Life

Feeling Linky, Punk? 1.8.15

Feeling Linky, Punk? Here’s some links and vids you may have missed recently:

  • Ever wonder how airplanes dodge those pesky thunderstorms to land? Here’s a rad look at how they do it at the Atlanta Hartsfield Airport:

 

  • Turns out we’re not the only ones. Check out these penguins who like to use iPads as part of “penguin enrichment.” Cool story:

<p><a href=”http://vimeo.com/114154731″>Cool Hunting Video: Penguin Enrichment</a> from <a href=”http://vimeo.com/coolhunting”>Cool Hunting</a> on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

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Every New Day

A pivotal band in my life, Five Iron Frenzy, has an old song about growing up, getting older and recapturing the newness found in Jesus. Healing, help and true life are found in His grace. Some may have forgotten or neglected this freedom found in the gospel. I know I desperately need reminding of His goodness, always. Let these words sink in as we face a new year and a new day.

“Every New Day”

When I was young, the smallest trick of light,
Could catch my eye,
Then life was new and every new day,
I thought that I could fly.
I believed in what I hoped for,
And I hoped for things unseen,
I had wings and dreams could soar,
I just don’t feel like flying anymore.
When the stars threw down their spears,
Watered Heaven with their tears,
Before words were spoken,
Before eternity.

Dear Father, I need you,
Your strength my heart to mend.
I want to fly higher,
Every new day again.

When I was small, the furthest I could reach,
Was not so high,
Then I thought the world was so much smaller,
Feeling that I could fly.
Through distant deeps and skies,
Behind infinity,
Below the face of Heaven,
He stoops to create me.

Dear Father, I need you,
Your strength my heart to mend.
I want to fly higher,
Every new day again.

Man versus himself.
Man versus machine.
Man versus the world.
Mankind versus me.
The struggles go on,
The wisdom I lack,
The burdens keep piling
Up on my back.
So hard to breathe,
To take the next step.
The mountain is high,
I wait in the depths.
Yearning for grace,
And hoping for peace.
Dear God…Increase.

Healing hands of God have mercy on our unclean souls once again.
Jesus Christ, light of the world burning bright within our hearts
forever.
Freedom means love without condition, without a beginning or an end.
Here’s my heart, let it be forever Your’s,
Only You can make every new day seem so new.

Listen to the song here. Warning: this is “ska” music. Horns, upbeats and grooves. You’ll love it (or should).

 

5 Lessons Learned By A New Huntsvillian

Now that we live here, I’m finding that I love me some Huntsville, Alabama. Although, I officially live in Hampton Cove. Which is kinda officially the OXR. Which is to say “Owens Cross Roads” in an ultra cool way that sounds like you’re ahead of the zeitgeist. This city is such a unique place. A hidden gem of the south if you will. My family and I feel like we are beginning to get settled into life here. Many of you have saw to it we feel welcomed. We are so grateful for your hospitality and love! In learning about the culture of the city and outlying areas, we have noticed several things that make Huntsville unique:

  1. Engineers. Are. Everywhere. I’m learning to stop asking “So what do you do?” when meeting someone new. Instead I shall opt to cut down on the chit-chat by starting with “So what exactly do you engineer ’round here?” after saying “hello.”
  2. My use of “It’s Not Rocket Science” as a phrase has been re-evaluated. We are “The Rocket City” for a reason. NASA calls Huntsville home and I’ve now been privileged to meet many incredibly gifted people who are actual rocket scientists. But don’t worry. They’re some of the coolest people on earth…and beyond (see what I did there?). When in doubt of using the aforementioned phrase, they are qualified and can theorize, analyze, calculate and postulate (or whatever) if something is, in fact, rocket science on my behalf. That’s dope.
  3. Random, Nerve-Racking Explosions. With Redstone Arsenal so close and the proximity of the mountains, the sounds of the testing rumble around the south side of town in a way that makes me concerned the San Andreas Fault runs right under Bailey Cove. They keep you on your toes, thus your cat-like reflexes are sharpened for any HSV situation. These reflexes will come in handy when you need turn on a dime into Rosie’s (Big or Little) for some chips and salsa or catch the right exit on the Parkway.
  4. Something called “Chacos”. It’s a shoe-like-thing that straps to your feet. Most folks I speak to either can’t live without them or they rub their feet raw when worn too long, causing them to semi-loathe their trendy footwear. Still questioning if I should venture in. I could instead grab some nice running shoes from Fleet Feet for the price. Still debating with myself if it’s some sort of shoe/sandal conspiracy to make all feet look the same…I’ll let you know what I find out. They exist in other cities but are a thriving industry in the HSV.
  5. Traffic. Traffic. And did I mention traffic? Patience is a virtue quickly learned when behind a slow-poke heading over Cecil or just about anywhere else. Most times I could use Doc Brown to hover-convert my car to get out of it. (Shameless reference to one of my favorite 80’s movies in case you’re wondering) Maybe one of my rocket scientist buddies can help me out with that.

Still more lessons to be learned…

jbed

Photo credit – http://miriamsmith.choosecapstone.com/

Wind and Waves

When calm gives way to calamity

And foaming wakes of fury

Roaring with deafening defiance

Agitating our souls

His children may lose sight of Him

 

When swelling seas surround

And the torrent becomes torturous

Mindful are they of their Master

Despite fray and disarray

Wind and waves obey

 

When salty seaside breezes caress

And tides subside

Waves curl in beauty once more

And the rip current relents

Now glad splashing on battered stone and shell

 

Listen

 

He who spoke them into being commands them

Into the quiet heaviness of His presence

Grateful are we for His gales of grace

See Him once again

Wind and waves obey

Cornering The Everywhere God

With a few sentences below, John Stott helps us see the futility of backing God into our own little corner. How can I corner, limit or box-in a God who is omnipresent? It seems ridiculous but I try. Chances are you try too. I must always let Him be who He is – no manipulation, no redefining, no opinions – just our God and Father as revealed in His word. Think about Stott’s brilliant words here:

“To localize God, confining Him within limits which we impose, whereas He is the Creator of the universe.

To domesticate God, making Him dependent on us, taming and taping Him, whereas He is the Sustainer of human life.

To alienate God, blaming Him for His distance and His silence, whereas He is the Ruler of nations, and not far from any of us.

To dethrone God, demoting Him to some image of our own contrivance or craft, whereas He is our Father from whom we derive our being.

In brief, all idolatry tries to minimize the gulf between the Creator and His creatures, in order to bring Him under our control.”

Help me, Lord, to see you as you truly are! Help me to allow you free reign in my heart! Run rampant in every corner of my life! In both places I’ve hidden and places in the shadows!

The Last and Least

The first and most.

These two words define our world. They defined me in my past and still cry out from my flesh. They blind us of the glory of the gospel. A gospel that wants to turn our value system upside down.

Being “first and most” fits in with a modern view of success and importance. We fool ourselves into thinking we’re missing out on life by not partaking in a worldly view that will ultimately leave us empty. Putting ourselves first and making the most out of “me-almighty” is a great way to be “puffed up” but a terrible way to live life.

But truthfully, living that way comes natural to me. Until I met Christ I lived as a young man convinced that I must become first – get ahead of everyone else by any means necessary, take part in the game of life along with everyone else by seeking pleasure in temporary, unfulfilling things.

Make much of myself and the world will make much of me.

Looking back, I knew there had to be something more, but didn’t have time to consider what it was. Especially in my younger years, I was at the mercy of a swiftly moving stream of influence towards the “first and most” mentality. Time wasted thinking or meaning or purpose meant falling behind and being second or, heaven forbid, last!

The world’s system seemed so burdensome: get noticed, get the girls, get wasted, get the friends, get ahead, get the grades, get the most, get happiness? Fulfillment? Purpose? These things left me more empty than when I first began. They testified to my heart a need. A need for something more. More than this world could give.

By trying to be first in life we instantly put enormous pressure on ourselves to remain first. Stay ahead. And by virtue of our selfish desires to stay first, we must rely on our own power to do so. This is unsustainable and not the way we’re made to operate. We are made to worship.

Being the most in God’s upside-down Kingdom is the exact opposite of what the world would tell us. Jesus corrects the disciples misunderstanding and turns “greatness” on its head by comparing his Kingdom to a child.

Being “first and most” doesn’t fit the shape or aim of the God-Man who came to “serve and give his life as a ransom for many.”

Being the last and least isn’t about getting trampled by the world. It’s about believing that the gospel fundamentally changes our life’s economy. What once had value now is darkened by the shadow of God’s glorious grace in Jesus. He is now the treasure hidden in a field worth selling everything for. He is now our hearts desire. He is now the Lord of our lives. So that put’s me in place as I’m unable to save myself or give myself any sort of real, lasting purpose. Realizing Christ’s obedience in His death, I clearly see His love and am catapulted into life with that same love for others. I’m humbled by it. So I begin seeing the world as God does. “The Last and Least” is about putting others first and myself last. It’s about remaining a servant, the least, so that God will be made glorious in my humility.

This my heart’s desire even though I fail miserably. He is faithful to forgive me when I do. My confidence comes not from my own ability but in the ability afforded to me by his grace. Jesus help us to be the last and least, your servants!

Beauty Is A Beast

It’s not a typo. I mean “beast” in the way the cool kids do.

My wife and I had a conversation recently about beauty. It was awesome. After 12 years of marriage and nearly 15 ministering to young adult women and teenage girls, the following is what we discovered.

Beauty is a beast to figure out. True beauty is hard to pursue and discern. It’s a difficult undertaking for anyone. Whether it’s my 6 year old, a teenage girl, young mom or grandmother. Beauty is something that, if not viewed through the lens of the gospel, can be lost in a world of pencil-thin models, photoshop and caked-on makeup. The world is loud about their version of beauty. It’s also wrong.

Our value, worth and beauty is based not on pre-determined, worldly criteria. A new identity as sons and daughters of the King makes us heavenly royalty. Which is to be desired far more than maintaining attractive facades on these fading, temporary vessels. Our earthy bodies are fallen and tattered by sin. It is a “forever beauty” that women truly need. A beauty that is primary, based on what God says as opposed to an outward, secondary beauty based on what others say. Us guys should heed this word as well. Do we champion God’s beauty to our sisters? Are we helping them or hurting them?

Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.  – Proverbs 31:30

Even before I knew Christ, while God continued to testify Himself to me as a teen, I began to see the emptiness of worldly beauty in the opposite sex. I began to notice those young women who knew and loved Christ had something deeper that actually spoke something about their Savior. And it spoke to me. It’s what I saw in my future wife as I began to get involved at a local church. I’m blessed to have her. She embodies scriptural beauty. The luster of her eyes reveals a window showing her satisfaction in Christ. Her smile gleams a joy found in the finished work of Christ. I love her. A lot.

Beauty in Godly women is a testimony of their blood-bought identity. Their outward beauty is made complete by their inward beauty. There is something beautiful about a woman who seeks the Lord; finding her acceptance and true beauty in her new identity in Him. What good is the outward is the inward is out of order?

Peter mentions in 1 Peter 3 that the beauty God finds precious is imperishable. This is “forever beauty”. God’s Beauty. I’m praying my sister’s pursue it. And I’m praying that I and my brothers can see them as God does also.

Just one dude’s perspective on beauty; guided in the matter by a very wise and insightful wife.

 

 

A Brave Boy Named Bill

Check out this awesome story of Bill, a young man who has impacted my life in a huge way in the short time I’ve been at Willowbrook. So cool.

Dreaming With Your Feet

Me and Bill in January Me and Bill in January

Last week, I mentioned a student who would miss our recital because he would be having surgery to remove a suspicious mass. The final diagnosis came today … that student, Bill, does have cancer but the doctors are sure they caught it early, say he only needs two rounds of chemo and are confident of a complete cure.

Hearing this news takes a little of the sting away … at least it will just be two treatments, at least he will recover completely. Thank you to all of you who reached out to me after the last post, expressing your support of our organization, our students, our volunteers and the families who have suffered tremendous losses this year.

I’ve been working on two other posts for this week – a recap of our gloriously amazing recital on Saturday afternoon and another on our “Next Step”…

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Jesus the Bassmaster…sort of

And when he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.” And Simon answered, “Master, we toiled all night and took nothing! But at your word I will let down the nets.” And when they had done this, they enclosed a large number of fish, and their nets were breaking. They signaled to their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both the boats, so that they began to sink. Luke 5:4-7

net-casting

Jesus is better than us at our careers. Jesus is better than us at doing our jobs we’ve received years of training for. Jesus knows more about what we do than we do.

Here Jesus is not just telling but showing us how fish are caught. We know that when Jesus calls us as his disciples he promises to make us fishers of men. He makes us fishermen. It is a transformational work of God, not of ourselves (lest any of us should boast). In Luke, Jesus schools the professionals on how to do their own jobs. They had given it their best, professional shot. They toiled all night with nothing to show for it. In their eyes there was no way to have success and even briefly questioned Jesus concerning his command to drop the nets again. They questioned Jesus, who had more than a little to do with the laws of physics keeping the boat on top of the water, who created  bodies of water complete ecological life and who also intricately, wonderfully “knitted” Peter together in his mother’s womb. You see, Christ is the one who shows us where and how to fish for men. He has authority. He is intimately aware of those around us daily and holds the key for us “fishing” effectively. He can do your job and lead your life better than you or I can.

God sovereignly gives us opportunities in quickly-passing moments with strangers and life-long relationships with close friends to “catch” people with his gospel. This is deeply true of every waking moment of our lives as believers.

The obedience of Simon Peter and the others brought about a huge catch that day. There were so many fish that they almost sank! Help was needed from another boat to wrangle all of the massive catch! This brought Peter to his knees, acknowledging his sin and need. When Jesus directs us and we obey, he takes care of the rest. And we are put in our place: at His feet.

Prepare your heart for a catch. Expect God to work. Let Jesus lead and guide your heart this week wherever you find yourself. He knows where to let down the nets. There’s no need to fear. He is the Master Fisherman.

Shrugging At Brilliance

How can we shrug at the creative brilliance of God? Or say “meh” to magnificence? His handiwork in the things He has made demands a response: our pause, meditation and thankfulness for grace. Our worship. Those of us awestruck by creation see an artistry beyond comprehension. From the intricate detail of the tiny, fuzzy, creeping insect to the massive power of majestic mountain ranges cloaked in clouds: God is telling us about Himself. He is shouting it to us in claps of thunder and whispering it to us in Winter’s quiet cold.

Shrugging at such brilliance and mastery would not only be a commentary on our gratitude, but a statement about the Artist Himself. As if His grand work is not worthy of a second thought? This world is given as a testament to His love and goodness for us. Don’t miss opportunities to stop, ponder and worship the One who thought enough of us to plaster Himself all over this globe in beautiful green and blue.