There is a great difference in excellency, usefulness, and comfort between people of clear, digested knowledge, and confused, undigested apprehensions. -Richard Baxter

Archive for March, 2006

a quote from John Flavel worth pondering and praying over

Ecstasy and delight are essential to the believer’s soul and they promote sanctification. We are not meant to live without spiritual exhilaration, and the Christian who goes a long time without the experience of heart-warming will soon find himself tempted to have his emotions satisfied from earthly things and not, as he ought, from the Spirit of God. The soul is so constituted that it craves fulfillment from things outside itself and will embrace earthly joys for satisfaction when it cannot reach spiritual ones … The believer is in spiritual danger if he allows himself to go for any length of time without tasting the love of Christ and savoring the felt comforts of a Savior’s presence. When Christ ceases to fill the heart with satisfaction, our souls will go in silent search of other lovers … By the enjoyment of the love of Christ in the heart of a believer, we mean an experience of the ‘love of God shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit (Ghost) which is given to us’ (Romans 5.5) … Because the Lord has made Himself accessible to us in the means of grace, it is our duty and privilege to seek this experience from Him in these means till we are made joyful partakers of it.

from Keeping the Heart by John Flavel (1630-91)

Is gore redeemable?

I made a friend in college named David Taylor who’s love for God is as thick and rich as his red beard. He was one of those souls who’d walked a few more (thousand) miles down the road with Christ than I had thus far. And so he helped me to navigate some of the more treacherous spots within the collegiate domain. We were both within a liberal arts degree plan at The University that liked to eat Christians for lunch. He was one of the few thoughtful, respectful souls who were fearless (and articulate) enough to raise certain objections to certain assertions in certain philosophical classes that were designed to undercut certain theological convictions Christians might hold.

He’s got an interesting article on whether horror films are redeemable as a genre. He’ll be one of the plenary speakers at the Trinity Arts Conference at the University of Dallas in June. I’ve never had an opportunity to attend the Thursday-Sunday gathering (June 15-17), but I’ve heard enormously positive comments from those who’ve been before. If you aren’t going to Japan this summer, you might consider attending.

a different kind of follow-up visit

Okay, dates are set on when the mission trip to Japan will be: June 8-19th. For those who’ve voiced an interest in going, pray…then clear your calendars. Details are forthcoming.

Two of the Japanese students who spent time with us last week voiced an interest in becoming a Christian. They did express concerns about how their familes and communities would receive them were they to trust Christ, so pray for them.

June will be a follow-up visit of a different order, no?

“Become as I am. . .”

Yesterday, we considered Paul’s words in Galatians 4:11ff, and I mentioned briefly the difficulty with and the necessity of setting yourself out there as an example of faithfulness as part of what it means to “make disciples.” It may feel odd and egoistic to have people follow your example, but for some reason God has chosen humans to be images of what it means to be His–to be, as one has said, “Jesus with skin on.”

Here’s an update from Mo Leverett who directs DesireStreet Ministries in New Orleans. His comments bespeak that same combination of awkwardness and gratitude at being an example.

Within a few months, we hope to journey to New Orleans to help Mo in the rebuilding. Have a look at what’s going on.

What endures

David Wilcox sorta became the soundtrack for my wife’s and my courtship. He’d been a herald-of-understatement for the both of us separately–that is, his way of speaking truth was so subtle as to make it more compelling. When we began to listen to him together–his incongruities with our understanding of eternal truths notwithstanding–we still agreed there was much to be appreciated and heeded about his musings on what is true, good, perfect, and lasting.

My wife found this song again this morning, like an old, forgotten photo-album that when you revisit its contents has a peculiar effect on your soul: you’ve been in it before, but hadn’t felt precisely what it produced in you by anything else since.

I share it with you (yes, a free song, can you believe it? scroll to the bottom of the page to click on the flash recording of it), because it reaffirms something C.S. Lewis makes a case for in The Abolition of Man: that which is true endures. Certain virtues are virtues because they have emerged within every culture in every era.

And what David has to say in this song only echoes…and teases out what Jesus had to say about the primacy of giving (love). Yes, David likely has in view as he composes the love between two lovers, but I’m sure he wouldn’t narrow what’s true about giving love to that context alone; what’s true about love is applicable to any connection in which love can be expressed

So enjoy. And be reminded: His love endures forever because His truth has endured forever.

The Love You Give

Oh to be loved, good as that is,
It can never take you where you want to go.
Just to be loved, fine as that is,
It can never teach you what you need to know.

To be loved can start the spark that gets your own love to burn.
But when you feel the fire of real love, you’ll learn.

That the only kind of love that makes a lifetime,
Into a life well lived.
The only kind of love that ever fills you,
Is the love you give.

So brave is the strength of broken hearts,
To love and love again, and give nothing less.
Like flowing water springs from mountain rock,
The broken place reveals what you possess.

Like the mountain broken open finds the spring that flows,
Your heart can never open till it’s broken so you know.

That the only kind of love that makes a lifetime,
Into a life well lived.
The only kind of love that ever fills you,
Is the love you give.

Oh the love you get, seems like enough at first.
But then there’s that hunger, and that thirst.
And the more you try to get, it just gets worse.
There’s not enough on earth to get of it,
If getting’s all you try.
The giving that you hunger for,
Is all that satisfies.

The only kind of love that makes a lifetime,
Into a life well lived.
The only kind of love that ever fills you,
Is the love you give.

letting the hair down

there’s a song I gravitate toward when I feel on the edge of despondency. It’s a song by the late Rich Mullins. It was a song that I, my college pastor, and two dear friends of mine sang on a couple occasions in worship–which may add to its resonance to my heart, since college was such a watershed season for me spiritually.

It’s his “If I stand”

the chorus begins with:

If I stand, let me stand on the promise, that You will pull me through
and I can’t let me fall on the grace that first brought me to you
If I sing, let me sing for the joy that has born in me this song

but it’s the last line that always gets me:

and if I weep let it be as a man who is longing for his home

do you ever think that the times of melancholy–whether short or protracted, intense or gradual like a gathering storm–are part of what God allows so that we might indeed not get too cozy with this form of existence and instead long for the as yet undisclosed country….that the struggle here is meant to whet the appetite of the soul for the feast yet to come?

even as I ask that question, the answer seems obvious: of course, God means for us to “set our minds on things above, not on earthly things” (Col 3:2). But isn’t it interesting that part of what gets us to do that is not so much an act of will on or part, but an act of God to get us to long for such?

gotta go