Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Eye of the Beholder

Yes, the video below is an advertisement and slightly manipulative. Yes, the Western ideal of what is beautiful has no basis in reality. Yes, we generally need to stop putting so much time and thought and concern into how other people see us...

But in THIS case, it would be good to pay a little more attention to what others think, and a little less attention to our own mostly-negative inner monologue.

Truth is...if we could see ourselves through the eyes of someone else, we just might walk away with a bit more spring in our step.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Leader of the Band

Dan Fogelberg's song, "Leader of the Band," made it to Number One on the Adult Contemporary charts in March of 1982, and is on my personal short-list of songs that I will always turn up and listen to if I stumble across it on the radio.

It was written and sung as a tribute to Fogelberg's father, and is certainly not meant to be a spiritual analogy of any sort...but the feeling of the music and certain phrases in the lyric speak to my heart of something far deeper than flesh and blood.

"...a cabinet maker's son, his hands were meant for different work and his heart was known to none."

"He left his own and went his lone and solitary way. And he gave to me a gift I know I never can repay."

"...a thundering velvet hand. His gentle means of sculpting souls took me years to understand."

"I thank you for the kindness, and the times when you got tough. And, Papa, I don't think I said 'I love you' near enough."

"His blood runs through my instrument and his song is in my soul. My life has been a poor attempt to imitate the man..."

Truth is...I am a living legacy to the Leader of the Band.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Prosifying "Amazing Grace"

Amazing Grace, written by ex slave trader, John Newton, has been sung in churches, at funerals, and on movie soundtracks...performed by choirs, folk singers, and bagpipes...but perhaps we could use the help of some prosifying (turning poetry into prose) to remind us of what the pretty melody and rhythmic lyric are saying.

Just the sound of the word "grace" is sweetly amazing to me, because it is the free, unmerited goodness of God's grace that saved me, even though I was one of the world's most wretched individuals. Grace has thoroughly changed me: found me when I was lost; gave me insight and knowledge when I was blindly clueless.

It was God's grace that taught me to fear God's wrath, but it was that same grace that soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread. From the very first moment I believed, grace has been a precious treasure.

I've been through many things in my life: danger, hard work, temptations meant to entrap me, etc. God has been gracious enough to get me through it all so far, and He'll keep on guiding me until I reach my heavenly home.

The Bible assures me the Lord will cause all things to work together for good; that He will protect me and provide for me as long as I'm alive.

And when I stop living - when my body gives up and my heart gives out - I will forever experience a life of joy and peace in the very presence of God!

And I MEAN forever! We will have been there ten thousand years, shining like the stars in the heavens, and it will be like we had just arrived.

*  *  *  *  *  *  *

Truth is...amazing!

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

From Brennan Manning's "Lion and Lamb"

While searching my bookshelves for works to place on the Dewey's Gently Read Books Facebook page, I became reacquainted with a book by one of my favorite authors, Brennan Manning, LION AND LAMB: The Relentless Tenderness of Jesus.

I have no intention of selling the book at this time, but I am more than happy to share some of the passages I had highlighted during my initial read...

Religion is not a matter of learning how to think about God, but of actually encountering Him. (p.13)

[God] loves the loveless, the unloving, the unlovable. He does not detect what is congenial, appealing, attractive, and respond to it with His favor. In fact, He does not respond at all. The Father of Jesus is a source. He acts; He does not react. He initiates love. He is love without motive. (p.20, quoting James Burtschaell)

Christianity was no longer simply a moral code but a love affair; the thrill, the excitement, the incredible, passionate joy of being loved and falling in love with Jesus Christ. (p.34)

If God tears up your beautiful game plan and leads you into a valley instead of onto a mountaintop, it is because He wants you to discover His plan, which is more beautiful than anything you or I could have dreamed up. The response of trust is "Thank You, Jesus," even if it is said through clenched teeth. (p.58)

If you love yourself intensely and freely, then your feelings about yourself correspond perfectly to the sentiments of Jesus. (p.132)

Truth is...that last quote may be both the hardest and the most important one to experience.