Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Miscellanous Agenda

1. Reading Rob Bell's Velvet Elvis. It's made me mad a couple times. He leads right to the edge of the Gospel, capturing it differently than you'll read else where, then heads in another direction. I'm only on page 64, so I can't tell if it's intentional or not, yet. Like the Eric and Melissa said, this book will make you think. It's helped me capture some thoughts that have keeping in the dusty shadows; it's put some flesh on them. Again the disclaimer that I'm only on page 64, but the book is dangerous. It will challenge your beliefs, especially if you come from a "traditional" Christian background. You need to be strong enough to keep your footing.

2. You need to check out Red Mountain Music's Depth's of Mercy. Satisfied is incredible.

3. More on Rob Bell. The Boundless Line (a Focus on the Family blog) had some interesting things to say about comments he made while touring for his second book, Sex God. And while you're at the Boundless Line, check out some of the other entries.

4. I don't know how to describe it, but if your sense of humor is a little off, you might enjoy SteveBrownEtc. I love it and Emily just rolls her eyes. (Steve Brown's more serious side can be found at Keylife).

See ya on the flip side. (whatever that means)

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Only at the Melting Pot, or Don't Ask, Don't Tell

Emily found this odd lamp on craigs list. It reminded me of the ineffective lamps at the Melting Pot, which reminded me of my one and only time of dining there. It happened something like this . . .

I dated once or twice before I met Emily. One of the differences between a dating relationship and marriage (especially after you have children) is the quality and expense of an eatery when dining out. On this particular occasion (I'm sure in an effort to impress the girl I was dating at the time), I chose the Melting Pot. She'd mentioned the place before and was, in fact, impressed (ah, success) when I pulled into the parking lot.

I'm not sure if all Melting Pot's are like the one in Tallahassee. Like the old man slowly drinking his brandy, much to the waiters' chagrin, I enjoy a clean, well lighted place. I assume they do it for atmosphere, or maybe to lower the utility bill, but the restaurant was very dimly lit. I guess it's romantic, in a medieval dungeon sort of way, the use of low wattage bulbs behind obscure orange shades, but it seemed they needed a pocket flashlight to take us to our table.

After about an hour and a half of slowly cooking my meal one bite at a time in luke warm oil, I was still hungry and looking forward to desert. During the course of the meal I managed to drink about four glasses of sweet tea, so I decided a quick restroom break was in order prior to our chocolate fondue.

After that long in a darkened chamber, one's eyes become quite adjusted to the lack of light. Which is quite unfortunate when you walk into the men's room which (I guess it is a state health department requirement) is lit with 200 watt fluorescent bulbs. I felt the fire scalding my retinas as I walked in the door.

After finishing up I stumbled my way back to the table, completely blind. The hostess, apparently familiar with the situation, pointed me toward the back of the place. I was still unable to see as I slid back into the booth. I rubbed my eyes and shared the whole ordeal, scalding and all, with my date, occasionally dipping a piece of fresh fruit into the chocolate and slowly savoring it. Why bother with the meal in this place? It's the desert everyone is really there for anyways. Plus it would have cost almost thirty dollars less and I'd still have two hours of the evening to spend with my date somewhere I'd actually be able to see her.

After sharing the story with her, and eating probably more than my share of the fruit (and I was still hungry), my eyes were finally adjusting to the flicking orange light. I could just make out my date's hair when she spoke, "What the hell are you doing?!?" It was a man's voice. I squinted and leaned toward her. It was a guy! A guy with long hair! UGH!

I quickly got up and found my date several tables over and again ate more than my share of the fruit. At least, I wasn't hungry anymore.

God Be Merciful to Me (Psalm 51)

1. God, be merciful to me;
On Thy grace I rest my plea
Plenteous in compassion Thou,
Blot out my transgressions now;
Wash me, make me pure within;
Cleanse, O cleanse me from my sin.

2. My transgressions I confess;
Grief and guilt my soul oppress.
I have sinned against Thy grace,
And provoked Thee to Thy face.
I confess Thy judgement just;
Speechless, I Thy mercy trust.

3. I am evil, born in sin;
Thou desirest truth within.
Thou alone my Savior art,
Teach Thy wisdom to my heart;
Make me pure, Thy grace bestow,
Wash me whiter than the snow.

4. Broken, humbled to the dust
By Thy wrath and judgment just,
Let my contrite heart rejoice,
And in gladness hear Thy voice;
From my sins O hide Thy face,
Blot them out in boundless grace.

5. Gracious God, my heart renew,
Make my spirit right and true.
Cast me not away from Thee,
Let Thy Spirit dwell in me;
Thy salvation's joy impart,
Steadfast make my willing heart.

6. Sinners then shall learn from me,
And return, O God, to Thee
Savior all my guilt remove,
And my tongue shall sing Thy love
Touch my silent lips, O Lord,
And my mouth shall praise accord

Friday, August 24, 2007

All the time!

I am not disciplined. My Bible reading ebbs and flows, as does the times I set aside for prayer. I am reasonably successful with the duties required by my employer, so on the occasions my discipline rolls in, tumbling on my faith like a wave on the beach, I find myself flirting with legalism and guilt. Shouldn’t I desire Paul’s dedication? Shouldn’t I lie myself down as a bondservant of Christ’s and recognize Him as my ultimate employer? Why do I not give Him the same commitment I give my earthly employer? Christ gave His life and suffered violently for my sin; what have I done for Him lately? Oops, there’s that line.

Now as the pendulum races back toward grace, I am no more disciplined than before. To be honest, I’m not all that comfortable on the grace side of the beach. I need the motivation that guilt provides as I allow it to manipulate the blessed conviction of the Holy Spirit. I need that motivation to somehow achieve something, anything that will raise me above my sin. Oh, it would be a joy if I could witness the legalism in my heart so easily. But Satan too often whispers in shadows, and too often uses the ugly truth of my failures, my sin, to keep me away from His truth, His grace, the Gospel.

Over the last few evenings, I’ve closed the day with reading Proverbs, starting at the beginning. God, so lovingly, called me to desire His word through the first couple chapters, but Satan poisoned it with guilt, using His precious Word to drive me from Him. How could I ever follow wisdom, follow His lead, as to avoid the sneers He sets for the wicked. Your own heart is much more like the heart of the wicked than His, Satan whispered.

Why should I keep reading this stuff? There’s no way I can ever deserve what He offers. Guilt laden and discouraged, I continued another nonetheless.

My son, do not forget my teaching,but let your heart keep my commandments,
for length of days and years of lifeand peace they will add to you.
Proverbs 3:1-2 ESV

Wow. His love shone in these words. “And peace they will add to you.” And His peace broke in a long curl, sweeping with a gentle strength all the way to the dune line. And as it pulled back, He washed all that guilt, the shame, the roots of legalism, the doubt of the power and significance of His grace, away. And when they tried to creep back, He used Robin’s A/C testimony to wash it away, again.

I don’t know why it still amazes me, but I love it when He gives us what we need, just as we need it.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Rejoice in the wife of your youth

An excellent wife is the crown of her husband (Pr 12:4 ESV)

He who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favor from the Lord. (Pr 18:22 ESV)

An excellent wife who can find?She is far more precious than jewels. (Pr 31:10 ESV)

I have been blessed with an excellent wife. I know I do not honor as I should. There are times I do not love her as Christ loves the church. She works diligently with no pay and few thanks. She continually sacrifices for me and the kids. She deserves so much more than I could ever give. She is smart, fun, beautiful, and makes me laugh. She seeks the Lord and encourages me more than she'll ever know. Thank you, Emily. I love you!