeling, but the moment i remember most profoundly is there at the very end—two dichotomous, bold personalities suddenly converging within the soul of a single child, whom we find grieving and very much alone.

Night, by Wiesel: my 11th grade English class with Ms. Wanner remains one of my favorite classes of all time, as it was an exploration of literature that expressed conscientious protest of various kinds. Night was the most formative for me. it took me, as achingly discontent as i was, and it focused my discontent into an anger that i could harness and name. it is a passion that has continued to fuel me even to the present day.

One Dimensional Man, by Marcuse: this book and Kingston’s Tripmaster Monkey are the two books i remember most from my college days. every idea in the book, but particularly the idea of repressive desublimation, struck me as not only relevant but also resonatingly true. the book didn’t so much turn me onto marxism as it made me consider the psychological impact of advertising, programmed education, and propaganda—a line of thinking that laid the foundation for my eventual protest against advertising and its customary vehicles (i.e. television, internet social networks, the “news”).

The Amber Spyglass, by Pullman: i tell people nowadays that no book better captures the postmodern rejection of Christian ideals than Pullman’s masterpiece, the third book of his Golden Compass trilogy. i credit my friend paul min for introducing me to the series, which i read in 2002. the books gave me a language for my felt unease with Christianity as i had experienced it up to that point; and i credit the “Republic of Heaven” ideal for driving me toward a fundamental reconsideration of Christian theology and the nature of God.

From Beirut to Jerusalem, by Friedman: Friedman’s masterpiece became an important point of reference for me in understanding both a regional conflict and a spiritual reality—a futility inescapably inherent to our ways.

Good to Great, by Collins: at a very difficult and confusing time in my life, Collins’ book about leadership and organizational culture helped me to break through to a vital sense of personal purpose in my work life.

10.08.14

the power of speech

Posted in Uncategorized at 11:21 pm by Administrator

i’ve been impressed by three recent news stories and specifically by how they really reflect the importance of speech, both written and spoken, in establishing influence. the three stories are 1) Maher’s “Real Time” panel on Islam, 2) Roxanne Jones’s opinion piece on Raven-Simone, and 3) Leon Panetta’s critique of the President’s leadership style.

1. Bill Maher debates with Ben Affleck; Sam Harris calls Islam “the mother load of bad ideas”

the content of the debate deserves a separate entry, but what i found most intriguing about the clip i watched was the quality of speech practiced by the panel participants—and how that quality affected the course of the discussion. Bill Maher is a consummate emcee; his affect is expansive, and his smile and mannerism are tolerably self-indulgent. he has a way of responding to someone that engages the broader audience while instantly marginalizing his conversation partner. the audience gravitates to maher because of his confidence and unflappability. his keen and commanding presence as well as his authoritative personality lend him a voice that never fails to dominate the conversation. and for any comment he makes that isn’t flush with cynicism, we find ourselves applauding—regardless of the content of his statements—because we instinctively need to reward his occasional (and seemingly vulnerable) moments of sincerity.

maher gets plenty of applause on his show for unsubstantiated judgments and questionable opinions, and i get why. we sympathize with a liberal who is unafraid to challenge authority figures and make fun of the things that we have no power over. on his last show, maher got plenty of applause for asserting that Islam is a religion that encourages violence and oppression. and he set up these controversial comments in such a way that the burden of proof lay with his opponents in the debate—Affleck and Kristof—in their disagreements with his sweeping generalizations. maher appealed to common sense, and he’s good at making that kind of appeal because his style lends itself to the vague but nevertheless compelling inclusion of “every man”. when he lays down the gauntlet in this courtly and rather grandiose way, his opponents are left to reckon not merely with his logic (which can be tenuous) but also with the energy of his audience, which he unfailingly rallies to his position.

in the wake of this bullying, affleck seemed futile in his efforts to articulate a consistent line of reasoning. he was allowed to complete fewer than half of his sentences; he appeared hunched over, worked up, and often barely under control. kristof was able to articulate one point edge-wise, but his point was too subtle and too dispassionately delivered to stem the momentum behind Maher’s (and Harris’s) arguments. the tempo of argument was so one-sided that Affleck and Kristof really could not respond to Harris’s absolute bomb of a statement (”Islam… is the mother load of bad ideas”) with the reaction it might have otherwise deserved: outrage and indignation.

Maher’s show is theater, obviously, but one must recognize that ideas prevail and exert influence through moments like these. style, personality, and polemics—they are intertwined, and in all the forums that affect public opinion, it is the debater who can create culture or turn its tide, depending on his talent at advocacy.

2. Raven-Simone tells Oprah she is a colorless American; Roxanne Jones writes that Raven is black.

Raven’s point was pretty simple, i imagine. she doesn’t want to be thought of as “African-American” because she doesn’t think of herself as African. but she went a step further, when she asserted that an American is a “colorless person”. disputing the validity or reality of color was not Raven’s main point; but by asserting that American identity is “colorless”, she opened herself conveniently to attacks by people with an agenda. enter Roxanne Jones.

Jones argues a point no less compelling: that being “black American” is nothing to be ashamed of. she does step into somewhat controversial territory herself when she suggests that personal identity is necessarily determined by social constructions (i.e. if history and society accord importance to the color of your skin, then you have no choice but to be defined by it). Jones skillfully and eloquently reaches into her own family’s history in America to substantiate her argument that generations of black Americans have been determined by race even more than by their nationality. Jones’s response to Raven-Simone sounds compelling if not authoritatively matriarchal, until one recognizes that Jones’s response is entirely tangential to Raven’s point. Raven is not expressing shame at being black American; Raven simply does not identify herself as African-American.

people use the comments of others as paper tigers or straw men all the time. it’s brilliantly practiced in politics, where comments are routinely taken out of context so as to emphasize a subtle (or perhaps false) distinction between two competitors. it’s an unfortunate use of speech, in my opinion. raven-simone, for instance, will now have to respond to black Americans who are wondering why she is ashamed of being black; maybe she’ll be labeled an Uncle Tom, or maybe she’ll be marginalized for disrespecting her roots. that’s how quickly the art of polemic can undermine a public figure. all it requires is a calculated misrepresentation and a skillfully worded critique, and all of a sudden you are no longer in control of your own ideas.

3. Leon Panetta criticizes the President for relying “on the logic of his presentation”. to do America’s most important job, “you have to push people”.

i’ve previously written about my reaction to Obama’s public persona. i really like him. but i also find him polished and a bit too cool. when a guttural or emotional reaction seems warranted, he’s crisp and refined. when he addresses his critics, he sounds smarter than they are—smart enough to chuckle at their patent stupidity.

i can see that kind of guy shaking his head when congress foils him. but i don’t see that kind of guy knocking down doors, whipping people for votes, negotiating and compromising with enemies, and getting the dirty work done. and neither can Leon.

obama is on the one hand so brilliant with speech. i believe he’s one of the best public speakers i’ve ever heard. but on the other hand, he doesn’t use speech effectively to influence the people he needs on his side. as beautiful or poetic as his public words can be, it’s the well-placed threat or the guttural profanity behind closed doors that counts the most. Leon wanted Obama to be an enforcer with al-Maliki and with Congress; but he found Obama to be reticent in those moments when vocal and ardent pressure was required.

whether or not Panetta was fair, i think his point in general is well-taken and worth considering. a great leader is not simply one defined by the quality of his speech; a great leader is one who understands where and when to employ speech, to influence people. that takes more than eloquence, great style, or charisma; it takes courage, relentlessness, and the right instincts about people. in the business of life, words are what gets it done, and in a world like ours, they can be every bit as powerful as the weapons of war

10.05.14

i am yours; and you are mine

Posted in Uncategorized at 2:32 pm by Administrator

my wife and i are taking a tenth anniversary trip together very soon, and i’ll admit that i’m nervous about it. i’m nervous because i’m worried about what would happen to the kids if our plane crashed. i’m nervous about being exposed to enterovirus d68 or ebola in transit. i’m nervous about my daughter experiencing separation anxiety. i’m nervous about high expectations and about disappointing them.

most of all, i’m nervous about having ten days alone with my wife. i’m nervous about looking at her—really looking at her—because looking at my wife triggers something intense inside of me. i’m unaccustomed to looking at my wife; i more often look at what she is doing or what is going on around her. but when we look at each other, or rather look into each other, i have a searing experience of intimacy that i would describe as both pleasurable and acutely painful. it stops me in my tracks; it puts life in its place; it disables and deconstructs me, even as it makes a mysterious and lost shape within me come into remarkable clarity. anticipating this makes me feel anxiety, but perhaps more essentially my feeling is a kind of heartache. love is a heartache; it is a recurring and sometimes plaguing reminder that life isn’t right or good unless i am genuinely with the one i love.

reflecting on this kind of heartache recently made me think of the one other relationship in my life in which i experience something similar. with the Lord, i also struggle with—and against—the experience of intimacy. it is often inconvenient for me to present myself to Him; the process of presenting myself can be anguishing if not terribly frustrating as well, as i become aware of all the ways in which i am unwilling to be examined by His knowing spirit. i go days, sometimes weeks, without anything resembling a “devotional”. but the longer i go without a moment of real intimacy with my God, the more strongly a heartache builds within my being. i begin to feel lost and out of touch with things. i feel out of sorts with people and with activities i usually enjoy. inevitably, i sense in these things that God is pursuing me; and at some point, desperation and desire overcome the inertia of my devolving existence, and i pursue Him as well. and in the conjoining of spirits, i hear that voice i know so well, telling me that i am His. and i hear my voice responding in kind, no less forceful in its passionate reckoning, saying to God, “You are mine.”

there is much in contemporary Christian culture that normalizes the idea of intimacy with God. i grew up in a revivalist church setting that impressed upon me the idea of Christ as a personal friend, a personal savior, an ever-present comforter. for every trouble, Christ was the trick in my back pocket; He was the cool companion in every situation. for much of my adolescence, this idea of God was very compelling to me. but later, in my mid-twenties, i encountered a much different aspect of God; i encountered God who disciplines, God who tests, and God who allows evil men to ravage others. i came to see God in the context of the broken and evil world that He had created, and that is when i began to apprehend not only the personality of Christ but also the intense, uncompromising purposefulness of Christ. it was not easy in those days to call Him mine; He was awesome and fearsome, He was dangerous and even savage, and because of this, He was “the other”. He was not mine; there was no way i could possess something that i feared and could not comprehend.

but such is the trajectory of the spiritual journey, that i had to lose an idea of God in order to rediscover it in a truer sense. for the Lord to claim that creation is His is of no great consequence to Him; it is a fact, no matter what creation is led to believe. but it is a special glory, if not the very consummation of creation’s purpose, when a man is able to lay claim to the Lord’s person and His kingdom, as one entitled to the favor of God. we see it in the way Moses reasons with God on Sinai in order to turn Him away from wrath; we see it when Lot intercedes for Sodom and Gomorrah; we see it in the Psalms of David, when the future king demands that the Lord deliver him from his enemies. we see it in the Lord’s words too, when He declares Himself the God of Abraham, Jacob, and Isaac, and when He presents Himself as a son in David’s lineage. as the people of God are His property, so does God present Himself as one who belongs to His people—as one who will listen to His chosen servants, as one who will be influenced and even beholden to His own. from the beginning, the Lord has desired a mutual belonging. it is no trivial camaraderie, nor is it a trust easily won. it is a love relationship between beings that cannot be equals; but nevertheless, the Lord experiences no shame in being had by a lesser man. He says, “you are mine”. He longs for us to say, with all our hearts and minds, “You oh God are also mine.”

last week, i submitted myself to that heartache, and i cried out in a solitary moment for my God. i grabbed hold of His cloak; i refused to surrender my grasp. i contended with the Lord, though only a fool would stand against Him, and i demanded His ear, though no one is entitled to His audience. i did a most irrational thing; i asked the Lord to restore me, simply because He has made Himself mine. and as i fell deeper and deeper into prayer, i felt a confidence pervade my being, the confidence of knowing that the Lord was with me, to commune with me and to give my heart’s desire.

Remember what you have called me to, i urged the Lord. Finish the work you have begun in me