Weak, and needing deliverance

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses . . . – Hebrews 4:15a

Today my own weakness and inability to fix what ails me and those around me is at the forefront of my mind. I need deliverance and the hope of the Savior.

I always need His rescue. Always have. It’s just that I don’t always realize it.

Today I do.

Below is the final portion of the iMonk’s latest Advent post. I’m formatting it below like the poetry that it is (and, of course, you should go read the whole thing).

The Mood of Advent: We All Need A Savior

When the day dawns

let us all receive him

We go to the manger and worship

We give to him our gifts

We take his light to the poor

Until then, we are the poor

the weak

the blind

the lonely

the guilty

and the desperate

We light candles

because we who are in darkness

are in need

of a great light

We need a savior

So we wait amidst the ruins

we protect the lights we hold

in hope

We sing to one who is coming

We look and wonder

We pray for his star to take us

once again

to the miracle

Come, Lord Jesus.

Gain your brother

15 “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother.

– Matthew 18:15

This is such great wisdom from our Lord.

Yet it’s hard wisdom. It’s so much easier to go to the sympathetic ear and knowing nod of a compassionate (and biased in your direction) friend then to go to the one who has offended you.

But look at the payoff of the more difficult route! “You have gained your brother”, and pleased the Lord as well!

There is so much destruction hatched in whispered conversations in hallways, in vent-sessions over coffee, in partially-veiled blog posts, in the flaming “press-send-before-I-change-my-mind” email. And there is so much resentment and bitterness brewing (a bitter stew that!) in the hearts of those of us who have gone the other way and left all the necessary words unsaid.

Go to your brother. Be reconciled. Gain each other! This is the wisdom of our Lord, and it is very good.

“Having resentment is like taking poison and waiting for the other person to die” — Malachy McCourt

(thanks to the Anchoress for this quote).

Did you know . . .

. . . that to replace the battery on a Chrysler Sebring*, you have to remove the wheel and the wheel-well cover.

That was some fun, today, I’ll tell ya what.

* The Sebring is the car Michael drives on The Office. It’s a convertible for people who can’t afford convertibles. It was my present to my better half on her last significant decade-crossing birthday.

And the battery is located in the wheel-well, just so ya know . . .

His grace is sufficient

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

– 2 Corinthians 12:9

I’m not sure I can articulate what I’m trying to say here (now there’s a surprise! . . . oh wait . . . ), and thus the fewer words the better:

The iMonk linked to another brother’s confessional (may not be the right word) post about his use of anti-depressants. This is an interesting, thought-provoking, and sometimes heart-wrenching topic, especially if you have experienced depression among family members, or in your own life.

The question the brother asks is “Is Jesus enough?” The comments thread has been full of grace, and that’s so refreshing. But it got me wondering. Is “Jesus is enough” a Biblical thought?

Wait, don’t go away. Let me explain. I mean, of course we know that Christ is our all-sufficient Savior. But have you ever known anyone who truly needed nothing else but Jesus? In other words, no food, water, clothing, shelter, medicine, etc.

I’m not trying to be hyperbolic here. But when we say “Jesus is enough”, what do we mean? Do we mean that we currently need nothing else? If you say that, do you live that way? Is it wrong to have other needs?

Did anyone in the Bible ever say “Jesus is enough”? And here I am asking a genuine question. There may be a time when someone said that. But as I begin thinking through this, I begin wondering if that’s really a Biblical statement.

What Paul said (or rather what God said to Paul) was that God’s grace is sufficient. When we say (or sometimes even sing) “Jesus is enough”, it almost seems that what we’re saying is that we need nothing else, and any material, family, or emotional blessing here on earth is superfluous and somehow unnecessary.

And, on a more cynical note, “Jesus is enough” dances closely to what I call “brag worship”. In this I lump all those songs we sing about how much we love God, how we would run for a thousand years to be closer to Him, how He is all we need and every breath that we breathe is for Him.

Do you see the difference in focus between “Jesus is all I need” and “His grace is sufficient”?

I like “His grace is sufficient” more as a Biblical statement of our dependence on Jesus. Grace works in every aspect of our lives, through the material, familial, emotional, spiritual . . . God’s grace invades the air we breathe and the roads we walk, and it is there in our good times, in our bad times, in the times when we are full and overflowing, and in the times when we are desperately needy for a smile, a listening ear, a meal, a bath, some joy, a friend, money for the rent, a laugh, a cry, some fun, a light in the darkness, some deep thought, a good book, a good word.

I don’t know if I can honestly say “Jesus is enough”, because I’m not even sure I know what that means, and I certainly don’t think I live that way. Jesus is my Savior, without him I am nothing, but with him I can live in the grace that he has given me, abundantly and without measure, enjoying and needing and growing and striving and alive in him.

His grace is sufficient.

I hope this made some sense. Feel free to offer any correction on this thought in the comments section.

Changes to the bloogroll

I did some reorganization and cleaning-up of my bloogroll tonight.

A few notes: First, I removed a lot of blogs from it. If you are one of my three readers and if I removed your blog, I want to assure you that it’s not because your blog isn’t great. I removed some exceptional blogs. I can’t articulate the reason very well (heeeey, now that’s new! Just kidding 🙂 but it has nothing to do, I assure you, with the quality of your blog. All of the blogs in my bloogroll were top-notch, in my opinion.

It probably just has to do with a deep need I have these days to simplify. And to tone down the volume a bit. There are plenty of well-written, intelligent, thought-provoking, necessary things being said these days on the blogosphere, but I can only handle so much. I’ve been on a virtual blog-fast for the past month or two, other than a few blogs that I kept reading (the ones in the “Must-reads” category). I don’t want to step too quickly back into the firehose.

Check out the new Bloo logo

As I work toward the first full, bona-fide production release of Bloo (no more beta!), I’ve felt the need for a new and far better logo. Check this out:

Many thanks to farooquebiplit of GetACoder.com for graciously doing this logo for almost nothing. It’s like he read my mind, because this is exactly the kind of thing I was looking for. He got it on the first try. Suhweet!

And many thanks to Thunder Geek for hipping me to GetACoder.

Watch me for the changes . . .

Ninety-nine and one

What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go in search of the one that went astray? And if he finds it, truly, I say to you, he rejoices over it more than over the ninety-nine that never went astray. So it is not the will of my Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish.

Matthew 18:12-14

I’ve been thinking of the ninety-nine and the one recently. I think I’m surrounded by “ones”.

“One” in this passage refers to a metaphoric lost sheep, but I realize that when we talk about what that refers to — namely people who have left the fellowship of God — it doesn’t necessarily mean they are physically alone. They are often surrounded by others. They’re around people all the time, flanked by thousands of other college students on their campuses, driving on highways filled with hundreds and thousands of cars, displayed on facebooks and myspaces and whatnot, with links to hundreds of “friends”. Jacked-in, hooked-up, on-line, instant-messaged, blogging, chatting, texting . . . yet still alone, still floundering, still lost. I know a lot of college students who I suspect are here, and have talked to a couple of them recently. They are, for whatever reason, “away”. And though they may not be able to put their finger on it, they are waiting; waiting for someone to cut through the noise and alienation of modern life and to reach out to them with the love, the firmness, the solidity, the reality of the Lord. They are waiting to be convinced of his love again, to be convicted of their sin again, to not just feel, but to know his presence that transcends feelings and emotions; to possess a knowledge that, in fact, can thrive quite well in the absence of such sensations, free and clear.

They are waiting for a new heartbeat and life in the blood and a cleansing wash and forgiveness and purpose and truth and solid rock underneath their feet.

We need to go get them. I don’t know any way to do that other than one at a time.

The wrath of God

. . . but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.

– Matthew 18:6

As I read the gospels, I continue finding new reminders of why Jesus is so deserving of our love and devotion.

Words are failing me at the moment . . . but reading the passage above reminds me of two things. First, Jesus loves us. He loves the “little ones” that the world despises.

Second, God’s wrath is a good thing. May we understand it, and fear it in love. It is in this that we gain wisdom.