the beauty of holiness

As a follow up to yesterday (and as a point of clarification), I'll let John Piper give a little background for the "killing sin" comment in my post. This is an excerpt from the sermon yesterday that concluded the conference, available here in manuscript form.

The beauty of holiness in God’s children is the harmony, or the concord, between our lives and the infinite value of all God is. And that God predestined us to holiness because his aim is that earth be filled with the beauty of holiness — the expression of the infinite worth of his transcendent fullness.

And on the way to that predestined beauty we have seen that God cancelled the sins of his people by the death of his Son. And then he commanded that we break the power of this cancelled sin — that we kill sin and pursue holiness. And then he instructed us to act the miracle of holiness by the power of the Spirit, and because he is at work in us to will and to do this very miracle. He authors it, we act it. And then he showed us that we tap into this sanctifying, sin-killing, holiness-producing power by the hearing of faith. By hearing all that God promises to be for us in Jesus, and embracing this as our supremely satisfying treasure.

I love that "on the way to that predestined beauty we have seen that God cancelled the sins of his people by the death of his Son."

We are swept up into this way-more-than-my-lifetime journey toward predestined beauty, but not by accident or afterthought. We are swept up intentionally, commanded to break the power of our cancelled sin and instructed to act this miracle of sanctification by the power of the Spirit and through the hearing of faith. On the way to an end God could already be enjoying, He sets us (saints in Christ's name) on the holiness path with eyes to see both the abundant joy of the path and the unbelievable delight in God's aim is to fill the whole earth with His holiness.

Do I make much of my Savior - do I love Him supremely by acting the miracles He has authored in my life?

I'm still chewing on this, but there's plenty of meat to go around. What are your thoughts?

let LOVE fly like cRaZy

God the author, we the actors

I assume a certain posture when words escape me. Thankfully, it's a much more culturally acceptable posture than the one of my mind in the same moment (jumping, leaping, and exploding with wild gestures). It looks like pursed lips, furrowed and thoughtful brows, shoulders bent in, and eyes fixated on the thought threatening to wriggle free of my grasp. This is how I spent the weekend - with body borderline catatonic while my mind raced after revelations that came as a steady stream through the preaching and teaching from the Word at the Desiring God Conference. My pen sped across journal pages to scratch out notes and doodle inspirations; every once in a while I would nod or grunt or breathe out an "Amen!" with an agreement my heart could feel.

I think I would say this is one of many postures of praise, informed by a grace I still don't fully appreciate. It is in this posture I heard these words,

God works in you as the Author of the miracle and then you act the miracle.

Jesus gave sight to the blind, but it is the blind man who opened his eyes to do the seeing. Jesus healed the lame man, but it was the lame man who stood up to do the walking. Jesus canceled my debt of sin at the cross (Colossians 2:15), but it is I who must do the living out of my new sinless status. Through faith, it is I who must daily conquer that canceled sin by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Imagine if the blind man had not opened his eyes or the lame man had not stood up to walk. Imagine the miracles begging to be acted out, already authored by God but with hearts unwilling to be the actors. If the blind man does not open his eyes or the lame man does not stand, there is no evidence that he can see or stand. We must act out this miracle because in its acting out we see its reality.

I must act the miracle God authored because, as John Piper said, "Killing sin - pursuing holiness - is essential for salvation. The will to kill sin is the SIGN that sin is canceled."

Whooooosh. Like the thrill in knowing a roller coaster must descend with the rush of gravity after climbing to its highest height, my heart raced with these words that explained a truth already hidden in my soul.

Though my arms waved wildly in my mind, I maintained my outward posture of praise as I considered sanctification. I felt literally swept up in the joy and exhilaration of acting out the miracle God has already authored in my life. The process of becoming holy begins with the reality that God is holy - and we are invited to share in His holiness (Hebrews 12:10).

We are invited to be like God (1 Peter 1:14-16) as we effectively conform our feelings, thoughts, and actions into complete harmony the infinite worth of the transcendent, trinitarian fullness of God.

What. an. invitation.

let LOVE fly like cRaZy

when home is hard to... define

If you ever want to get good and sad, do a search in your iTunes for the word "home." I trimmed the playlist to 50, but that's 3:30:06 worth of accompaniment for where I'm not. I've got quite the assortment - from the Peasall Sisters to Coheed and Cambria, from Matthew Mayfield to Waterdeep and from Eliza Doolittle to Trent Dabbs, from Mark Scibila to Iron & Wine and Mates of State to Sarah Jarosz. Simon & Garfunkel even make an appearance, followed by Phil Wickham and William Fitzsimmons.

And they are all singing, desperate and hopeful, about home.

I can't really explain it, but these melodies rustle up a restlessness that says, "You're not home in this moment" and it doesn't even matter where my feet are currently planted. I could be standing in the middle of my childhood home or lounging in one of 10 places I've called "home" since then and it wouldn't matter. There's something distinctly not home-y about life and there are reasons to be discontent about it.

Come on, join in with me. Throw your discontent in my kettle and we'll stir us up some comfort food.

I'm not where I thought I would be at 27... I really wish I had the kind of friends who... It seems like nobody really knows me around here... My laundry does not have the "this definitely came from my house" smell... I can manage to go from Monday - Friday completely anonymous, if I want... If only I could get away and have some time to think... I would feel at home if I was a "regular" at the coffee shop... Home feels more like a tractor when I'm at an office desk and more like an office desk when I'm in a tractor...

I don't know what makes where you are not home, but it's a funny science - this discontent. I think I realized as my heart beat along with the rhythm of these tunes that I need to add home and here and there to the list of "things to hold loosely."

When we are tempted into discontent about the place we find our two feet (for all the pages of reasons we rush to number), it's okay to be honest. It's okay to sing sad songs about home and speak our discontent into the unforgiving air.

But discontent will become our sin when we hold too tightly and hope too strongly for what we don't have.... then discontent becomes a bitter root or a seed of jealousy. Our comfort in the most desperate, sojourning moments is that our always home is not attached to location or city or nation.

In those kind of moments - when I think about all the places I am not - I breathe deep and trust that God is.

If you need to speak your wandering, sojourning spirit into the unforgiving air today, here are some tunes. But, please, don't hold too tightly or hope too strongly for what you don't have.

You have an invitation to always home.

[vimeo http://vimeo.com/37645381]

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dHAZz6HqJ8U]

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zM3-gGB_rMw]

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rbr80q4Rq1o]

Here is the one you listen to when you realize where you are always home.

let LOVE fly like cRaZy

wherever your feet are planted in this moment

why a scrunched up nose is never becoming

Awhile back my brother said something that got under my skin. I mean, really got good and messy - hit a nerve I think because I flared up real defensive like. He said he hoped I wasn't becoming a cynic.

I scoffed and stuttered and scrunched up my nose in protest. Cynic? Me? The one who thinks optimistically about how many plans can be overlapped in one day and about how many grocery bags can be carried at once and that if you sing a song loud enough or dance a jig brave enough the whole world will notice? Me?

I didn't take it very well.

He brought it up because I wasn't really a fan of the newest social justice movement to hit social media. I wasn't against it, necessarily, but I wasn't throwing money in their direction either. The way I described it to my brother Sam was like this, "There are a lot of good things going on out there - a lot of people doing good. I just choose to support other causes."

Recently, while reading "A Praying Life" by Paul Miller, I decided it was about the shape of my eyes and the scrunch of my nose when I look at the world. I would never describe myself as a cynic, but there are times when I look at the world like nothing is possible. Like we're "headed to hell in a handbasket" and "if you can't beat 'em, join 'em" - all the older folk, that is, who sit in the diners with 50 cent bottomless coffees and talk about how "everything's gone to pot."

Maybe that's when having an old soul is unfortunate - when you feel like you've seen enough of life to know that people don't follow through and good causes are corrupt and you can't even trust your own resolve.

That's when I realized the danger of furrowed eyebrows and a scrunched up nose. There's no wonder in that facial expression; no joy in the possibility of ANYTHING being possible. The danger of furrowed eyebrows and a scrunched up nose is what we don't want to grow up into. Because we never want to grow out of wide-eyed wonder. Never. Well, I don't at least. I always want to breathe hope in with deep, lung-filling breaths.

I want to live like everything is possible - like one person really can move a mountain by faith or bring a rainstorm with prayer or heal a paralytic with petitions. I want to believe that God could paint the sky in new colors tonight and that tomorrow I could wake up and not need my glasses (I always squint like spiderman to see if I'm cured).

I want to live like everything is possible because a scrunched up nose is never becoming. It's  not attractive to throw water on the fire in people's bellies and I think that's sometimes what I do with my scrunched up nose.

Today was gloriously opposite a scrunched up nose. Today FILLED to overflowing with possibility and I'm still drinking it in as my fingers stiffen with the cool, autumn air on the back porch. Today, my eyes were wide with the wonder of Creation singing the praise of its Creator while I breathed in deep so I could sing along.

I sent my brother a text the other day to thank him for calling me out. It probably seemed strange that it took me so long, but I'm thankful even if I am slow in learning.

let LOVE fly like cRaZy

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fz4ZOAsjW6g&feature=related] Thanks, Amanda, for delighting my ears with this brilliance!

shouting praise with sinner-strangers

Lord of all the earth we shout Your name, shout Your nameFilling up the skies with endless praise, endless praise Yahweh, Yahweh! We love to shout Your name O, Lord!

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S0eL88Zufic&feature=related]

There was something sacred about a the crowd of sinners filling up the Knapp Center with praise last night. And I'm not just saying that because sacred sounds postmodern and ambiguous and the right kind of religious. I use the word sacred because sometimes I need to shake off all my cynicism about Christian music and shout the name of the Lord with a bunch of stranger-sinners because the Lord deserves my praise.

Period.

I didn't know very many people - what kind of car they drove up in or what kind of family situation they'd be driving back to after we all filed out - but we must have all understood the invitation to fill the skies with praise. I was literally sing-shouting in harmonizing fashion and I couldn't stop the grin that raced across my face. I felt like Will Ferrell in Elf,"I'm in love, I'm in love and I don't care who knows it."

J.I. Packer said, "Any theology that does not lead to song is, at a fundamental level, a flawed theology." And sometimes we have to start singing to remember all the songs hidden in our hearts. Sometimes we get wrapped up in the time signature and the notes on the page and the really tricky key change on page 43... and we forget to sing.

We forget all His benefits. We forget His abundant goodness. We forget what we once were. We forget He is the Giver of every good and perfect gift.

We forget to sing.

I really did get a little overwhelmed - thinking about all the sin we brought into that place; all the brokenness and despair and guilt and regret that hung on us like dark clouds. Sin is not unfortunate or uncomfortable - not something we can "get over" or medicate with the right public service announcement. I got overwhelmed because there was a song on the other side of the dark clouds hanging from all of us sinner-strangers.

There is a song to sing when we step back and look at the sheet music and realize the Lord of all the Earth upholds all who are falling and raises up all who are bowed down. He is Provider, satisfying the desires of every living thing. He is righteous and kind and near to those who call on Him in truth (Psalm 145:14-18 paraphrase).

His response to a bunch of sinner-strangers singing His praise is delight. He delights in the praises of His people (Psalm 149:4). He delights. The Lord of all the Earth delights when sinner-strangers sing His praise.

Please, let's not forget to sing.

I will extol you, my God and King, and bless your name forever and ever. Every day I will bless you and praise your name forever and ever. Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised, and his greatness is unsearchable. One generation shall commend your works to another, and shall declare your mighty acts. On the glorious splendor of your majesty, and on your wondrous works, I will meditate. They shall speak of the might of your awesome deeds, and I will declare your greatness. They shall pour forth the fame of your abundant goodness and shall sing aloud of your righteousness. The LORD is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. The LORD is good to all, and his mercy is over all that he has made. All your works shall give thanks to you, O LORD, and all your saints shall bless you! They shall speak of the glory of your kingdom and tell of your power, to make known to the children of man your mighty deeds, and the glorious splendor of your kingdom. Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and your dominion endures throughout all generations. [The LORD is faithful in all his words and kind in all his works.] The LORD upholds all who are falling and raises up all who are bowed down. The eyes of all look to you, and you give them their food in due season. You open your hand; you satisfy the desire of every living thing. The LORD is righteous in all his ways and kind in all his works. The LORD is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth. He fulfills the desire of those who fear him; he also hears their cry and saves them. The LORD preserves all who love him, but all the wicked he will destroy. My mouth will speak the praise of the LORD, and let all flesh bless his holy name forever and ever. (Psalm 145 ESV)

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.

when the beat becomes the rhythm

I'm not sure what that means,

when the beat becomes the rhythm

but it seems like what's happening to my prayers. I think I was trying to tackle 4/4 time -  to wrestle my prayer life into a disciplined and acceptable metronome pace. I'm not sure, but I think something beautiful is happening.

My prayers are sounding desperate. My prayers are starting with, "Oh, I don't know..." and "Oh, help me trust You..." My prayers are getting frequent.

Have you ever found yourself bobbing your head to a song, without wanting to or meaning to bob your head at all?

Maybe there's no disciplining or wrestling ourselves into the right kind of prayer life.

What if we're drawn into the rhythm of prayer by the beat of our desperate hearts? What if, when we finally get good and helpless, prayer is the song we bob our hearts to in those moments of anxiety or months of indecision?

What if the beat becomes the rhythm?

let LOVE fly like cRaZy

I'm reading A Praying Life by Paul E. Miller right now with a small group and loving the journey. I definitely encourage you to check it out.

a film to see

I'm not someone who thinks history should be told through the rosy lens of the discontented nostalgic, but I am someone who thinks Steven Spielberg knows how to make a great film. Ever heard of him? Let me jog your memory: Saving Private Ryan, Schindler's List, Catch Me If You Can, Jurassic Park, Memoirs of a Geisha, Transformers. I hope in LINCOLN he is true to both history and his art... and I hope it makes us think.

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

fall asleep counting my blessings

You know the scene I'm talking about, right? The scene from White Christmas where Bing Crosby and Rosemary Clooney meet in the middle of night because both can't seem to sleep... and so the famous duet, "Counting My Blessings" emerged. Today, I'm open-eyed, sleep-counting. The thing is, there are almost too many blessings to get sleep. I wonder what advice Bing Crosby would have for that...

I invented a recipe today and made a royal mess of the kitchen. I didn't set out to be so creative, but I got there real quick after I got cavalier with the size of my baking pans. I was pretty hopeful when I poured the harvest brownie batter into three pans of different sizes and pretty disappointed when the baking soda/powder didn't expand my desserts like I hoped.

So harvest brownies became chocolate cream cheese fudge layered brownie dessert. Yes, it became that. I mixed up a cream cheese frosting that failed, which led to the cream cheese, chocolate fudge number that succeeded (I think) and became the finger-licking middle to the two unfortunately thin layers of harvest brownie.

All this while the roast cooks in the crock pot and the bean salad waits to be made on the counter, because tomorrow is Food at First downtown and I've got friends to meet up with still tonight.

Blessings.

Full days and short sleeps can keep a person counting without ever falling asleep. It's a place I could easily navigate as a 20-year-old and one I don't want to admit is getting harder.

Prayer walking with high-schoolers in the afternoon, teaching college students this morning, baking with cinnamon and pumpkin: blessings. Football games, acoustic guitar sessions in the basement, sitting in the balcony to worship with new community, hearing the Word of God preached with power: blessings. Laughing in the fellowship hall after church, breathing in the breeze on an autumn walk, riding mo-peds under the star-speckled sky, clustering around a tailgate for celebration, stretching the late night hours until they break: blessings.

I am not falling asleep, but I will keep counting.

Counting my blessings.

hard way home in the passenger seat

Remember when you graduated from high school and the world stretched out like an open road in front of your new-to-you, college-bound car? Remember that? Somehow my car circled around and I'm staring at the same highway and when Brandi Carlile sings the chorus of "hard way home," I belt it louder than is probably appropriate for my post-college age.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8AV5TRO1BqU]

Now, Brandi and I disagree on a few things - some of them pretty major. But, I find a very steady solidarity in our choosing the "hard way home." I'm stubborn. And sometimes my stubbornness gets me into sin, a lot of times I guess. I can look back at my tracks and, with Brandi, point to times I should have redirected my steps but pressed on for pride or fear or foolishness.

I don't know how Brandi feels when she sings this song, but what I feel is gratitude. Oh, man! I'm such an obstinate and fickle girl. I don't know why anyone would have patience with my antics, but the Lord is steady as an oak and faithful like the sun. Though the lost in me thinks faking my death would be an exciting escape (see the bridge), the found in me delights in knowing that I can never be hidden.

With my car facing that same, great highway, the "hard way home" isn't a lonely trek when you are sitting in the passenger seat.

let LOVE fly like cRaZy

wake up, wake up

"We have seen the hope of Your healingrising from our souls - Oh, is the feeling we are drawing close Your light is shining through"

This morning, I am singing my heart into wakefulness. I am singing my soul into serenade to the One who gives me voice, the One who gives me notes, the One who gives me breath -

the One who wakened me.

What a glorious thing to be AWAKE in this life - to feel the wind gripped by Autumn and see the sky painted in shades of blue. What a glorious thing to be AWAKE and how desperate the call to wake the still sleeping.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=endscreen&v=03YxgFrDreg&NR=1]

a friday for sifting

I'm between jobs 1 and 2 and it's shaking out to be a day of sifting. This Friday is being sifted until only the too-big pieces remain on top. And what is of most importance is becoming very, very clear.

It's normally not so easy to see with an eternal kind of sight. There are coffees to buy and websites to navigate. There are attendance sheets to make and databases to conquer. There are hours to wile away and weekend plans to make. There is an errand to run and another book to add to the pile of those I should read. But, today there is sifting.

And after this Friday is shaken, the big pieces that remain have little to do with what I've gained or stored or clocked or typed. The big pieces are eternal things that I cannot manufacture - things that put all other things in beautiful, right perspective.

Today, I am praying that my life is about the main thing, that I don't treasure my life more than the main thing, and that all other things will fall through my open hands so that I will cling to what remains. I am praying that I delight in Christ so much that I cannot imagine keeping this delight to myself. In my delight and revelry, in my worship and bust-at-the-seams joy, I am praying I live fully in the freedom His suffering allows so that He may be glorified as others hear the same call to freedom from my lips.

Because He is worthy to receive the reward of his suffering.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PXTYsY7XqNU&feature=player_embedded#!]

the human referral effect

Today, I put on my über hip (but less than hipster) tortoise shell glasses with the confidence of someone who needs corrective lenses and wears them with style. Just to be clear, I think glasses for fashion only is silly and a waste of money. If you do have to purchase glasses, then making it a fashion statement is a bonus. But why am I talking about fashion, which is so clearly out of my realm of expertise? Because I bought my glasses online at Zenni Optical - which was WAY cooler than Factory Eyeglass Outlet, where my parents would take us to get glasses when we were growing up. Here's the cold, hard fact: glasses are crazy expensive! You could pay up to $400 for glasses and that was $350 above my parents' price range. You might assume I've really moved up in the world and am able to buy a $400 status symbol, but I haven't. Actually, $400 glasses are about $375 above my price range and I'm now very thankful for those extra dollars my parents were able to spend on "any pair with the yellow sticker, sweetie."

I heard about Zenni Optical from my friend Tina who heard about it from my sister, who googled cheap eyeglasses and then told everyone about her experience. It seems fake at first - almost like a really horrible practical joke because the price for a pair of sweet, hip lenses from their website is as low as $6.95. I know, I didn't believe it either.

But then they arrived in the mail and you couldn't pay me to NOT advertise for them. People would say, "Oh, your glasses are so cool!" and I'd always touch the corner, real studious like, and say with a shrug, "Oh, these? $12.00."

No one believes me at first, but eventually I get them to write down the website and promise to look it up for themselves. At $12, you can afford to buy 2 or 3 pairs just in case one breaks. And, if you lose a pair, you just skip going to the theatre and you've evened things up for your wallet!

Zenni has since really snazzed up their website and have a feature where you can virtually try on glasses to see how they look on your face.

Wow.

I haven't ordered a pair in several years, but I still get excited at the idea of someone else getting a good product for a good price.

And why all this about my glasses?

Because I read this article about the human referral effect in Forbes magazine that highlights another eyeglass outfitter who is committed to giving quality for a fair price. The author of the article, Alexander Taub (Iowa native, btw) talks about his Warby Parker purchase and the chain reaction of referrals that followed.

Bottom line: we like to point people in the direction of something wonderful... and not just the possibility of something wonderful, but the guarantee of something wonderful.

I love this idea. I love that humanity is a fan of guaranteed wonderful things and that we want other people to have guaranteed wonderful things too. I love that the human referral effect happens and that it happens so often and that Forbes magazine is taking notice.

What I wonder is if eyeglasses are the only thing we should be sending down this highly effective human pipeline. I wonder if this human referral effect is being extremely under utilized.

I wonder what would be the best thing for humans to refer to one another?

let LOVE fly like cRaZy

a delight that purifies, protects, and perseveres

After reading this post by Tony Reinke at Desiring God, this excerpt from Robert Murray McCheyne's letter is rumbling around in my soul,

“The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” Jer. 17:9. Learn much of the Lord Jesus. For every look at yourself, take ten looks at Christ. He is altogether lovely. Such infinite majesty, and yet such meekness and grace, and all for sinners, even the chief! Live much in the smiles of God. Bask in his beams. Feel his all-seeing eye settled on you in love, and repose in his almighty arms . . . Let your soul be filled with a heart-ravishing sense of the sweetness and excellency of Christ and all that is in Him. Let the Holy Spirit fill every chamber of your heart; and so there will be no room for folly, or the world, or Satan, or the flesh."

He is altogether lovely.

Oh, and how grateful I am that we can know this love! How ready I am to "live much in the smiles of God" and "bask in his beams." This kind of delight in the Lord not only purifies, but it also protects and perseveres.

When all our delight is found in the One whose love and joy can never be exhausted, we are always safe and always secure. We are swept up into celebration and nestled into the friendliest nook - in the cleft of the Rock. When all our delight is found in Christ, we dance as David - unashamed and giddy with praise in front of the Lord. When all our delight is in the Lord, all our despair and defeat are drowned out.

And, you've never seen such perseverance as Christ-drenched delight. Christ, the image of the invisible God who holds all things together and in whom all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell (Colossians 1), has made a way for me through the blood of the cross. I can never run far enough to forget this delight - this deep gladness of rescue and this gift of new life. The delight chases me with thunderstorms and children's smiles and the taste of a homemade, family dinner.

This delight pushes out from every corner of my soul and expands it, leaving no room for sin or folly or Satan. This delight perseveres to consume a life, even the life where wickedness once reigned.

This delight that purifies, protects, and perseveres is as steadfast as a one hundred-year-old oak tree. Today, I'm resting in its shade with thanks enough for one hundred years.

what it means to cling

It's a strange unsteady that catches me today - grieving the evil and glorying in the God who overcomes. I can't see how anyone who puts thought to theological matters can be any less than always emotional - either deeply despairing or deeply delighting. It is both despair and delight at once that stretch me and today I read these words that remind me of the tension,

"In all your longing to love as Christ loved, you sometimes forget that true love for one thing will, or at least it should, produce a hatred for whatever stands against it." (from Note to Self by Joe Thorn)

I do forget. I forget that loving as Christ means hating what stands in opposition. "Hate" sounds unpopular. It sounds... mean. But when I forget to develop a healthy hate for my sin, I make friends with destruction. When I forget to develop a healthy hate for the sin in others, I lead friends to destruction.

And in all this, I am finding what it means to cling.

In the strange unsteady that rocks my boat today, I am learning to cling like my life depends on my grip. My desperate hold is always rewarded by the unfaltering strong arms of my Redeemer, who reminds me my life depends on His strength.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2VVwSLW-cMI&feature=related]

O, Heart Bereaved and Lonely Words by Fanny Crosby

1. O heart bereaved and lonely, Whose brightest dreams have fled Whose hopes like summer roses, Are withered crushed and dead Though link by link be broken, And tears unseen may fall Look up amid thy sorrow, To Him who knows it all

2. O cling to thy Redeemer, Thy Savior, Brother, Friend Believe and trust His promise, To keep you till the end O watch and wait with patience, And question all you will His arms of love and mercy, Are round about thee still

3. Look up, the clouds are breaking, The storm will soon be o’er And thou shall reach the haven, Where sorrows are no more Look up, be not discouraged; Trust on, whate’er befall Remember, O remember, Thy Savior knows it all

wholeness in Christ for the broken

Good morning, friends. This little post has  been brewing since I got a text from my mom at 7:30 am. She was on her way to Chick-fil-A to buy a chicken sandwich. They make a good sandwich, to be sure, but the closest store is an hour away and this is a particular day to make the trek for chicken. And, with all my freshly-wakened, Wednesday morning (pre-coffee) clarity, I wondered if this emphasizing of polarization is productive. How can we sit down with the sick - those in need of the Great Physician - if we persist in putting ourselves in opposition? The lifestyle of the woman at the well didn't stop Jesus from hanging out there - he didn't go out of his way to go to a different well, one that supported a monogamous lifestyle.

He very intentionally went to where the hurting hung out because (though the woman didn't understand she needed saving) he knew he could offer something they would never find in the cycle of their sin. We have to step into the cycle of brokenness in the lives of the wayward in order to point to the freedom of wholeness. It is so crucial that we recognize how desperately we daily cling to Christ for wholeness. It's not as if we share a message that we've attained. Rather, we lean into God's faithfulness and hang on his words and stand on his promises because He is our wholeness.

We have been rescued from the cycle of brokenness and this is a message to share with the broken.

Don't get me wrong - I agree with Dan Cathy's beliefs (which I think were originally intended to communicate his disappointment in the divorce rate) and boy! can he make a great chicken sandwich! But at the end of the day, I want to be able to sit down with the prostitute, the lesbian, the bi-sexual, and every kind of wayward. I'm not sure that they would feel welcome at a table full of my friends who clearly oppose what they claim as identity.

It's a question of effectiveness, I think. I appreciate what everyone is saying, but I'm just wondering if it is all turning into noise.

Matthew Hall yesterday tweeted, "If not resisted, the siren song of political power/influence will usually drown out theological conviction & prophetic witness. #theory" and I think I agree.

In my Bible study this morning, I read:

And the Lord's servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will. (2 Timothy 2:24-26 ESV)

and this:

Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth. But avoid irreverent babble, for it will lead people into more and more ungodliness, and their talk will spread like gangrene. Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus, who have swerved from the truth, saying that the resurrection has already happened. They are upsetting the faith of some. (2 Timothy 2:15-18 ESV)

What does it mean to rightly handle the word of truth? avoid irreverent babble? Is it possible that people on both sides can lead people into more and more ungodliness? I just pray against the talk that spreads like gangrene and that in its place we would lean into the Word so much that what comes out in our speech is gentleness and compassion and hope. By all means, eat your chicken sandwich and enjoy it (Dan Cathy didn't get so huge on the sale of a bad product), but consider what is the best way to engage with those who are sick and in need of a physician.

Go make a friend - have lunch, sit across the table, listen and care about the person looking back at you. See them and let them see you. Let's pray they see Christ, whose love constrains us to obedience.

[bandcamp album=2352304848 bgcol=FFFFFF linkcol=4285BB size=venti]

How Long (Love Constraining to Obedience) by Wayfarer

To see the law by Christ fulfilled, to hear His pardoning voice Can change a slave into a child and duty into choice No strength of nature can suffice to serve the Lord aright And what she has she misapplies for want of clearer light

How long, how long beneath the law I lay How long, how long I struggled to obey

Then to abstain from outward sin was more than I could do Now If I feel its power within, I feel I hate it too Then all my servile works were done, a righteousness to raise Now, freely chosen in the Son, I freely choose His ways

How long, how long beneath the law I lay How long, how long I struggled to obey How long, how long in bondage and distress How long, how long I tried without success...

Articles that give some great insight:

Evangelical Credibility and Religious Pluralism by John W. Morehead (posted at Qideas.com)

Why the Chick-Fil-A Boycott is really about Jesus by Trevin Wax (posted at The Gospel Coalition)

Is Chick-fil-A a Bold Mistake? by Denny Burk (Associate Professor of Biblical Studies at Boyce College)

Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day: A Bold Mistake by Barnabas Piper (WORLD magazine)

Chick-fil-A Controversy Draws In Jonathan Merritt's Sexuality by Jasmine Young (Christianity Today)

John Adams, Mr. Bean's Olympic debut, seeing the suffering of Latinos, and my re-introduction to Spurgeon

Hello, friends! I am posting a this & that post today because my Sabbath is getting crowded with good things. I am learning to enjoy God as I walk through crowded days as much as when I sit through solitary ones - He is faithful either way.

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I read this article, "Not Like Me," over at The Curator magazine because I resonated with the opening anecdote of a new father with a notoriously bad driving record driving his first child home in the family car. I think I'll have a similar moment someday. But, the article mostly focused on this father's hope for his children - a hope that they would have the freedom to be teachers and artists and writers instead of a computer programmer. I'm not sure how I feel about this idea of progress producing generations more free to pursue less technical careers. He quotes John Adams in a letter he wrote in a letter to Abigail,

I must study Politicks and War that my sons may have liberty to study Mathematicks and Philosophy. My sons ought to study Mathematicks and Philosophy, Geography, natural History, Naval Architecture, navigation, Commerce and Agriculture, in order to give their Children a right to study Painting, Poetry, Musick, Architecture, Statuary, Tapestry and Porcelaine. (John Adams to Abigail Adams, [post 12 May 1780])

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Did you watch the Olympic Opening Ceremony? It was a production, to be sure. Danny Boyle's dramatic presentation drew 40.7 million people to tune in to NBC on Friday night. I was one of those 40.7 million and I think there were beautiful things and strange things and things I wouldn't want my children to see (if I had children). This article from the Huffington Post, "NBC Sets Opening Ceremony Record with London 2012 Olympics." I'm a sucker for good competition and the underdog stories that are so easy to dig up when there's a world stage, so I'll be tuning in this week in what will add up to more TV than I'll watch all year.

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I am so grateful for this article from the Gospel Coalition, "Do You See the Suffering? Our Mirror Eyes and U.S. Latinos" because it says what people aren't talking about in the political arena: it talks about what we see when we look at people. Take away policies and papers and really look at our Latino population, without mirror eyes. What do you see?

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I have been reading sermons from C.H. Spurgeon - a well-known preacher from England who became famous for his common (some said vulgar) style. I love what he says about studying God,

"There is something exceedingly improving to the mind in a contemplation of the Divinity. It is a subject so vast, that all our thoughts are lost in its immensity; so deep, that our pride is drowned in its infinity. Other subject we can compass and grapple with; in them we feel a kind of self-content, and go our way with the thought, "Behold, I am wise." But when we come to this master-science, finding that our plumb-line cannot sound its depth, and that our eagle eye cannot see its height, we turn away with the thought, that vain man would be wise, but he is like a wild ass's colt; and with the solemn exclamation, "I am but of yesterday, and know nothing." No subject of contemplation will tend more to humble the mind, than thoughts of God."  (C.H. Spurgeon in his sermon, "The Immutability of God")

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let LOVE fly like cRaZy

what do I stand for?

  We love anthems, we do.

We love songs we can proclaim from rooftops with passion from our gut.

We love an anthem that rallies us around something, puts fire in our bellies, and stretches our vocal chords.

We love an anthem even when it proclaims confusion.

The song, "Some Nights" by fun could not be a truer picture of this time in history and could not have a more enticing, layered melody - a mighty furious, beautiful mess building our Babel.

In the music video, haphazard opposing forces roam while directionless firepower flies and the band pounds out their decidedly lost melody.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qQkBeOisNM0]

The song is certainly saying something. Even as the chorus rumbles with heavy questions, we are drawn in to sing that something right along with them,

"Oh Lord, I'm still not sure what I stand for oh What do I stand for? What do I stand for? Most nights, I don't know anymore... Oh woah, oh woah, oh woah oh oh Oh woah, oh woah, oh woah oh oh"

Some nights ... most nights ... I don't know ... luck ... wish ... who am I?

These are words that describe a generation, words that build the walls of our own Babylon. We have exiled ourselves from meaning and certainty and hope.

And then we made it an anthem. This is the music of waywardness.

Our art reflects our hearts and in the mirror we see a despairing image. Makoto Fujimura, artist, writer, and speaker, says, “We, today, have a language to celebrate waywardness, but we do not have a cultural language to bring people back home.”

When the music of waywardness becomes the anthem of a generation, one must consider if the straining vocal chords declare a superlative-worthy message or if best is reserved for something absolutely certain.

 

Tchaikovsky, Curators, Aurora miracle, libraries of famous authors, and the music of KB

Well, here are some links I'm rolling out on this Tuesday. I'm dragging my feet a bit, but I've got to run before I lose motivation. Check these things out, friends, and let me know what you think.

  • When I was growing up, I would pull out classical bundles of music from the shelves in the piano room and ask my mom to play. She would always say, "Oh, honey... it's been so long. I don't even know if I can play this anymore..." but I could always tell she'd give in to my request and let dinner or the dishes or the laundry wait a few minutes so we could revel in the classics. This piece from BrainPickings,  "Tchaikovsky on Work Ethic vs. Inspiration" brings me back to those moments in the music room, but not just because my mom worked hard at being a musician. Also because she worked hard at being a mom - inspiration came in both cases as a result of her work. This post is about a letter Tchaikovsky wrote to his benefactress and the whole thing is beautiful - please go read it!
  • Sometimes I don't understand art, I'll admit. But, maybe it's the philosopher in me that loves what art says about who we are as a culture. Artists (and curators) kind of get to play the music that contemporary culture writes as it defines itself through values and norms. So, this piece in the NYT, "The Fine Art of Being a Curatorstruck me because of what it means for the music. Ahem.. So, if culture decides what is important right now, artists translate those things to canvas, buildings, statues, etc., then curators get to decide what does the best job of playing the music. Maybe this is another post in the making. The article is really very straightforward - talks about how curators are becoming more established as a field. I just can't help but ask, "Who sets the standards for good art?" But that's probably because I'm not, "in the know" about these kinds of things.
  • What would you say if a doctor told you that you had a brain defect that saved your life? That's nearly what happened for a young Aurora woman after she was shot at the theatre during the Dark Knight premiere. Read the story here, "A Smiling Providence in Aurora, Colorado" from Denny Burk.
  • I love books and I love libraries - this post takes us inside the libraries of famous writers and I have to stop myself from drooling. Each nook looks so dreamy!
  • I like rap. This new album from KB "Weight of Glory" is pretty spectacular. I wanted to post a video that wasn't all lyric, so check out this "behind the scenes" look at a young man who's got serious talent and serious opportunity to bring the message of hope through his gift. Worth a listen, for real. [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FMVPyd3hLhk] Here's the video he talks about to the song, "Open Letter" [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k-2G5-deabE]

That's all for now. I'm going to go pound the pavement on a night run.

let LOVE fly like cRaZy