I wonder what it’s like

I was reading Philippians 3 today. There are truths here that are too deep, too wonderful, too terrible for me to want to understand. And yet I do want to understand. Paul writes:

Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith

– Philippians 3:8-9 (ESV)

I wonder what it’s like to lose all things and consider them rubbish after the losing. All things? I’m too invested in this world, I’m too secure in my multi-layered safety nets. I’m too secure in my own righteousness.

Paul, on the other hand, had skin in the game, literally. In fact, he’d already lost quite a bit of his skin for the sake of the gospel.

– that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.

– Philippians 3:10-11 (ESV)

. . . and may share in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death . . .

This is where we begin to understand what loving God is like. I tell God that I love him all the time, yet I wonder. Will I be willing to share in his sufferings when my number is called?

Paul understood and lived a life aligned with Christ’s sufferings. He identified himself with the rogue Galilean who had been executed in the backwater land of Judea years earlier. Paul made the authorities nervous. He and those of like mind (the “Christians” they were derisively called) were beginning to topple some important structures. They spoke of another kingdom, which their Christ had inaugurated and had commanded them to take to the world. They appeared insane enough to carry their mission to its logical conclusion, no matter how many of them had to be nailed up.

They made people uneasy.

To be honest, they make me uneasy too.

Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you. Only let us hold true to what we have attained.

– Philippians 3:12-16 (ESV)

Lord, you have made me your own. I know, with increasing lucidity, that I don’t deserve this. Grace is so beautiful.

To strain forward to the goal, to stretch toward the upward call, not the call of the status quo, must be my desire. Yet even the desire is something I can’t manufacture on my own. I am not mature, but I know you have promised to reveal the steps ahead, in your time, as you mature me.

In the meantime, I pray that I will hold true to what I have attained, because it was you who attained it.

May I begin to grasp these deep, wonderful, and terrible truths.

Bloo v 0.15 release notes

Well, finally!

For those of you who care, this might be somewhat anticlimactic. But I have released Bloo version 0.15. This release took a long time because, um, I quit working on it this summer. Summer was so incredibly crazy, it had to fall by the wayside. But I’m back!

Here are the major changes. Many of them are internal so they won’t be that exciting to you.

  • Created a Menu SnapOn (in the admin area, so none of you can see it)
  • Fixed (I hope) the Pinger interface so my weblogs pings will actually start “taking”
  • Did a lot of internal cleanup
  • Some reformatting (as you may have noticed). Themes are coming soon!
  • Added Trackback!
  • Now when I get a comment on this blog Bloo sends me an email.
  • Added a system log that I can look at to see helpful messages, etc.

Well, that’s about it. The “Did a lot of internal cleanup” part was pretty huge. Not because the code was messy, but mainly just because I came up with better ways of organizing it.

I hope to not go three months until 0.16 is released.

Watch me for the changes . . .

“Outdo one another in showing honor”

Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.

– Romans 12:10 (ESV)

Just picture it. Everyone, all of us, striving hard to outdo each other in showing honor to each other. Or, as it’s rendered in the NASB, to “give preference to one another in honor.”

I love that! Picture it. Brothers and sisters saying, in small ways and big ways, “This honor is coming to me, but I’d prefer it go to you.” Brothers and sisters loving each other not just as a “have to”, but with affection. In other words, not just loving each other but also “liking” each other, that we might be a true family.

Beautiful. What a light to shine in a world that sometimes seems crammed full of chest-pounding, glad-handing, end-zone-dancing, boasting, braying, glory hogs. And sometimes the hog doing the chest-pounding (ow), end-zone-dancing (ever seen me dance? Not a pretty sight), boasting and braying is me. And that, my friends, will suck the light out of any situation.

Dear Lord, may I strive, with motives clean and heart pure, to outdo others in passing honor on to them. That ultimately You will be honored, above all and alone. For You alone deserve all honor.

Would I walk away?

I think if confronted with this I might run. To my shame.

Brad at Broken Messenger posts this horrifying picture and the story behind it. This picture was taken in the Sudan in 1993. The photographer who took it, though winning a Pulitzer for this photograph, took his own life in 1994 (for many reasons).

Let this sink in.

Lord, knock me out of my complacency. I pray this little girl survived and is healthy and happy today.

Kevin Carter’s Pulitzer prize winning photograph of a Sudanese girl in the spring of 1993 was instrumental in brining international attention to the growing hunger crisis in Sudan. Despite taking over 20 minutes to take the photograph and eventually chasing the vulture away, Kevin ultimately only watched the little girl continue her struggle on to a U.N. food station (estimated at about one kilometer away) and then left her, never to know of the girl’s fate.

Why didn’t he help her? This has been the question of many since learning of Kevin’s story following his award. Why didn’t he take that frail, precious little girl up into his arms and carry her to safety?

His inaction is not all that hard to imagine after learning about his past experiences and of his work. Kevin witnessed and was exposed to attrocities that occurred routinely in his own nation of South Africa, before even seeing the horrors of Sudan. Like any seasoned pro, he had learned to keep an emotional distance from his subjects in order to stay focused on his work.

But Kevin was never able to put a full emotional distance from the events in Sudan following his return back to South Africa. Soon having brushes with death himself following his work in Sudan, and witnessing further horrors surrounding apartheid, his vices and personal troubles were only heightened by the day-to-day image capture of human tradgedy. Kevin was also known to suffer from frequent mental breakdowns following photo shoots, including those in Sudan. Sadly, his elation of winning the Pulitzer in 1994 was short lived, as it was soon followed by his suicide only two months later. Many believe that he took his life as a result of what he experienced in Sudan, some believe that his past failings led to his death, others believe that it was a combination of past and recent events.


I miss them.

I was a volunteer in our church’s student ministry for 10+ years. I finished my time there a week and a half ago. I began to write a long post full of my observations of Student ministry over the last decade. But, as is disconcertingly typical with me, the words just weren’t flowing. But I can summarize:

Students are wonderful. Sometimes people who don’t know them can think that they aren’t spiritual, or that they are scary, or that they are sinful and lost. Well, of course, many students, like many people, fit those descriptions. But my hope for the future is always boosted when in the presence of a student who loves God (and there are many). And I’m not just talking about high school students. You know those seventh graders you avoid? A lot of them are awesome – get to know them.

Students understand community in ways we don’t. They are bonded to each other. They understand that they can’t be alone, even though many of them, through no fault of their own, are. The wisest ones understand that they won’t make it as a Christian without others. Why do we lose the ability to have community when we get older? I know, I know, we’re more busy. We have families.

But why don’t I know my neighbors better?


Many students don’t have families to speak of. It positively, absolutely kills me. Their parents are either gone or distant. And so they have to make it through their young lives essentially alone, and they fight battles that they should never have to fight, and carry baggage that should never have been placed on them. They shouldn’t have to wonder which dad will walk them down the aisle at their wedding, and they shouldn’t have to wish that the answer could be “neither”. They shouldn’t have to live vagabond lives, sleeping at relatives and friend’s houses because their parents don’t appear to care where they sleep and don’t appear to give them much acceptance. They shouldn’t have to inherit all the pathologies and personality-scars that their parents pass down to them, with the attendant probabilities of repeating the cycle. And I shouldn’t have to wonder why their parents never come to see them at church. Leading worship is not about performance, but to have a parent be, seemingly, completely uninterested in the fact that their child sings as a lead-worshipper for over a hundred students each week makes me sad.

When students are together, it’s amazing. I was allowed into their culture from time to time (a great act of grace on their part, I might add) and it’s a wonderful place. They love each other. They strive for God. They want to live epic lives, and believe God can take them there. They are afraid for their future. And they still know how to live in the now.

I said I miss them. Which is ironic, because I haven’t moved away and most of them haven’t either. But I am called to serve in the main church body and, like many churches, the students are somewhat removed from that. I don’t understand why, but I don’t think this is a healthy thing. There are people who I love dearly who I will never, ever see, even though they “go to my church”, unless I walk the 150 yards over to the student building. We are two churches. I’d love to find ways to make us one again without diminishing either side.

I could write a lot more. About how amazing it is to go to, for instance, the wedding of a student you were close to, and see that person grown up now, and still loving God. I have two more weddings of past band members to go to this fall. That’s awesome! It’s amazing to see them start their own families. It’s a bit twilight-zonish to see them become adults.

Some of the ones I’ve known have gone into ministry, or onto the mission field. And that’s been so great to see. I’ve always told the worship band members that the most important thing is that they continue walking with God after the band’s done. And, for the most part, they have.

Students need loving adults to shepherd them. Maybe you? There’s nothing like it.

I miss them. And I’m so thankful.

Cerulean Sanctum

I am about to blogroll Cerulean Sanctum. I’ve been reading Dan for awhile and just recently realized I didn’t even have him on my blogroll.

He has some great things to say. For a taste, read this post: Tearing Down the Gallows. If only I could order my words as well as Dan does!

Increasingly the Christian blogosphere is being populated with bloggers outing heretics. I’ve blogged on this before (here, here, and here) and I’m not going to rehash old posts. What I want to discuss is something I hope all of us will consider whenever any of us takes on a pastor, speaker, preacher, ministry, or trend in the Church. I understand that there are people out there who are trying to corrupt the Gospel and that grieves me, but there are just as many people out there who are simply not understood by others and wind up bullied by well-meaning heresy hunters. Not only do godly men and women discern the difference, but act correctly when the worst is suspected.

That is what this post is about. I hope what follows edifies the Body and serves as a template for confronting others in the manner of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Read the rest of his post – it is good. In it Dan outlines seven rules we might learn to follow when engaged in defending the faith:

1. Remove the Log

2. Bear True Witness

3. Stifle Gossip

4. Confront the Wayward Personally

5. Practice the “Golden Rule”

6. Observe the Samaritan

7. Pray Psalm 51

If enough people heed this message we might see a much-needed return of balance, wisdom, and kindness in the Christian blogosphere.

Words are like evil spirits

If we put bits into the mouths of horses so that they obey us, we guide their whole bodies as well. Look at the ships also: though they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are guided by a very small rudder wherever the will of the pilot directs. So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things.

How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire! And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell. For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so. Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both fresh and salt water? Can a fig tree, my brothers, bear olives, or a grapevine produce figs? Neither can a salt pond yield fresh water.

James 3:3-12 (ESV)

I was reading some live journals tonight and came across one written by a student I know. He was spilling out his hurt, telling of how worthless and unloved he feels because of words that his father had spoken to him.

This thought came to my mind. Words are like evil spirits. They haunt forever.

Lord Jesus, may we all learn not to speak idle words that rip others to pieces. May we learn to respect the tongue, this restless evil full of deadly poison. May we be overcome by the holy fear of Your wrath when we curse those made in Your image!

And when we speak, may our words be used to heal a broken world that desperately needs the kindness of the Lord to shine through us.

Quiet recently

I’ve been quiet recently in this space. I do expect that to change soon. Maybe today.

I also have been working on version 0.15 of Bloo and, to use a technical term, I’m stoked. 🙂

And, in the midst of it all, I’m just very, very thankful to the Lord for all that He has given me. And all that He has taken away. I live a life of great blessing – the beauty of grace is that it makes life not fair. Thank God.

I’ll be back soon.


I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now. And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.

Philippians 1:3-6 (ESV)

Today was the last day that the student band I work with led worship. It was also my last day as a lay student minister. And it was a great day! I’m so thankful that God allowed me to do this ministry for so long, and I’m excited about the next steps He will take me on.

Below are some pictures from today (taken by my good friend Ashley).

I love you, 249 North Band! Thanks for a great year (and I’m going to really miss you).