Saturday, November 28, 2009

Snow Prayer by David Ello

I tried to keep the snow,
Clutching hard to keep it here.
I said that it was mine,
and now I stare at water.

I tried to keep the snow...
Waiting now for more to land.
In snowless places I will stand
and pray for it to come.

O Come, Come,
Snowflakes come again!
Dust us with your cold caress,
careening on the wind.
Sprinkle us with sugar's kiss,
Enfold with chilly arms.
Release us with a child's bliss,
to see you come again.

Come, come, O Giver of the Snow.
The ice will melt, but you, My God,
Will not be made to go.
Come, come, O Bringer of the Spring!
Delight with white this winter world
so child and snowman sing.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Beginnings....Show and Tell

The Chai is pulsating through my veins like inspiration flowing through a pen.

Tonight (or should I say "last night" since it is now almost 5 A.M. the next day?), for perhaps the first time since moving into this city, I felt like I got to do what I was sent here to do: pour the Chai into the river and invite others to do the same.

It's been a long-held desire of mine to share original artistic work and enable other artists to share their work at the same time. It has been a goal of mine in coming to Chicago to provide encouragement and support to artists through providing a framework in which we can all share our gifts together. I believe that as we pour out our gifts for others to enjoy, we are pouring out a bit of ourselves. And if Jesus is inside, all the better.

Tonight--Last Night---saw the fruition of the first "Show and Tell" party, an idea that started percolating in my mind a few months ago while sipping on a beverage at Borders and strategizing with God about how to do more of what I want to do with others. This vision began to become more of a reality when I met with a few other friends a little over a month ago to plan out the logistics for such an event.

It wasn't very complex, really: just a bunch of creative people coming together to share some good food, drinks (Chai included, of course), conversation, and art-in-process. We had everything from stand-up comedy to breakdancing, poetry and set-design. Many played instruments and sang, one shared a short play (can you guess who that was?), another played a recording of a smooth, 80's inspired jazz composition he had written. I was amazed by the end of the night that we had spent a whole evening showing and telling about what we had been working on, and it didn't even seem that long. (There were some breaks in between, of course.) And I was equally amazed at how much talent was concentrated into one area. We must have had 14 or 15 people share something creative that they were working on or had created sometime in the past. Another beautiful element was the mutual appreciation each artist showed for one another, providing words of encouragement, affirmation, and and constructive feedback specific to each artist's humble offering. I say humble because it takes humility to put yourself out there in front of people, especially when you're bringing something that's not necessarily complete and quite possibly in need of further process.

I liken this evening to a good cup of Chai. Many ingredients all blending together to make a most heavenly brew.

The Revolution of Chai has begun. Drink up, Chicago! Drink up my God.

"Taste and see that the Lord is good. Blessed is the one who trusts in him." -Psalm 34:8.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Dessert in the Desert

What do you think of when one says the word, "desert?" A sandy, arid environment? A place devoid of life or little of it? Sand dunes a-plenty? How about dessert?

What would you do if someone told you, "Hey, I'm taking away your regular food supply for awhile, but I'm gonna give you something better in return?"

How about Chai in the desert? Or dessert for that matter?

This past weekend, God spoke to me about where I'm at in my life right now: the desert. And he wants to give me dessert while I'm here. He's told me recently that a season of abundance is coming, of greater fulfillment and amazing things happening to and through me. And it's coming soon. But it hasn't yet....No, not yet, not fully. And for now, I'm in the desert. And I'm excited about this. Why?

For one thing, it's good to know where you are so that you can navigate the terrain appropriately. Now that I know that I'm in a desert period, I can know better how I am to survive and what God wants me to do or learn in this place. So it's good just to know that.

Secondly, I'm excited because of what the desert means. It means that God is inviting me to a place of deeper intimacy with him, of greater reliance upon him and his sustenance. When Jesus was in the desert and the devil tempted him to turn a stone into bread to satisfy his hunger, Jesus' response was, "It is written, 'Man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.' " I have to believe that Jesus was getting some really yummy words from God out there in the desert, or else taking what God had already spoken to him and chewing on it, savoring it. God has likewise been inviting me to eat more of his words, to gain more from him directly, more affirmation, more support, more love, more connection. I'm sick of hearing other people sing so passionately to Jesus or the Father or Spirit and me feeling jealous that I'm not as passionate as they are. I want to experience this more for myself. And I will. I'm starting to more and more, today.

Not only does this desert instigate greater intimacy with my Creator; He's also going to use it to prepare me to receive what he has when I come out of the desert. I'm talking powerhouse time, David running on all four cylinders on Holy Spirit gasoline, full-throttle kind of stuff. See, when Jesus got out of the desert, the Biblical narrative tells us that he went into high gear-mode, carrying out his full-on ministry. Same thing for King David before he became king. He spent a significant time in the desert being chased by King Saul before receiving the kingship that had long before been promised to him. But sometime after the desert, he got his kingdom. Or take the Israelites back in Moses' day. What did they do after escaping Egypt? They were in the DESERT! And what happened after the desert? Promised Land! Now, it took them 40 years, and many of the original Israelites didn't actually make it to the Promised Land 'cause they were too busy doubting God. So he let them die off and brought in the ones who would trust him. Why? And why all this time in the desert?

I believe God was creating a people for himself, and not just for his own sake but for their own sake, such that when they got into the Promised Land they would be able to inherit, conquer, and keep that which he wanted to give them. What good is a gift that you're going to squander? What good is new wine if the wineskin it goes into is going to burst and spill the goods all over the place? Or as Jesus asked, what good is it for a man to gain the whole world yet forfeit his soul?

When we are in a desert period, God has the opportunity to show us more of his goodness such that we rely on him and his character more than anything else in our lives, and when more of the goods come on the other side, we can own it without it owning us, 'cause we've learned how to rely on him instead of the stuff. I don't want crazy power if it's going to destroy me when I get it. I don't want a girlfriend and money and success if these things are going to make me full of myself and empty out God when I get them. But ah, if I can keep my footing on him, on the foundation of who God is and who he says I am without relying on these other things for my identity, then, THEN, maybe I can have these things and they be good. Then maybe I can contribute to a wholesome relationship, contribute to success, contribute to whatever else comes my way, 'cause I'm already getting the core of what I need from the God I got to know better in the desert. I get to have my Chai now, so when other yummy things come along, I won't mistake them for Chai and can still enjoy them.

Man does not live on bread alone, but on every ounce of Chai that flows from the mouth of God. Lord, let me drink it in. I want to drink you in, and others can call me "full of it," in the best of ways. Yes, I will be full of you.

Let me say one more thing, and I'm taking from something that Bill Johnson said in a sermon or two once. The desert period in a person's life isn't meant to be an experience of simply scraping by. Rather, it's an opportunity to see the God of heaven show up and do some crazy things. Look at the Israelites again. They had a cloud guiding them and giving them shade by day, and a pillar of fire to warm and guide them by night! Crazy! And their sandals or shoes or whatever they were wearing on their feet didn't wear out! And they got this crazy bread from heaven called "Manna," and God gave 'em water gushing out of this rock, and all kinds of crazy stuff! I'm ready for the crazies! And I've already experienced a lot of that already! Dessert, dessert, dessert. Oh, and how 'bout some more...dessert?!? Seriously, that's what's been happening, mainly "trifling" things (or should I say "truffling?") that I don't necessarily "need" but things which God knows will encourage my heart. And he's dealing with the needs too, just in ways that I may not expect or prefer...kind of like the manna.

So I say bring it on. More Jesus, more Father, more Spirit, more Chai. And when I come out of this, it'll be Chai-time for more.