Tuesday, September 30, 2008

great lunch today


Had a great lunch today (coupon in hand, of course) with my sweet wife at Paizanos in Norcross. Excellent food, nice atmosphere. We had the Fried Zucchini appetizer, Paizanos Stromboli, and Meat Ravioli w/marinara sauce. The marinara sauce was scrumptious! Only negative - we were too full for dessert! Nice find in Old Historic Norcross.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Never Would Have Made It (Marvin Sapp)

Great song. Be encouraged!



Watch the high quality version at:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HnAIgyPVxew

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

hymn funny

You know you attend a church that uses mostly contemporary music (whatever that means) when in your son's evening devotional about singing to the Lord the question is asked...

Q: What other hymns do you know?

and your 7 year old son's answer is to Mom is...

A: I only know Daddy and you, but you're not a him.

My wife and I almost fell off his bed laughing! Rather than go into some long explanation, we just said "that's a good answer, son!"

quote of the day

"Christianity is a faith for people who, having lost all faith in themselves, never tire of hearing the name Jesus." (p.320, The Gospel According to Job)

Thursday, September 18, 2008

isolation

As Christians most of us are surprised and alarmed when we find ourselves going through times of profound isolation. We might feel alienated not only from our community and from the larger society, but even from our own church or from our closest friends and family. When this happens, it could be because we are being called apart to participate in the loneliness of God. If we do not realize this, then we will chafe and rebel against our loneliness as if it were something strange and un-Christian, as if the Bible had nothing to say about it. But wasn't this one of the trials of Job? Here was a gregarious, community-minded person who was called upon to share in the loneliness of God.

This journey into lonely desolation necessarily involves us in a crisis of identity. For that is what loneliness is: an identity crisis. We are meant to be in close relationship with other people, and when for any reason that sense of community breaks down, then essentially we are cut off from ourselves. The enigma for the Christian is that while isolation is not a good thing in itself, yet there are times when it is essential for the growth of our spirits. Since at present we do not know how to relate to others in an entirely healthy way, our old ways must die in order to make way for the new.

The Gospel According to Job (p.313-14)

true prayer

There is no true prayer without agony. Perhaps this is the problem in many of our churches. What little prayer we have is shallow, timid, carefully censored, and full of oratorical flourishes and hot air. There is little agony in it, and therefore little honesty or humility. We seem to think that the Lord is like everyone else we know, and the he cannot handle real honesty. So we put on our Sunday best to visit Him, and when we return home and take off our fancy duds we are left alone with what is underneath: the dirty underwear of hypocrisy.

Why do we flatly refuse to bring real emotions to our prayer meetings? Do we think that the public humbling of ourselves before the Lord should always be a pretty and an enjoyable thing? Do we think the Lord is only honored so long as our own public image and personal dignity are in no way compromised? But the truth is just the opposite: only when we ourselves are prepared to lose face can the Lord's face begin to shine through. It is for Him to exalt us; our part is to humble ourselves. (2 Chron. 7:14)

Even in our private prayers, let alone in our public ones, we Christians have a way of tiptoeing around the throne of God as if He were an invalid or a doddering old man. But who do we think we are kidding? The Lord always knows exactly what we are feeling. He knows all there is to know about us. There is not a shadow of doubt or anger or hate in our hearts but God sees it. So why not just lay all our cards on the table? Real prayer is playing straight with God. If we have never cried out to the Lord, perhaps it is because we have not realized the true horror of our situation. We need to be careful that we do not grow so preoccupied with maintaining our spiritual equilibrium that we regard it as unseemly to cry out to God.

The Gospel According to Job (p.309-10)


If you're interested in a more detailed explanation of "crying out", see The Power of Crying Out (Gothard). A great, informative, and quick read. If you grew up Baptist, it will challenge your ideas of what a "prayer meeting" might look or sound like!! One visit to Brooklyn Tabernacle's Tuesday night prayer meeting would cure any misconceptions you might have.

Friday, September 12, 2008

A Manly Revolution (Jesus for Real Men)

Actually saw a church billboard that advertised "A Manly Revolution" and pictured a blue jean & ball cap man standing with his arms folded. Wondered what it meant, so I checked, but not any mention of it on the website the billboard referenced. And [side note] I thought it interesting that my 15 y.o. MD (middle daughter) mentioned she didn't care for it as we passed by one day. But, anyway...

I ran across this magazine article in a waiting room earlier this week. Can you believe actually reading printed media? (It has actually been a wonderful re-discovery over the last few months to take a book in hand and step away from the computer!) However, thanks to the electronic age in which we live, it is also online. A thought provoking piece on the "masculinity" movement in churches.

A Jesus for Real Men
Christianity Today
April 2008, Vol. 52, No. 4

between solitude and ministry

Between Solitude and Effective Ministry
from Christianity Today

sinlessness

I'm not sure sinlessness is possible this side of eternity, but this could be a good start, or at least a step in the right direction.
"...flee, be silent, pray always, for these are the sources of sinlessness."
Benedicta Ward, trans., The Sayings of the Desert Fathers, p.8
as quoted in The Way of the Heart, Henri Nouwen, p.15

Thursday, September 11, 2008

disgrace

This is lengthy, but worth the read. I couldn't help but include the entire article for today's quote of the day!
Disgrace

"[People] do not hesitate to spit in my face.
Now that God has unstrung my bow and afflicted me,
they cast off restraint in my presence." (Job 30:10-11)

In this passage Job's lament once again foreshadows the crucifixion: like Christ he is mocked, spat upon, afflicted by God. In the Old Testament as in the New, it seems, both God and men have to find somewhere to unload their wrath. If a good person is chosen as the whipping boy, it is only because a good person can take it. A good person, like a good God, can absorb all the hatred and abuse you may care to throw at him, without being crushed by it. That is just the way goodness is: it has the power to absorb or swallow up evil. In fact before evil can be conquered, it must be personally absorbed. We must take it into ourselves, like poison, with all its dirt and shame, and then let the world watch as it passes through us without harm. This notion is completely abhorrent to natural religion. And yet it is the true Spirit of Christ, of whom Paul taught that "God made him who had no sin to be sin for us" (2 Cor. 5:21). Because the God-Man was disgraced, because He publicly suffered loss of grace, He became the channel through which grace and goodness could flow back into the world.

This is exactly what is missing from most of our western churches: the public disgrace of Christians. It is fine for Jesus to have been disgraced, we feel, and it is fine when superstar charlatans get their comeuppance. But the average faithful disciple cannot imagine how any good might come from his own public humiliation. On the contrary, how could God possibly be glorified if we ourselves should appear in a bad light? But really the opposite is true: if we ourselves are busy occupying the limelight, what light can fall on God?

Did not Jesus teach us to deny ourselves and to take up our cross? By denial He did not mean suppression; that kind of denial leads only to neurotic disorder. No, to Jesus denial meant annihilation. It meant a violent public execution in which the weakness and corruptibility of our flesh were to be put on display. How conveniently Christians today have forgotten that the carrying of a cross is not a private but a public act. Aren't most of us caught up in projecting to others an outer image of ourselves that is better then the inner truth? Instead of glorifying in our weaknesses as Paul did, we like to hide them. We would far sooner busy ourselves with cultivating a saintly exterior, than be forced to live with the pain and disgrace that inevitably accompany interior sanctification. In the long run, this hypocritical playacting causes us more pain than ever, eating up enormous reserves of our energy and keeping us tied in knots. That is why we need people like Job, or like Jacob or Jeremiah, people who can help us relax by showing that God is most glorified when we are simply ourselves, warts and all. The Lord is infinitely patient and loving with a messy exterior, but an insincere heart He cannot abide.

No one can be a Christian without acquiring a pure heart, whatever the consequences might be for one's exterior life. And the consequences are bound to be catastrophic. People who are preoccupied with putting on a nice Christian veneer will die in their sins. But those who give up the pride that pours all its energy into maintaining appearances, and who openly scorn those appearances by submitting them to public disgrace, will inherit eternal life. There can be no sanctification or spiritual maturity without crucifixion with Christ, and there can be no crucifixion with Christ without some measure of public shame and scandal. Certainly disgrace is not something to be recklessly sought out; but neither is it to be frantically avoided. Denying the self, far from hiding the self, means being unafraid of having the self exposed for what it is.

Is the weakness of our flesh on display for all to see? Or do we think that being spiritual means exuding a radiant glow of saintliness? Many of us, unlike Job, have grown so terrified of appearing unspiritual in the eyes of other Christians that we no longer dare to open up our hearts, either to one another or to God. We are too afraid of what is inside. We cannot bear to confront our flesh as it really is, let alone crucify it. What we need to realize is that only as sinners can we be disciples of Jesus. A saint cannot pick up a cross; only a sinner can pick up a cross. This is a profound mystery; but with our saintly selves, with that part of ourselves that has been sanctified and devoted to God, we cannot touch the cross. Only a sinful nature can touch the cross. It has to be bare flesh against bare wood. Mere spirit will not hold a nail.

- The Gospel According to Job (p.305-6)

Sunday, September 07, 2008

restoration

Today's quote of the day is from "The Gift of Being Yourself" by David Benner.
A complete knowing of our self in relation to God includes knowing three things: our self as deeply loved, our self as deeply sinful, and our self as in a process of being redeemed and restored. Facing these deep truths about ourselves makes it possible for us to accept and know ourselves as we are accepted and known by God. (p.72)