Friday, August 31, 2012

Weekly Thoughts

1) I got something in the mail which made me giddy.

2) There are some new pens in my backpack. I was very excited to use them - still am. Kinda nerdy. Kinda white. White-n-nerdy.

3) Playing my lovely banjo this Sunday at church! So y'all ought'n ta be at da churrch for sum wurshipin'!

4) "Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect." Romans 12:2

5) I lived in a castle this week.

6) Looking forward to the end of September.

7) Most of our vocabulary needs re-defining now that we're Christians. Because God is big and we are not.

8) More than once this week all my words have failed to convey how I feel. Paradox after paradox has been my fail-safe.

9) Grad-school has more busy work than under-grad.

10) "My fragile life is secure under your sovereign grace." Don't typically like the rap, but for some reason this song resonates with me.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

A Breath

Imagine something with me.

You’re in a cave, dark (pitch-black), cool, and eerie. You know it’s a tomb, you know it contains a body; you know it contains what remains of the physical body of Jesus.

You saw him just a few days ago, hanging from a cross, looking more like a hunk of meat than a man. You heard him give up his spirit; you saw the spear go in and out of his side. You know he’s dead.

The silence of the tomb is overwhelming. So quiet it hurts your ears, so still, so full of death.

Then it happens. So small, yet so profound against the prevailing silence, a breath was just taken! There is life in that ‘dead body.’ Soft and steady breathing.

Jesus’ death was loud, it was violent, and it was gruesome and bloody and seen by many. The Curtain was torn in two, an earthquake happened; there was darkness at noontime. Shouts and hate and the final words of Christ, “It is finished,” the proclamation of proclamations.

Jesus’ resurrection was quiet, a breath in the dark. But what it accomplished is more resounding than the darkness or the earthquake or the shouts, “Jesus took in that breath and shattered all death with his life.”

Imagining forth to the peace we have in him, his breathing alone in the tomb secures our hope.

Jesus’ first breath in the dark of the tomb will resound for all eternity.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Re-defining Good

A while back in one of those “thoughts” posts I wrote the following: “The goodness of God draws us to repentance. I think our definition of 'good' is too small, too shallow, too flimsy.” I want to think that through a little more.

It’s easy to look at goodness and only think of lovely things, of happy times. Those times when we’re feeling freest and strongest. When things seem to be going swimmingly and all is ‘right’ in the world.

Let me get to the point more directly. We need to re-define ‘good.’

We need to re-define it because we know the goodness of God draws us to repentance. We know he is the director of the orchestra of life and therefore the beautiful highs and the terrible lows are all part of the symphony of the plan of God.

I look to the death of a good friend and cannot help but think, “That was the goodness of God drawing my heart to repentance.” I look at the struggles of my own heart and mind and must admit, “These are the goodness of God drawing me to repentance.” I look at the wonder of my nephew and must confess, “This is the goodness of God drawing me to repentance.” I look at the Big Dipper in the night sky and know, "There is the goodness of God drawing me to repentance." 

Repentance: the turning away from sin to Jesus.

Goodness: the actions of God to give me (us) God.

There’s more redefining to do. All our words must be re-understood. For God is God and we are not, therefore we are feebly weak in our grasping at vocabulary. ‘Cause good might not always feel 'good'; and love won’t always feel like 'loving'; and hope won’t always feel like flying.

(Picture from Steve Coleman)

Friday, August 24, 2012

Week Thoughts

1) It's raining outside. CrAzy!

2) Going to Omaha for a conference. Omaha...

3) Henry Scougal has played a signficant role in my spiritual development.

4) Charleston, South Carolina

5) Started grad-school. Everytime I tell another student I'm taking 12hrs they look at me like I have pleague. In other words the same way college students treat you when they find out you're a pastor.

6) There's a lot of grace to be drowning in and this is good.

7) 145 pages - on average - of reading per week for one class. If it was 146 I'd protest.

8) The church phone has been ringing like crazy this week. Most were nice. Some were stupidly angry. One was just straight odd, while one was really neat.

9) "Who are you o man to answer back to God." Rom 9

10) "But he who is utterly destitute of his inward principle and [does] not aspire unto it, but contents himself with those performances whereunto he is prompted by education or custom, by the fear of hell, or carnal notions of heaven, can no more be accounted a religious person, than a puppet can be called a man... Whereas the spirit of true religion is frank and liberal, far from such peevish and narrow reckoning; and he who [has] given himself entirely unto God, will never think he [does] too much for him." ~ Scougal

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

The Re-arrange

Things, it seems, have been re-prioritized in my life over the last couple months.

I would’ve told you I was perfectly content with life a few months ago, saying things like, “When God does... but I’m not going to go searching for…” Working hard and sleeping harder, time with family and with friends all of it seemed just dandy.

Then things changed.

Something out of left field came streaming across the seemingly beautiful horizon of my contentedness, which contrasted deeply against the normal and shook the stupor from my eyes and the apathetic content from my bones. That blazing ball of light, which stunned me and scared me, awake, it seems.

Here’s my point in writing the above, and it is a simple point: God is in control.

Yes, that is all. There’s no need to relay any overly flowery words with eloquence and syntax of old, just to point to a small and solid fact, God is in control and we are not.

In contentedness he reigns and in the re-arrange he’s ruling. Classes, family, friends, the future, the past, the now, the all-of-life it’s his.

Which ought to be freeing thing rather than a binding thing. Something to give us a bounce to our step and nearly care-free demeanor, because we know that God is in control and we are living in what he knows is best for us. 

(Wichita Eagle file photo)

Monday, August 20, 2012

The Dad

So my dad, right?

He and I were sitting in a conversation yesterday, a conversation I was honored to be a fly on the wall at.

Have you ever had a moment of decent clarity, when you’re there, but you feel so distant because the way you’re seeing something has changed perspective? Do you know what I mean?

The gospel. Straight forward the gospel, unmingled with cultural wish-wash or downplaying on the blood, sweat and tears of the difficulty and beauty of a life lived in faith.

“This is what makes us men, what completes us,” he said while point at a line on a page, which read, “You must love Jesus.” “He is the truth of the universe, which holds all things together that are, and if we don’t love him we are lost men.”

That’s my dad, preaching the gospel with passion, fervency. Casting all his hope onto the 2000-year-old reality, Jesus saves sinners. “I was saved 2000 years ago when Jesus died on the cross for my sins and all of my life I’ve been coming to understand that more.”

Yet, this post shouldn’t be a praising of my dad, he’s cool alright (and he has Harry Potter classes), but he’s just a sinner. No, this should be a post which is interpreted as this:

 “[They] find so much perfection and goodness [that] not only answer and satisfy [their] affections, but master and  overpower [them] too: [they] find all [their] love to be too faint and languid for such a noble object, and [are] only sorry [they] can command no more. [They] wish for the flames of a seraph, and long for the time when [they] shall be wholly melted and dissolved into love: and because [they] can do so little [themselves], [they] desire the assistance of the whole creation, that angels and men would concur with [them] in the admirations and love of those infinite perfections.” ~ Scougal

May dad and I get to worship the same God together. Be infatuated by him, be set aflame by him, preach and teach to others about him, live and die in him. And that is well worth writing about.

Friday, August 17, 2012

I Needed to Write This

“It’s the will of God.”

We say this quite a bit, right? Whether it’s explaining why something is the way it is to others or ourselves; we try to push ourselves into this mindset: God willed it thus it happened.

Trying to make it be the balm our souls so desperately need, trying to make it the cure of ailments and pains, broken hearts and tears. But the comfort isn’t in it.

Reciting a fact to us doesn’t make the pain stop. No, it makes it more distinct. The void of the silence is compounded upon the pronounced void in our heart from where the pain pours.

We’re remembering the wrong fact.

Is God sovereign? Absolutely. Is it his will that causes all things to exist that are? Yes, undoubtedly. But we don’t need to be reminded of that fact. No, we need to remember one glaring reality, Jesus.

Yes, the Lord gives and takes away. Yes, he is in total control. Yes, nothing happens outside of his plan. Yes, we are his totally. But while that is something it is not what we need. We need to know beyond all else, to be set on fire for nothing else, to be drawn by our tender heartstrings to one simple truth, Jesus has saved our souls.

So the problem, the dilemma, is taken care of in one way, looking to the author and perfecter of our faith who for the joy set before him endured the cross despising the shame (our shame); who took the problem we most need saving from and saved us from it. He saved us by himself from ourselves for himself. 

Generic Pastor’s ‘Favorites'

1) Favorite book: The Bible
2) Favorite color: The Color Bracelet

3) Favorite store: JC Pennys, Perfect Peace, Christian Book Stores…etc

4) Favorite painter: Thomas Kinkade

5) Favorite movie: The Passion of the Christ

6) Favorite car: Honda Accord (Jesus drove it)

7) Favorite day of the week: Sunday, followed closely by Wednesday (Night)

8) Favorite place to be: Wherever God wills

9) Favorite candy: Testamints

10) Favorite shoes: Sandals

11) Favorite clothes: A suit

*I didn't come up with all of these. Good friends and funny converstaions did.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Them There Thoughts

1) The goodness of God draws us to repentance. I think our definition of 'good' is too small, too shallow, too flimsy.

2) Enrolled in grad-school. Classes start in 2 weeks. WSU didn't waste one minute in telling me I was accepted. Not one.

3) While enrolling I was sent to four different locations before 1) being sent to the right place and 2) being told the person I needed to see wasn't there.

4) Made fried chicken the other night, like my momma makes it! The gravy sucked, but the fried chicken was good!

5) Stared at the stars a few times this week.

6) The Head and The Heart

7) Vacation next week!

8) When your fears a dismissed one by one.

9) Almost had a major slip of the tongue while preaching... I blushed at the thought. Still.

10) Going to start calling my tattoo a freckle.

11) Here's a quote for you: "... When once the soul is fixed on that supreme and all-sufficient good, it finds so much perfection and goodness as doth not only answer and satisfy its affection, but master and overpower it too: it finds all its love to be too faint and languid for such a noble object, and is only sorry that it can command no more. It wisheth for the flames of a seraph, and longs for the time when it shall be wholly melted and dissolved into love: and because it can do so little itslef, it desires the assistance of the whole creation, that angels and men would concur with it in the admiration and love of those infinite perfections." Henry Scougal


Wednesday, August 8, 2012


Last night, after my last meeting and before a phone call, I sat on the porch and watched the clouds unveil the stars - all full of questions about time and such, but still thankful for the present, yet longing for the future. Do you know what I mean?

Sometimes it’s easy to get caught up in what might be or what will be, so caught up that we miss the present.

Yet in some capacity this is a good thing – to be eternally minded people, so caught up in what’s to come that we are consistently aiming at seeing other people see the future we see.

In the end How Great Thou Art started playing in my head.

“O Lord my God, when I in awesome wonder,
Consider all the worlds Thy hands have made;
I see the stars; I hear the rolling thunder,
Thy power throughout the universe displayed.
Then sings my soul, My Savior God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, how great Thou art.”

My wonders weren’t answered, the future is still unknown, but beautifully so. Even still it’s God’s goodness, which leads me to repentance, and he is good. So until the future has become the past I must, I will, I need to trust He will be faithful to himself and that’s precisely what I (we) need.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Preaching/Weekend Thoughts

1) Everyone is staring.

2) There could be at least 26 sermons from John 17.

3) We are not the hope of God and because we are not the hope of God we are free to be free in our radical hope in God.

4) Sunday afternoon.

5) Watched The Goonies this weekend. Success.

6) Went to The Anchor for an 'employee party.' I'm no employee but I work there.

7) Louis Armstrong

8) Getting undeserved grace and it's piling up like snow that never comes to Kansas.

9) "'The Eagle is right,' said the Lord Digory. 'Listen Peter. When Aslan said you could never go back to Narnia, he meant the Narnia you were thinking of. But that was not the real Narnia. That had a beginning and an end. It was only a shadow or a copy of the real Narnia which has always been here and always will be here: just as our own world, England and all, is only a shadow or a copy of something in Aslan's real world. You need not mourn over Narnia, Lucy. All of the old Narnia that mattered, all the dear creatures, have been drawn into the real Narnia through the Door. And of course it is different; as different as a real thing is from a shadow or a waking life is from a dream.'" The Last Battle, C.S. Lewis

10) Romans 8

Monday, August 6, 2012

John 17's Sermon's End

(Listen to the full sermon here.)

This is the prayer of Jesus for his Church. The Church, the vehicle of God to communicate his great gospel to the people of the dying world; those whom he has chosen out of the world to behold his glory.

You, me, us, we, the Church. Saved, redeemed, sanctified by the sheer grace of God for the glory of God.

Not because we were good enough, smart enough, strong enough, or witty enough; not because of physical beauty or spiritual charm; not because of the way we understand doctrine or study the Scriptures or disciple others; we are not saved by anything we do, say or think.

We, the Church, are saved to know the only true God and Jesus Christ whom he sent; To see Jesus’ glory that was given to him by the Father because the Father loved Jesus his Son before the foundations of the world.

So we must see here in the High Priestly prayer that none of this is about us.

It never has been and never will be. The story of redemption is about God. We are the bystanders in our own salvation; we are the dead revived to life by God and for God.

And we should thank God that God is about God! We are now free to hope in him, to have justice in him, to have grace in him, to have freedom in him, to have our refuge be him.

We, men, are not the hope of God and because we are not the hope of God we are free to be free in our radical hope in God.

And so forever we will find out more and more about who God is because God has loved us so much that he has given us himself.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Taken From the Journal

"It had been a while since the reality of the cross impacted my heart. Since an understanding of the brutality of the cross has shown to affect emotion.

"Henry Scougal is right in saying, "Faith hath the same place in the Divine Life, which sense hath in the natural, being indeed nothing else but a kind of sense or feeling persuasion of spiritual things; it extends itself unto all Divine truths; but in our lapsed estate, it hath a peculiar relation to the declaration of God’s mercy and reconcilableness to sinners through a mediator; and therefore, receiving its denomination from that principal object, is ordinarily termed, ‘Faith in Jesus Christ.’"

"Both emotion and the intellect should be engaged in faith. For while one or the other will be primary both ought to be present.

"Because if faith is simply based on swinging emotionalism there is no knowledge or wisdom thus the person is stupidly ignorant. But if faith is a mass of knowledge and has no outlet the person is witlessly unwise and heartless, beating people with knowledge as though he wielded a battle-axe.

"So I must have both."

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Middle of the Week Thoughts

1) I'm preaching this weekend at Journey the Way, so writing for the blog hasn't been a priority.

2) All of John 17 in one sermon. Buckle up.

3) I will be eating at Chik-Fil-A today.

4) The Church has always been the plan of God. (Ironically enough what I mean by 'always' is always.)

5) I cannot confirm or deny I started doing some sort of, ahem, 'work-out' this week. If I did, don't worry about it. If I didn't don't worry about it.

6) I'm wearing flip-flops for the first time this summer... I feel like a sell out.

7) The Gaslight Anthem.

8) I need to improve my grilling skills.

9) Re-getting Grace. Still.

10) This Song