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Author Archives: Peter Paulson

I am special because…

My daughter brought home an assignment from kindergarden this fall that still echoes in my heart.  She was charged with the task of finishing this sentence, “I’m special because…” The natural expectation of someone answering this question would be to have them compile a list of the things that they do well; things that set them apart and make them shine. Things like, “I’m funny, I can sing, I can dance, I am nice” are typical answers.  Out of the heart and through the crayon of my daughter came a phrase that inspired me to me more childlike then I am.  Her response was, “I am special because my Mommy and Daddy love me.”

Wow!

Would that my life be marked with the truth that I am special because, and only because, my heavenly father loves me!  To know and believe that in the depths of my soul and let it cut through all of the noise that I try and find my worth in, would free me to a place of intimacy with God that the trappings and false hopes that this life produce would fade to the smallness that they are, and I would be free to be me.

 
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Posted by on December 1, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

The Storm

The Storm on the Sea of Gallilee by Rembrandt

There is something about this picture that speaks to me.  Men grapple against the force of the crashing wave.  Water engulfs the workers as they struggle to hold together their small vessel.  Jesus is at rest.  One man, consumed with personal issue is getting sick over the portside.  Others fight on in self-dependance believing themselves to have things under control; after all they are fishermen and have seen this before.  Still others paralyzed by fear huddle in the corner.  Only two seem to seem to think to wake their creator, and even those are angry with His lack of concern.

All of these individuals are at work within me from time to time.  Some times I feel like the strongest man on earth.  With just my hands I can hold life together even in the midst of powers much stronger then myself. Other times I coward in the corner forgetting who is beside me in the boat.  I even know what its like to be consumed by sickness amidst the torrid sea.  Probably the one I most relate to are the individuals who accuse Jesus of not caring for their wellbeing.  My accusing hand grabs the outer garment of Christ and force Him to look at me while my finger pokes Him in the chest.

Still at rest, Jesus stands in the stern and commands the elements to do His bidding and all is made quiet.  Instantly my fears turn from mother nature to Father God.  Realizing how small and dependent I am, I become convicted with Jesus’ loving questions, “why are you still afraid, do you still not have faith?”  I am left with the only option available, raise the sails and continue on the course Jesus plotted, “the other side”.  I can only speculate about what wonders we will see there.

 
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Posted by on June 22, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

The Relentless Pursuit of Men

For the past month or so I’ve been moved by the relentless pursuit of God towards humanity.  Not just His pursuit of humanity in general, but the way He pursues every human individually.   So often the focus of my spiritual life has been trying to gain wisdom and knowledge that removes more of me so I can become closer to Christ.  I search the dusty hollows Christian classics hoping to gleam some insights of those spiritual giants.  I attempt to mimic their behaviors in hopes to have their faith.  I beat myself with the self-flagellation of self hatred because of inabilities and failures in these pursuits.  When I fail, I run to new books, videos, blogs and podcasts hoping to hear the newest and greatest ways to get close to God.  I go to church like a drugie visits his dealer hoping and expecting to get the newest high.  When my pastor or church doesn’t deliver and the new book I’m reading doesn’t give me the direction on how to fix my situation I am quick to place blame on what’s not right.

Enter in, Emmanuel.

Nothing in human experience or imagination could prepare us for the way God gloriously eases into creation as a baby wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.  Rich Mullins said once regarding the Bible, “If we were given the scriptures it was not so we could prove we were right about everything, if we were given the scriptures it was to humble us in to realizing that God is right and the rest of us were just guessing.”  The Bible at its heart is a story.  It’s a story about human beings striving for perfection, along the way hurting each other, making pain and heartache part of the human experience.  In the story there is a divine father who pursues them from on high, from within and side-by-side.  He stops at nothing to rescue them from their ceaseless striving and to bring them to Himself.  Even when He is given reason to abandon His search, He is undeterred from this pursuit.  In the end, regardless of the failed attempts of man, God still seeks and finds them in a way only he can, and brings them to the warming fire of His love to enjoy friendship with Him.

My pursuits of God are as failing today as when I was young, but God’s pursuit of me has been as unfettered and passion driven as the day he knit me in my mothers womb.

Enjoy this incredible song by Andy Gullahorn and Jill Phillips, it is what first brought this obvious insight to me.  I have listened to it daily and like all good art, it only intensifies the more I’ve encountered it.

 
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Posted by on June 8, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

Christ followers response?

Today I’ve just got a question to ask…

What should the Christ follower’s response be to the news that Bin Laden has been killed?  Also what do you think Jesus’ response is?

I really look forward to reading thoughts.

 
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Posted by on May 2, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

The Way of the Artist

Every child is an artist.  I know because my home, office, car, garage and everywhere I dwell is adorned with pictures from my kids.  There is not a minute that they are not creating something.  Whether it is a mud pie or a family portrait, there is always a constant flow of “Daddy, I made this for you!”

Somewhere along the road of human development (usually around middleschool) we stop creating.  We make a shift to acquiring knowledge and information.  The more we obtain, the better we have developed becomes the general operating way.  The child within us is subdued and stifled like a loud child on a Sunday morning.  We believe the lie that art is about making something beautiful rather then art being the attempt to bring meaning to life.  Art becomes something we leave to the pros who have found a way to make money from their “art”.  Along the way we lose a major part of our heart and understanding of who we are and who God is. Not to mention we lose meaning.  Our life becomes a string of facts and theories that force us into a reality of doing rather then being.  We add things to our to-do list and check things off our bucket list until we reach a waypoint in the journey and wonder…”is that it?”

Art always means something.  Not all art is beautiful, as some art offends, but the process of the art always is beautiful.  Even if we experience something that resounds in those black parts of our soul, at least it gives name to that which we so often try and keep quiet.  When it is given voice the darkness gives way to life, because death is always subordinate to life, and that is beautiful. 

Thank God that there are those who have not succumb to the pressure of being “normal” and been seduced by the temptress of capitalism.  The poet, the songwright, the painter, storyteller and countless other individuals who attempt to help detangle our minds and our hearts give us the best glimpse of God and what His kingdom is. 

More then ever, we, as well as the kids we relate to, need places to express the inexpressible, to fathom the unfathomable, and to find peace in the midst of chaos.  That is what will set the captive free and brings life into the darkness.

So, paint your picture, build your machine, take your picture, tell the great story, however you tell it.  The artist in us still lives, because although we are grown, we are still just a child.

 
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Posted by on April 13, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

The Boy inside the Man

Captain’s log July 8th, 1990

The men are hard at work and the ship is cutting swiftly through the dormant sea. She runs true, always obeying my command.  Today is an easy day, a day to enjoy the warmth of the sun on my face.  Line and metal clang against the mast as wind pushes our vessel against the resistance of the waves.  The old wood creaks underfoot as I attend to my rounds, making sure the ship is on course and the men are active to their duties.  There is nothing like being aboard ship.  No place on earth that moves with such efficiency towards a destination.  We are headed to the wonders of the new world and treasures unknown, but definitely felt.  All is right as we do our work with excellence and precision.  Suddenly my First Mate screams that he sees a ship on the horizon.  The ship is unmarked and flies colors of night rather then typical bright nautical colors.  This can only mean one thing…pirates.  They have seen our ship carving the open seas and deemed our ship and her treasures are their booty to plunder.  They do not know that this is no ordinary ship, and this will not be their day.  As our pursuer advances as I call to the men “unfurl all sails and giver ‘er all she’s got.  Make ‘em work for it!”.  In short time our adversary has given up chase and is now just a distant dark spot, barely in view.  I plot a new course for the men to start a new adventure until I hear those dreadful words, “Peter! Get out of the station wagon and wash up, it’s time for dinner!” “Coming Mom!”

Captains log March 29th 2011

Another day lost at sea.  The ship has started to take on water pretty heavily.  All of the chores and tasks that have been neglected are causing holes in this rickety old ship causing her to fill with water and ride lower in the sea.  It could be riding low due to the water leaking in, but I am also concerned with all the extra weight the crew and I brought on after a day in the shoppes at the last port.  I don’t know why we have all of this useless stuff aboard.  I know we’re headed west, but to what and where I do not know.  I know I should examine the map more, but there’s never enough time with all of the patch work left to do just to keep the ship afloat.  Moral on the ship is dropping since we lost another member of the crew.  I know we need a new cook and a new boatswain, but every time we dock at a new port, no body is interested or they’re already busy working land-loving jobs.  Are there no more sailors left?  I’ll have to find time to discuss matters with the First Mate as soon as possible.  Without the First Mate, this ship would’ve sunk years ago.  I know this ship can sail true again and I’ll be proud to fly her colors once again.  She’s not as fancy as a lot of those new “boats”, but she’s stout and proven her worth through the hardest tempests this sea has to offer.  The sun is rising behind us and warming the stearn.  It’ time again to yearn for the vast and endless sea.  This after all is the king’s ship and He trusts me with her care and I know she’ll care for me.  After all, Annie is almost done with school and I really need to go pick her up.

 
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Posted by on March 30, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

And a Child Shall Lead Them

Its mid-day and our 5 month, youngest daughter Libby just woke from her afternoon nap.  As is her custom, her face lit up as soon as she saw someone coming to rescue her from her life of boredom in her crib.  As my hands lifted her to my face, so I could shower her with a series of kisses and hugs, her breathing changed.  She started gasping for air and choking on her own breath.  She could exhale, but was suddenly lost the ability to inhale.  Time stood still and my mind searched for help and my heart pounded in my chest.  I did everything I could think of, patting her back, raising her arms and trying to remind her little lungs what their job was.  Seconds later she took one big gasp and started to cry.  It was the first time I rejoiced at her tears.
As time restarted and life began anew in walked Libby’s 5 year old sister Ella.  Where she was during the struggle I did not know, but as soon as Libby saw Ella, her crying ceased and she completely calmed down.  Ella gently touched her little sister’s cheek and whipped away her tears.  She kissed her on the forehead and said to me, “Daddy I prayed for her”.  I replied rather callously, still focused elsewhere, “Great Ella.”  She said as soon as she saw something was wrong with Libby she ran to her room and started to pray for her.  As my equilibrium came back I realized the incredible thing that just happened that I almost missed.  As I was struggling to control the situation and take matters into my own hands, my five year old, much wiser daughter knew the only thing she could do was run to the only person who has ever had the ability to heal someone.  How foolish of me.  Who installed the respiratory system in Libby?  Who taught her lungs how to work?  Who created air to give life to her fragile body?  Who keeps the world spinning in orbit and numbered the few hairs on her head?  Who am I to try to control anything?
What does it take for me to live like Ella and run to my room, bury my head in my pillow and pray?  How do I make it as immediate as it was for her, not an after thought or a formality?  How do I remember that I am not a grown man, but instead a child in the lap of an infinite Father?
Forgive me Father for not resting in your arms and not listening when you say, “everything’s going to be o.k.”.
 
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Posted by on March 23, 2011 in Uncategorized