Friday, August 29, 2008


I read this today & it really struck a chord with me:

"The neighborhood bar is possibly the best counterfeit there is to the fellowship Christ wants to give his church. It's an imitation, dispensing liquor instead of grace, escape rather than reality, but it is a permissive, accepting, and inclusive fellowship. It is unshockable. It is democratic. You can tell people secrets... God has put in the human heart a desire to know and to be known, to love and to be loved and so many seek a counterfeit," Bruce Larsen & Keith Millar

It makes sense, doesn't it? We were created for confessional community... Community that struggles together, labors together, prays together, fights together, cries together, etc. and when we don't have that, we search for it elsewhere- wherever we can find it. The bar is such a place. On Beach Project, especially the first summer I was down there, generally the most deep, impactful conversations I had were over cigars on the beach at night. It was almost as if we need this semi-rebellious excuse to really dig into each other's hearts & seek the mysteries of God. Silly, I know, but I think that I, as an American male, am in one sense, terribly afraid of being fully known, being "found out" by others as a fraud, as inadequate, etc., but, in another sense, as one created in the image of God, my heart cries to be known fully by another, to know another fully. My soul longs for the day when I will "know even as I am also known" (1 Cor 13:12).

And so I am excited about what's going on at Redeemer Community & (hopefully deepening) at our house... I want to be prone... I'm learning, as time goes by, that vulnerability bleeds vulnerability... If I want us all to be real with one another, I have to first be real... I must first commit to true community before true community can happen... Why has it taken me my whole Christian walk to get this? Dang...

This video's for John Lambuth, room 106, & Sean Leboeuf

Monday, August 25, 2008

Life Under the Vulcan Sun Vol. 3, Best of Summer 2008

My gracious, working at the law firm on Mondays can be dreadfully boring... At least I have memories of a delightful Vietnamese dinner to reflect upon... Since I have tired of attempting to write support letters (which preface a phone call, which preface a face-toface meeting...), here is my best of summer mix. If you want a spin, let me know...

1. Andrew Bird “Oh, Sister” (Bob Dylan)
2. Amos Lee “Listen”
3. Liam Finn “Second Chance”
4. Beck “Modern Guilt”
5. Son Lux “Betray”
6. Coldplay “Cemeteries of London”
7. Fleet Foxes “Ragged Wood”
8. Wild Sweet Orange “An Atlas to Follow”
9. Death Cab for Cutie “You Can Do Better Than Me”
10.Joshua James “Abbie Martin”
11. Blind Pilot “The Story I Heard”
12. Emily Wells “Symphony 6: Fair Thee Well & The Requiem Mix”
13. Death Cab for Cutie “I Will Possess Your Heart”
14. Bon Iver “Skinny Love”
15. Coldplay “Violet Hill”
16. Emily Wells “Symphony 8 & the Canary’s Last Take”
17. Amos Lee “Better Days”
18. Katie Herzig “Forevermore”
19. Ola Podrida “Atmosphere” (Joy Division)
20. Man Man “Top Drawer”

Two videos guaranteed to make you hurt & laugh: Slap Fight & Too Smart for Strangers by Winnie the Pooh.

And, just in case you haven't heard, David Blaine's latest trick: to spend twelve sleepless nights

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Art Monk

Art Monk... I know, I know that I write about sports figures probably far too often, but in a profession so often identified with greed & worldliness, I get really encouraged by men who stand tall for Christ. Art Monk is one such man. He played wide receiver for the Redskins, and when he retired he was the NFL's all-time receptions leader (a record that was mercilessly destroyed by Jerry Rice). My buddies Bob, Michael Cody, Matt Souers, & I were sitting around in our hotel room when Art's induction ceremony came on. And, man, he brought the gospel.

His son, James Monk, Jr. introduced him with these words: Dad's greatness never came from his ability to play football, but it came because he wanted to be used by God for his glory, above all."  Awesome. 

Some other highlights from his speech (or if you want to read the whole thing or read C.J Mahaney's write-up):

"And even now as a Hall of Famer, the one thing I want to make very clear is that my identity and my security is found in the Lord. And what defines me and my validation comes in having accepted his son Jesus Christ as my personal savior. And what defines me is the word of God and it's the word of God that will continue to shape and mold me into the person that I know he's called me to be

So I've learned a long time ago never to put my faith or trust in man, for man will always fail you. Man will always disappoint you. But the word of God says that Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever. And he will never fail you."

"There's a scripture that I think about almost every day and I've come to personalize it to my life. It says: 'Lord, who am I that you are mindful of me?' And the Apostle Paul says, 'Think of what you were when you were called. Not many were wise by human standards. Not many were influential. Not many were born of noble birth.'

"And when I look at my life and how I grew up, I certainly had none of those qualities or benefits.

"But I understand and I know that I'm here not by in and of my own strength but it's by the grace and the power of God upon my life who I know gave me favor along the way and who provided opportunity and room for me to use my gifts.

"So I am very grateful to receive this honor, and I can stand here before you and say, hey, look at me, look what I did. But if I'm going to boast, I'm going to boast today in the Lord, for it's because of him that I'm here and I give him thanks and glory and honor for all that he has done for me."

Thursday, August 14, 2008

God Moves in a Mysterious Way

I had never heard this hymn until Michael Cody informed me that he was going to reference it in his talk this summer on spiritual depression and fighting for joy. Over the past six weeks, it has quickly become one of my favorites. It is so good because in our most Job-esque moments, when we cannot see the light of the glory of Christ, when our guilt trumps our conceptions of grace, when darkness veils His lovely face, these words help us to rest in God's unchanging grace.

Few people understood that "God moves in a mysterious way" as deeply as William Cowper ("Cooper"), the poet who penned these words (and the words to other great hymns, such as "There is a Fountain Filled With Blood," "The Saints Should Never Be Dismayed," & "O for a Closer Walk with Thee"). Cowper (1731-1800) had attempted suicide three times before he moved in with the Unwin family and relocated with them to Olney,  a town famous for its pastor, John Newton.  Cowper & Newton built a relationship and Newton, composer of "Amazing Grace," asked Cowper to contribute to a hymnbook he was compiling. Cowper contributed hymns filled with such faith, but his bouts with insanity & depression continued. In 1773, he fell into another spell of insanity, believing that he was already irrevocably condemned to hell & that God was calling him to sacrifice his life. He battled depression on and off for the rest of his life, dying of dropsy in 1800.

Cowper had a tremendously hard life, but he was anchored in faith that, though he couldn't see or understand what God was doing, God knew (knows) exactly what He was (is) doing.

Though now known to us as the hymn "God Moves in a Mysterious Way," Cowper entitled it "Light Shining Out of Darkness." Fitting indeed. 

God moves in a mysterious way
his wonders to perform:
he plants his footsteps in the sea,
and rides upon the storm.

Deep in unfathomable mines,
with never-failing skill,
he treasures up his bright designs,
and works his sovereign will.

Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take;
the clouds ye so much dread
are big with mercy, and shall break
in blessings on your head.

Judge not the Lord by feeble sense,
but trust him for his grace;
behind a frowning providence
he hides a smiling face.

His purposes will ripen fast,
unfolding every hour:
the bud may have a bitter taste,
but sweet will be the flower.

Blind unbelief is sure to err,
and scan his work in vain;
God is his own interpreter,
and he will make it plain.

Since we'd never heard the hymn before, we (the COB-1 crew on Beach Project this summer) made a new melody for it. We wanted to get the full band to play for this rendition, but we garage-band'd it the night before Judson had to head home & Cliff was sick, so it's just Alyson, Judson, and I in the back of the resource room. We want to try it again with a fuller sound, but this one'll do for now. To download it, right-click (or control-click, for you awesome Mac users) on the file listed under "Advanced Audio Coding" (it should be the one that says 5.9 MB) and save the linked file. You should be able to play it in iTunes or any other media player.

Or... check out all of Cowper's poetical works here!