the highest stakes always involve darkness

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yYz0JWJioOM] As Bilbo scatters chickens with his flailing arms and excited steps, a neighbor calls out haltingly, "Mr. Bilbo, where are you off to?"

Without even the slightest hesitation and between lopsided, barefoot strides he yells back, "I'm... going... on... an... adventure!"

Breathless. Flailing. Determined.

The grin that anticipates adventure somehow stretches from head to toe ... and it tingles. It's that tingly kind of grin we get when risk and purpose and fear and excitement explode in an opportunity called adventure. For some reason, we are convinced the purpose is worth the risk and the excitement is worth the fear. And probably for that same reason, we wake up like Neverland waits on the other side of our bedroom door and run down the road like we're planning to catch a ride on a magic carpet. Breathless, flailing determination that easily makes breakfast and the morning paper no longer important.

"A dark part has found a way back into the world."

The highest stakes always involve darkness. Always. There is no lopsided, barefoot run into something already discovered - something already tamed from its twilight.

Please don't misunderstand: it's not the darkness that excites, but what happens when a match is struck in a thick darkness. The danger of running into darkness is every bit worth it when you are holding what will make the dark light. The risk makes the hair stand straight up on our necks, but the thought of shedding light where darkness reigns is the reason adventure gets thick with breathless, failing determination.

Run with me and cast off your ordinary plans, but first - do you know where the darkness is and have you got any light to offer?

let LOVE fly like cRaZy

As you can tell, I am more than a little bit excited for The Hobbit to come out. I have watched this trailer over and over and over again and it never gets old. The highest stakes always involve darkness and this film will certainly paint it in its truest shade.

don't rush past this

It's Friday and my mind is not a mess. Don't rush past that sentence... it's kind of a big deal. Normally, blog posts are inspired by conflict or tension or frustration and my mind is mixed up like college freshman at orientation week luau. But, not today!

Last night I shared delicious tomato pie and conversation with friends and later processed (our code for questioning everything) with my Honduran sister. Laughter sprinkled over everything like the right amount of salt because I got up this morning rejoicing.

Don't rush past this, I keep telling myself. It's good to be serious, but OH! it's good to laugh - to breathe in deeply and enjoy all the very good things.

Last night, as Alejandra and I filled the phone line with chatter, she shared something that sent me spiraling (gladly) back into my fascination with words. She was trying to smoosh a week's worth of life into a string of words when she said,

I don't know if I should say this. I mean, I haven't told anyone here because there is no one to tell... but I haven't even thought about it until this moment. I'm saying the words right now and actually thinking about this for the first time. If I say it, then... words have power and I will start thinking about it more. When I speak it, it's real, you know?

I think she probably put it together a little differently, but that was the gist. Words have power. About that, I was already convinced. But, the way she said it made me think. Thoughts just hang in the air without consequence, but speaking thoughts into words is like putting weights on balloons... or putting weights on stars that then make a terrain-altering crater.

I shared what mesmerizes me the same glorious amount no matter how many times I speak it: In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God (John 1:1) and then God said (Genesis 1:3). Back when things were formless and void, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit creatively conspired and then SPOKE. We speak and we describe things, but God speaks and things are. He chose to use language and from His words came galaxies and planets and gravity and microorganisms. After His words formed the world, God kept speaking. Throughout all of the Old Testament, we listen for God's words to the Israelites - his instruction, rebuke, correction, and encouragement. And then, after 400 years of silence, God's words became a human. The WORD of God was walking around, stretching his little arms in the morning light and breaking bread around a table for the evening meal. The Word of God - the very language of Creation - was one man. In the Word (Jesus) all things hold together (Colossians 1:17). All things.

Whew.

Words have power and that's why I'm type-speaking the wonder of this morning into existence. I won't let it rush past, because it's Friday and my mind is not a mess.

There is laughter hidden in the most unlikely of places today and I intend to find all of it.

let LOVE fly like cRaZy

hit by a train

The second time she told me I was really listening.

It's like I told you, Care. Being saved is like getting hit by a train. I imagine there are millions of pieces just splattered everywhere... and that's the end of it. Only a miracle - a straight up act of God Himself - could manage to fit those pieces together. Only God could make me whole after a disaster like that.

She was talking about salvation and this time I was really listening. I already knew Alejandra's life was a miracle, but hearing her tell her salvation story made me realize how little I had to do with it. It was really always this: she had stepped into the path of destruction and then God stepped in to offer a miracle - a life that is whole.

The next thing she said shouldn't have been shocking, but there is always more to learn about salvation.

I don't understand how people can have a middle phase to faith. I mean, when you get hit by a train, you either stay blasted in pieces or there is a miracle to make you whole.

And that's the truth. There's no "call me, maybe" in this scenario, no lukewarm in this salvation equation. The only way to be sure you are "in" is to think you must be "out" (to borrow from Tim Keller). The only way to experience the highest delight in this life is to know that it is a miracle of grace to experience anything at all.

We must never, ever lose sight of that train or the tracks that we tread toward our destruction. We must never, ever lose sight of the magnitude of the miracle that put life in our dead bones.

And if you are still on the tracks, blasted into bits by your own doing, know that there is One who desires you do not remain destroyed. And He is the One with the power to do something about it.

let LOVE fly like cRaZy

the Priest who sat down

I was doing arithmetic to the rhythm of the running path tonight...And things were adding up like this:

3 weeks 1 summer camp 1 missions conference 4 states 5 jobs 5 different beds 1 parent meeting 3 days of family reunion hundreds of smiles, sighs, and near-tears _____________________________

Arithmetic is not my thing, so I shook the numbers out of my head and thought about Old Testament priests. I thought back to their days full to brimming with activity - with messy, bloody, smelly activity. A priest's job was never done. He would never get home at night and know that any real progress had been made. He would always, always have work and it would always, always be blood-drenched.

The entire vocation of "priest" was set up (in grace) because of man's sin revealed through the law given to Moses. The people in Nehemiah 8 wept as they understood how far they had fallen from right relationship with the Lord. The distance was so far that there was no hope of recovery. The people listened to the Book of Law and looked at the chasm created by their sin and they knew - there was no way to reach right relationship with the Lord again. So they wept ... and the priests worked overtime with blood-soaked hands because the chasm was so great.

The system was intricate and difficult to maintain, but the priests returned to work every day after blood-filled day because it was the only way that sin would find atonement.

And then there was Jesus. Oh, I love my Jesus.

Jesus, the great High Priest, stepped into the chasm that couldn't be filled for thousands of years to accomplish what could never be bought by thousands of sacrifices. All those trips to the temple - all those long voyages - came to an end when Christ set his face toward Jerusalem.

He was the sacrifice that ended all other sacrifices because His was sufficient.

The temple no longer needed to bustle with bloody activity and the work of the priests changed overnight... and Jesus sat down. Though Jesus is the great High Priest (a vocation that would mean work without end), He sat down at the right hand of the Father (Mark 16:19).

There is something about the Truth of what Christ accomplished on the cross that can be claimed when mornings look menacing and when minutes refuse to stretch a moment further.

Jesus accomplished what nothing else could to offer what nothing else can and there's not a single shred of doubt about it. The weight of His confidence is measured in His sure, seated posture next to His Father.

And that is why all my numbers smashed in to all my days inside of weeks point to One blood-soaked sacrifice and all the peace of a seated King.

let LOVE fly like cRaZy

longing for a home

On my 15 hour trip across Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, and Michigan, I finally had time to process Van Gogh's letters to his brother Theo. The lyrics to the new Matthew Perryman Jones song, "O Theo" have accompanied many of my night runs, but I hadn't realized they were so old. They date back to intimate correspondence between Van Gogh and his brother and one such letter inspired this especially earnest and confessional song. There's something magnetic about the words - something that pulls you in and makes you listen to what was painfully penned from a brother to a brother of a dreadful waywardness.

Under the silence of water, Into a sky full of birds Out from the land of our fathers, I am falling on your words, Oh...

Dark as the night of a preacher, I made a bed out of hay They paid me a handful of money, I gave it all away... All away...

And the righteous raised their stones And the devil threw his arrow That was longing for a home With nowhere to go, Oh, Theo...

In the half-life of the city, She took off all of her clothes I flew from the height of the mountains Into a valley of dry bones All alone

Then my heart was still unknown I was drunk and full of sorrows I was longing for a home With nowhere to go, Oh, Theo...

So, I set fires of starlight, To burn up against the despair I was caught in the tangles of midnight's Long, unanswered prayer: 'Are you there?'

And the light of morning grows On a field of fallen sparrows I was longing for a home With nowhere to go, Oh, Theo...

Are you pulled in to Van Gogh's plea for a home? Does something deep inside turn over when you read about his waywardness?

Van Gogh describes his desperate and failed attempts to cure himself of loneliness. He reaches out and lays all things bare, longing for a home.

In a phone conversation the other night, I heard the same longing - a beautiful soul captured by grace who longed for the security of "home" without the fear of abandonment. I heard her confession of sin and her fragile hope of new life. I heard fear drip from every excuse as she listed reasons why now is a hard time to turn from sin.

And right there we called spades "spades." We agreed about her sin and the fear that made her cling to it. We agreed that her life looked like Jesus hadn't accomplished anything on the cross - that He wasn't capable of holding her up when her world crashed.

We agreed that Jesus wanted a complete turn from sin so that she could look Him fully in the face and hear the words, "Child, you are mine."

I remember sitting on my friend's porch a cool, August night in high school. I remember trying desperately to convince my friend that I had sin to deal with. I remember my friend saying, "That's it?"

We all get desperate and blinded by sin. The only hope of redemption we have is to believe that Christ willingly stood in the place of that sin (because it is sin) and continually sits at the right hand of God interceding for us, not that we would continue in sin but that we would enjoy the freedom that comes through repentance.

And it is with this honest, repentant heart that we do find a home that is secure.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6XQGU0LMJLQ]

on guilt in life

No guilt in life, no fear in death. This is the power of Christ in me.

These lines from "In Christ Alone" make my bottom lip tremble. Now more than yesterday and tomorrow more than today. More and more I feel the power of Christ in me conquering the death in me.  Because, with awful dread in my bones, my guilt grows as my soul expresses all the ways it's prone to wander. And I hate it.

I hate feeling schmoozed and stunted by temptation, knowing I can look back and see my own willful footsteps led me to the place I despise.

Jared Wilson writes in his book, "Gospel Wakefulness,"

The gradual dawn of gospel wakefulness is occurring for you as the Spirit brings your sin to mind, pours more grace upon you, and bears more fruit of good character and good works in you. To this end, then, you should read the gospel, listen to the gospel, sing the gospel, write the gospel, share the gospel, and preach the gospel, all the while asking God to administer its power more and more to your life.

As my sin comes to mind (and there's never a shortage), I pray the gospel quickly follows to fill in all that's empty and mend all that's broken.

The gospel is news like the tsunami was news and the presidential race is news and the fall of the Berlin wall was big news. The gospel is news because it happened.

But, if the gospel is going to transform the way I wake up, the way I look at the night sky, and the way I grieve after a funeral, then the heavy joy of the gospel news must come from my heavy and agonizing awareness of what it accomplished.

"No guilt in life" is not so simply stated. The power of Christ in me reminds me of my guilt, of the weight of it. Christ overcame a world of guilt in my life - a world of growing, messy guilt that weighs more than I can bear.

Christ did not die for my sin. Christ died for me, a sinner.

And there is sweet, sweet joy for broken spirits. Sweet, deep, beautiful joy for those keenly aware of the power and depth of their rescue.

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let LOVE fly like cRaZy

*This reflection will be one of many as I read through Jared Wilson's "Gospel Wakefulness." 

marginal utility | maximum authority

Derek: Ah, yes (eating the half-popped kernels at the bottom of our popcorn machine)! These have such a great marginal utility. Me: (blank stare)

Derek: Oh, you don't know what marginal utility is? It's the best concept in economics. I love it. Seriously, it's so cool! It's basically all I remember from that class.

Me: (still blank stare) I want to believe that's true, but the most I know about economy right now is that mine is not so hot.

Derek: (laughter) Well, okay. Utility is, like, the satisfaction someone has after consuming a certain amount of something. Usually, the more you consume, the more satisfaction you have. Marginal utility is... the satisfaction you get with each extra amount of consumption. Like, these kernels. The marginal utility is super high when I eat the first few - super beneficial and satisfying to me. Eventually, the marginal utility will go down because it's no longer satsifying. (holding up a kernel)

Me: Uh-huh. Sounds interesting. I'll probably write a blog about it.

I sent Derek a text that night because I forgot the word, but now that I have it, I'm intrigued on several levels. It's strange to me that economy has something to say about measuring satisfaction and that measuring satisfaction has something to say about economy AND that there are technical terms to describe the relationship.

As I read Nancy Pearcey's book, "Saving Leonardo," I'm on the hunt for ways we've separated things (through dualism) in our lives that were meant to be seen as a whole. Take life, for example.

Recently, an article came out from several medical ethicists who proposed that a newborn baby was really no different than a fetus - "morally irrelevant" and only a "potential person." The article has since been taken down from the internet, but this is not the first brush modern culture has had with the "personhood debate." In Pearcey's book, she references Miranda Sawyer, an English journalist who identified as a pro-choice feminist... until she became pregnant and was faced with a dilemma. What would she call the thing growing inside her? She came to the conclusion that, "In the end, I have to agree that life begins at conception, but perhaps the fact of life isn't what is important. It's whether that life has grown enough to start becoming a person." That is how she reconciled the two truths competing for her worldview - she didn't. She was content to settle for piecemeal what was meant to be whole.

Pearcey writes,

"Ever since antiquity, of course, most cultures have assumed that a human being comprises both physical and spiritual elements - body and soul. What is novel in our day is that these two elements have been split apart and redefined in terms that are outright contradictory. As we will see, the human body is regarded as nothing but a complex mechanism, in accord with a modernist conception of science (the fact realm). By contrast, the human person is defined in terms of ungrounded choice and autonomy, in accord with a postmodernist conception of the self (the value realm). These two concepts interact in a deadly dualism to shape contemporary debates over abortion, euthanasia, sexuality, and the other life issues." (Saving Leonardo p. 49)

Life was never meant to be divided into science and values; fact and fantasy; real truth and livable truth, but that's what we've allowed our culture to do. Somewhere along the lines, I've let journalists and science books and professors of the "facts" create another stage on which to shine. See, this whole time we've been thinking that science is trying to steal the spotlight and what's really happened is that secularism is basking in an entirely different, man-made stage with a different story.

The problem is this: there is only one story. There is only one reason why the first popcorn kernels mean a great marginal utility for Derek and it isn't economics. Economics might explain some true trends, but that doesn't give economics the power to write a new story. There is truth in science and there is truth in politics and there is truth in the worn pages of my C.S. Lewis library, but no truth contradicts itself because it is one story. God's story.

                                                              Let LOVE fly like cRaZy

“We are to magnify Christ, not like a microscope magnifies things but like a telescope magnifies things. Microscopes make small things look big; but telescopes make seemingly small things look like they really are: Huge!” ~John Piper

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=yg7WI1nSMo4]

spinning around inside a story

Not that long ago, I watched the film Tree of Life with some friends and promised myself that I would give it the mental attention it deserved. These are the notes I had to work with:

So... when I finally got around to writing about the film, it was too big to smoosh into a single blog post. I pushed it to the place cobwebs creep in my mind and agreed it was something to "come back to" when it didn't feel like the philosophical dump truck unloaded on my brain's front stoop.

Yesterday, the Tree of Life found it's way through the cobwebs by way of another film - a bookumentary. Notes from a Tilt-A-Whirl has been on my "to do" list for an impressive long while. My motivation to see this "idea film" greatly increased when the time on my iTunes rental was running out. Last night, I finally found some kindred spirits who would commit 51 minutes to run after an author's ramblings. With the storytelling fervor of Donald Miller and cinematography resembling Rob Bell, N. D. Wilson takes you through each chapter of his book, "Notes From a Tilt-A-Whirl" in a way that simultaneously appeals to your mind and your heart. With Creation as his backdrop, Wilson wrestles through topics like philosophy, academia, suffering, and why every person should view life as an art appreciator.

[vimeo http://www.vimeo.com/22625093 w=400&h=225]

Notes from the Tilt-A-Whirl Movie Trailer from Gorilla Poet Productions on Vimeo.

In the hours after Wilson closed his last chapter, I realized why I appreciated the Tree of Life. It wasn't for it's overt declaration of Truth or it's objective dealing with the meaning of life. The most valuable message was one of beauty.

The world is a beautiful place. Scarred, true, but oh-so-beautiful.

Once one makes this admission of beauty, there are more questions to answer. Where does it come from? Does it always win? Why does it lose? Do we control it? Who decides what beauty is? How many beauties are there - just one kind? (C.S. Lewis dealt with this subject masterfully in his book, "Abolition of Man" when he discusses the miseducation of children)

All these questions, bound together by the tension in the nature vs. grace conflict, demand resolution. Whether Tree of Life sufficiently answers these questions never concerned me, because I was too busy being impressed by the way beauty and tragedy were communicated so clearly.

But, last night, as we watched Notes From a Tilt-A-Whirl around my 13 inch Mac laptop screen, I marveled that there is more beauty. We were never meant to be satisfied merely admiring the beauty of the Ultimate Artist. We are meant to live the beauty - to interact and understand and breathe the beauty. We are meant to do what is impossible through the One who makes impossible things happen (see Ephesians).

We are meant to look at what has baffled philosophers and tormented academicians and take in all the beauty of Truth with the humble reverence of a child in the dreamiest of castles.

The castle is very much real - there is no use arguing otherwise. We waste much time and miss much beauty by arguing its existence.

More to come... meanwhile, watch the film so I have more people with who I can process its merits!

this & that

I was wondering why I had so many tabs open on my browser, but then I realized it's because I haven't done a "this & that" post recently. So, here it is, folks. I hope you enjoy and at least click on ONE interesting thing that pops out at you.

  • If you've mailed something funny (or wanted to) you should check out this collection! Here is an example: this is fishing line!!
  • I thought this article over at Tim Challies blog was interesting. Taken from R.C. Sproul's book, Now, That's a Good Question, this excerpt brings up some things that have been the topic of several conversations lately. I like what he says here, "If a person is in Christ and Christ is in that person, it is impossible for the Christian not to move, to grow." Read the rest here.
  • This is ... interesting. It's a video clip where author David Dark interviews musician David Bazan. My friend calls it "The Bazan Syndrome," characterized by the obsession of asking without really wanting to arrive at any particular answer. What do you think? Watch the video (it's short) and see if you are encouraged, frustrated, or just confused.
  •  I unintentionally got into a funny little comment war recently. One of my favorite blogs posted a link to an article about Christian singles/dating/blind dates and I wrote something in the comments about disliking what feminism did for my chances and then, "I wish I could just send a memo to theologically sound males: I'm not looking for a stay-at-home dad or someone who takes orders. I'm looking for someone who I can support as he passionately pursues the Lord." A guy wrote back about how all girls want these days is someone with "a sense of humor" and a gal-pal type who would be a co-wife. Yeah, he said that. Anyway, I didn't realize this was happening until I checked back and saw there were a slew of comments following mine. All of that to say, this article, "Mentoring Future Leaders: A Priority for Your To-Do List" gets EXACTLY at what I wish was happening more often. I have felt for a long time (I even spoke with my childhood pastor while I was still in college) a passion for men to rise up and lead the church. My heart is that I would be part of the encouragement to make that happen.
  • Have you heard of Adultolescence? It is as lame as it sounds. Listen to this message by John Piper that he gave to college students recently. Maybe it will, as my History teacher used to always say, "put a fire in their bellies."
  • Last... this is a good one. I love Andreé Seu and her style of writing. Read this article from yesterday about apathy. You might relate to this scenario - there is an invitation to stay after church to hear such-and-such missionary. You decide those ham balls you made sound so much more enticing. Check it out here. Here's a sneak peek:

But then I thought about Judges, Ezra, Nehemiah, and Haggai. Do you know what sin God inveighs against in all these books? Yep, the sin of apathy. The sin of indifference. The sin of losing interest in God’s work, and slacking off. We are not talking about murder or adultery here, or even grumbling or complaining.

In Judges, the Israelite juggernaut that was so vital in Joshua’s day grinds to a trickle by the end of the chapter one. The various tribes assigned to take out the Canaanites on their respective parcels of land find excuses for defeat.

So, that's about it. Let me know what you think. Meanwhile, I'll be letting

LOVE fly like cRaZy

pink grass - an illustration

A couple weeks ago, I wrote the post, "what if the grass was pink?" and thought it made all sorts of sense (of course, all my ideas do... in my head). Judging from my sister's blank stare and a stranger's lengthy comments about how I wanted to dismantle the entire psychiatric system (among other things), I decided I had maybe missed my mark. This is my attempt to give an illustration that will hopefully make it more understandable and less like I want someone on acid to take over the world. This is an exercise in imagination, so put on your best thinking hat. Ready?

A collection of cans of paint and other relate...

-------

Imagine a palette of paints with every color possible (I know, it's a pretty big paint palette). Now, imagine your world in monochrome. Imagine everything you see and touch today as some shade of black/white/gray. Imagine the computer screen and your clothes and your make up and the flowers on the table and the sun outside... imagine everything you see is like the world of "I Love Lucy."

Things are pretty dull in the colorless world, yes?

Okay. Now go back to that palette of paints with every possible color (even colors we can't think up). Imagine someone choosing, color by color, how to bring your world to life. With an infinite palette of options, the possibilities are endless.

Roses could be... turquoise. Tree trunks might be... sapphire. Sunlight will be... purple.

--------

It's not hard to imagine ourselves as artists painting a canvas where up is down and the sunshine glows blue. I suppose today they call it abstract.

So, why is it so hard to imagine the infinite number of options God had when He created everything in the beginning? We've since found thousands of reasons to explain WHY the sun shines golden and the grass grows green, but couldn't it have turned out differently?

God could have chosen any color to paint the sky. He chose blue. Now there is a whole new beauty wrapped up in the mystery of a blue sky. God could have chosen any of an infinite amount of colors. He chose blue.

Yes, we can explain why it is blue scientifically, but it didn't have to be blue. God didn't consult science textbooks as he spoke things into existence, to see whether certain color combinations were possible or if the law of gravity would really be universal.

Science just attempts to explain how God ordered everything by divine choice.

If the sky was green we would find scientific support that would lead us to believe it couldn't be any other way.

And that is how we cheat ourselves out of the magic of Creation. I mean magic in a good and not creepy sense. I mean... the look you got in your eyes when you first saw fireworks because you didn't think such beautiful explosions possible. I mean... the building emotion you feel when you watch a stunning sunset or witness a double rainbow or wake up to see mysterious fog lifting from a lake.

There is a healthy sense of awe I hope I always feel when I stop to think about how (out of an infinite palette of options) God chose the luscious color green for grass. Because, you see, it could be pink.

making late night a great night

An old Diet Coke Can

Late night in the field. I thought I would crash when I caught sight of my pillow... turns out a Diet Coke at 11 pm keeps me rocking it until right around 2 am.

I wanted to post this quote before I forgot. I think it gives us some needed perspective about hope. "Hope has to do with the knowledge of the age to come." What, my friend, do you know of the coming age? If it gives you hope, go ahead and SHARE that with someone today!

Christian hope is not about wishing things will get better. It is not about hoping that emptiness will go away, meaning return, and life will be stripped of its uncertainties, aches, and anxieties. Nor does it have anything to do with techniques for improving fallen human life, be those therapeutic, spiritual, or even religious.

 

Hope has to do with the knowledge of ‘the age to come.’ This redemption is already penetrating ‘this age.’ The sin, death, and meaninglessness of the one age are being transformed by the righteousness, life and meaning of the other. What has emptied out life, what has scarred and blackened it, is being displaced by what is rejuvenating and transforming it.

 

More than that, hope is hope because it knows it has become part of a realm, a kingdom, that endures. It knows that evil is doomed, that it will be banished. This kind of hope has left behind it the ship of ‘this age,’ which is sinking.

- David F. Wells

What a blessed hope we have! In the moments before I slip into dreamland, I'm loving this song by Sojourn Music.

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what if grass was pink?

I recently watched Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (one of my absolute faves) and remembered why it is so magical. "Fantasmagorical" is exactly RIGHT!

 

It also got me thinking about G.K. Chesterton (I like to call him GK or Gilbert) because I finished Orthodoxy not too long ago and it's been on my mind ever since. In the book, he essentially debunks the current philosophies contrary to Christianity, but he takes a very charming and unorthodox route - by way of his own story.

I am the absolute worst summarize-r, so I am just going to give you a few nuggets (as my friend Becca would say). Chesterton compares the tales of the childhood nursery with the mature practicality we are expected to grow into as we age. This world (we are taught) is a place where pigs can't fly, pumpkins are never carriages, and grass is the color green. These things are true because they just are and we must believe them because not believing them would not make them any less true. I agree with Chesterton when he says this mature practicality is unbelievably boring and I simply refuse to grow into it.

Sure, the grass is green. Sure, the fact that it is green is explainable by pages of science and double-checked research.

But where is the magic of the nursery rhyme? Of the beanstalk that reaches the sky?

Magic has no place in reality, you say (followed by "you poor, ignorant fool" under your breath).

This is where I like GK so much. Here he explains we can indeed be certain of some things, by way of reason, but that does not lead us to believe all things in the same way.

There are certain sequences or developments (cases of one thing following another), which are, in the true sense of the word, reasonable. They are, in the true sense of the word, necessary. Such are mathematical and merely logical sequences. We in fairyland (who are the most reasonable of all creatures) admit that reason and that necessity. For instance, if the Ugly Sisters are older than Cinderella, it is (in an iron and awful sense) NECESSARY that Cinderella is younger than the Ugly Sisters. There is no getting out of it. Haeckel may talk as much fatalism about that fact as he pleases: it really must be. If Jack is the son of a miller, a miller is the father of Jack. Cold reason decrees it from her awful throne: and we in fairyland submit. If the three brothers all ride horses, there are six animals and eighteen legs involved: that is true rationalism, and fairyland is full of it. But as I put my head over the hedge of the elves and began to take notice of the natural world, I observed an extraordinary thing. I observed that learned men in spectacles were talking of the actual things that happened—dawn and death and so on—as if THEY were rational and inevitable. They talked as if the fact that trees bear fruit were just as NECESSARY as the fact that two and one trees make three. But it is not. There is an enormous difference by the test of fairyland; which is the test of the imagination. You cannot IMAGINE two and one not making three. But you can easily imagine trees not growing fruit; you can imagine them growing golden candlesticks or tigers hanging on by the tail.

Chesterton was observing that people were taking this "reason" and applying it to all things in the natural world as if they were "rational and inevitable." How dreadful - that everything would have a perfectly good explanation! GK goes on to explain how imagination helps us marvel at all the pieces that don't fit together - everything is not here by some rational calculation. The grass is green, but it could have been PINK or blue for that matter. Things (material and otherwise) are as they are, but it could have turned out in a zillion different ways. Who are we to say that when we cut a tree it has to fall? God could have chosen to make it float or melt or disappear.

I love this comparison to Crusoe that Chesterton uses to bring back some of the wonder we should feel at every thing revealed in Creation.

But I really felt (the fancy may seem foolish) as if all the order and number of things were the romantic remnant of Crusoe’s ship. That there are two sexes and one sun, was like the fact that there were two guns and one axe. It was poignantly urgent that none should be lost; but somehow, it was rather fun that none could be added. The trees and the planets seemed like things saved from the wreck: and when I saw the Matterhorn I was glad that it had not been overlooked in the confusion. I felt economical about the stars as if they were sapphires (they are called so in Milton’s Eden): I hoarded the hills. For the universe is a single jewel, and while it is a natural cant to talk of a jewel as peerless and priceless, of this jewel it is literally true. This cosmos is indeed without peer and without price: for there cannot be another one.

This might be too much for your Sunday afternoon. I get it.

But, if your imagination is rusty enough that you can't picture purple grass, I'd challenge you to a duel. I would say you can bring your reason and I'll bring my imagination and we'll see who is standing at the end of a little tussle. Or maybe I should say, we'll see who is smiling.

I don't know... it's just these things I'm thinking about on a Sunday afternoon. I'm loving the grass not because it had to be green, but because it could be so many other colors.

What are your thoughts, friend? What color can you imagine the grass in your yard today?

If you wonder what all this GK stuff is about, check out Orthodoxy online!

Oh, and don't forget to

let LOVE fly like cRaZy

(postscript: if this makes no sense at all, you should check out this illustration I wrote to help fill in the blank spaces... people have told me pink grass makes MUCH more sense after the illustration!)

praise God for mercies anew!

It's all about perspective, I suppose. Today, looking back on yesterday, I can see God's promises never changed. Things are brighter and more hopeful today, but not because circumstances have made them that way, but because I'm viewing them in light of who God is instead of who I am. My statement, "I need" is just as true today, but the difference is a focus on God's provision.

As I'm thinking about all this, I realized a lesson that should still be fresh on my heart. Last Friday, a mission group from Missouri came to lead our staff in worship. Within the first few opening lines, I expected a fire-and-brimstone type of message (mainly due to the drawled accent and vocal inflection characteristic of preaching, pot-stirrers). But, I can say truly the power of that message was something deeper than delivery. Praise God He is gracious with us and promises His Word will never return void.

So, the message focused on Colossians 1:9-12, where Paul prays in earnest for these fellow believers. The pastor summed up how we can pray in the same way with these simple pleas:

verse 9 Lord, help us know what to do (Discernment) verse 10 Lord, help us do what we know (Discipline) verse 11 Lord, help us do it with the power You provide (Dependence) verse 11 Lord, help us keep doing it (Determination) verse 12 Lord, help us do it with joyful thanksgiving! (Delight)

I walked right up to him afterwards and asked if there was a way I could get a transcript of the sermon. Sure enough, the sermon showed up in my email today. I almost deleted it (because his name is a little strange), but when I opened it and saw the kind message and the sermon attached, I knew it was more than him keeping his promise. In my state of need yesterday, I prayed and vented and asked for support.

In God's grace, today He gave provision by way of this sermon, smiling faces, and a light heart.

Today, my word is THANKFUL.

let LOVE fly like cRaZy

this also happened on Friday ...