Archive for the ‘Musings’ Category

One of my favorite things to say about wine is:

“Don’t be intimidated, remember wine is just agriculture”

It is simply the process of harvesting, preparing and bottling up the fruit of a farmer’s hard work, the soil of a particular location grapes of a specific plant. There is nothing magical or mysterious about it… which is probably why it is so magical and mysterious… it seems so simple

But I guess I have to concede that wine also has an arcane poetry in this understated alchemy. The bottling of the earth in which the plant grew, and the wind and air that rustled through its vines, the water which rained or flowed to the roots to nourish and develop berries basking ‘neath the fire of a distant glowing sun.

But remember: don’t be intimidated.

And here I stumble upon the tension that I experience. I want the simple explanation; to reduce everything down to a manageable pocket-sized nugget. But my heart is often far more significantly emboldened when I get lost in the terrifying wonder and intricate magnitude of what God wove and fashioned with the deceptively simple, spring-loaded…

“Let there be light”

…don’t be intimidated

And so I sit with a glass of wine, staring deep into the redness, wondering at what is wrought within.

It is not just something to be consumed, but to be experienced.

So I sit. I still myself. I swirl the wine.

The light reflects and shines through the redness, the tidal waves contained with a hemisphere of glass; a sea of colorful and flavorful organic compounds dancing and playing. Amid the tannins, the flavinoids, the esters and sugars I am reminded… “This is my blood that was poured out for many, for the forgiveness of sins… do this in remembrance of me.”

And in the stillness, I am confronted with the sobering truth: “Don’t be intimidated” is TERRIBLE counsel.

Because deeper than the agriculture, more mysterious than the alchemy, more beautiful than the refractive hue is the deeper truth, the fuller wonder and the realer realization. Within and without this glass, everything points to the beauty and terrible majesty of the body broken and blood split, to the good glory of God’s great gospel.

But, oh, how easy it is to overlook, and how quickly the cross is presented as a concept, a symbol, an icon; reduced to a manageable nugget. Because of this, I invite you to join me in observing lent starting on Wednesday. Lent? wait you were talking about wine, isn’t lent about depriving yourself? It isn’t about not eating chocolate, it is about being disciplined and approaching Easter with a desire to wonder. Join with me and take forty days to intentionally prepare, remove obstacles and to examine the cross in its fullness. (What is Lent?)

And the next time you pick up a glass of wine – be intimidated, it is much more than just agriculture.

This afternoon, after spending time thinking about bugs, I took a walk and was blown away about how much nature points to the glory of God.

Paul in his letter to the Romans wrote about nature and said:

For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.

There certainly are some days that I am oblivious to the awe due to the creator of such an amazing world. But some days, like today, I feel like the holy spirit opens my eyes and everything around me seems to radiate with worship and point to the awesome power and creativity of the God we serve.

I don’t mean to delight in bugs, or in nature as a whole, as an end. I mean to savor what God has made as a reminder of who He is.

So often I am going at 100 mph and I take it all for granted, it all seems so commonplace and ordinary.

Until I am reminded and shaken out of the stupor by great authors who look at nature and see that God is so, so, so, so much greater and glorious than we ever can imagine.

This is one of my favorite examples:

All the towering materialism which dominates the modern mind rests ultimately upon one assumption; a false assumption. It is supposed that if a thing goes on repeating itself it is probably dead; a piece of clockwork.

People feel that if the universe was personal it would vary; if the sun were alive it would dance.

This is a fallacy even in relation to known fact. For the variation in human affairs is generally brought into them, not by life, but by death; by the dying down or breaking off of their strength or desire. A man varies his movements because of some slight element of failure or fatigue. He gets into an omnibus because he is tired of walking; or he walks because he is tired of sitting still. But if his life and joy were so gigantic that he never tired of going to Islington, he might go to Islington as regularly as the Thames goes to Sheerness. The very speed and ecstasy of his life would have the stillness of death.

The sun rises every morning. I do not rise every morning; but the variation is due not to my activity, but to my inaction.

Now, to put the matter in a popular phrase, it might be true that the sun rises regularly because he never gets tired of rising. His routine might be due, not to a lifelessness, but to a rush of life.

The thing I mean can be seen, for instance, in children, when they find some game or joke that they specially enjoy. A child kicks his legs rhythmically through excess, not absence, of life. Because children have abounding vitality, because they are in spirit fierce and free, therefore they want things repeated and unchanged. They always say, “Do it again”; and the grown-up person does it again until he is nearly dead. For grown-up people are not strong enough to exult in monotony. But perhaps God is strong enough to exult in monotony.

It is possible that God says every morning, “Do it again” to the sun; and every evening, “Do it again” to the moon. It may not be automatic necessity that makes all daisies alike; it may be that God makes every daisy separately, but has never got tired of making them. It may be that He has the eternal appetite of infancy; for we have sinned and grown old, and our Father is younger than we. The repetition in Nature may not be a mere recurrence; it may be a theatrical ENCORE.

G.K. Chesterton

God, great Father and awesome Creator, may you help me to see more clearly, and worship you more constantly.

Continued Thoughts on Job

Over the past couple of weeks I have been preparing for a sermon on the book of Job. While I finally have a direction I am going with my sermon, this morning I was mulling over some of my thoughts and praying about what I’ve learned

Job is a tough book to get through, and for ages I thought the point/focus was that God blessed Job with twice as much stuff after he endured all of the trials. That he passed the test and was rewarded. I think many times in the past I have looked at this book and tended to see/believe the following is happening in this story:

Job = Good Man => God in Control = Blesses him with Stuff

Job = Good Man => Satan in Control = Attacks the Stuff

Job = Steadfast Good Man, who endured when “God not in Control” => God Blesses More

One of the main problems with this is that you have this paradigm of God and Satan constantly at odds when it comes to our circumstances. We can believe… if God is in control, our lives are good, when Satan is attacking, our lives are bad, but if we persist God will reward us with good.

As the first thing this should challenge is our theological view: that God and Satan are in a constant chaotic wrestling match, and our lives are randomly tossed to and fro depending on who is on the offensive. What this leads us to, is a “Happily Ever After” where we hope and pray that we can persevere long-enough for God to be “back in control,” and when that happens our lives can be blessed once again. NOT GOOD.

As I have been thinking about Job I think the following makes more sense:

God Desires Job to Know Him & Worship Him => God Blesses Job

Job is Blessed => Job is Drawn to Worship

Job is Blessed => Job Tempted to Worship Blessing and Not God

Satan Desires to Attack Job => ALWAYS Needs God’s Permission

God Desires Job to Know Him & Worship Him = Job Blessed by God, not things

God Blesses Job*=> Gives Satan Permission

Satan seeks to destroy => God is in control and uses it teach Job

God Desires Job to Know Him & Worship Him => *God Further Reveals Himself to Job

Job sees God more clearly => Job Responds in Deeper Love & Worship

God Desires Job to Know Him & Worship Him => God Blesses Job

The “Happily Ever After” isn’t God replacing the things that Job lost; he would have still mourned the loss of his children, nothing could ever actually replace them. The idea that more “stuff” would assuage his scars and pain is nearly laughable, especially with the prospect of losing them all again. So what does Job point to? At the end of all of the suffering and after God responds to Job’s cries, Job says, “My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you.” After years of worshiping and daily going to the temple, the “Happily Ever After is that Job is draw into a deeper relationship, knowing more fully how weak he is, and how magnificent and glorious is his God.

Let me put it in other words:

I heard once “Anyone who can imagine a heaven (Happily Ever After) that doesn’t include Jesus, and is okay with that, isn’t going to end up in Heaven.” For many of us the idea of Heaven is that we suffer through this life so that we can get all of the “stuff” we couldn’t have here. Similarly, it is so easy for us to see Job as a story of the things that he lost and the things that he gained in the end.  Both both of these stories, Job’s and our own is not focused around the things we acquire, but a story of the majesty and glory and sovereignty of God and how to put our hope in anything else is to compromise and settle for something far less than “Happily Ever After.”

There is a line from a book that I love, “Kingdom of Couches”:

I am neurotically introspective. I like coffee and conversations that last longer than they should.

I am not sure if that was the best way to start this post, but I am re-reading this book and it made me smile.

And I feel as though I could easily have said that about myself, unbeknownst to the plagarism. Ahh a kindred spirit at a coffee shop.

     And I write this becuase I am currently sitting at a coffee shop, working on a sermon of the book of Job.

          And I’m stuck.

Actually the problem isn’t not knowing what to preach on, its knowing what NOT to preach on. I currently have enough ideas and notes to preach a good eight or nine sermons, but I’m staring at an empty cup of coffee and praying about which of these options I should follow.

If you could be praying for me I would appreciate it. Until then enjoy a video on the joys of coffee (something I thank God for making… creating), and the challenge to stop and savor something that easily be overlooked as commonplace:

 

 

Wait for it… wait for it…

This is probably a strange thing to point out, but it seems like the trend for slow motion videos is to use music by the Icelandic band Sigur Rós.  The amazing thing is how effective they are at creating a mood that invites you to stop and reflect.

While I tease, here is another clip that shows the beauty and majesty of God through his creation.

Matthew Henry once wrote:

Every object we behold calls on us to bless and praise the Lord, who is great. His eternal power and Godhead are clearly shown by the things which he hath made. God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. The Lord Jesus, the Son of his love, is the Light of the world.

Last night I stopped and stared at the stars and was so amazed by the sheer magnitude of creation… and how breathtaking I forget it is.

I was talking to my roommate earlier in the day about how worship is more than the songs that we sing to open and close a service. While the music is certainly crafted to bring us into an awareness of the greatness of the God we serve, the heart of worship lies in our response not to the music, but to the nature of the goodness, and graciousness, and greatness and glory of God.

An author I have always loved reading put it this way:

It is delightful to worship God, but it is also a humbling thing; and the man who has not been humbled in the presence of God will never be a worshiper of God at all. He may be church member who keeps the rules and obeys the discipline, and who tithes and goes to conference, but he’ll never be a worshiper unless he is deeply humbled. ( AW Tozer, Worship: The Missing Jewel, 4,5).

To that end, to see in some small way the things wrought about through God saying: “Let there be…”, I thought I would put up a video of a single day of a single mountain in Iceland. Also part of Psalm 104.

Oh, that the eyes of my eyes would be opened, and the ears of my ears unstopped… that I would humbled and reminded by actually seeing more frequently and clearly the greatness and glory of God.

 You make springs gush forth in the valleys;
                          they flow between the hills;
       they give drink to every beast of the field;
                           the wild donkeys quench their thirst.
 Beside them the birds of the heavens dwell;
                             they sing among the branches.
        From your lofty abode you water the mountains;
                             the earth is satisfied with the fruit of your work.
  You cause the grass to grow for the livestock
                             and plants for man to cultivate,
        that he may bring forth food from the earth
                             and wine to gladden the heart of man,
 oil to make his face shine
                             and bread to strengthen man’s heart.
         The trees of the LORD are watered abundantly,
                             the cedars of Lebanon that he planted.
 In them the birds build their nests;
                             the stork has her home in the fir trees.
        The high mountains are for the wild goats;
                             the rocks are a refuge for the rock badgers.
(Psalm 104:10-18 ESV)