Johnny Cash, heroes, Citizens, YRRC, and why love protects us

In honor of this surprise winter attack (seriously, weather people, how could you NOT see this coming?), I’m going to link you up like a blitzkrieg. Get ready for some serious THIS & THAT comin’ atcha.

Today, February 26th is Johnny Cash’s birthday. Russell Moore has a great article, “Why Johnny Cash Still Matters,” about the unique role Cash played in culture for those in and outside the church.

This article, “Real Men & Real Women: Tough & Tender” by Lore Ferguson, writer at Sayable, is so very spot on. I can’t say it better than she did, so here is an excerpt,

One of the enemy’s favorite tactics is to take what God has not called ultimate and make it so. If he can confuse the Christians, get them to devour one another, well, he can call it a day. No need for the Crusades part deux, Jesus came to bring a sword, and by golly, the first people we’re gonna use it on is one another.

One particular area of glee the enemy is basking in these days is the division he’s bringing to the Church concerning gender roles. And he does it by making caricatures rampant.

I found this over at Mere Orthodoxy and really appreciated what it has to say about heroes. Our heroes reveal our vision of the good life. So, what does our culture say about our heroes and what do those heroes say about our vision of the good life? Read, “House of Cards: Kevin Spacey, Tolkien, and the Bible” to get the scoop.

“Love among Christians is a great protection against deception,” Piper says in this post, “Two Reasons Why Love Protects Us From Deception that expands on his sermon from the past Sunday at Bethlehem Baptist. What a beautiful truth – and Piper unpacks it from 2 John 1:5-7. Just a great meditation.

No big surprise here, but this research confirms that “Spiritual Maturity Comes Through Intentionality,” according to Lifeway. I appreciate it because it’s not some pastor’s opinion on a soapbox.

I’m not sure why the CEO of Match.com’s parent company had to pull Iowa into his single-and-40 confusion, but he did. And it’s the opening to this post on “More Choices, Less Commitment.” I’m not sure how I feel about it, but I appreciate it all the same.

This is just a great song by the band CITIZENS. It’ll help get your dance on while the snow keeps falling outside.

food & sex, doing work & undoing, the unaffiliated & the labeled, wondrous love & the lost

It’s been awhile since I posted “this & that.” Trust me, I’ve been just barely keeping up – a case of too many good things, I suppose. There are always so many things to read and see and do and be. Oh, goodness that sounds like a poem. Last night, I rapped a rhyme in the break room at the print shop… so many things.

Well, here are a few for you to read and think about. Please, friends, don’t read another word if you don’t intend to filter it through the Word. What good is any knowledge unless it is made to submit to God’s purposes? Even the wonderful, giddy things are useful tools in the hands of the Father – those things people tell me are silly and childish. I believe these things and the serious things and the sad things can all be used to tear back a few more layers of veneer we’ve haphazardly patched over the beauty of God’s redemptive story.

God Created Food and Sex for the Believer. Do I have your attention? I really appreciated what this article says about how both food and sex declare the glory of God and with great intentionality are meant to be enjoyed in the best and purest way.

What is the purpose of work? Are we all destined to toil with the aimlessness we read about in Ecclesiastes or is there something deeper at play? This article from the Gospel Coalition, “The Purpose of Work,” takes a look at the life of Luther and his understanding of work and vocation being primarily a “service to God.”

Sometimes it’s nice to read something that’s not news or theology or cultural critique, at least not overtly. I loved this article from Art House America, “The Order of Undoing,” because it’s beautiful. Just the meandering description of one woman’s overnight stay at a monastery in Kentucky, but somehow she made me feel like it was news and theology and culture as well.

There’s a new trend in spiritual identity that’s caused enough rumble to have itself considered a “category.” People now identify as “nones” – as in, they are unaffiliated, unattached, and unfettered to any sort of spiritual grounding. They mark “none” when there are multiple choice boxes about religion. This intrigues me and this article by Albert Mohler, “The Great Clarification: Fuzzy Fidelity and the Rise of the Nones” says beautiful things about how this means hope.

Do you know a prodigal? No, really… do you? Or maybe you are the prodigal in the parable about the son who wandered away with his inheritance to experience the world. What a beautiful story and what a beautifully mysterious ending! This song by Wilder Adkins (you can get his music for free at Noisetrade) invites me into that story in a new way and bids me marvel at the wondrous love of the Father.

the sexual revolution, a theologeek’s confessions, contemporary art, and living life

Have you ever had a string of days where putting one foot in front of the other seems harder than it should seem? I mean, have you ever been frustrated at being frustrated?

I’m just wondering, I guess.

Here are some things that are taking my mind off my feet this week. I hope it pushes you to think harder or differently … and then I really hope that your knowledge grows feet. I mean, I hope your knowledge does something because otherwise it’s just about puffing up.

Do you know Al Mohler? Well, he’s kind of a big deal. Anyway, he wrote an article in The Atlantic recently about Helen Gurley Brown’s influence on the sexual revolution. It is an interesting piece that speaks to one of the most confused cultural categories (sexuality) of our generation.

Bryan McWhite writes in a post for the EFCA online magazine about the difference between simply knowing theology and doing theology and what it means for reaching young people today. This is exactly what I like to hear! We must be about living theology not about knowing it. He writes,

What I didn’t understand at first (and realize now that I am a recovering theologeek) is that the younger generations are intensely pragmatic. And contrary to what many in the church might assume, their pragmatism is in no way opposed to serious theological thought. Young people really do desire theological understanding. But they want theological inquiry to serve a purpose beyond simply knowing.

To this generation, studying theology merely for the sake of knowing is inextricably linked to arrogance. For them, the study of theology isn’t complete until it ends in praxis. They do not abide the last three chapters of Ephesians being severed from the first three. They want to understand how knowing culminates indoing.

This piece on contemporary art, “Absolutely-Too-Much” admits that contemporary art can be a hard thing to appreciate, but it remains something to be admired. I like how this article shifts to philosophical implications in contemporary art because, of course, they are connected.

“We all had new iphones but no one had no one to call…” Thats a line from the song, “Life’s for the Living” by Passenger. Sometimes, on those days when one foot drags as we put it in front of the other, we just have to remember that “life’s for the living. So live, or you’re better off dead.” Sometimes, it’s as simple as that.

let LOVE fly like cRaZy

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.

___________________________

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])

___________________________

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.

___________________________

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?

___________________________

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”)

___________________________

let LOVE fly like cRaZy

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 Curator” struck 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.

    Here’s the video he talks about to the song, “Open Letter”

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

let LOVE fly like cRaZy

St. Francis, evangelism, reliable research, sexual identity, and the 99% I’ll support

I was gone last week in Michigan, but I tried to stay up on my reading. I slipped away a few times to work and inevitably ended up perusing Twitter and the blogosphere to find out what’s going on in the world. I think of my twitter account like one of those tickers that talk about the Dow Jones or Wall Street (I guess all that information flying across the screen is about the economy or something). Twitter is more my cup ‘o tea because it’s an aggregator of information of news in theology, arts, crafts, foods, and popular headlines. I don’t find everything there, but between twitter and blog posts sent to my email, I read a lot of content from a computer screen. Here are some of the things I’ve found.

  • How well do you know the saints? You know, the ones that get their soundbites memorialized on those inspirational posters with landscape scenery. How well do you know about their lives, their ministries, and their beliefs? Do you know them well enough to recognize when they are being misrepresented? St. Francis of Assisi is famous for saying, “Preach the gospel at all times. Use words if necessary.” There is one huge problem with this inspiration – it didn’t happen. Check out this great article, “FactChecker: Misquoting Francis of Assisi by Glenn T. Stanton to find out more.
  • This short article, “No Such Thing as the Gift of Evangelism” by Ed Stetzer exposes the excuses far too many believers use to ‘get out of’ sharing the gospel with others. I’m interested to know your thoughts – especially if you’ve taken a Spiritual Gifts Inventory that said you are not gifted in evangelism. Stetzer shares four proposals that I think are very helpful.
  • Have you ever wondered where the statistics come from that say a child in the foster care system requires 40 square feet to live in the state of Iowa (true story, I checked)? Where does research come from and why do we trust it? Who is checking and double checking the methods of the researchers and how many re-writes of the results happen before the public sees it? Here’s the biggest question: when we don’t agree with what research finds, is it bad research or just disagreeable results? A professor at UT conducted research of children of gay parents and came up with some very UNpopular results. A blogger wrote a letter and now the University of Texas is looking into his “questionable” ethics in the study. Check out this article from Denny Burk, “The Witch-Hunt for Mark Regnerus” and see if you can make sense of it.
  • This article, “The New Sexual Identity Crisis” from Jeff Buchanan (Executive Vice President of Exodus International) writes about the identity fragmentation that we see in regards to sexuality. Too many people have chalked it up to progress or trend or fad and not enough of us have taken a deep look at what it means for society and culture that we are a people so sexually confused. This article gives great insight.
  • In this video, Jonah Lehrer shares that “grit is the stubborn refusal to quit.” I love that. I can support 99% when it stands for good, old-fashioned perspiration. If you’ve got the time, his insights on creativity and how we get there are really refreshing.
  • I am a huge fan of the arts. HUGE. My mom is a music teacher, my dad’s family of 10 grew up performing, and I grew up on the stage with my siblings in church and school productions. This story in the Huffington Post, “Grace, Love, Courage: on Art, Artists, and Patronage” talks about one particular person and her support of the arts.

As always, I could give you more, but these should keep you pretty busy. Enjoy, folks, and don’t forget: knowledge is useless if it doesn’t result in acts of love. Even knowledge of what’s going on in the world should point us back to ways that we can serve and share the hope of the gospel.

Now concerning food offered to idols: we know that “all of us possess knowledge.” This “knowledge” puffs up, but love builds up. If anyone imagines that he knows something, he does not yet know as he ought to know. But if anyone loves God, he is known by God.

(1 Corinthians 8:1-3 ESV)

Trip Lee, teaching children, Andy Griffith, and Isaiah 42:21

Here’s another round of interesting articles, videos, links, and things. Enjoy, friends!

  • Trip Lee has had some serious press. No matter who is listening, the way he can fit so many words in such a short space is commendable. Here he gives us the Gospel in 2 minutes. Take a peek – you’ll be BLESSED!
    http://vimeo.com/44541665
  • I love Sally Lloyd-Jones. If you ever run into her, you can tell her so. I know she is just being faithful to use her gifts, but there are a lot of people benefiting from her diligence. This article reminds me of so many Sunday School classrooms and so many “moral of the story” endings to Sunday School lessons. God never meant for the Old Testaments characters or New Testament letters to make us more honest or better sons and daughters. God gave us the Word because He wants us to know Him. We can only “be holy as He is holy” when we know Him and that’s why the Bible is not about us. The Bible is all about God. Read the article here.
  • My Grandpa is an Andy Griffith fan. I’m a fan of most things that claim my grandpa’s affection, so I’m an Andy Griffith fan by default and I hope I still have some of those black and white videos around when I have kids. Griffith died today and this article seems a fitting tribute.
  • This past week I happened on this reflection, Meditate with Me on Isaiah 42:21, at Desiring God Ministries. “The Lord was pleased, for his righteousness’ sake, to magnify his law and make it glorious.” (Isaiah 42:21). At first glance, we might only take away that God loves His law. But I am grateful that Piper dove in deeper and took us with him in his reflections.
  • There are over 5,000 students in New Orleans for the Challenge Conference right now. If you are not there (like me) but you want to hear some of the AMAZING teaching going on, take a look at this video from Bryan McWhite.
    http://vimeo.com/45113235

That’s all I’ve got for now, other than the sweat dripping off my nose. I couldn’t find a way to make that a bullet point.