Monday, September 26, 2005

Porch Swings and Sunrises

Every once in a while when the library gets boring I take off down Valencia Blvd. for a grande lowfat toffee nut latte. Yes, I have become that L.A. guy who drinks lowfat (sometimes... non fat, shhhhh!). This morning was a little bit different as I sat there thinking about this past weekend and all that God used for His glory in my sanctification, and the communal fellowship our Bible Study enjoyed together around the Scripture. Just sitting there I started thinking about all of the things that I'm thankful for, and that's where this comes from...

A few things that I'm so very thankful for...

Starbucks, not just because I work there, but we do have really good coffee. I'm thankful for big green umbrellas, trash cans, and clouds that block the sun and sometimes drop water on my windshield. I love watching birds eat crumbs from a reduced fat cinnamon swirl coffee cake a lady enjoyed, reminding me of God's providence in my own life, and in those of the people that mean a lot to me (Phil. 4:19). I'm so very thankful for the guys and gals that remind me daily of the reason I'm here, inevitably pointing me back to the cross. I'm thankful for parents who care about me, even when I tell them they're wrong, they aren't. I'm thankful for Christ-centered girls that show me what I should be looking for in a wife, and in a way I'm thankful for superficial girls that show me what not to pay attention to. I'm thankful for rain. I'm continually indebted to men, both living and dead, who set the bar of holiness that truly examples a life lived "above reproach" (1 Tim. 3:2, Titus 1:7). I'm thankful for the public community college that allows me to experience the secular world as a Christian student... and I'm thankful for the private Christian school that I'll soon attend that allows me to study the Scriptures for what my God has actually said. Music: piano and guitar, lyrics that point me to Christ. Songs that are made to please the Father and proclaim the good news, not merely stir up emotion and shallow affections. I love rain. I'm thankful for mountains, grass, and waterfalls, big rocks and sand. I love Pine trees, porches, porch swings, rocking chairs and sleeping bags. Big comfy couches and FIREPLACES! I love muffins in the morning and sandwiches for lunch. Two words: Dr. Pepper. I love cabins with wood floors and having absolutely no street lights - stars are awesome on Bible study retreats! I love good movies, blankets, and books. I usually get frustrated with computers, but I'm thankful for the technology that God has provided and can use for the further advancement of the gospel. I'm thankful for airplanes, airports, and luggage (even the people who lose mine, God loves them, I will too). I love tiny bottles of water and the itchy pillows in the pocket in front of you. I love snoring old men who lean their seat all the way back, I'll be there one day. I love internet telephone that lets me talk to friends on the other side of the world, for free. I love my dog, other people's cats, and funny little kids. I hate homework, but love turning it in. I'm thankful for cars, grandparents, and college football! Did I mention rain? Sweatshirts, flip flops, and sales at the GAP®. Old Navy® jeans and those cool track jackets that are warm and super comfy. I'm thankful for friends who care enough to study, and employee discounts. I like naps, but only when it's cold outside. Tin roofs are great, especially in the rain! I LOVE fishing and barbeque. Sausage is a gift of grace and bacon ain't far behind. I love all of these things, and they are all indisputably gracious gifts from a loving God... but the real gift is the joy we get in them, because they remind us of the Provider. I pray we always dwell on the things that are imperishable; they make us look differently at that which is passing away. Sola gratia! Jude 24, 25

Saturday, September 17, 2005

The Art of Compromise

Talking to a dear friend attending grad school in Arizona, it's amazing to me how often I'm blinded by my own affections and tendency towards compromise. How about a proposition? Imagine, speaking hypothetically of course, that there's a girl who seems absolutely 'perfect.' She's gorgeous, hilarious, smart, and has a great personality. Would you ask her out? "Of course" you might respond. Why not right? "Oh, is she a Christian?" you might ask--as if assumed. Why is that assumed? And even if it could be, is "Christian" merely a label or an active pursuit? Let me pose the question this way: if someone gave you $1 million to invest anywhere you choose, would you just find the first company with a flashy logo and a catchy slogan? Or would you research that company, inquire about their short and long-term goals and ambitions to fulfill a specific core purpose? Wouldn't that core purpose, that unnegotiable value, be the most significant and crucial factor in your decision, or would it be merely a subtopic under a strategic heading? Am I talking about Christians dating non-Christians? No. I'm talking about Christians compromising on what we know to be indisputable Biblical values that we tend to compromise on for the sake of superficial affections--emotional whims and fancies. How easy is it for us to so quickly turn on what we know to be obvious and clear truth when the temptation to entertain a fleeting affection strolls by. The reality is God made each and every one of us with a conscience, and that is hopefully guided by the Word of God through the divine aid of the Holy Spirit working towards Holiness. But how commonly do we prostitute what we know to be right for that which is built in the sand? Emotions and affections, especially in regards to relationships, are a gift from a gracious and loving God. Yet they, if not appropriately examined through the lens of inerrant Scripture, can be deceiving to a mind and dangerous to a heart. Men, is the supreme attraction of your heart whatever seems to turns your head? Women, is "Mr. Right" the humble, spiritual leader in your Bible study, or the ear tickling facade that sits beside you in class?

Our tendency to compromise on the truth for the whims and desires of superficiality stretches far beyond dating and relationships, but I believe it to be one of the most deadly causes of misunderstanding and misguided expectations; leading ultimately to ungodly and unbiblical disasters. As my friend Vince said to me, "where there's fruit and evidence of an uncompromising pursuit of holiness for the sake of pure worship, there we find the true nature of a Christ-centered relationship." Thanks Vince for your uncompromising loyalty to the truth, and making sure I stay on it. Sola gracia! Phil. 1:9

45. Resolved, never to allow any pleasure or grief, joy or sorrow, nor any affection at all, nor any degree of affection, nor any circumstance relating to it, but what helps religion. - Jonathan Edwards, Jan. 13, 1723

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Night On the Town

My friend Peter has lived in California his entire life, but not once has he been to Hollywood. Crazy street performers, expensive side shows, even more expensive food, he's never had the privilege of enjoying any of these great 'once to say you've done it' experiences. So this afternoon Peter and I hop on the US101 and head down to the dirtiest city either side of Las Vegas... Hollywood, CA. As we're walking past the Kodak Theatre (home of the Oscar's) and approaching Mann's Chinese Theatre, this guy hands us two free tickets to be in the audience of Jimmy Kimmel Live!, filming at the famed El Capitan in 15 minutes. The show was a total blast (except for the 'musical' guest...aka 'the strip show') and absolutely hilarious. I know this is short, but the experience was too rare not to write about - 'specially for a coupla' country boys like us! The show airs tonight at midnight PST and 11PM central.

Y'all have an awesome night and rest of the week! Heb. 2:1-4

Friday, September 09, 2005

Table for Two

These are the lyrics to a song written years ago by Derek Webb, found on the Caedmon's Call Album Forty Acres. The song is called Table for Two, and if I could relate anymore to literally every word he's saying, it would be unbelievable. Maybe some of you can to!

Danny and I spent another late night over pancakes,
talking about soccer and how every man's just the same
And made speculation on the 'who's and the 'when's of our futures
And how everyone's lonely but still we just couldn't complain.

And how we just hate being alone
Could I have left my only chance
And now I'm just wasting my time, by looking around.

But you know I know better, I'm not gonna worry 'bout nothing
'Cause if the birds and the flowers survive then I'll make it okay
If given a chance and a rock see which one breaks a window
And see which one keeps me up all night and into the day

Because I'm so scared of being alone
That I forgot what house I live in
But it's not my job to wait by the phone
For her to call

Well this day's been crazy but everything's happened on schedule
From the rain and the cold to the drink that I spilled on my shirt
'Cause You knew how You'd save me before I fell dead in the garden
And You knew this day long before You made me out of dirt

And You know the plans You have for me
And You can't plan the ends and not plan the means
And so I suppose I just need some peace, just to get me to sleep.

I can't say it any better than that! DW wrote this expressing his tendency to be an 'overthinker,' specifically when it comes to relationships. And if that's not the story of my life I don't know what is, haha. Y'all have a blessed weekend and a great Lord's day! Psalm 84:10

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Sovereign Grace

Walking into work last night, after spending a large majority of the day following the updated news accounts of the damage done by Hurricane Katrina to New Orleans, Gulport, and the rest of the Gulf Coast, I overheard a co-worker of mine say to another, "Man, this means we aren't goin' to Mardi Gras this year!" Taking a sip of coffee, I almost choked. The damage done to the residents of the southern Gulf coast visibly stretches far beyond the French Quarter. As the most recent estimates predict possibly 4 to 5 months before reconstruction can even begin, this is far too reminiscent of another catastrophic event that took place this month, 4 years ago. FOX News' Shepard Smith reported yesterday that even a brief survey of any given neighborhood in New Orleans resembles "a nuclear warzone without the radiation." Also stating that this is nothing short of a "third-world situation; people with little children, babies, sitting outside all day with nothing to drink, nothing to eat, and no idea where they're even supposed to go." Seeing the photos of this tragedy can quickly cause any of us to lose it emotionally, but let's pray that God in His grace would keep our focus in the right place, His grace, foremost exampled in His Son. As a lady standing in line at the Superdome boldly proclaimed on national television, "We're all praying for safety, but moreso I'm praying for repentance...that these people around me would see the love of Jesus and turn to Him for salvation from their sin." Amen! Keep preaching dear sister. As hundreds of thousands of people are fleeing to Baton Rouge, Houston, and everywhere in between, please let's continue to pray for our brothers and sisters who have been most effected by this tragedy, and may the Lord's Name be exalted more than ever, at a time when most appear to have nothing to smile about. Praise to our gracious and faithful Provider who isn't tied down by hunger, transportation, or even category 5 hurricanes. "The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD" (Job 1:21).

Ways to help: The American Red Cross is accepting donations 24/7. For other ways you can help log on to FOX News' Disaster Relief Information.

"Yours, O LORD, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, for all that is in the heavens and in the earth is yours. Yours is the kingdom, O LORD, and you are exalted as head above all" (1 Chronicles 29:11).