Saturday, December 26, 2009

Materialistic Desert

a recent journal entry.

Materialistic Desert

America is a materialistic wasteland. We center our lives around the illusion of happiness through massing amounts of possessions. Each day we import, produce, buy, sell and trash tons of materials with little to no regard of the effect consumerism has on the individual, family, society or planet.
Consumerism and capitalism are based on basic self-centered indulgent desires. These desires go unchecked in rich and safe nations such as America. They are based on the illusion that in order to be happy one must act in accordance with one’s desires. There may be a small regard for the effect of this lifestyle on others but that is not necessary. The most important person is your self and you should not feel bad for indulging completely and utterly. We have all seen where this leads a person, society or nation.
The difficulty in America is that most of us fit into two categories. The first category did not grow up with the ability to have everything desired. In a sense they were ‘poor.’ Some may never experience the ability to have everything desired but others pull themselves up by their bootstraps. Either way the prevalent spirit of the age pressures for more than is already possessed. The second category grows up having everything desired obtained. The ingrained right or entitlement of receiving everything desired is almost as deep as breathing. For these ‘rich’ it is truly hard to enter the kingdom of God.
For people from either category the right and entitlement of amassing possessions runs deep. America has experienced difficulities, such as the Depression, but never anything powerful enough to really question its way of life. There result is a mirage, an illusion of happiness, success and power. I fear that the words of Jesus to the church in Laodecia in Revelation 3 apply all to well to America today. “You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve for your eyes, so you can see.”
Each of the things Jesus counsels the people of Laodecia to buy are things they were known for producing. They were famous for their refined gold, white clothes and salve. What an insult?! I wonder what Jesus would advice America to come and receive from him? I have a feeling it would be insulting and hard to hear. I have a feeling that our illusion of being rich and in need of nothing is going to be exposed soon. I have a feeling that many are going to be shocked and offended when it happens. I have a feeling people will be looking for a deep well when their broken cistern is uncovered.
Where does the Church stand on all of this? Sadly, she is divided deeply. Some do not think twice about the way of life but rather advocate it as God’s will. Others, as a response, live in a poverty mindset that will not allow them to receive from God or others. I find myself leaning more towards the latter part of the spectrum. God could have come in any way he chose but he chose to come as a humble poor servant. He chose to reveal himself in his Son who had nothing good to say about greed. He was in continuity with the teachings of the Torah and the Prophets who always sided with the poor and oppressed. Christianity at its core can never be the powerful, wealthy empire that is has become in the West. Christianity at its core is the religion of the down and out. Jesus made it clear that his kingdom was not of this world.
As I journey through this materialistic wasteland I am often tempted to buy into the illusion. I am tempted to settle down and acquire many things. I am tempted with the lie that if I am unhappy I just need to go buy something to feel better. I am so thankful that the Breath of God blows on my tattered broken sails so that I continue to move on in this desert. I am so thankful for the oasises that God brings me to that I may be refreshed and strengthened in the eternal perspective. I am thankful for the ‘sailors’ who have gone before us whose words still echo in my ears today. I understand more fully now why the Desert Father and Mothers said society was a shipwreck they swam away from in order to save their lives. Maybe it is time for another expression of Desert Monasticism in the midst of twenty-first century America.
Eventually true followers of Jesus will hear the voice of their Shepherd leading them home. Eventually Abba’s children will hear the call of their father. Eventually this desert will cause thirst, dehydration and death. I pray we have grace to be set apart even as he is set apart. Let’s follow in the steps of our Lord and others who have counted the riches of ‘Egypt’ as nothing compared to the true riches of the kingdom (see Hebrews 11:26). I pray this ‘exodus’ happens soon. After all, it was in the wilderness that Yahweh taught his children how to live a life of holy trust. We are already in a desert, but what are we learning? Wind, Breath, Spirit of God come and blow our weary vessels across this barren materialistic desert.

my tribute to facebook

How many friends do you have? I have 511. Isn’t it great to be so connected? Isn’t it great to never be alone? I wonder what I have missed in the last 30 minutes, I better check the news feed. Something major just happened in my life I better puke it up via mobile so all my friends can know.
We live out this illusion every day. We are afraid to be alone with God because he might actually speak to us. We sit in front of a screen living a virtual life of friendship while our actual ability to love another human being slowly diminshes. We have taken the sacredness out of life by downsizing everything to a generic post online.

Fakebook, what have you done to my soul? Fakebook what have you done to our society? Fakebook, will you always be there for me?

If we spent half the time we spend on facebook in prayer, service or worship we would find ourselves more deeply connected. If we visited face to face we would quickly realize how cheapened relationships have become by overuse of facebook.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009


by poetree

sky collides with earth
water with rock
debris and trash
collide with creation.
And here I sit
with rock, tree,
plants, ants and
trash everywhere.
Human existence
has steadily moved
from harmony to
On what other planet
can you find such
a thing as
majestic scenery
tugged with spray paint
water bottles and beer cans?
This collision of creation
seems too heavy to bear.
Creator please restore
all things.

Friday, September 4, 2009

poetree book

hey everyone!

i have not posted on here in a while but i have been writing some new poetry. i hope to post a few new poems in the next week.

in the meantime, i wanted to let everyone know that dana and i are working on a poetree book. it will hopefully be done this fall. it will consist of poems, reflections, drawings, pictures, etc. if you want to receive a copy of it please let me know. you can email me at


Tuesday, July 14, 2009


by poetree

Rest is something you carry with you
all day yet you don't really
grasp it.
Rest is something meant not
just for when you've worked
yourself into restless exhaustion.
rest is an invitation into God's
as well as
an invitation into God's
rest is an empty chair
waiting, not anxiously
but expectantly
to bear the weight
of one who is
not able to hold
themself up anymore.
rest is the open arms of
a father who painfully
watches his children
running ragged and empty
from diligent devoted distractions.
rest is something we all fear
because it is a confession
and lack
we're afraid to rest and
be still
because we know we will
be exposed
spoken to
by One so other than
that our flesh will feel

Monday, May 18, 2009

another poem

Today i read a quote by Rabbi Heschel that said, "As civilization advances, the sense of wonder declines."

So, here is another poem.

i have a title but don't remember it
by poetree

every night i'm serenaded
to sleep by the hum and lull
of traffic.
a twisted imitation of
nature's nuculous noises.
Like one who lives near
the ocean i have
grown used to the
racket and barely
notice its ebb and flow.
It's volume is deadened
by the snow.
The stream of cars and
buses matches
my restless mind.
I've got to get out
To breathe fresher air
To hear the loon's call
To see the stars
To relieve the pressure on my soul
To be still and know you are God.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

new poetry by poetree

hey yall

i have been writing some new poetry with a bit of a new style. a lot of it has come with the coming of spring and my growing tension with being in a city.

here is the first.

a moment to be still
while the world around
still rushes past each
I pause to rest on a bench
to hear the robin's song
still audible over the
constant hum of I-35.
I look up to notice budding
new leaves on the trees
and contemplate if this
is the state of my heart.
As the sun warms my face
it strikes me how
short this life truly is.
We spend the majority of
it longing for another age
then regretting all we missed.
Why not rather enjoy each
Why not live a day at a time?
Inhale. Exhale. Life. Live. Today.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Holy Week

i have some non poetry reflections to share. i wrote this on Palm Sunday.

"Our King came gentle and riding on a donkey. There was no royal carpet but rather the worn cloaks of common folk. There were no banners claiming the power of his kingdom but rather branches of palm trees. There were no impressive legions of soldiers with armor but rather a band of simple disciples. There was no siege laid on the city but rather a driving out of corrupt religious leaders. A few days later our King's coronation came with a crown of thorns rather than a crown of wreath or gold. His inauguration was a lonely, brutal, torturous death on a cross. This was our King's way.

How is it that we have strayed so far from his way? He came gentle riding on a donkey but so often we come with force riding a war horse. In the prophesy of Zechariah there is no doubt that peace is the way of our King. 'I will take away the chariots of Ephraim and the war-horses from Jerusalem and the battle bow will be broken. He will proclaim peace to the nations. His rule [kingdom] will extend from sea to sea and from the River to the ends of the earth.'
We must recover the way of our King and of his Kingdom. Our allegiance cannot be split between him and anything else. Our lives are to be mirror images of his life. In an era of increasing violence, war, greed and corruption we have to choose to follow in the path of our King. The time has come for the turning over of our violent, forceful, proud, and greedy ways. The time has come to joyfully declare who are King is and all the miracles he has done. Hosanna! Save us, Lord! Blessed is he who comes in the Name of the Lord!"

a poem i will be performing tomorrow night at our Good Friday service, disgrace.

Lamb and Lion
by poetree

Behold a lamb who was slain
the souls of humanity to gain
Standing triumphantly as a lion with golden mane
It seems so insanse
But the truth is quite plain
Through him mercy falls like rain
washing Abel's blood spilled by Cain.
Freed from Egypt in the desert to train
to keep the love of God as main thain (thing)
Throughout history we strain
with our collective brain
trying so hard to explain
but only he can wash every stain
For unless it dies a grain
cannot be raised again to reign.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Solace and John 15

by: poetree

This morning I climbed a hill
Not for the thrill
But to sit alone in the snow
The only sound I heard
Was the flow
Of a river far below.
I know my soul will grow
Not from noisy distraction
But in stillness before
The only true number one attraction.

John 15

I’m a branch in the True Vine.
Oh, it is so divine
You are mighty yet kind.
Even if I could search the universe
Such love and mercy I would not find
My heart to yours Lord please bind
Like a branch in a vine.
You rescued me and cleaned
Off all this world’s slime.
Now you teach my heart
To beat in time
With yours.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

some more poems

sorry it has been 2 months since i posted last. time has flown by. here are a few more poems for you all to read. i hope that someday i will do a zine or book of poetree.

by poetree

The home of a child is a womb
Not a tomb
I refuse to be consumed
By gloom or doom
Joy growing like that of a
Hands weaving life like
Wool on a loom.

by: poetree

We want things packaged, convenient and quick
A hands-off approach to gratification.
But I’m convinced this is no way of satisfaction.
We were dirt shaped by the hands of God
In his image.
From the ground we have come
To the same we will return.
Don’t you think we should be
A little more connected
To what we came from?

Now, I’m not talking about New Age
Gaia, mother earth worship.
I’m talking about being
Of the earth.
I’m talking connection
With the food we eat
The clothes we wear
The people we meet.
Shaped earth by God’s hand
Adam (man) made to steward the land
Now so separated
Everything comes
Wrapped in plastic
Making our bodies and souls

Recovery of the One who made us
Leads to recovery of who we are.
Work the earth with your hands
Like God who did the same
And made humanity
Throw away worthless vanity.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

a few more poems.

by poetree

Blinded by her own dazzling proud arrogance
Liberty oppresses and exploits others to maintain
Her illusion of power, freedom and happiness.
In her quest to stomp out terrorism she has become
a terror using force motivated by her own fear.
Simple instinctual survival tactics dressed in fancy
political suits discerned by the keen eye seem
good to some but are empty to others.
The anxiety of threats is sedated by unchecked
materialistic greed and also greed of choices.
But there is only one King, one Lord and one Superpower.
He opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.

Psalm 23
by poetree

The Lord is our shepherd
we are his sheep.
He is our comfort
when in brokenness we weep.
He protects us
from the wolf and bear who creep.
He guides us
walks besides us
when perils are deep.
And when the wicked curse
It is us he will keep.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Introducing Poetree

The time has come for me to share a lot more of my poems, writings and thoughts. Rather than hijacking our old blog i decided to make a new one. i hope to post several times a month with new poems, thoughts, meditations and such.

please let me know your thoughts, reactions, questions and such.

by poetree

God became not just a man
but a fetus
a child they say will
lead us
this creates quite a fuss
for those of us
who think we are wise
thus we must learn to despise
the pride that will be our demise
and we must realize
humility is the greatest prize

by poetree

I once saw a picture of a man
whose face was contorted by the
pain in his hand
He was like a son of man
Led like a lamb
And i still try to understand
that this was all part of the plan.
God blessed Abraham
and his descendants would be like the sand
and when humanity ran
God came to this land
to show that only he can
blow away hate like a fan
you and i must make a stand
all suffering, injustice and war to ban.