And speaking of Larry LaPrise, I came across this obit while researching this blog post:
And speaking of Larry LaPrise, I came across this obit while researching this blog post:
I’ve been taking a self-imposed hiatus from blogging. I didn’t make a conscience decision not to blog. But as the summer started coming to an end, I realized that I needed to spend some time doing several things around the house I have been putting off. Case in point: Two weeks before my kids went back to school, I happened to notice that their backpacks were still hanging on their hooks in the mud room stuffed with the papers they brought home on the last day of school of the PREVIOUS school year.
Clearly I am a bit of a procrastinator when it comes to things I deem unpleasant such as organization and filing of paperwork. Not that I’m opposed to the idea. Quite the opposite. The IDEA of being organized and having a place for everything and everything in its place is incredibly appealing to me. I just have a hard time making the jump from wanting it to doing it.
As tempting as it seems at times, I cannot blame all of my shortcomings on the fact that I have ADD. The whole organization thing is definitely associated with it, but I can’t throw my hands in the air and say “It’s not my fault, I’m ADD!” Well, actually I could, but if I did, my house would be a total pigsty and I would never have anyone over. Plus, I don’t want my kids to think it’s okay not to take care of their things.
So, in the past few weeks, I’ve reorganized my kitchen cabinets and drawers, sorted through and given away all my kids’ clothes that don’t fit anymore, and completely organized my daughter’s belongings. If any of you out there have a 7-10 year old girly girl, who is in to American Girl dolls, Barbies, Bratz, stuffed animals, becoming a future rock star, arts and crafts, jewelry, clothes and all things “fancy”, then perhaps you may relate to what a monumental task it is to organize the totality of their possessions. Let me just say, “Pegboard is NOT just for the garage anymore!” I’ll probably do a write up on my other blog about all the places I have used pegboard in my house. It is awesome. (But, once again, I digress.)
You might be saying, “Why did that take several weeks? That really doesn’t sound like so much to do.” I would agree with that statement if I was a normal person. If you’ve read this blog more than once or twice, you are aware that I am not what you might consider a “normal” person. I have a tendency to get sidetracked by my dreams of the perfect scenario for the given situation. For example: Instead of simply removing the papers from my kids’ backpacks, throwing all but a few away and then rehanging the backpacks on the hooks, I decided to that I needed to make these really cool backpack clipboard hooks that I saw in a magazine. And before I did that, I had to finish painting the faux tile border on the wall that these super cool backpack clipboard hooks would go on. (This particular border has been taped and ready to be painted for approximately 6 months.)
I won’t bore you with ALL the rabbit trails this particular home project took me down, but maybe this gives a clearer picture of the craziness of how my brain works. The best visual description of my thought process came from my friend Jeff (who is a tad ADD himself). Picture each one of your thoughts as random and seemingly unrelated notes jotted down on several haphazardly placed post-it notes. Some stuck on top of one another, others simply losing their stickiness and falling away, completely forgotten. Welcome to my brain.
As a vocalist on a praise team for the past 10 years, I’ve sung a few different versions of old hymns and contemporary Christian songs. Some would argue that the old hymns should not be changed — that they lose something when we try to make them more contemporary. For the most part, I would disagree with that statement. If done well, updates to old hymns can be enjoyed by those who have loved them for years and, at the same time, expose a whole new audience to the great messages in these old classics. With a few exceptions, it really boils down to personal preference in musical styles. I know I’ve been guilty of song snobbery in the past because of my personal preference and how “we’ve always done it in the past”. If I’m being honest, I would have to admit that I have been downright insulted at times when a new worship leader has come in and completely changed the arrangement of a song that I held as sacred. But really, that’s just being silly. I can only be insulted if I choose to be. And as many of you already know, I’m not easily insulted.
Secular music is awash in remakes. “Listen to your heart” was recently remade. I thought the song was awful the first time around. To hear it again on Top 40 radio is just painful. You really should let some sleeping dogs lie. Both times around, the song is truly craptastic.
And speaking of cover songs that should NEVER EVER be done, check out this little snippet. I would not be so bold as to assume the final destination of Kurt Cobain, grungy lead singer for Nirvana, but I imagine being forced to watch this performance over and over might be some form of cruel and unusual punishment…I know it was for me. (Although, I must admit — it’s got a good beat and you can dance to it!)
By the way: I have changed my comments section to allow anonymous comments, so you don’t have to sign up for anything to comment. I only say this because I’m very curious whose reading my silly ramblings! If you’re a regular reader but have never commented, it would be great if you just said “Hi” and from what part of the world you’re reading from. No pressure…just curious!
THIS JUST IN…..also born on my birthday Barak Obama (who knew? well, kris actually)
This past Monday, I attended my small group bible study. We went through 2 John. My friend Karol brought this bible that belongs to her son. According to the preface, it is directly translated from Aramaic to English. Here’s something I found interesting. The following is from the King James Version, 2 John 1:
1The elder unto the elect lady and her children, whom I love in the truth;…
When we looked up the same passage in the Aramaic bible, the words “elect lady” were replaced with “mother church”. While the NIV and KJV commentaries suggest that the verse might be talking about the church, the Aramaic version seems to state this quite clearly. I’m not going to comment on the accuracy of this particular translation because I honestly don’t know enough about the book or its author to make any intelligent argument one way or another. Like I said…I just found it interesting.
If you read this blog on a regular basis (thank you), you know that the past few posts have primarily been about books written by Christian authors and my thoughts about said books. This is not one of those posts. I returned Sunday from vacation, started a new painting gig on Monday, and have been breathing paint fumes for the past 3 days. I am looking at my suitcase that remains unpacked and on the floor, thinking about “Birthday Palooza”, which begins tomorrow, and lamenting the fact that I ran out of my ritalin prescription two days ago. BTW – Birthday Palooza is an annual event that begins with my son’s birthday (7/31), dad’s (8/1), sister’s (8/2), daughter’s (8/2) and, typically just an afterthought 3 days later, my birthday (8/5). Deep thought and careful consideration of blog content just ain’t happening right now.
Instead, I just wanted to share a few of my favorite pics from http://engrish.com/. If you’ve never visited, I would highly recommend it! Enjoy!
I’ve got a few ideas for posts swirling around my head in their usual disorganized states of confusion. I’ve even written a rough draft for one in particular that I just need to research a bit more and tweak here and there. But until then, I came across a passage in one of the books I’m reading that beautifully reflected the heart of an artist who has chosen to follow Christ. “The God Who Smokes: Scandalous Meditations of Faith”(1) by Timothy Stoner (yes, that’s his real name) has served as a much needed reminder that the God of Mercy is also the God of Wrath. May I never forget that!
Anyway, the following passage reminded me of my dear friend and fellow believer Christine. So this is for you:
The artist who follows Jesus explicitly resides in the world and participates in culture in a truly unique way. She helps others pay attention to, take notice of, and celebrate the goodness of the good creation. She does not shy away from the dark and the broken, the sorrow and terror–but crafts it in such a way as to point toward hope. It is revealing a pathway out of despair and chaotic meaningless. Her work is a candle that flickers and flares.
Her art is for the good of the world.
She does it for the blessing of the world.
She is intent not on reinforcing the curse but breaking it. She has and is a gift. She is sent, like Jesus, to open the eyes of the blind, open the ears of the deaf, or give words to the mute. She is sent on a mission of freedom. Her mission mirrors that of her Savior. She is sent to break chains of despair, set at liberty those tied up with cords of emptiness, futility, and death, and bring sight to those who have lost the capacity to see. She is sent to give us the forgotten vision of the glory that peeks out behind the bush and branch and sea and life as it was meant to be. She sings and shrieks and falls to rise again, to give voice to what we’ve forgotten or refuse to hear.
She pours out her blood that a world may be saved.
She serves not always willingly or well but in her best moments, when she has forgotten herself, she serves.
Still, her loyalty is not here. She has had her idolatrous attachment broken. She is free to be in but not of . She is not slavishly loyal to the patterns, the values, the demands, and commands of a world in love with itself. Her eyes look up even as she looks out, and in looking around she sees through. She is not bewitched by appearances nor overly and permanently distraught. She has seen a city whose builder and maker is God, and she pines for the day when it will come here so there will be light forever.
And the light will be the love and the joy of her life.
She has this secret. Her heart has been captured by a lover who is out of this world. But He is coming back. She wants to make herself ready and her friends and ever her enemies , too. So she does her work as best she can and prays that it is good, that it will shine so brightly as to bring glory not to her but to Him.
Thank you, Christine. For recognizing the darkness and the light in my heart. And inspiring me towards greater works of art for His Glory.
(1) Stoner, Timothy.
The God who smokes: scandalous meditations of faith
published by Navpress, 2008
The following is the closing argument from the movie “A Time to Kill”. If you’ve seen the movie or read the book, you know how it ends. If you haven’t, please take a few minutes to view this scene.
One of the paradoxes of history is the relationship between the beliefs and the practices of the early Christians as compared to those of the culture around them.
The Greco-Roman world’s religious views were open and seemingly tolerant–everyone had his or her own God. The practices of the culture were quite brutal, however. The Greco-Roman world was highly stratified economically, with a huge distance between the rich and poor. By contrast, Christians insisted that there was only one true God, the dying Savior Jesus Christ. Their lives and practices were, however, remarkably welcoming to those that the culture marginalized. The early Christians mixed people from different races and classes in ways that seemed scandalous to those around them. The Greco-Roman world tended to despise the poor, but Christians gave generously not only to their own poor but to those of others faiths. In broader society, women had very low status, being subjected to high levels of female infanticide, forced marriages, and lack of economic equality. Christianity afforded women much greater security and equality than had previously existed in the ancient classical world. During the terrible urban plagues of the first two centuries, Christians cared for all the sick and dying in the city, often at the cost of their own lives.
Why would such an exclusive belief system lead to behavior that was so open to others? It was because Christians had within their belief system the strongest possible resource for practicing sacrificial service, generosity and peace-making. At the very heart of their view of reality was a man who died for his enemies, praying for their forgiveness. Reflection on this could only lead to a radically different way of dealing with those who were different from them. It meant they could not act in violence and oppression toward their opponents.
Compare the early church to where we are today. To say that we’ve strayed off point would be one of the biggest understatements of this century. Many of us are so focused on what we (and others) shouldn’t do that we lose focus on what we should do: “Jesus replied: ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” (Matthew 22:27-30)
To borrow a term from a friend and fellow blogger, I’m a bit blogstipated. I have a few ideas in my head, but I just can’t seem to get them down the brain stem, through the arms and fingers on to the keyboard. I’ve also been a bit preoccupied with life in general. I hope you won’t think this is a cop out, but I wanted to share a small snippet of an amazing book I’m reading.
I first saw Tim Keller earlier this year at a church planting conference in Florida. Among all the cool, hip, young church planters and pastors I heard speak, Tim Keller stuck out like a sore thumb. I knew absolutely nothing about him and was completely unprepared for what came out of his mouth. This very conservative looking man comes out, sits down in front of his notes and proceeds to talk about the Gospel of Christ in a way that had me and the majority of the audience absolutely riveted. You can have your Rob Bell and your Donald Miller. To me, Tim Keller is a rock star.
In his book, “The Reason for God”, Keller makes a strong argument that both secularism and orthodox Christianity are on the rise, and we must engage in dialogue instead of writing one off as the radical left or right wing of society. If you are a skeptic, atheist or agnostic — read this book. If you are a Christian — read this book. I promise you, it will answer many questions and doubts that you may have about those who don’t share your beliefs, and even questions and doubts you may have about your personal spirituality or lack thereof.
This book is jammed packed with cerebral awesomeness. The following excerpt is from Chapter One: “There can’t be just One True Religion”. Don’t let the title mislead you. Part One of the book is devoted to addressing arguments against Christianity that skeptics have posed and have been largely left unanswered. This is one of many.
Christianity Can Save the World (Part 1 of 2)
I’ve argued against the effectiveness of all the main efforts to address the divisiveness of religion in our world today. Yet I strongly sympathize with their purpose. Religion can certainly be one of the major threats to world peace. At the beginning of the chapter I outlined the “slippery slope” that every religion tends to set up in the human heart. This slippery slope leads all too easily to oppression. However, within Christianity–robust, orthodox Christianity–there are rich resources that can make its followers agents for peace on earth. Christianity has within itself remarkable power to explain and expunge the divisive tendencies within the human heart.
Christianity provides a firm basis for respecting people of other faiths. Jesus assumes that nonbelievers in the culture around them will gladly recognize much Christian behavior as “good” (Matthew 5:16; cf. 1 Peter 2:12). That assumes some overlap between the Christian constellation of values and those of any particular culture and of any other religion. Why would this overlap exist? Christians believe that all human beings are made in the image of God, capable of goodness and wisdom. The Biblical doctrine of the universal image of God, therefore, leads Christians to expect non-believers will be better than any of their mistaken beliefs could make them. The Biblical doctrine of universal sinfulness also leads Christians to expect believers will be worse in practice than their orthodox beliefs should make them. So there will be plenty of ground for respectful cooperation.
Christianity not only leads its members to believe people of other faiths have goodness and wisdom to offer, it also leads them to expect that many will live lives morally superior to their own. Most people in our culture believe that, if there is a God, we can relate to him and go to heaven through leading a good life. Let’s call this the “moral improvement” view. In the Christian understanding, Jesus does not tell us how to live so we can merit salvation. Rather, he comes to forgive and save us through his life and death in our place. God’s grace does not come to people who morally outperform others, but to those who admit their failure to perform and who acknowledge their need for a Savior.
Christians, then, should expect to find nonbelievers who are much nicer, kinder, wiser, and better than they are. Why? Christian believers are not accepted by God because of their moral performance, wisdom, or virtue, but because of Christ’s work on their behalf. Most religions and philosophies of life assume that one’s spiritual status depends on your religious attainments. This naturally leads adherents to feel superior to those who don’t believe and behave as they do. The Christian gospel, in any case, should not have that effect.
It is common to say that “fundamentalism” leads to violence, yet as we have seen, all of us have fundamental, unprovable faith commitments that we think are superior to those of others. The real question, then, is which fundamentals will lead their believers to be the most loving and receptive to those with whom they differ? Which set of unavoidable exclusive beliefs will lead us to humble, peace-loving behavior?
There are a few more paragraphs that complete this discussion. I will share them with you tomorrow.
For me, the deeper my desire to live a life devoted to Christ, the more I realize how, in the past, I have sometimes been a Pharisee and lived under the false illusion that God’s love for me was somehow greater because I loved Him. When you begin to make the effort see others through the eyes of Jesus, to speak the truth without judgement or disdain, I believe you are moving closer to the fullness and abundance of a life of service to the King. I have seen some positive movement within the church to return to the practices of the early church. I pray that this movement is a revolution and not just a fad.
5Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:5-7)
So, I’ve been feeling anxious lately. Perhaps a better term would be overwhelmed. There is much to do. Time and time again, I find myself searching out this particular passage, but just as often, I ignore God’s words. Perhaps my biggest struggle is time management. It would be romantic to say that I like to live in the moment. Reality reveals a less flattering picture. Here’s my confession: I am incredibly undisciplined. When I want to do something, I do it very well. When my heart is in it, I know that the end product will most likely be very good. I love “special projects”. Things that take me away from the daily grind; and I’ve had many such projects lately. The problem is, everything that encompasses my daily grind world tends to suffer. This includes my husband, my kids, my home, and most importantly, my time with God.
Do you struggle with this? I don’t have any great revelation or suggestions on how to overcome this particular flaw in my character. I only know that, as I’ve said before, it boils down to dying to ourselves and our selfish desires, taking up our crosses on a DAILY basis, and truly following him. May you be blessed to feel His presence in your life today.