Friday, January 30, 2009

choosing joy

Choosing Joy

Joy is what makes life worth living, but for many joy seems hard to find. They complain that their lives are sorrowful and depressing. What then brings the joy we so much desire? Are some people just lucky, while others have run out of luck? Strange as it may sound, we can choose joy. Two people can be part of the same event, but one may choose to live it quite differently than the other. One may choose to trust that what happened, painful as it may be, holds a promise. The other may choose despair and be destroyed by it.

What makes us human is precisely this freedom of choice.

from Henri J.M. Nouwen's Bread for the Journey.

cover me

Today's Friday Video is "Cover Me" - 21:03

Original recording [with Fred Hammond, Smokie Norful and J Moss]
with some photos (via video)

Live video from the GMWA luncheon

Monday, January 26, 2009

an hilarioius community = your church?

I started a new daily devotional book this morning. "Morning by Morning" by Marva Dawn. She has been one of my favorite writers for the last few years. More about her here and here.

Anyway, here is today's reading in its entirety.

Monday WEEK 1

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!
Philippians 4:4

If [someone's gift] is showing mercy, let [that person] do it cheerfully
Romans 12:8d

Paul selected the Greek word hilarotes for Romans 12:8 to invite those who have the gift of showing mercy to exercise that gift with “cheerfulness.”

The gladness Paul identifies by means of this word choice arises from a deep sense of well-being founded in trusting the Grace-Giver to work through his gifts to us. I use the word Hilarity to describe the spirit of the Christian community,. . . to name the glad hope that could characterize God’s people.

The basis of our hope-full Hilarity encompasses all the dimensions of time. We experience glad Hilarity in the sure knowledge that we are loved by God, as manifested in the past by God’s creation of us and in the life, death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus Christ. Our present Hilarity is made possible by the empowering indwelling of the Holy Spirit in our lives. Our Hilarity is heightened when we look forward confidently to the. . . end of time when all suffering is finished and we experience the eternal, incredible Joy of face-to-face communion with God. . . .

Unfortunately, one of the most powerful reasons for our often evident lack of gladness is that ours is a culture of solo efforts. We live our Christian faith independently — not inextricably linked with other members of the Body of believers. Consequently, we do not experience the Hilarity of being enfolded in a moment-by-moment awareness of the good news of our hope and life in Jesus Christ. We don’t experience the support that true community engenders. We aren’t set free to be truly ourselves in the stewardship of our Spirit-given grace-gifts.

So I use the word Hilarity to describe the ideal Christian community, and my intention is to make us stop and think: what would it be like if the Christian Church were truly a community that thoroughly enjoyed being itself? It seems to me it could change the world!


Grace-Giver, help us live in true community — in Hilarity — by which, rejoicing together always, we can change the world... Amen.

Truly the Community, pp. ix-xi.

WOW! Just ran across the following (thanks to google) on another blog...

“We have turned churches into “vendors of religious services and goods” where people shop for worship, instead of “a body of people on a mission.” People choose a church by what makes them feel good, instead of belonging to a community in which God will kill us, and then raise us up into the new life of obedience!”

Marva J. Dawn, Living in the Lamblight ed. by Hans Boersma

and one more link for today's Marva Dawn-fest... The Spirituality of Illness - An interview with Marva Dawn (transcript)

forgiveness, the way to freedom

Forgiveness, the Way to Freedom

To forgive another person from the heart is an act of liberation. We set that person free from the negative bonds that exist between us. We say, "I no longer hold your offense against you" But there is more. We also free ourselves from the burden of being the "offended one." As long as we do not forgive those who have wounded us, we carry them with us or, worse, pull them as a heavy load. The great temptation is to cling in anger to our enemies and then define ourselves as being offended and wounded by them. Forgiveness, therefore, liberates not only the other but also ourselves. It is the way to the freedom of the children of God.

from Henri J.M. Nouwen's Bread for the Journey.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Winnie the Pooh on Corporate Worship

Good article from my inbox today!
Winnie the Pooh on Corporate Worship

it ain't over

Great song! Not great quality on the video, but you get the idea. Fantastic singer - Maurette Brown-Clark of Vision, Richard Smallwood's choir.

Here's the CD version - not video, just the CD cover art

No matter what you're facing - remember, it ain't over, until God says it's done!

Monday, January 19, 2009

finding solitude

Another great quote from Henri Nouwen (from "Bread for the Journey").

Finding Solitude

All human beings are alone. No other person will completely feel like we do, think like we do, act like we do. Each of us is unique, and our aloneness is the other side of our uniqueness. The question is whether we let our aloneness become loneliness or whether we allow it to lead us into solitude. Loneliness is painful; solitude is peaceful. Loneliness makes us cling to others in desperation; solitude allows us to respect others in their uniqueness and create community.

Letting our aloneness grow into solitude and not into loneliness is a lifelong struggle. It requires conscious choices about whom to be with, what to study, how to pray, and when to ask for counsel. But wise choices will help us to find the solitude where our hearts can grow in love.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

it's snowing

Yes, as I type this it's snowing outside!!

and only minutes later - flurries gone...

welcome to Atlanta!

Friday, January 16, 2009

in Christ alone!

This week's Friday video - "In Christ Alone" (Stuart Townsend)

and a version from Natalie Grant...


and the story of the song...

Friday, January 09, 2009

I need You now

ooops... with all the excitement of the Gators big win I almost forgot the Friday video!

Smokie Norful - I Need You Now

Part Two...

it's great to be...

... a Florida Gator!! What a great game last night. (Yes, we stayed up for the entire game and post-game.)

Gators over Oklahoma.

Ran across an interesting article yesterday on Mark Shlabach posts...
1. Florida will win back-to-back national championships
After beating Oklahoma in the Jan. 8 BCS Championship Game in Miami, the Gators will start the 2009 season ranked No. 1 in the country. Florida will go wire-to-wire at the top of the polls and will win its third national title in four seasons. Juniors Tim Tebow and Percy Harvin will return to school for their senior seasons, and speedy freshmen tailbacks Jeffrey Demps and Chris Rainey will be back. Every starter might come back on defense -- if junior linebacker Brandon Spikes doesn't enter the NFL draft. The Gators will play eight games in the state of Florida in 2009, but will have must-win road games at LSU and South Carolina.
Well, the Gator Nation can always dream. I, of course, hope Mark's prediction is right!

Regardless of what happens next year, it was a great season, and a great Nat'l Championship game. One of the best and most evenly matched we've seen recently, IMHO. As for Texas, (Big 12 whiners)... maybe you shouldn't leave your conference championship selection to the BCS computer in case of a 3-way tie! And for all the USC fans - when you're team can make it to the big game, we'd love to play them!

And, oh yes, Tebow - what a great player, but an even better person!

Thursday, January 08, 2009

one step at a time

another quote from the Henri Nouwen Society's Daily Meditation email...

Enough Light for the Next Step

Often we want to be able to see into the future. We say, "How will next year be for me? Where will I be five or ten years from now?" There are no answers to these questions. Mostly we have just enough light to see the next step: what we have to do in the coming hour or the following day. The art of living is to enjoy what we can see and not complain about what remains in the dark. When we are able to take the next step with the trust that we will have enough light for the step that follows, we can walk through life with joy and be surprised at how far we go. Let's rejoice in the little light we carry and not ask for the great beam that would take all shadows away.

- Henri Nouwen, "Bread for the Journey"

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

spiritual choices

Today's Quote of the Day comes from the Henri Nouwen Society Daily Meditation email.
Spiritual Choices

Choices. Choices make the difference. Two people are in the same accident and severely wounded. They did not choose to be in the accident. It happened to them. But one of them chose to live the experience in bitterness, the other in gratitude. These choices radically influenced their lives and the lives of their families and friends. We have very little control over what happens in our lives, but we have a lot of control over how we integrate and remember what happens. It is precisely these spiritual choices that determine whether we live our lives with dignity.
These reflections are taken from Henri J.M. Nouwen's Bread for the Journey.

Friday, January 02, 2009

The Battle is The Lord's

Yolanda Adams - The Battle is the Lord's

And a nice take on the same song with Karen Clark-Sheard