the times are changin'
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Tuesday, August 25, 2009

harmonicas. elephants. vanilla candles. colorful scarves. orange juice with some pulp. in these things i can taste/smell/ see/hear the sweetness of God
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Thursday, August 20, 2009

Luke 15

"As long as you are trying to earn your salvation by controlling God through goodness, you will never be sure you have been good enough for Him. You simply aren't sure God loves and delights in you. What are the signs of this lack of assurance? We have already mentioned one sign: Every time something goes wrong in your life, you wonder if it's because you aren't living right in this or that area. Another sign is that criticism from others doesn't just hurt your feelings, it devastates you. This is because your sense of God's love is abstract and has little power in your life, and you need the approval of others to bolster your sense of value. You will also feel irresolvable guilt. When you do something you know is wrong your conscience torments you for a long time, even after you repent. Since you can't be sure you've repented deeply enough, you beat yourself up over what you did. But perhaps the clearest symptom of this lack of assurance is a dry prayer life...Why is it so important to know that Jesus exposes elder-brother lostness as being as wrong and destructive as younger brother lostness? The elder brothers of the world desperately need to see themselves in this mirror...The younger brother knew he was alienated from the father, but the elder brother did not. That's why elder brother lostness is so dangerous. Elder brothers don't go to God and beg for healing from their condition. They see nothing wrong with their condition and that can be fatal. If you know you are sick you may go to a doctor; if you don't know you're sick you won't--you'll just die...In this parable Jesus says to us, 'Would you please be open to the possibility that the gospel, real Christianity, is something very different from religion?'...There is a big difference between an elder brother and a real, gospel-believing Christian. But there are also many genuine Christians who are elder-brotherish...While most people do not arrive at these extreme places, each approach (younger and elder-brother) to life has the seeds of its own destruction in it, which draws its adherents toward the spiritual destinations [Jesus] describes so well...He has vividly portrayed both of the world's two spiritual paths (rebellion and moralism)....However, he exposes them both as profoundly mistaken, as dead ends. He clearly wants us to take some radically different approach, but what is it? Where do we find it? We will find the answer when we realize that Jesus deliberately left someone out of this parable. He did this so that we would look for him and, finding him, find out own way home at last."

--Tim Keller, The Prodigal God p. 63-66, 69-72
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Tuesday, August 11, 2009

that list I made

Update on my goals for the summer. I still have two weeks left.....
  1. Learn to play the harmonica. I bought one while I was in Dublin and I have learned to play some of the songs in the little booklet that came with it. 
  2. Go to the gym. I've been to the gym twice all summer...but both of those instances were in the past week, so hopefully that will continue.
  3. Become a better photographer. I worked on editing photos and taking better photos while in Dublin--see old posts. I also bought a book called The Art of Digital Photography, and I plan to get a better camera with my refund check.
  4. Read good books. The Road by Cormac McCarthy
  5. Visit places I've never been. The Appalachian Trail, Folly Beach
  6. Learn to cook Indian food. I bought a huge Indian cookbook, and I got ingredients for Naan today.
  7. Write new songs. I have some words in my journal and I have been coming up with tunes, too.
  8. Make dresses and skirts. I got a nice sewing table....
  9. See the face of God in the every day things. 
  10. Blog about these things as daily as possible. Well, I've been better this summer. 
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feed your soul

it is hungry

isaiah 55
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Sunday, August 9, 2009

julie & julia

I just saw the movie Julia and Julie and have been inspired to blog. 

Now...what to blog about? The film was sort of inspirational. It took something seemingly mundane--cooking--and turned it into a passion. It reminds me of Caedmon's song "Sacred"

could it be that everything is sacred?
and all this time everything i've dreamed of
has been right before my eyes

I guess as of late I have been feeling less like myself. I feel like I've lost some zest for life, not in a suicidal sense, but in a way that makes me feel like I might need to just stop trying. I know it sounds awful, and, indeed, it is. 

There have been a number of times in the past year that I have wondered, "What am I doing, really?" And I have two different perspectives about this question of mine, and I think both are valid and can be true simultaneously.

1. I'm doing what God created me to do. (Or I'm sucking at it.) Either way, God has given me gifts and passions and opportunities that are particular to me and my life. He saved me to do good works. Sometimes you feel like shit because you foul up real bad. And sometimes you feel like shit because you're actually right where you need to be and the Enemy recognizes it before you do and he does all he can to screw it up--for example, deceiving you into believing that you are worthless and it is all your fault. Whether you're being honest or being deceived, you can't do your good works perfectly, so the solution is resting in the gracious arms of God.

2. God doesn't really care what you do. He loves you. When we try to make the Gospel about anything other than God loving you with an unmerited, unfailing and unending love it ceases to be the Gospel. You have the freedom in Christ to take a year out of your life and cook through a Julia Child's cookbook, because chances are (and actually there's no chance about it) Jesus is the one who knit that heart together in your chest that takes joy in creating something out of a lot of nothing, and making it taste real good. I mean, isn't that His heart as well? Taking a lot of nothing and throwing it together in a way only He can? As long as you love God and you let Him love you, it really doesn't matter what you're doing. Tim Keller writes in The Prodigal God, "Nothing, not even abject contrition, merits the favor of God." If you can't earn it then you certainly can't lose it, can you? What a freedom! Go cook and write songs and enjoy doing math problems. If that's the way God created you, what would bring Him greater joy than to watch you passionately pursue it? What kind of a Father would He be if he gave you great joy in making music, but told you that you had better things to do with your time than sing? If colors bring you joy, then paint. If wine overwhelms your tongue, then go and taste fine wines. Live life to the fullest. Jesus did not set us free to be boring, passionless people. He set us free to be like Him and He was never boring or passionless. He's quite the opposite. And so we should be as well. I think I'm starting to learn that those good works He created us for come a lot easier to us when we live in the freedom He bought and start living in it--by being fully who He created us and redeemed us to be. Yes, fight your flesh. The heart and the Enemy can be very deceitful. Don't just do whatever you want to do. Do what you were created to do. If you're good at cooking. Cook. And pray, wait and watch what God can do with that. I think there is beauty in experiencing the joy of God in the mundane. So what if you never feed 5,000 homeless people with your food? That doesn't mean it was pointless or un-Christlike. Jesus delighted in His Father and in being who He was created to be. We should do likewise. And this freedom and joy and healing and acceptance are things Christ desires for us and died to give us. What are we telling people when we make the Gospel about moralism and legalism. That's not what Christ offered broken people, so we should stop offering people that. Let's start offering who Christ really is. A Lover, a Healer, a Redeemer, a Creator, a Fighter, a Father....the list goes on and on. Let's let him be who He really is to people...He'll do the same for us. In fact, He already has, we've just refused the gift. 

oh and something else I should add, so people don't start doubting my Christian convictions so to speak--Until you start believing (therefore living in it) that this is the way Jesus really loves you, you will never change and you will never be like Him. When we believe Him is when we begin to live in Him and as live in Him we can love Him and when we love Him is when we start to act like Him. We have to stop thinking that we do the stuff then we get love and freedom. No. No. No. The love and freedom always come first or the stuff we do is meaningless and fruitless. 
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