standing, living, moving, being

I wrote a few weeks ago about the firm foundation that woos us many times into love. That foundation, the truth of God’s word, is still doing it’s wooing work today on my soul – gently shaking and drawing and whispering sweetness into this overcast Sunday afternoon.

I love the smell after the rain. I love to watch the earth drink up the Lord’s provision and I love to breathe it in. Clouds can seem ominous, but they often accompany the rain and they did today while I was in church. I walked out to puddles and gray skies and … that smell.

Before I left for church this morning, I listened to John Piper’s last message as Pastor at Bethlehem Baptist Church and this little nugget wooed my little wandering heart back into love with a fragrance like the rain.

… stop thinking of God merely as the foundation of the building of their life, because foundations are hidden, forgotten things. Foundations are taken for granted while people love the food of the kitchen and sex in the bedroom and the family in the den — too often the real gods of our lives while we pay token tribute to the unseen, unloved, uncelebrated, unexalted cement block foundation in the basement called God Almighty.

And my point was: God does not like to be taken for granted. The heavens are not telling the glory of God because he likes to be taken for granted. From him and through him and to him are all things, to be conscious, hourly glory (Romans 11:36).

I had foundations on my brain as I sped through a deserted Des Moines downtown. God does not like to be taken for granted. Yes, the foundations are the most important part of the house. Without the foundation, we could not enjoy dinner in the dining room or hide-and-seek in the attic. It would not be a reality because it would not be a possibility – the joy within any room is made possible by the sound structure of the foundation. But, the foundations are not visible, not recognized, not cherished.

Hm.

We read from Ephesians 5:18-33 in the service this morning because the sermon series is called, “Marriage, Sex, and Singleness” and Ephesians is one of the obvious texts. I cringe at the way I think I know how a sermon is going to go before I open the Word, like I think I can’t be wooed again. How foolish I am!

This morning, with foundations on the brain, I read the passage with freshly wet eyes and with a soul newly tied up in knots.

And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.

The pastor said something about Christ empowering “staying in love” and it was like someone crushed fresh herbs in front of my nose. One moment you have sprigs of rosemary or lavendar and the next the smell explodes into the air and covers your fingers, waking up your senses. I scribbled in my journal, Christ is not just the foundation of the house called relationships, Christ is also the air in every room. He is both the structure that makes each room possible AND the air that makes the rooms delightful and full of life.

The One whose love has miraculously stayed on us empowers our staying in love – our standing on the foundations and our living on top of them.

The scent of crushed rosemary sticks around and I’ve been breathing these truths all day. I had a 80 minute round-trip drive to an appointment today and my heart was churning up all these things. Along the way (while getting gas), I saw Tim Challies posted a new “Hymn Stories” on his blog about the song Rock of Ages.

That got me to singing and thinking about the architecture involved in the “cleft of the rock.” There’s a reason Moses was able to be hidden inside it in Exodus 33 – it was more than a foundation. In fact, a cleft is a space you can only squeeze into, covered on all but one side by craggy rock. This illustration of being hidden and secure in the Rock of Ages who both gives us the refuge and maintains its structural soundness reminded me of Christ’s perfect maintenance of His love. Christ provides the escape and then in His power keeps it secure.

You keep him in perfect peace
whose mind is stayed on you,
because he trusts in you.
Trust in the Lord forever,
for the Lord God is an everlasting rock. (Isaiah 26:3-4, ESV)

I hope I never roll my eyes at Colossians 1:17, “And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.” All things hold together. Every room built on top of every foundation and every breath inside and outside the walls. Everything we see and everything we don’t see is held together with the staying power of a risen King.

We do not merely proclaim the glory of a solid foundation. No, we proclaim the excellent depths of His glory as we breathe in the rooms built upon the firm foundation. As we play and sing and shout and dance and question and study and laugh and mourn and… as we live, we proclaim with confidence that the foundation will hold.

God’s grace empowers us not just to stand on top of a firm foundation, but to live and move and have our being.

The rest of the Ephesians passage from morning church is still swimming around in my soul, asking me to push the limits of God’s empowering my “staying in love.” The way that He has woven everything in life to reach for Him is more mystery than my mind can entertain.

And it is beautiful.

Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.

Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her bythe washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.

In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body. “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.”This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband. (Ephesians 5:22-33, ESV)

I’m breathing in deep the grace that empowers me to stand on solid ground… and the same grace that empowers me to live and to move and to have my being (Acts 17:28).

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.

this & that

It’s been awhile. Have you missed the linkage?
Don’t answer that.
Here are some things for you to click on, look up, read about, and ponder. Enjoy!

This post over at Gospel Coalition, “Searching for Paradise in The Descendants makes me realize how out of touch I am with the film industry these days. Unless it shows up in blog posts I follow, I probably don’t know about it. After reading this description, I’m at least interested (although they do warn about spoilers) in seeing this film.

I really appreciated this post by Tim Challies, “Empty Minds, Empty Hearts, Empty Lives,” though it is depressing to step back and look at how we live dependent on manmade tools. After looking at several research studies, he writes, “It’s not just that we are no longer remembering things, but we are entrusting to our tools the things we used to entrust to ourselves.”

Learning Worship from Idolaters is a good reminder as we all get together and get crazy about sports this weekend. Honestly, I kind of forgot the Super Bowl was happening this Sunday until a new friend asked if I wanted to come to their party. I was so relieved she asked because I probably would’ve wondered where everyone went on Sunday afternoon.

My cousin Vince and I are kind of in a band – we sing for the walls in the basement and we’re working on two covers right now – Bob Dylan’s, “It ain’t me, babe” and John Mayer’s, “Daughters.”

This book by Russell Moore is on my list of “need to read.” This book trailer gives you an idea of what, “Tempted and Tried” is all about.

Russell Moore also wrote, The Humanity of Christ Matters recently and it reminded me of some of my reflections around Christmastime – how we always view Christ in a manger with rosy lenses. Moore asked his seminary students if they thought Jesus had ever vomited, they didn’t know how to respond. He writes, “The answer to this question has to do, first of all, with the one-dimensional picture of Jesus so many of us have been taught, or have assumed. Many of us see Jesus either as the ghostly friend in the corner of our hearts, promising us heaven and guiding us through difficulty, or we see him simply in terms of his sovereignty and power, in terms of his distance from us. No matter how orthodox our doctrine, we all tend to think of Jesus as a strange and ghostly figure.”

I loved reading Eric Metaxas‘ biography of Bonhoeffer, so I was interested to see what he would say at the National Prayer Breakfast. You should probably read this article, “Pious Baloney” … it might surprise you. I’m also interested to know what you think.

Okay, that’s all I’ve got because I have some serious homework to do today for Perspectives, in addition to a meeting with a monster called taxes. I’m considering writing a letter to the IRS with a white flag enclosed, “I have no idea what I’m doing so if I make mistakes it’s not because I’m trying to cheat you out of money, but because I just really have no idea what I’m doing.”

 

this & that

While you are picking up the toys strewn about and nibbling at the last of the holiday baking, check out these links!
  • Jonathan Edwards’s resolutions organized in seven categories– a good build up to all those things you will try to squeeze into this next year. A little preparation never hurt anyone. Maybe instead of making your own list of “shoulda, coulda, woulda”s, try checking out what Jonathan Edwards resolved and if it makes sense to you.
    Religious Affections

  • This collection is one of several “Top” lists of 2011 I really enjoyed. It’s from Qideas, highlighting articles from the past year. I also enjoyed Tim Challies Top 10 books and also his Top 10 List of Top 10s.
  • Speaking of Top 10, Tim Keller is regularly on mine as a pastor and author. Looks like I’ll need to find a copy of “The Meaning of Marriage” and dig in, based on the rave reviews. It’s not just the subject that interests me, it’s Keller’s approach to questions and controversy and Bible application.
  • This is a great clip of a child being heroic AND precocious. Check it out.
  • After reading Chesterton’s “Orthodoxy,” I considered him a kindred spirit and friend. His love of creativity was a direct reflection of his love for God. It might be one of few theological pieces that I laughed my way through. He did have a strong view against Calvinism, but that never bothered me. This article might explain why.
  • This might be my favorite article, as of recent. Russell Moore writes about a conversation he had with theologian Carl F.H. Henry before he died. Moore was lamenting the current state of Christianity and the direction it was surely headed, when Henry reminded him that our eyes for despair are not God’s eyes. What about Saul of Tarsus? C.S. Lewis? Charles Colson? The article ends with this:
    Jesus will be King, and his church will flourish. And he’ll do it in the way he chooses, by exalting the humble and humbling the exalted, and by transforming cowards and thieves and murderers into the cornerstones of his New City.
    So relax.
    And, be kind to that atheist in front of you on the highway, the one who just shot you an obscene gesture. He might be the one who evangelizes your grandchildren.
  • I read this NY Times article last week sometime and I’m still thinking about it. “The Joy of Quiet” explains a surprising trend in society these days. Or, maybe it’s not so surprising if you understand that what is luxury must also be rare. These days, quiet is rare, so people are starting to consider it a luxury. Unplug my hotel room? Sure, I’ll pay extra for that. People do! Anyway, it’s an interesting article.
  • If you aren’t really in to articles, but you love photographs, check out 24 hours in pictures from around the world. Fascinating! Here’s a sample (kids in India wait in the taxi for their family to return:

There is more, but I think Wednesday can only handle so much (I read the stats and you’re not going to click on all these, anyway!).

let LOVE fly like cRaZy

this & that

How was your thanksgiving?

I could barely catch my breath, I was so thankful. Every time I turned around, there was a new reason.

Whew. Now, I’m back in the swing (if you call couch hopping and random working and disorganized packing for a move a “swing”) and I wanted to give you a few things to read.

  • C.S. Lewis was born yesterday. One of the most amazing people I never knew… well, except in a literary sense. I imagine I’ll hang out with him one day in heaven, though. Here’s a little article about the man over at Desiring God.
  • I’m sure I’ve talked about Ann Voskamp before, no? Well, now you are officially introduced. She has a book “a thousand gifts” that I’ve started and it is beautiful! She also has a blog and this showed up a couple days ago – like words I might pen about Losing our Language. Check it out (and also her book)!
  • I don’t ever feel the need to make to make the topics of “Christians” and “Alcohol” the center of debate, but if it finds its way there on its own – I’ll bite. This article, “Christians and Alcohol” by Challies is an interesting take.
  • This last one isn’t a link as much as an idea that I can’t wait to see develop. It’s not a new idea, just one I shared with my good friend Alejandra over Thanksgiving and she is equally excited about it. We had some of the most amazing conversations about how we can encourage men to be real men – those who pursue after God with their whole heart. Since we parted, we’ve been updating on new ways that have opened for us to do just that. I’m pumped to see how God will send us opportunities for encouragement!

I know this isn’t extensive, but I had to get SOMETHING up before the piles in my mind didn’t make any sense.

let LOVE fly like cRaZy

this & that

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

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

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

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

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

LOVE fly like cRaZy

thoughts on the sabbath

I love the Sabbath. I love that God loves the Sabbath. I love that the Sabbath was made for man and not man for the Sabbath (Mark 2:27).

What a beautiful, precious, intentional time to pursue the Savior in rest and reflection. Today, I was reading this from Tim Challies at his blog and thought I might share it with you. I have a beautiful mess on my bedroom rug and, slightly paint-covered, have deemed myself unfit to type any more words.

In Challies’ post, he quotes Walter Chantry’s thoughts on the subject and I’m drawn to it by one word: delight.

Are we delighting in the Sabbath today?

let LOVE fly like cRaZY