is the anchor deeper?

It's hard for me to imagine someone who welcomes death and darkness like I welcome light and love - someone who longs to be in utter, distant loneliness forever. There are such people and Cormac McCarthy introduced me to one such person last night in his screenplay, "The Sunset Limited," an HBO film. The entire film takes place in a cramped apartment where two men take ahold of the other's worldview by the collar and give it a thorough shaking. Their lives could not read more opposite, but their human-ness keeps them in a wordy banter between death and life.

Several times it felt like the wind got knocked clean out my lungs, so direct was the attack on the anchor to which my soul is bound. After Black (played by Samuel L. Jackson) rescued him from a suicide attempt, White (played by Tommy Lee Jones) refuses to give up hope on one thing: giving up. He plans to end his life and finally find peace in the nothingness - the void, dark, solitary space beyond. Everything he valued in life as a respected professor revealed itself as an illusion and in his 'enlightened' state the only logical response was suicide.

The despair was palpable as White spoke - like death's bony hand had already strangled the life out of him, twisting up his insides. When his eyes attempt to betray the death in his soul, his words pound harder the nails on his vacant coffin. Emptiness.

Black (Jackson) is a man of conviction and a self-proclaimed 'outlaw' when it comes to faith. He lives in a rough tenement, surrounded by junkies and crackheads, and claims to not have a single thought apart from his Bible knowledge. He lives simply, available and eager to be used by God in the lives of broken people. And White (Jones) would have nothing to do with his charity.

With the striking boldness of a man who has seen death battle in front of him all his life, Black debates the meaning of life with White (and on several occasions requests an everyman paraphrase). Though we are pulled this way and that, the end of the film closes without resolution. We suppose that White left the same man who walked into the shabby room, a pending suicide statistic. We suppose that, though Black is shaken, he remains faithful to the God who took him down to the train tracks the night before.

The irresolute ending feels like a rope unraveled. Brilliant dialogues pull the pieces apart across 91 minutes. In a last, desperate effort to reach White, Black responds to the man's hope for the cold darkness of suicide,

“Maybe you could just keep that in reserve. Maybe just take a shot at startin over. I dont mean start again. Everybody’s done that. Over means over. It means you walk away. I mean, if everthing you are and everthing you have and everthing you have done has brought you at last to the bottom of a whiskey bottle or bought you a one way ticket on the Sunset Limited then you cant give me the first reason on God’s earth for salvagin none of it. Cause they aint no reason. And I’m goin to tell you that if you can bring yourself to shut the door on all of that it will be cold and it will be lonely and they’ll be a mean wind blowin. And them is all good signs. You dont say nothin. You just turn up your collar and keep walkin.” ― Cormac McCarthyThe Sunset Limited

Black suggests that if White's life has brought him to make such a terminal decision as suicide, then he's come to the end of himself. If there is nothing to salvage (nothing except death itself holds meaning), what could be lost in starting over but that which could be gained by starting over?

When White responds with probably the most horrifying monologue of the entire film, we can almost taste the human depravity as it drips off his lips. Void. Cold. Death.

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And the viewer must decide what or who is capable of arranging the unraveled strands into something meaningful. The viewer must battle with his own demons and despairs when everything is shaken free of its settled skin.

The viewer must decide if he is the anchor or if the anchor is deeper than his frail, human skin.

the destruction of dillydally

"Don't dillydally, don't load up on video clips and music, don't trust the power of your community service programs, don't rely on marketing. Preach not yourselves, or you will veil the gospel. Preach what, then? The word. What word? The gospel word in the Bible word. Get your Bibles out and share the message of the good news of Jesus Christ. It is amazing the lengths some preachers will go in order not to preach the Bible! We labor week in and week out for years and years to craft the most dynamic, most exciting, most relevant, most creative messages, fitting in some Bible verses into the points we think are really important, and then we wonder why we've gotten loads of decisions but made no disciples." (Jared C. Wilson, p. 193 in Gospel Wakefulness)

Wow.

What an altogether perfect word for what we're doing in Christian circles these days: dillydally.

We eat up the facebook snippets, read the books, tweet the deets, post the newest viral explosion and search for songs with the most emotional moving typeface. No one is immune. We all seem to love knowing the good news. We love the controversies created by differing doctrines and debating the color of the carpet in the fellowship hall. We love to throw down the name of the newest book or sermon or method of sharing the gospel to prove we're keeping up with the Christian Joneses. I don't know why we do it, but I do know that dillydally is an altogether perfect word for all the acrobatics we use to get around preaching the gospel.

Wilson quotes 1 Thessalonians 1:4-6 (emphasis mine) before the excerpt above,

For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you, because our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction. You know what kind of men we proved to be among you for your sake. And you became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you received the word in much affliction, with the joy of the Holy Spirit,

Paul writes about the way the gospel came to the people in Thessalonica - in word, in power and in the Holy Spirit with full conviction. I can't speak to what kind of theatrics surrounded their speech, but it's pretty clear that the gospel was explicitly shared with the people. Paul makes it sound like this is obvious - to preach the gospel in word - but we are not so sure these days (the shorter the Sunday sermon the better - seriously, what newcomer wants to listen to a stranger ramble on and on and on about blood and sacrifice and propitiation?).

But how can people believe the gospel unless they've heard the gospel? Explicitly, unashamedly preached with full conviction. The conviction piece is important because our role is not to convince another of the gospel's merit, but to fan the flame of our own conviction that gospel is true. Wilson writes, "My brother, pastor, don't worry about bringing the heat. Just be hot. Fan the flame in yourself to full conviction." I like that: just be hot.

Yesterday, I was reading Gospel Wakefulness poolside and a man asked, "What are you reading? Like, what's it about?"

A little sun-weary and caught off-guard, I fumbled before I found, "It's a book about the gospel... about waking up to the reality of what Christ did on the cross for those who believe."

"Oh, yeah, I believe that," he said, "I used to be really bad, like drinking and smoking and s---, but it was f----- up. I mean, I was hospitalized and I been sober since I got out. They gave me these new meds and I'm like s--- this is living. I mean, I can go out to the forest and be like, that's a f------ tree. It's like what I thought was normal was really screwed up. I mean, I feel like I'm finally awake after a life of hearing voices and s---. Like schizophrenia and all that s---. So, yeah I got out on Monday and it's been f----- awesome."

"Wow, that's really crazy." I didn't really know where this was going, but I was stationary on a lounge chair and it seemed like as good a place as any to discuss what is/isn't the gospel and how it relates to his hospitalization. "So, do you think it's the medication or something spiritual that happened?"

"Oh, yeah, totally that medication. It's crazy - the doctors had me on all kinds of s--- growing up and I was f----- up bad, but I just thought it was normal. But, seriously, there's no side effects to this drug I'm on. I sleep for 5 hours and I'm like gettin' s--- done before I go to work at 9 am!"

"Well, what this book is really talking about is the gospel (the good news) that we read about in the Bible. Jesus suffered the punishment that we deserve for our sins so that we can be free. He took on all our messes on the cross and gave us relief and joy in this life and forever in eternity with Him--"

"Yeah, I believe that."

At this point, I'm thinking 1) I should really brush up on my 'how to share the gospel when caught off guard in a lounge chair' skills and 2) does he really believe that?

"Yeah, it's like everyone believes," he went on, "You know, in a higher power. I mean, I believe Jesus is in all of us. Don't you believe that?"

I won't give you our whole conversation, but this guy was persistent, inquisitive, and interested. Granted, the situation was less than ideal - laying on sweaty plastic lounge chairs in bathing suits - but I suppose this is what it means to "always be prepared to give an answer."

I asked him some hard questions, mentally thanking Tim Keller for all those chapters in Reason for God that wrestle with doubts. We bantered back and forth and I was careful to not blink an eye with all his cursing. I'll confess I got kind of casual with my language, as we talked about who would populate heaven. He told me, "Well, I mean the good people. Like I believe we all put out vibes. I mean, if you're a b---- you're not going to be in heaven, but if you're good you will."

"But who determines who is good and who is a b----? I mean I might think I'm good according to my standards, but someone else might think I'm a b----... so who's going to heaven?"

More than ever in that conversation I needed explicit words. I did not need games or videos or pictures. I needed to speak the good news of the gospel into the chaos of crowded beliefs Joseph had assembled. And even when I spelled it out in all it's offensive glory, Joseph persisted with more questions and stories about his life.

I told Joseph about church on Sunday and he said he would come. He said it didn't even matter how early because the medication has him up by 5 am.

I pray he does come and I pray my pastor preaches the gospel because I need it just as much as Joseph.

Because we are all on the verge of destruction by dillydally... the painful beat around the bush game of kind of the gospel. We are all in danger of believing and speaking and hearing a gospel that is less than Jesus' words on the cross, "It is finished" and less than the glorious result of his work.

practice resurrection

So, friends, every day do something that won’t compute. Love the Lord. Love the world. Work for nothing. Take all that you have and be poor. Love someone who does not deserve it.

. .

Practice resurrection.

(snippets from Wendell Berry's 1973 poem, "Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front"from The Country of Marriage)

I've been meaning to read more of Wendell Berry and summer seems like a good time to "get around to it." The vibrant green leaves and the smell of blooming peonies seem a fitting backdrop to his poetry. I map my runs to intentionally include the rowdy peony bushes on S. 3rd Street. I always "stretch" long enough to fill my lungs with peony air before putting my race face on again.

The smell of peony makes me sad for people who don't lean over to breathe in their beauty.

And that's why Wendell Berry's advice to, "practice resurrection" is nestling nicely somewhere deep in my soul. We are so forgetful. We live like we don't know we're resurrected. We live like we're not sure how this day will end. We live like Christ's resurrection was too long ago to rearrange my daily toil. We live like all the wonder in the wind moving through the trees is something not everyone has the time to admire.

We live like we've forgotten how to practice resurrection.

We were dead in our trespasses and sins. Dead. Gone. Lost. Limp. Lifeless. Stuck. Trapped. Suffocated. Dead.

There's no way to make that sound nice or easy. But if that were the end, I would have a hard time getting you to stop and smell the peonies.

But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

(Ephesians 2:4-10 ESV)

But, God...

What a beautiful interjection! What an altogether unexpected and undeserved display of mercy! What glorious gratitude is birthed when life displaces death!

This is our resurrection. We are made alive together with Christ. We are raised up from the grave to sit with Him, to search out the immeasurable riches of His grace, to seek all the beauty of His face reflected in the glory of creation. This is our resurrection.

Practice resurrection today, friends. Practice resurrection and do not forget. Practice resurrection because, in Christ, life has displaced death.

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let LOVE fly like cRaZy

to wait and to hope

It's like finding the door to secret garden or discovering a hidden cave or tapping on the right rock in an Indiana Jones movie. No matter how many times my pride tries to convince me otherwise, studying the Word never gets old. Sure, I have my seasons where the words look like black text on a white page and little more. But, go ahead and tell a child that there is no cave or secret garden or hidden passage while they are inside it and see what kind of response you get. Laughter seems most fitting. This is the joy of the Scripture - to be inside a mystery that never grows old.

As I was reading Psalm 130, I crawled inside this mystery and stared out in wonder. The urgency leaps from the misery and clings to the Lord's forgiveness as the only hope against His righteous standard. My thoughts drifted toward Spanish again and the word, "esperar." It means both "to wait" and "to hope" and, though I don't know the original text, the interchange in verses 5-8 makes all kinds of sense.

1,2 Out of the depths I cry to you, O LORD! O Lord, hear my voice! Let your ears be attentive to the voice of my pleas for mercy! 3,4 If you, O LORD, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand? But with you there is forgiveness, that you may be feared. 5,6 I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, and in his word I hope; my soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen for the morning, more than watchmen for the morning. 7,8 O Israel, hope in the LORD! For with the LORD there is steadfast love, and with him is plentiful redemption. And he will redeem Israel from all his iniquities. (Psalm 130 ESV)

Our waiting is hoping and our hoping is waiting. And it all rests on the Lord - the waiting and the hoping - not on our willpower to do it. The Psalmist makes certain we understand the intensity of his waiting. I'm sure watchmen assume the highest form of vigilance, filled with the gravest kind of hope. Twice the Psalmist says his soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen for the morning. How closely a watchman must hope for the dawn to break the darkness, for the sun to shed its light on the sky. Even more than a person whose purpose it is to wait and hope - he waits even more than him. What great expectation!

What a rush of beauty, to wait and hope in the One who offers steadfast love and plentiful redemption! Redeemed, restored, renewed... and we find these things in abundance!

Fo what else could we hope, my friends? For what else should we wait?

go ahead, dive in to the mystery and

let LOVE fly like cRaZy

as if they were madmen and fools

Tim Challies, by way of his blog, introduced me to some of Richard Sibbes' writing. Here is an excerpt that I can't seem to shake (keep in mind this language is circa 1600).

It has been an old imputation to charge distraction upon men of the greatest wisdom and sobriety. John the Baptist was accused of having a devil, and Christ to be beside Himself and the Apostles to be full of new wine, and Paul to be mad. The reason is because as religion is a mystical and spiritual thing, so the tenets of it seem paradoxes to carnal men; as first, that a Christian is the only freeman, and other men are slaves; that he is the only rich man, though never so poor in the world; that he is the only beautiful man, though outwardly never so deformed; that he is the only happy man in the midst of all his miseries. Now these things though true seem strange to natural men, and therefore when they see men earnest against sin, or making conscience of sin, they wonder at this commotion for trifles. But these men go on in a course of their own and make that the measure of all; those that are below them are profane, and those that are above them are indiscreet. By fanciful affections, they create idols, and then cry down spiritual things as folly. They have principles of their own, to love themselves and to love others only for themselves, and to hold on the strongest side and by no means expose themselves to danger.

But when men begin to be religious, they deny all their own aims, and that makes their course seem madness to the world, and therefore they labor to breed an ill opinion of them, as if they were madmen and fools.

These words breathe the paradox that drives people crazy - that we [Christians] are freemen, though we seem slaves; that we are rich, though we seem poor; that we are beautiful, though we appear deformed; that we are happy, though we live in misery.

Why can the world not understand this divine reconciling? Because they "go on in a course of their own and make that the measure of all" and "have principles of their own," all this mystical business seems inconsequential and silly. Their standard leaves no room for "others first" and "sacrifice," unless it might benefit in the end.

"But when..."

Aren't these great words?

With all the world charting their course in the same selfish direction, a boat changing direction will get the attention of the entire fleet. Sibbes uses "religious men" here in the same way we might use "true believer" or "follower of Jesus Christ" to designate the different standard a Christian uses to measure his life. Everything he/she was pursuing previous (and the value of those things) shifts immediately and joyfully to an object that makes no sense to the world. To set a course for an unseen destination with immaterial results sounds like bad business and poor planning.

It sounds like madness.

 We should not be surprised when the world misunderstands our obsession with eternity or our talk of the "Kingdom coming" or our less-than-five-figure aspirations. We should not be surprised, even, if the world manipulates our words to sound crazy and our gatherings to look strange.

We are the skin, living in these paradoxes every day. We deny our own aims and ask Christ to reveal His standard, that we might set our course to run against traffic [or completely solo] toward Him. We set our course and it looks like foolishness.

Our neighbors have dreamed up a reason why we are so generous, our co-workers have decided our cheer is fake, our boss is sure we are working hard just for the promotion, our estranged brother still doesn't believe we want to see him just "because."

The world may say our course is madness - that our aims our full of folly - but our reward is not won from the world. As we fix our eyes on Christ, the Author and Perfector of our faith, He will give us the same joy he possessed as He endured the cross.

What madness Christ must have possessed to have his face set so squarely toward Jerusalem? What foolishness must have surrounded Him as he humbly entered the city on a donkey? What absolute insanity he must have endured while claiming Himself King while on the cross?

Though the world count us as madmen and fools, God allows another miracle as He transforms our hearts to serve even those who consider us crazy. Christ asked the Father to "Forgive them, for they know not what they do" in the midst of His misery. At the height of His public shame, His love and compassion for those who considered him crazy only grew.

May our hearts swell with love for those who consider us as madmen and fools.

May we let LOVE fly like cRaZy when it makes no sense at all to the world, because it makes perfect sense in light of the Cross.

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

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Men Without Chests ... and the miseducation of children

I posted this several years ago, but I've been thinking about it recently (especially in light of the rumblings in the presidential primaries). _________________________________________________________________________

The book starts with an eloquent description of an elementary text book.

An interesting object on which to base an argument, but C.S. Lewis does just that in his opening of what was originally a lecture series titled "The Abolition of Man" (the subtitle reads: Reflections on education with special reference to the teaching of English in the upper forms of schools).

With all the nebulous talk of improved education among scholars and legislators, I have long wondered if there is truth to the fabled "subliminal message." After painstakingly reading one of Lewis' most controversial books, I submit that merely wondering at such a possibility is just as damaging as promoting it.

C.S. Lewis refers to the elementary text in question as The Green Book and sets out to argue that the authors teach very little about literature. In fact, The Green Book essentially seeks to 'debunk' the existence of any objective value.

Now, that may not strike you as dangerous or deceiving, but this ideological shift is not so plainly described by the authors. The example Lewis gives from their book cites the "well-known story of Coleridge at the waterfall" (of which I knew little) where one tourist called a waterfall sublime and the other pretty. Lewis writes that Coleridge, a renowned poet, mentally endorsed the first description and was disgusted in the second. This is the excerpt from The Green Book:

'When a man said This is sublime, he appeared to be making a remark about the waterfall... Actually ... he was not making a remark about the waterfall, but a remark about his own feelings. What he was really saying was really I have feelings associated in my mind with the word "sublime," or shortly, I have sublime feelings.'

Keep in mind, the young mind for which this text is intended has little reference for such a proposition. Boys and girls are more concerned with receiving good marks then defending the notion of objective value. And herein lies the danger.

The authors (possibly unintentionally) are making no claims about literature. They are instead suggesting that human sentiment is contrary to reason and ought to be eradicated. Interestingly enough, as Lewis points out, to say something is reasonable or unreasonable means that there must be a standard to make that judgment.

And now, by way of this disastrous summary of Lewis' first chapter, we start to see the development of Men Without Chests. Assuming objective value is unreasonable, Lewis moves toward the logical question: On what grounds does any value exist in the world and what force would move me to protect this fleeting, traditional idea?

Interestingly enough, though this idea is purported in institutions across the country, the opposite is expected in life's vernacular. Students might be taught to disregard value and view all things in relativistic terms, yet when it is time to preserve society, all are called to sacrificially stand on the high grounds of character. Lewis writes that youth are encouraged to strive to be people of character, while being conditioned to believe such traits are unreasonable.

"In a sort of ghastly simplicity," Lewis writes, "we remove the organ and demand the function. We make men without chests and expect of them virtue and enterprise."

Strip life of sentiment and you are left with a skeleton. Relativism may be trendy and "progressive," but this kind of progress would lead straight to humankind's demise. There will simply always be those who make the rules and those that follow them. If the rule makers decide life is void of sentiment, they will certainly reap the benefits of this stale standard.

Dangerous? yes. Deceptive? yes. Merely wondering at the possibility of 'value debunked' is just as damaging as promoting it. Can we recapture the necessary distinction of humanity? Can we hold firm the objective value intrinsic to our created nature? I believe we were born for such a purpose.

Maybe someone should write a children's book about it.

___________________________________________________________________

let LOVE fly like cRaZy the true, beautiful kind

the precious mystery

Dietrict Bonhoeffer Stained Glass,St Johannes ...

"The lack of mystery in our modern life is our downfall and our poverty." - Dietrich Bonhoeffer

I am more than a little inspired by the life of Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Last year, I dove into the pages of his biography by Eric Metaxas and started referring to him as "my friend Dietrich" (see posts here and here and here). Okay, it did get a little out of control, but it's hard not to be affected by this man's life.

Fast forward to yesterday, when this book appeared on my bed - right smack dab in the middle of Advent season (an early Christmas gift from my aunt and housemate).

I flipped frantically through the pages last night - not wanting to miss anything, but wanting to get on track with the advent calendar days.

Week Two: Day One is titled, "Respect for the Mystery."

I suppose my fascination with mystery has something to do with my reflection on Chesterton recently, or maybe Klosterman's observation that the mystery of faith makes people nervous.

I love mystery.

Bonhoeffer writes,

"We destroy the mystery because we sense that here we reach the boundary of our being, because we want to be lord over everything and have it at our disposal, and that's just what we cannot do with the mystery."

mystery... there we reach beyond the boundary of our being there we traverse in lands where our control holds no power there we sojourn as mere mortals in a place overflowing with otherness

Mystery lies hidden amidst the grid of everyday traffic and underneath the steady steps of time. Where we are constrained by our senses, mystery breaks rhythm and sets a new pace of possibilities.

Ah, yes. Mystery holds the beautiful, unexplainable, impossible story of God being born.

The I AM of the days of Moses became a babe in a lowly manger. The God who will one day ride on the clouds, shining like the sun at the trumpets call was ushered into the world with the sound of farm animals accompanying His humble arrival. The Messiah, our only hope of salvation, emerged from a womb and filled His little lungs with earth air.

This is not science fiction - this is Truth, wrapped in mystery.

Oh, beautiful mystery!

In a letter to Bonhoeffer, Maria von Wedemeyer penned these words in 1943,

All that is Christmas originates in heaven and comes from there to us all, to you and me alike, and forms a stronger bond between us than we could ever forge ourselves."

Mystery.

How are you watching this mystery thread through your life this Advent season?

let LOVE fly like cRazY

misplaced humility

Maybe we just have things turned around (wouldn't be the first time for the human race). Maybe we've shelved things in the wrong place and now it's hard to find what we're looking for.Maybe it's like when you are making a recipe and you know you bought cumin, but you've torn apart the whole kitchen and still can't find it. Then... after admitting defeat and cranking a can of Progresso soup open in disgust, you see little Tommy flying a plane around the kitchen with little cumin as its pilot.

Maybe that's what we've done with humility.

“What we suffer from today is humility in the wrong place. Modesty has moved from the organ of ambition. Modesty has settled upon the organ of conviction; where it was never meant to be. A man was meant to be doubtful about himself, but undoubting about the truth; this has been exactly reversed.

Nowadays the part of a man that a man does assert is exactly the part he ought not to assert–himself. The part he doubts is exactly the part he ought not to doubt – the Divine Reason. . . .

The new skeptic is so humble that he doubts if he can even learn. . . . There is a real humility typical of our time; but it so happens that it’s practically a more poisonous humility than the wildest prostrations of the ascetic. . . .

The old humility made a man doubtful about his efforts, which might make him work harder. But the new humility makes a man doubtful about his aims, which makes him stop working altogether. . . .

We are on the road to producing a race of man too mentally modest to believe in the multiplication table.”

G.K. ChestertonOrthodoxy [Garden City, NY: Doubleday and Co., 1957], pp. 31-32

Powerful insight once again from G.K.

Gilbert Keith Chesterton, (b. 29 May 1874 – d....