Unbridled

Jon Acuff:

God doesn’t give us solutions, he gives us a savior.

A lot of the time, I wish it was the other way around. To be honest with you, sometimes a solution feels more manageable. I can control and understand a solution. I can bend and tweak a formula to my own needs. Christ on the other hand, our savior, isn’t like that at all.

He’s messy. And counterintuitive and uncontrollable. Grace and mercy are two of the most puzzling things on the planet. They’re raw and unbridled and out of control and intertwined with love we can’t possibly understand or earn.

On the narrow path

Tony Woodlief:

I remind him to watch the cars, to look the drivers in the eye and make sure they see him. His brothers and I sit in the minivan while he goes to the curb and waits for a chance to walk out to the girl. Finally a car stops to let him pass. The girl’s face is turned down; she sees nothing but the ground. I watch my son’s narrow shoulders as he crosses the drive, and I am praying that no harm will come to him, not now or ever, that someone who is this loving will be spared the pain of the world, which is when I remember that it is Christmas, the time when we celebrate precisely the opposite, the coming of pure love to suffer for all we who sit with faces turned down, not even knowing what to ask for, knowing only in our crusted-over hearts that anything will help.

Dangerous wine

Frederick Buechner, Wishful Thinking: A Seeker’s ABC:

Unfermented grape juice is a bland and pleasant drink, especially on a warm afternoon mixed half-and-half with ginger ale. It is a ghastly symbol of the life blood of Jesus Christ, especially when served in individual antiseptic, thimble-sized glasses.

Wine is booze, which means it is dangerous and drunk-making. It makes the timid brave and the reserved amorous. It loosens the tongue and breaks the ice, especially when served in a loving cup. It kills germs. As symbols go, it is a rather splendid one.
[Totally ripped off from Michael Hyatt.]

It’s Time To See Religion Die

Brian “Head” Welch, Save Me From Myself:

All of the man-made religion crap in this world has to die. Whether it’s Christian man-made religion crap or some other man-made religion crap, it all has to die. It must grieve God’s heart when he sees Christians fighting about whose doctrine is right; he doesn’t see denominations, he sees one big glorious bride. When Christians argue about doctrinal issues, all he sees is carnal people acting like children. All that prideful, controlling religious crap is what drives young people away from churches, and it has to go. Much of the world’s population is under the age of eighteen, and we have to bring the love of Christ to them without all this controlling crap going on. Because, where the spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.”

Burning them up

The Prodigal Jon:

Forgiveness is the thing I ask for the most. In my head maybe I know that God’s forgiveness is eternal and inexhaustible but in my heart I feel like he’s going to run out of them. That he’s got a limited supply. And I’m burning them up, one by one, sin by sin.
Boy, have I felt this way, too.
(Yes, I know the blog post is over a year old, but I just put the feed into my RSS reader and am reading the old entries still in the feed.)

The boy hearts books.

Tony Woodlief (yes, again):

Isaiah loves books. He loves to read them, loves it when people read them to him, loves to hit his brother Isaac upside the head with them. The boy hearts books. I hope he never stops loving them, even as the world around him transitions into a post-modern funk of hyper-links and text messages and overstimulating audio-visual mind sludge. Then one day he can visit me wherever he and his brothers have finally put me out to pasture, and maybe read to me there.
Davis is getting to this point, too. At times he will decide that he’s had enough playing with his Star Wars Galactic Heroes™ figures, or pretending to duel a dragon, or building with Lincoln Logs™ or LEGO™ pieces, and he’ll plop down in the play room and “read”.
My parents instilled a deep love of reading in my sister and I when we were growing up. Weekly visits to the local library (which was about as big as the downstairs area of our current home, minus the garage) were the norm. While we’re not going weekly, Kelly and I have both taken Davis to our local library (which is larger than the downstairs area of our house, including the garage), and he loves it.
Davis will often ask for a second or even third book to be read before going to bed, although I suspect this is as much about staying up as late as possible as it is about loving books.
I’d hoped to pass on this love of reading to both our boys, and so far, it’s looking pretty good.

Past the words

Tony Woodlief:

I spent a good portion of my time in a small chapel, learning prayers that preceded the Roman Catholic Church. I came with a great weight on my bones, a weight that overwhelmed me in that tiny chapel. I fell to my knees there, and prayed with quivering shoulders and trembling hands, done in by grief over the past, fear of the future, the knowing that this present ground is sand, that my feet must soon move forward or backward. Each way bears a cost; one of the great lies of men is that the path can be traveled without suffering. Another great lie is that we can stand still and read books and let our paltry knowledge carry us into the arms of God. We have to walk, with heavy, stumbling feet.

[…]

It’s easy to see why so many of us — Christians and pagans alike — spend lifetimes running from the living God, our hands stopping our ears, our mouths babbling prayers or blasphemies, all in an effort to avoid the great silence where God speaks to man. That silence is a fearful place, but there is love there, the great love of a parent. There is mercy too, and strength for the uncompleted race.

Losing that first tooth

Davis shows off his new grin.
“Mind the gap.”

Davis showing his new grin and the tooth he lost.
Davis has lost his first tooth! It came from the middle bottom, and was kind of a surprise, especially for Mom!
Thankfully, the tooth wasn’t lost, though for a little while, we thought it might be. It had fallen out during dinner, and was still in the dinette, sitting on Davis’s chair. We cleaned it up, and Mom helped him ready it for the Tooth Fairy that evening.

Brothers at War

This looks good.

Brothers at War is an intimate portrait of an American family during a turbulent time. Jake Rademacher sets out to understand the experience, sacrifice, and motivation of his two brothers serving in Iraq. The film follows Jake’s exploits as he risks everything–including his life–to tell his brothers’ story.
“Often humorous, but sometimes downright lethal, Brothers at War is a remarkable journey where Jake embeds with four combat units in Iraq. Unprecedented access to US and Iraqi combat units take him behind the camouflage curtain with secret reconnaissance troops on the Syrian border, into sniper ‘hide sites’ in the Sunni Triangle, through raging machine gun battles with the Iraqi Army.
“Ultimately, the film follows his brothers home where separations and life-threatening work ripple through their parents, siblings, wives, and children. Brothers at War is a rare look at the bonds and service of our soldiers on the frontlines and the profound effects their service has on the loved ones they leave behind. For more information please visit – www.brothersatwarmovie.com.”
The film is executive produced by Gary Sinise (CSI: New York, “Lt. Dan” in Forrest Gump), who said, “The media took the 15 people of Abu Ghraib and made them the face of the military. This [movie] is a true portrait of our military and their families.”

“Do not lean on your own understanding”

Andrée Seu, “Alice’s battle“:

You have never seen a struggle like Alice’s struggle against joy. The doubting Narnian dwarfs were preemptively miserable, and so is Alice. The girlfriends’ counsel of lowered expectations mounts a new offensive in her mind. (There is no force so powerful as error in a godly person’s mouth.) But just as Alice starts to sink again, the Spirit counters with this coup de grace:

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding” (Proverbs 3:5).

Alice perceives in a hot instant that this is not only where the present battle is joined, but where every battle is joined—against the counsel of one’s saintliest friend, against the received wisdom of one’s generation, against the carnal instinct to protect oneself. There are only ever these two—the Word of the Lord; your own understanding.

It dawns on Alice that at any given moment of the day she has a choice of which thoughts she may entertain—those of her friends and “her own understanding,” or the word of the Lord. All that is not the latter is the former, no matter how sweetly wrapped.