The Sense Of Direction Of A Headless Chicken

I trust my GPS implicitly, even over my own senses, because I have the sense of direction of a headless chicken.

But recently I followed my Garmin’s British accent right into the heart of Washington, D.C. on a Friday at rush hour, rather than taking the bypass around the city, adding 2 hours to my trip.? My Garmin always takes me on the most direct route, even if it requires that I drive for miles in stop and go traffic.? I guess I shouldn’t always trust it implicitly.

But when it comes to trusting God, that’s different:

I am determined that if all my senses contradict God, I would rather deny every one of them than believe that God could lie. ?-Spurgeon

This is the good fight of faith. ?To fight to trust God?s word rather than our senses, our own interpretation of events, or the lies of the devil. ?What else do we have to hold to but God?s word? ?As Peter said, ?Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.? (John 6:68).

Our eyes say, ?I don?t see God working in my child.?? Our emotions scream, ?I can?t feel God in my loneliness.?? Our minds cry out, ?I can?t see how God can be good in this situation.? ?But God?s word remains true, unchanging, and trustworthy, because God is true, unchanging and trustworthy. ?He doesn?t change his mind, revise his plans or come up with a better way.? He keeps his promises.

So who or what are you going to believe – God, who cannot lie, or your finite senses that are as reliable as a headless chicken?

Flavorless, Edgeless, Passionless

You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet. (Matthew 5:13)

If salt loses its flavor, it can’t be made salty again.

If a knife loses its edge, it takes hard work to make it sharp again.

If a Christian loses his passion for God, it’s very difficult to restore that fire.

We need to be wary of anything that blunts or dulls or dampens our passion for God. It’s much easier to lose our passion for God than to restore it.

And The Bride Wore Cowboy Boots

Saturday I participated in an amazing wedding.

I knew it was going to be different when the bridesmaids and bride came in wearing cowboy boots. ?But I knew the wedding would be wonderful long before Saturday, because the couple is an amazing couple.

I?ve known the groom, Ian Murphy, since he was born. ?Our families lived next door to each other, and as kids, Ian and my son David were best friends (when they didn’t bug the heck out of each other).

In 2006, Ian suffered a serious head injury in a car accident. Doctors said he wouldn?t live, but God said he would, and Ian has persevered through years of treatment and therapy and made slow but steady progress to this day. His best friend, Larissa, also persevered, staying by his side from the day of the accident until now.? (Check out their amazing blog).

They chose August 28 for their wedding because it was Ian?s father Steve?s birthday.? Steve went to be with the Lord last fall after an 8-week battle with cancer.? Steve always supported them, encouraging them toward marriage, exhorting them that whatever decision they made, to make it in faith, trusting God to be faithful.

So on Saturday, Ian rose from his chair, with the help of best man David, and his brother Ben, to gaze upon his bride as her father walked her through the meadow and up the aisle in her cowboy boots to begin their new life together.

Ian and Larissa asked me to include this John Piper quote in my message:

Marriage is not mainly about prospering economically; it is mainly about displaying the covenant-keeping love between Christ and his church. Knowing Christ is more important than making a living. Treasuring Christ is more important than bearing children. Being united to Christ by faith is a greater source of material success than perfect sex and double-income prosperity.

So it is with marriage. It is a momentary gift. It may last a lifetime, or it may be snatched away on the honeymoon. Either way, it is short. It may have many bright days, or it may be covered with clouds. If we make secondary things primary, we will be embittered at the sorrows we must face. But if we set our face to make of marriage mainly what God designed it to be, no sorrows and no calamities can stand in our way. Every one of them will be, not an obstacle to success, but a way to succeed. The beauty of the covenant-keeping love between Christ and his church shines brightest when nothing but Christ can sustain it.

Ian and Larissa have displayed Christ’s unconditional, covenant-keeping love to a watching world for the last 4 years, remaining devoted to one another through suffering that I can?t relate to.

What a joy it was for me to lead the couple in the vows they wrote. ?There weren?t many dry eyes in the house – I mean field – as they pledged love and faithfulness to each other.

And what a celebration took place afterward. ?From the father-daughter swing dance to the glowing hot air balloons that soared into the purple night sky, to Ian and Larissa surrounded on the dance floor with friends singing along with ?Play that Funky Music White Boy? it was a night I?ll never forget.

photo by Lydia Jane Photography

Introducing Pastoral Trading Cards

In the age of megachurch pastors, there’s only one thing missing: pastoral trading cards. Which is why it gives me great pleasure to introduce the first ever pastoral trading card set. In addition to having cards of their favorite athletes, kids can now have cards of their favorite pastor. I’ve included some samples to whet your appetite.

The John Piper Rookie “Necklace” Card

This card is the rarest and most valuable of all the pastoral trading cards. This card shows Dr. Piper just before he became a pastor, and is the only known photograph of Dr. Piper wearing a piece of jewelry other than a wedding ring.

The Mark Driscoll “Punchout” Card

Everyone knows that Mark Driscoll is a big fan of UFC, and the Mark Driscoll “Punchout” card shows Mark demonstrating his favorite UFC move, “The Holy Hammer”, on Dr. Piper. Experts are valuing this card at approximately 12 strips of bacon, which Mark Driscoll also loves.

The Mahaney/McArthur “Together for the Basket” Card

This card has collectors drooling. It clearly depicts C.J. Mahaney and John McArthur playing basketball together. C.J. often talks about sports from the pulpit, but this is the only known photograph of him actually doing it, and some experts have actually wondered whether he might have been photoshopped in by his wily assistant, Tony “Tractor Trailer” Reinke.

The Mark Dever “Karate” Card

This action packed card portrays Dr. Dever just before he karate chopped the ESV Study Bible (a stunt no one had successfully done up to that point).

Look for this gorgeous set of cards to be in the stores soon.

What cards would add to the set?

Shocking Generosity

God?s generosity is shocking, stunning, and so unexpected we can even be offended by it.

In the parable of the laborers in the vineyard, some of the workers were offended and grumbled that the master paid those who worked an hour the same amount as those who worked all day. ?They were offended because they didn?t understand the Master?s astounding generosity.

But he replied to one of them, ?Friend, I am doing you no wrong. Did you not agree with me for a denarius? Take what belongs to you and go. I choose to give to this last worker as I give to you. Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or do you begrudge my generosity?? (Matthew 20:13-15)

The last sentence is the key: ?Do you begrudge my generosity?? ?Sometimes I begrudge God?s generosity, and envy the blessings of others. ?When I see others blessed, rather than being jealous, I should think, ?What a generous God! ?His generosity is amazing, unpredictable, wonderful.? How generous he’s been to me.”

How lavishly he blesses his children – he gives us himself, his Son, his Spirit, his Word, his love, his kingdom, eternal life and an inheritance stored up in heaven.

Let?s praise our generous Father and bring our requests to him who does far beyond anything we can think, ask or imagine.

photo by douglas.earl

When You Can Do Nothing Else, Cling

Charis, my granddaughter (almost 3) clung to Stephen, her dad, with all her might.

She was terrified of the ocean waves that lapped around my son’s feet. ?Later in the week she ran, splashed and laughed in those half inch waves. ?But on that day, the first morning of our vacation at the beach last week, she was clinging to her daddy for dear life.

The same week I read the following quote by Charles Spurgeon:

God gives to His people the propensity to cling. Though this is a very simple sort of faith, it is a very complete and effectual form of it. In fact, it is the heart of all faith, and that to which we are often driven when we are in deep trouble or when our mind is somewhat bemuddled by sickness or depression in spirit. We can cling when we can do nothing else, and that is the very soul of faith. ?Always cling to what you know.

Charis clung to her daddy for dear life. ?But more importantly, underneath her were the strong, sure arms of her father. ?It wasn?t so much Charis who clung to her daddy, but her daddy who held his little girl in his loving arms. ?That?s how it is when we cling to our heavenly Father. ?We cling to him with all the faith we can muster, but underneath are the everlasting arms.

Are you in trouble? ?Depressed? ?Sick? ?Cling to your loving Father. ?He?ll never let you go.

photo by bubba altrogge (hey, that’s what Charis named me)

Songwriting Tip: Use Another Song’s Structure

Occasionally I begin writing a song by copying the structure of another song.

Every song has a lyrical structure.? By structure I mean the number of syllables in each line, the lines that rhyme, etc.

Observe the structure of “Mary Had a Little Lamb”:

Mary had a little lamb (7 syllables)
Whose fleece was white as snow (6 syllables)
Everywhere that Mary went (7 syllables)
The lamb was sure to go (6 syllables)

Syllables in lines 1 and 3 match; 2 and 4 match.? Lines 3 & 4 repeat the structure of lines 1 & 2.? Lines 2 and 4 rhyme.

When I wrote “Glorious” on the Sovereign Grace album, “Come Weary Saints,” I used the structure of the hymn “How Great Thou Art.”? Compare the structure of the two verses below and you will see that you could sing the melody of “How Great Thou Art” to “Glorious.”

Verse 1 – “How Great Thou Art”:

O Lord my God,
When I in awesome wonder
Consider all
The works Thy Hand hath made,
I see the stars,
I hear the mighty thunder,
Thy pow’r throughout
The universe displayed

Verse 1 – “Glorious”:

How great You are
Your greatness none can fathom
Upholding all
By Your almighty Word
The universe
Fulfills Your every purpose
And all You?ve made
Will bring You praise, O God

Obviously, I changed the melody, speed, and the feel to make my song completely different.? If I hadn’t told you, you’d probably never suspect what I did.? (This will be our little secret, ok?).? Like Albert Einstein said: ?The secret to creativity is knowing how to hide your sources.?

Try this and see if it works for you.

photo by eskedal

Why Is This Happening To Me?

Have you ever asked, “Why is this happening to me?”

Paul could have asked that question after being beaten by an angry mob in Jerusalem, arrested by a Roman tribune and thrown in jail.

But the tribune hears about a plot to kill Paul, and gives him a full military escort and sends him on his way to Rome to stand before Caesar.? If Paul had come to Rome as a missionary, he never would have made it past Caesar’s front gate.? But God’s plan was to use the Romans themselves to deliver Paul to Caesar’s court.

?It is one of the mysteries of God and his plan that many times we cannot see why things are happening as they are. ?Yet God is surely at work in ways we could not have planned for ourselves.? – Darrell Bock

Remember, God has plans higher and better than anything we could ever imagine.? If we keep trusting him someday we’ll see the wisdom of his providence.

photo by xerezh