Friday, September 29, 2006

Anna Rockin' Out! Posted by Picasa

Holding the Moon

Last night we took the girls to Knoxville to eat and when we left the restaurant it was already pretty dark outside which made Anna pretty excited… See, all summer long she has gone to bed when it has still been light outside which means that she hasn’t seen any stars pretty much all summer. As a result, she is always talking about how she wants to stay up later so that she can see the stars and the moon. Well, last night, as we were on our way to the car, the sun was pretty much down and the moon was way up! Christy was holding Anna and telling her to look up so that she could see and when Anna looked up, she saw that moon and said the cutest thing… “Mom! I see the moon! I wish I could go up in the sky and hold it!”

Are you kidding me? How cute is that? Anyway, this morning I was thinking about what Anna said and it made me think about the One who really does hold the moon… The One who made the moon and keeps it spinning around this earth, taking us faithfully through our tides and seasons… In Colossians 1:16-17, Paul is talking about Jesus when he says, “For by Him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by Him and for Him. He is before all things and in Him all things hold together.” The writer of Hebrews says that Jesus sustains all things by His powerful word. He made the moon and He holds the moon in place…

The same is true for our whole vast universe. He made earth, the moon and all of the other planets in our solar system. He keeps them all spinning around our sun, making sure that while most planets revolve in ellipses around the sun, we go in a perfect circle so that life can continue… He does the same for all of the one hundred billion stars in our fairly medium-sized galaxy. And He does the same for all of the one hundred billion galaxies! Whoa… now that’s full-time job. Sometimes when I think of all the important stuff on God’s plate (such as running the universe) it makes me wonder if He has time for me… I mean, there are wars, nations and prime ministers to deal with down here on earth and that’s besides all the black holes and nebulas He has to handle outside our tiny little cosmic locality!

With all those celestial responsibilities of His, you might start to realize how small you are and it can make you feel like your problems are insignificant. But they aren’t insignificant to Him! In fact, no matter how many wars He makes to cease, no matter how many kings He brings to naught and no matter how many galaxies He’s out there spinning, He still has time for your problems. Check out what David said in Psalm 68:19… “Praise be to the Lord, to God our Savior, who daily bears our burdens.” You see, He goes up in the sky and holds the moon, but He also comes down here, right into the middle of your day… and He holds you too.

Friday, September 22, 2006

This thing rules! Buy it... seriously, buy it. Posted by Picasa

Daily Bread

I have a rule that I employ with every new piece of music that I buy… (unsolicited advice coming at you) and if you utilize this rule with your new music, you’ll be a much happier person. The rule goes like this: When I get new music, I pop it in the CD player and listen to every track, beginning to end, in order, from first to last, four times in a row. No matter how I feel about the music, I have four unhurried and uninterrupted listens. The rule is that I do not let myself make a judgment on the record either way until the four listens are over. Now, don’t let the seeming legalism fool you… this is a great way to give every record its due.

Well, Jill Phillips just released a new record called Nobody’s Got it All Together. I popped it in my car on Monday and today is Friday and this is a great record! I am always encouraged and strengthened by listening to anything that Jill and her husband Andy Gullahorn produce, and they didn’t let me down this time around… Well, last night Christy and I were driving to Lenoir City to speak and play at a Young Life banquet and listening to the song “Daily Bread” while she held my hand… Jill sang, “There’s a restlessness in the soul of man, nobody’s tamed it yet. You never fail to keep any promises, but somehow we forget… that You’re always right on time.” Christy squeezed my hand as our hearts silently and simultaneously swelled with praise and thanks.

The song goes on… “You feed us all with a silver spoon, and like Your foolish kids, we start worrying about what we’re gonna do when the hunger comes again… But You’re always right on time with an open hand. You have exactly what I need, daily bread.”

It’s been rough for us lately, but our Father knows right where we are and He just keeps providing everything we need… right on time. Christy looked at me and said, “This is our song, baby.” I was about to say the same thing. He has graciously rescued us out of so many troubles that His faithfulness has become the refrain of our lives. As we kept on listening to Jill and Andy sing our anthem Christy said, “It’s amazing… He has forced us to live a life of miracles.”

A life of miracles… a daily-faithful Father… this is the good life.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Hail to the Victors! Posted by Picasa

How Sweet it is!

Alan Branch slams the arm of the former Heisman hopeful Brady Quin which ended in the Notre Dame quarterback's third interception of the day as the Wolverines handed the Irish their worst loss at home in 45 years... Go Blue!

Friday, September 15, 2006

The "Triple C" crew after tubing the Little River Posted by Picasa

Head Start

Okay, something crazy happened to me when I turned 27 this past May, and everyone said it would. I don’t know if I really believed them, but they were right. My metabolism slowed down and out of nowhere I gained 20 pounds… I’m not kidding. Now, I’m not a freakily obsessed person when it comes to body image or anything, but all of a sudden I realized I was carrying around the equivalent of all of my football pads from high school. The really weird thing is that I can’t really find these twenty mystery pounds… they’re just there, somewhere, giving me the general feeling of unidentifiable blah…

Well, I didn’t want to do it, but I have started jogging in the morning… …yeah. This is really tough for me because I have always hated running. I hated it in football and I hated it when I ran track. I tried to jog to stay in shape in college and only ran twice. But this time is different because I have discovered something awesome… even if you hate running, it’s a great way to get your day started. Running wakes you up, energizes you and gives you great time to think and pray. It gets the blood flowing and the mind going. I still don’t enjoy running, but as soon as I finish my daily laps around the civic center, I am really glad I did it and really ready for the day. I guess running is kind of my head start to get my body and mind geared up for whatever the day has for me.

This morning I was reading Psalm 59 and saw something that could be another awesome way to have a head start on the day… In verse 16 the Psalmist says, “But I will sing of your strength, in the morning I will sing of your love…” What better way to start your day than praise?! If you start your day singing and rejoicing in God’s strength and love then you are waking up your faith and circulating your trust in Him! If you sing of His strength and love in the morning, you are going to be fortified against whatever problems, worries and doubts that come because your heart and mind will have already confirmed that God is able to handle your stuff and that He cares about you. Give yourself a head start… start your days with praise… you’ll be glad you did.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

My girls... Posted by Picasa

Present Tense

One of the coolest things about being a parent is that you get a front row seat to something that is absolutely incredible… watching a person acquire language. Anna is almost three and is very verbal. She has been speaking for a long time now and becomes a better communicator every day. It started early… I guess from the time she was born. She listened to us, watched our mouths move, tried out sounds and then mimicked us. At some point she started to associate sounds with meanings and before we knew it she was speaking English… it was crazy. One thing that is really cute about watching a baby learn to talk is that they try on big words before they really grasp the concepts behind those words and it comes out sounding a little off and pretty funny. For instance, Anna heard us using the word ‘because’ all of the time and decided she would start to fit it into her sentences… she would say, “Mom, I not eat that carrot because, I eat it.”

At this point, Anna understands what ‘because’ is all about and employs it quite successfully. It is utterly amazing to watch her grow and correct her own linguistic mistakes just by listening to us talk and without even being told. And as amazing as it is to hear a two-year-old put together a coherent sentence, it is weird to hear an educated adult who can’t. The other day I was reading Psalm 52 and something about it looked funny, (and I know what I’m reading is a translation from Hebrew, but something seemed to stick out like a sore thumb) like it didn’t belong. See if you can catch it… “But I am like an olive tree flourishing in the house of God; I trust in God’s unfailing love for ever and ever.” –Did you catch it? Maybe it’s just me, but it seems weird that the Psalmist said, “I trust in God’s unfailing love for ever and ever.” Since ‘trust’ is an action that carries on from now into the future, shouldn’t he have said, “I will trust…” instead of just “trust?”

Now, there are two possibilities going on here… either I am just behind on my grammar (highly possible) or the psalmist is teaching us something cool about trust in God. Maybe trust is something that must exist in the present tense. Maybe you can’t say, “I will trust God tomorrow.” You don’t know what’s going to happen tomorrow. You are stuck inside time and the only thing you know about with any certainty is that which has gone and that which is. We live inside what is. Obviously we have enough information about God’s goodness and provision to want to say, “I will trust you for ever and ever…” but can we know that we will? I think trust has to be in the present tense because trust concerns the moment you are in. Trusting God is about making up your mind and heart to believe what is true about Him right now in this moment. I think the Psalmist is longing for a heart that will make that decision to believe, and to do it in each moment as it comes, knowing that it is a decision that will have to be remade with every coming moment. That’s the heart I want to have too… one that says, “I trust you right now. I trust you tomorrow. I trust you for ever.”

Monday, September 04, 2006

Joe Pendley is a beast... Posted by Picasa


Quick, try to think of the guitar riff at the beginning of the classic rock anthem Ironman. Now, how about AC/DC’s Back in Black, or Purple Haze by Hendrix… what about Day Tripper by the Beatles? How about movie music… can you hum the music to Indiana Jones or Star Wars? How about the beginning to Beethoven’s fifth… “Ba Ba Ba BAAAAA, Ba Ba Ba BAAAAAA.” Now surely in that vast list of classics some music just flooded into your mind, maybe even against your will as you read those words… you know what that was? Those memorable, hummable, singable little snippets of music that will now be stuck in your head for the rest of the day are known by musicians as the ‘hook’ or the ‘theme.’

A theme is just a musical idea… a melody or riff that keeps popping up in the music. It’s the signature of the piece… the part that let’s you know what you’re listening to… the thing that makes a song “catchy.” It’s the part you can’t shake out of your mind. Classical composers used to write pieces of music where the theme would appear a bunch of different times right in a row, but every time would be a little different. Maybe a different set of instruments would play the theme, making it sound different, or all the surrounding rhythms and harmonies would be varied so that you could barely recognize the theme, but the skeleton of that original, catchy little musical idea was always there right under the surface. The theme was the centerpiece, and no matter how crazy and dark the rest of the music got, the theme would always be there supporting and guiding the piece, and the theme would always come back in the end.

I have been reading the book of Job lately and one thing I have noticed is that pretty much everyone in that book (including Job) said a lot of stupid stuff. None of these guys knew why all those terrible things happened to Job and they all thought they knew. They took turns running their mouths for 37 chapters and most of what they said was a mess… Especially the young guy right at the end named Elihu. He is quite possibly one of the most arrogant people who appears in the Bible! He ran his big mouth like the rest of them, having no idea what was really going on behind the spiritual scenes. But as I was reading his egotistical rants the other day, I saw something good and true. It’s like my dad always says, “Son, even a blind hog will find the trough every now and then.”

In Job 33, verses 27-28 Elihu said, “Then he comes to men and says, I sinned, and perverted what was right, but I did not get what I deserved. He redeemed my soul from going down to the pit, and I will live to enjoy the light.” Wow! That is awesome… when I read that I decided to make that my theme… the on-going, varied, but always-there hook of my life… I have sinned, but I didn’t get what I deserved… He redeemed me… I have been rescued because of Jesus. The days may get dark and stormy and everything in my life may have seemed to change or fall in around me, but this will be at the center… this will be the guiding, supporting melody of my life… that I have not gotten what I deserve, but have been mercifully saved and outrageously loved by Christ.

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