Aug 302013
 

IMG_0205One of the places I escape to here in Southern Oregon is called Natural Bridge.

It’s a place where the Rogue River disappears underground into a lava tube and bursts out the other side creating a “natural bridge” over the river.

It’s a stunningly gorgeous area.

I find refreshment and restoration for my soul just being there.

However,some folks I know won’t go there at all.

 

It’s a very dangerous place for the careless…people who fall in don’t come back.

A lot of people have fallen in.

Sometimes there are even posters attached to one of the magnificent firs with a picture of a loved one whose body the family hopes to recover.

Despite the fact that it is now fenced off and the trails are paved, the risk is still too much for some.

They miss a great deal of beauty, but they stay safe.

They cannot experience the joy I know, because they fear what could befall them if they journey where I do.

So it is for some with the church.

Bad things have happened there…maybe to them, maybe to someone dear.

Sometimes a word has scared or scarred them…perhaps they know that every time the preacher speaks of hell someone they loved with all their heart might be there if the word is correct.

They try not to listen to that word…it’s too painful to bear.

Perhaps a a beloved child is gay and and they wish that the people they worship with loved them too.

The rejection of the baby they raised is too painful to bear, so they try not to listen to that word.

They stay on the fringe and observe…and they fellowship with others standing on the fringes with them.

They believe, but to hear all the word is too painful to bear.

They do not reject my Christ, they simply can’t carry all that might accompany how we define what belief looks like in fullness.

When I go up to Natural Bridge I always take pictures of what I saw to bring back those who won’t go themselves.

I speak of the sights and smells and the peace I find so someday they may feel strengthened to experience it too.

It has been my practice to spend time on the fringe of the church showing pictures of beauty seen with those outside the mainstream to show them the same.

I assume that where they are today may not be where they are tomorrow…we travel from grace to grace and faith to faith.

I’ve been showing some folks close to me pictures of Natural Bridge for over twenty years…

A couple are thinking about joining me on my next trip.

โ€œa bruised reed he will not break, and a faintly burning wick he will not quench; he will faithfully bring forth justice.โ€ย (Isaiah 42:3 ESV)

Make your own application…

 

  33 Responses to “TGIF”

  1. Beautiful, Michael!

  2. Yeah, I like that. Well said.

  3. Yes, beautiful!

  4. It’s like Hallmark meets Precious Moments meets American Outdoors in blog article format. Yawn. C’mon Newnham, you’ve lost your edge. Where’s the fiery cussing drinking Calvinist who is mad at the world and all its injustices?

    Bring back the cats! ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. I think you might be suffering from low testosterone…seriously. You may want to have it checked.

  6. RB,

    Your last three comments have been to tell me to “f” off, to insult my writing, and to question my manhood.
    I’m done now.
    This place is in shambles and this is what you contribute.
    I bid you peace and hope you leave us the same.

  7. The place might be in shambles, but more b/c your writing sucks and you lack a direction and you lack conviction. Don’t blame me for your mediocrity.

  8. I told you to f off after you dismissed my input as “drivel”.

  9. Then I trust you won’t miss it.

  10. No, probably not, though I’ll mine it for an example of the confusion and cognitive dissonance in Selective Fundamentalism.

  11. They believe, but to hear all the word is too painful to bear.

    They do not reject my Christ, they simply canโ€™t carry all that might accompany how we define what belief looks like in fullness.
    This article, and the quote above, captured compassion for those hurt in such a beautiful way. Those who insist on demanding doctrinal purity and think their harsh statements of what the journey of life and faith must look like are somehow saving people from the fires of hell drive many who are hurting from looking to Christians for any kind of help. Michael, the compassion you consistently demonstrate for the real pain and struggle of people is admirable, and what keeps me reading here. I really don’t know what I believe anymore. But I respect the way you treat people and show your own pain so transparently. I realize you know a lot about theology and the Christian faith, I realize it even more because you aren’t defensive about it. Hoping for some peace and beauty for you.

  12. Cindy,

    Thank you.
    I’m sure of what I believe in many areas…but the thing I’m surest about is that there is more mystery in the faith than I ever realized.

    We can call it a process or we can call it a journey, but i believe that somehow, some way God will safeguard those who are His all the way home.

    Looking forward to meeting you there.

  13. I wasn’t responding to the interaction with RB, took me a while to type my comment. Sometimes people are so caught in their own perspective and troubles that no matter your stance, they are going to have to find their own way. I think you have gone way more than the extra mile with RB.

  14. I might go a mile or two farther.
    God isn’t done with any of us…

  15. I’m not sure if I find that comforting or not, with regards to God not being done with me. But I guess for now all I can do is be where I’m at and ….?? We’ll see. I forgot that journey might be a loaded word! Lol

  16. Cindy,

    It’s a good thing. ๐Ÿ™‚
    Through the trials I’m learning to let go and let God lead…and while the trials are painful, I’m learning that he is faithful.
    At the least…it’s an adventure. ๐Ÿ™‚

  17. Linnea,

    I hear you…just want to keep the contentiousness to a minimum.

  18. Michael,
    RB’s mental state is clearly known and documented. We have some serious issues to discuss in the near future without his obvious obsessions on his singular biopic. AXE the……
    Just sayin’.

  19. FF,

    If only people knew how “hard hitting” the upcoming articles will be… pray for us as we prepare.

  20. I think the article is very well written.
    Good job.

  21. It is a beautiful park but it is very dangerous to. Been there once or twice. In my area where I spend hours praying, reading and just wondering is right near where I first went to church.

    http://www.cupertino.org/index.aspx?page=1006

    McClellan Ranch Preserve

  22. Thank you, London…I never know when I write them if they are worth a damn, but they are from the heart.
    I’m the only writer I’ve got so we’ll have to make do.

  23. Write what you want when you want.
    You owe no one anything.

  24. New Brighton State Beach also comes to mind as a place I enjoyed as a kid.

  25. I had to read it twice to take it in. It reminds me of quote about the Lion in Lewis’ book. “Course he isn’t safe, but he’s good.”

  26. I forgot to say how much I appreciate these Friday gems. Jesus spoke in parables and they were for those who had ears to hear.

  27. I read this yesterday and didn’t have the chance to comment. We had a rather frustrating week of home school…the kind of week where I was ready to use duct tape as a teaching tool.

    I love this article, though.

    It is interesting the responses…and it is impossible not to respond. We are drawn to controversy. We’ve talked about this here for ages. Controversy is what brings conversation and dialog.

    Wonder, mystery, even praise…these things we can often only say “amen” and then there is not much more. When there is something said that is hard, something that we disagree with, or something that at least is controversial, well…we can parse it and look at it from a hundred angles and we can have 600 comments. We can tell each other how foolish they are for agreeing or disagreeing and we can divide up into our camps.

    We just don’t do that when something is right and when something rings true. We say amen and then we look at our hands and are not sure what to do.

    The truth stills the nonsense. The truth, even if it is simple and couched in what some would view as “Precious Moments” language, quiets us. Simple truth does that. These articles do that…they are like a moment of peace, and that is not all bad.

    There are times for the hashing out of controversial truths. The truths that are not as clear-cut…the truths that may have more than one interpretation and we need to have grace for each other and we need to do the work of thinking through where we stand. The dialogue and the debate is not bad…the nonsense is worthless. The name calling and the hurtful pokes and the desire to embarrass or to injure, that needs to be called out. The genuine debate and working through issues…let’s dive in. I hope I’ll have more time and energy for that endeavor.

    We need these moments of peace in the midst, however. We need these moments of beauty to remind us of the simple truths we know simply. We need these moments when we come together and say amen and know. They are not worthless…they remind us of foundations. Some will always think them foolish. Some will be refreshed and renewed.

  28. Thanks, Michael…my patience ran out and what was at the bottom of that cistern wasn’t charitable!

  29. This is beautiful, Michael!

    More than a year ago, at the suggestion of the men’s ministry leader at our church, I read the book The Second Half for the Man in the Mirror. The author described me to a tee. One thing he mentioned was that as we mature, men have a heightened need for peace and beauty.

    A few months later, during our school district’s fall break, I took off for a cabin in the Rim Country of Arizona. No internet access; no cell service. I walked among the pines and aspens and just breathed. I opened the windows at night to hear the creek and the frogs. I prayed. I worshiped. I read. I listened. It was a glorious, watershed moment in my life.

    This was the first personal retreat I had ever taken, and I vowed then and there that I would do this again. The next 6 weeks will crawl slowly by as I anticipate my return. I’ve got my cabin reserved. I’m staying a day longer this year than last. I NEED this. I pray God meets me there and shows me His glory.

    Michael, don’t stop going to Natural Bridge, or Union Creek, or Crater Lake. Don’t stop taking pictures. Don’t stop encouraging the fearful.

  30. Thank you, folks.
    Thank you very much for reading and caring.
    CK…take me with you… ๐Ÿ™‚

  31. Ricky Bobby,

    Your cruelty toward Michael is noted. You of all people should know better.

  32. RB

    “Whereโ€™s the fiery cussing drinking Calvinist who is mad at the world and all its injustices?”

    Is this what you want from God and is this kind of action that you really believe is true and right?

    This is one of the saddest comments I have seen written.

  33. Michael,
    I’ll grill the filet mignon, you bring the Kahlua!

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