my blog lives here now:
check it out!
Last night my wife and I spent a couple hours talking to and praying with a wonderful woman who’s just been crushed by tragedy. On my way into Panera today (my office more often than not) I’m listening to talk radio and the topic: sex trafficking. Then I purchase my bagel, which sits for about 30 minutes until my appetite returns. I open up the book I’m working through entitled: “Evil and the Justice of God.” It’s not shaping up to be a chipper morning.
But as I’m grinding through my book, I notice a group of about 6 people. I notice them because they are loud. Lot’s of laughter. Ages ranging from about 3 to about 80. Then more people stroll in and join the group. Each met with a chorus of hellos and even more laughter. Stories are being told. Worn out jokes are being recycled, and something more than courteousy laughter follows.
Within a few minutes the group’s more like 20, maybe 25. It’s a roar now. They’re getting some angry glances shooting from underneath the furrowed brows of busy people who’d rather not be bothered…but more likely because they’d like to join in. The looks aren’t noticed, of course.
What a wonderful group! And their joy reminds me of the mercy and kindness of God. It doesn’t mask or counteract the sludge I’m still grinding through…it just points out the beautiful mess in which we live. The constant tension of a world which is in horrific disrepair, but is nonetheless saturated with the presence of a God who makes all things well.
The holidays brought travels which meant a long road trip with my 10 month old son. Daunting.
To sum up:
Bottomline: best road trip ever.
There’s nothing like being a dad.
Do you concur? Any additions?
I don’t know how many times the Bible talks about the church being like a vineyard. I know that it’s a whole lot. There are thousand things that are significant about that. I discovered a new one this week. Surprisingly it was from an Old Testament passage.
Ezekial 15:1 And the word of the Lord came to me: 2 “Son of man, how does the wood of the vine surpass any wood, the vine branch that is among the trees of the forest? 3 Is wood taken from it to make anything? Do people take a peg from it to hang any vessel on it? 4 Behold, it is given to the fire for fuel.
There’s a reason we’re so often called a vine. If you think about it, any fruit-bearing plant would serve most if not all of the illustrations just fine. But it always seems to be a vine. I think the above texts give a clue as to why.
Vines without fruit are worthless. Vines without fruit are weeds.
Trees without fruit can still be quite functional. We can enjoy their shade, beautify our yards, build houses out of them!
Vines without fruit are tangled messes. They house rodents and choke out other more productive plantlife. They have no intrinsic value.
We aren’t trees. We’re vines.
You know how when you’re writing about God you feel the need to capitalize everything that even loosely refers to him (or Him)? Or is it just me? The Bible doesn’t do it (or at least the translators generally don’t). But to me, it just seems like the thing to do. Fowler and I debated the use of divine pronouns one day for like an hour while putting together a slideshow for Sunday worship.
I won…but just because I was his boss. He wasn’t budging-and he had a really good argument. It was a good healthy debate on an interesting question. So, I’ll pass it on, to you. What do you think?
“Jesus, he is Lord!”
“Jesus, He is Lord!”
I’ve always hated reading fiction. Too impractical for me. I’ve always gravitated toward stuff that’s directly applicable, today. I’ve not read a fiction book since college, and never when it wasn’t assigned to me. Never. How many hours does it take to read a book? Several! Time is precious. Am I to spend all those precious hours reading a book that doesn’t give me something I can go out and apply to my life or my ministry?!
Can’t you just tell how obnoxious I can be?
But then Casey Alexander turned the screws on me a few weeks ago and told me that if I didn’t read “The Shack” the world would spin off its axis, or something like that. Then I saw Eugene Peterson’s quote on the front about how this book would come to mean as much to our generation as John Bunyan’s ‘Pilgrim’s Process’ had meant to his (Bunyan’s, not Peterson’s-he’s not that old!). OK,OK! I’ll read it!
I liked it. I think Eugene Peterson overestimated its impact, by a LOT! But it wasn’t bad. I didn’t feel like I was wasting away perfectly good hours on mere abstraction or fantasy. But I’m not reviewing the book, I’m reviewing the fact that I actually read it.
Then I decided to read another one. This one was a much larger endeavor. I read “Christ the Lord” by Anne Rice. I liked it A LOT!
So, I’m a convert. And I’m trying to decide what to read next. I just got a library card, so the options are pretty much limitless. Any suggestions?
(Chris, I know ‘catcher in the rye’, and it’s already on the list…so what else?)
I often read the Bible with my smug pious face on. “Those silly disciples.” “Those rotten Pharisees.” “Those stupid Israelites!” “When will they learn?”
And, occasionally (though not often enough) I’ll snap out of my self-righteous pride, and realize that I’m just like them. Just like those silly disciples. Just like those rotten Pharisees. Just like those stupid Israelites. When will I learn?
That’s what happened reading Jeremiah 42-43,
5 Then they said to Jeremiah, “May the Lord be a true and faithful witness against us if we do not act according to all the word with which the Lord your God sends you to us. 6 Whether it is good or bad, we will obey the voice of the Lord our God to whom we are sending you, that it may be well with us when we obey the voice of the Lord our God.”
I hadn’t read Jeremiah in a year…I didn’t remember the narrative. But you gotta know where this was going. They weren’t going to obey. I knew because I know enough about my own sinful humanity. I knew because I’m just like them.
“God, you just say what you want and I’ll do it.” That’s a well-worn path. Familiar. “Lead me, Lord! I’ll follow you anywhere! Just say the word!” I know the path well enough to know that it forks when God answers that prayer–when he tells you just exactly what he’d like for you to do.
…the insolent men said to Jeremiah, “You are telling a lie. The Lord our God did not send you to say, ‘Do not go to Egypt to live there,’ 3 but Baruch the son of Neriah has set you against us, to deliver us into the hand of the Chaldeans, that they may kill us or take us into exile in Babylon.” 4 So Johanan the son of Kareah and all the commanders of the forces and all the people did not obey the voice of the Lord, to remain in the land of Judah.
Yeah, that path’s pretty well-worn, too.
So this week I’ve been thinking about obedience. In some moments I think I’m pretty close. In others, it seems I don’t even know what it is.
“Lord, give me the grace to worship you with my obedience.”
I have been a fingernail biter as long as I can remember. Seriously. I cannot remember a time when I didn’t bite my fingernails. Down to bloody knubs sometimes.
This morning I woke up with about 4 of them throbbing. Bit too far back. Stings all day. Isn’t that stupid? So, enough’s enough. I’m going to take a shot at kicking the habit.
I’ll use the blog to help. Every few days I’ll post a couple more pics of my nails…in theory they’ll be less gross each time. Not painted and manicured or anything, just less gross. If not, then I blew it. Or I’m extremely malnourished.