We have to go back

I just got done watching the entire series of Lost on Netflix for the second time. What a trip. What story telling. This time around things came a little bit easier. I more often had “aha!” moments and more than a few head-nods to the writer’s foreshadowing. For having gone as long as it did, for having kept almost all of its cast members the entire time, for having a grand story arch they stuck to and finished, and for the sheer magnitude of the undertaking, I can’t think of a better television series. Believe me, I’m a Browncoat, so you can take that to the bank. ;) So, if we have to go back, here are my main take-aways from the show’s six-year run…*spoiler warning*

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Is this the ultimate Christian love song?

Ever since I made a concerted effort to explore the Christian music scene, and discover the “good music” that I knew was out there, I’ve been aware of the controversy of Christian love songs. Controversy? Yes, in between the awkward attempts and lame lyrics, there were a number of good sounding attempts (for their time), but I found, like many, they played on sophomoric sleight of hand with ‘God is my girlfriend’ lyrics. There are Christian songs that appear to easily swap out “Jesus” for “girl”, and vice versa, without harming the content in anyway. And if the lyrics stand on their own, some are so ambiguous as to cast doubt on who exactly is the subject of the love. Astoundingly, for a faith that holds love as the highest ethic and motive, there are woefully few good Christian love songs. Now, however, I think I’ve found a truly exemplary one: And, if you’re reading a blog like this, I’m sure you’ve heard it and probably already love it, too.

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Song of Songs

Recently, on a Thanksgiving road-trip out east to PEI, I listened to a four-part message from James MacDonald called Romantic Love. I then found my next bible reading book was Song of Songs which that sermon series was based on. I usually share select verses, ones that particularly strike me, on Facebook and I was wondering how I’d do that with the intimate and personal nature of Song of Songs. So, I set myself a challenge: Read one chapter per day and try to find one thing to share from each Song of Songs chapter – something that would be ‘family friendly’ and not so sentimental as to make me look (overly) strange. Here’s the series of verses posted over eight days that I think provides an interesting overview of the whole book.

We rejoice and delight in you; we will praise your love more than wine. Song of Songs 1:4b

The Bible and Uniformitarianism

In modern geology, “Uniformitarianism is the assumption that the same natural laws and processes that operate in the universe now have always operated in the universe in the past and apply everywhere in the universe.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uniformitarianism

Above all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. They will say, “Where is this ‘coming’ he promised? Ever since our ancestors died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation.” 2 Peter 3:3-4

“Gould explained Hutton’s view of uniformity of rate; mountain ranges or grand canyons are built by accumulation of nearly insensible changes added up through vast time. Some major events such as floods, earthquakes, and eruptions, do occur. But these catastrophes are strictly local. They neither occurred in the past, nor shall happen in the future, at any greater frequency or extent than they display at present. In particular, the whole earth is never convulsed at once.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uniformitarianism

But they deliberately forget that long ago by God’s word the heavens came into being and the earth was formed out of water and by water. By these waters also the world of that time was deluged and destroyed. 2 Peter 3:5-6

“The uniformity of state hypothesis (i.e., steady-stateism) implies that throughout the history of our earth there is no progress in any inexorable direction. The planet has almost always looked and behaved as it does now. Change is continuous, but leads nowhere. The earth is in balance: a dynamic steady state.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uniformitarianism

By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly. 2 Peter 3:7

Happy Easter

So the LORD God said to the serpent [in the Garden of Eden], “Because you have done this, “Cursed are you above all the livestock and all the wild animals! And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.”

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New Year’s Eve 2012

Praise the LORD!
Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good;
his love endures forever!
Psalms 106:1

Thank you, Lord, for this past year. I am amazed at Your goodness, your will for me, your blessings to me and opportunities to serve you.

You know I haven’t had the best of days
But I want to stop and thank you anyway

Cuz every single moment whether sleeping or awake
Is your creation
And what you’ve made is good
I don’t always thank you for the rough days and
The hard times in my life
Even though I should

It’s odd to come to this point in the year and be thinking about O.C. Supertone’s Jury Duty but that’s how I feel about this year, particularly the lyrics referring to being thankful for the “rough days and hard times.” Oddly enough, these feelings aren’t about screw ups, or what we often think of as punishment or God’s discipline, but instead it had to do with positive decisions on my part that are causing anguish for a time with the hope of long term reward. I did this knowingly, but it’s one thing to understand a thing in the mind, it’s another to execute and endure that thing in the flesh over a period of time.

I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living! Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the LORD!
Psalms 27:13-14

I will wait and trust in the Lord for his good plans because I know what He has planned for me exceeds my vain dreams and fantasies. I know this first hand.

One thing I have found invaluable this year is reading the scriptures. For the latter half of 2012 I started posting certain verses from my daily reading of the bible to Facebook. The reason I do this is because (1) I know God’s Word is living and active, and (2) I have always had difficulty describing just how brilliant the bible really is. So I decided to let God’s Word speak for itself since God has said it will not return empty. I truly believe the Holy Spirit is working in the hearts of those who hear the Word and there will be results – I don’t have to dress up God’s Word.

Once again I think I’ll close with the words to Blessed Be Your Name as a reminder to myself to give thanks in all things,

Blessed Be Your Name
In the land that is plentiful
Where Your streams of abundance flow
Blessed be Your name

Blessed Be Your name
When I’m found in the desert place
Though I walk through the wilderness
Blessed Be Your name

Blessed be Your name
When the sun’s shining down on me
When the world’s ‘all as it should be’
Blessed be Your name

Blessed be Your name
On the road marked with suffering
Though there’s pain in the offering
Blessed be Your name

You give and take away
You give and take away
My heart will choose to say
Lord, blessed be Your name

Selah.

Titanium vs Supafly

I’m not a frequent patron of clubs but apparently there’s a popular song making the rounds lately…

Titanium’s a great song, catchy, fantastic vocals, uplifting and inspiring, but I have a complaint: it’s wrong. It’s wrong in its statement and it’s wrong in its message.

It reminded me, by contrast, of a classic Thousand Foot Krutch song, Supafly…

While the former is a big club anthem hit, the latter is a small, eccentric, awkward, left field entry from a decidedly unmainstream and unhip Christian rock band – but Supafly gets it so right.

A few years ago, at one of our company’s Christmas parties, I was talking with two very pretty young ladies, who were the clubbing type, about their boyfriend woes and being unable to find a good man. I don’t know how wise I was then but I asked them a question, “Where do you find guys?” Clubs, was the answer, and I replied, “Well there’s your problem, what kind of guys are you expecting to find there?” There’s a lot of action at clubs and they’re going to attract most the type that are attracted to action for action’s sake. Somehow the conversation settled on recommendations from friends but, really, what I had in mind the whole time was this: the context of where you are defines the kind of people you’re going to meet.

I believed, and I still do, that the Christian has the foundation to truly love another person because they see them for who they really are – a soul, a spirit, God’s very own creation, His son or daughter.

But back to the songs in question. Listen to the lyrics of each. Titanium speaks of inner strength. Actually, more like an inner hardness – an unwillingness to admit personal hurt even if that’s what it actually is. Supafly, on the other hand, delves into the thoughts and actions of “dogs and cats” and, in what I consider its crowning and inspired insight, exposes the pretense,

You think ya somethin’ more ya so supafly,
To the fact you’re blind, you’re soft inside,
It’s hard for me to get this through to you,
To the fact ya blind, baby, blind, baby

To the fact you’re blind, you’re soft inside – that’s it. That’s it.

We like to think we’re strong. We like to think we’re invulnerable to the criticisms of others. We like to think a lot of things that aren’t true.

The truth is we’re weak. The truth is we’re broken and easily hurt. The truth is we try to hide the truth.

Supafly’s lyrics contain a reference to Psalms 34 that talks about our condition,

I will extol the Lord at all times; his praise will always be on my lips. My soul will boast in the Lord; let the afflicted hear and rejoice. Glorify the Lord with me; let us exalt his name together. I sought the Lord, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears. Those who look to him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame. This poor man called, and the Lord heard him; he saved him out of all his troubles. The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him, and he delivers them.

The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their cry; the face of the Lord is against those who do evil, to cut off the memory of them from the earth. The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles. The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. A righteous man may have many troubles, but the Lord delivers him from them all; he protects all his bones, not one of them will be broken.

Psalms 34:1-7, 15-20

We know that refuge is not found within ourselves. We might not know yet where help is, but God, who created Heaven and Earth, and knit you together in the womb, He’s calling to you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.” (Isaiah 30:21)

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

John 3:16

Scary Dreams

I woke last Friday morning from a scary dream. I was traveling around the downtown Toronto subway system, trying to make my way around the bottom of the U. At some point, I got out of the subway system and started walking on the street. Nothing was scary at this point. I was just trying to make my way around downtown Toronto. I guess I was walking up the street to the next subway stop when I heard the explosion.

It was that kind of explosion. That deep, thunderous, rolling explosion. The kind that tears through your thin courage veneer and lays bare your soul. In my dream, I was so scared I didn’t turn my head for a while but I kept walking. People were looking, though, all staring, speaking in frantic tones, and looking down at the waterfront.

When I did turn my head, my fear was cemented. A massive warship was broken in charred, mangled pieces. It felt close enough to touch. The world seemed to turn grey, and for some reason it started to get cold. It felt like the end.

At some point in the dream, I started praying to God to save me.

I found myself getting into the back seat of a car with some couple in the front. In the backseat was a long-sleeved sweater, a toque, and pants. I put these on to ward off the cold. I remember feeling whole, bound up, confident that I could deal with the cold, in a much better condition than those frightened people running all around me to deal with what was coming next.

Shortly after this, I must have wakened because I don’t really remember any more of the dream.

When I awoke, that fear was clinging to me. I was happy that it was just a dream but my mind reminded me of a scene in a movie I once saw.

In the film, Constantine, there is a scene of a woman having a vision of Hell by being held under water. When her vision is finished she struggles frantically from the bath and exclaims “I knew it was real! I always knew it was real!” I’ve always remembered this line because it rings true to the feeling in the pit of our stomachs in some certain horrifying moments of our lives.

Having awoken, I was comforted by the knowledge of God’s love for me, love that overcomes fear,

And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.
1 John 4:16-18

From this we gain a peace that confounds understanding,

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:6-7

How do you get this peace?

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
John 3:16

Then, go out and change your ways,

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.
Philippians 4:8-9

We all know it`s real. We always knew it was real…

My Mornings

Having just come back from PEI, I enjoyed waking up with Micah, my brother, and Lindsey and Arden, his wife and daughter, to sit out on the front porch, fresh roasted coffee in hand, overlooking his yard stretching down to a small bridge crossing a small river. While I was there, the bridge was under construction, making lots of noise, and, in spite of this, we would actually sit in the sun, watching and talking, for close to an hour each day.

My mornings here, in Ontario, on the other hand, are hectic, uncomfortable, and stressful. I usually wake up resentfully clinging to a few more moments rest. Then, I struggle dozily out of bed and down the stairs to the computer where I check email for about 10 minutes. I don’t have coffee or breakfast here. I save that to eat at work (usually just a bagel, anyway). I then start daily personal hygiene, like shaving my head and showering. Then, I head back up stairs to my room where I read my Bible for about 20 minutes, alternating Old and New Testament and either Psalms or Proverbs. Then, it’s off to work in Toronto traffic on the 401.

I’ve always said I enjoy the first few moments of the day at work when I just plop down in my seat and nothing’s begging to be done yet. Maybe that’s because it’s my least stressful part of the day…

Would I change things up to achieve mornings like those I had in PEI? Should I? I’m sure it’s not half as great as it seems as I didn’t have work on the horizon of my morning to bother me as I relaxed on the porch. I certainly couldn’t find the same job out there and I don’t think I’d be as satisfied with the work, itself. And what’s a morning, anyway, without people to spend it with? As surely I presently have no one to spend it with anyway.

I guess I will just keep doing my thing. I do have something in mind. I don’t intend to live without attempting to get to a better place. But, for now, I just need to trust God to walk me through.

You are loved

This phrase has stuck with me since I first heard a story, via James MacDonald’s Walk in the Word, about a man who doubted its sincerity and then found out just what it meant in action.

Harvest Bible Chapel in Rolling Meadows, Illinois, close each service, from what I understand, with the words “you are loved.” This simple phrase reflects profoundly the heart of God’s relationship with us and sums up the ministry of the Church. It succinctly focuses in on the basic human need to be loved. If we are to reach the world then we are to love them – really love them. As God loves us, we are to love.

I was pleasantly surprised to find Heather Williams’ You Are Loved from her album on iTunes just after her hit single Hallelujah. This is as close to the perfect musical complement to the sentiment we’re likely to get.