Great Lines

As you probably know by know (if you’ve been keeping up with my posts over the years) is that I am a sucker for a great line, whether from a book or a movie or a song. I have been known actually to get chills from a great quote delivered at just the perfect time.

One such line that got me tonight goes like this: “I am a part of all that I have met.” It’s from Ulysses, a blank verse poem by Alfred Lord Tennyson.

For me, the reverse is just as true. All that I have met is now a part of me. All the people who’ve crossed my path and touched my soul are now in me in some form. I’ve learned a lot of little things– how to be kinder, how to live in the moment, how to be completely and unabashedly yourself– and incorporated them into who I am becoming.

Every experience, every conversation, every moment has played a part in shaping the present version of me. None of us have arrived at that place where we no longer need to learn or grow. There’s always room for improvement.

Still, the beautiful part of the life of community and faith is that we get to learn and grow together. We learn from each other’s failures and well as successes. We laugh and cry with each other. We spur each other on to keep going whenever one of us feels like quitting.

Yeah, the movie was great, too. I’d seen it before, but as I mentioned yesterday, I was able to enjoy the scenery a lot more when I knew that everything was truly going to be fine in the end.

My prayer for you and me is that we live not just for ourselves, but in such a way that makes people better and makes them not want so much to be like us but rather be like Jesus.

I think that covers everything I wanted to say tonight.

 

A Couple of Good Reminders for the Upcoming Week

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“Even as the angry vengeful thoughts boiled through me, I saw the sin of them. Jesus Christ had died for this man; was I going to ask for more? Lord Jesus, I prayed, forgive me and help me to forgive him….Jesus, I cannot forgive him. Give me your forgiveness….And so I discovered that it is not on our forgiveness any more than on our goodness that the world’s healing hinges, but on His. When He tells us to love our enemies, He gives along with the command, the love itself”  (Corrie ten Boom, The Hiding Place). 

“Life is but a Weaving” (the Tapestry Poem)

“My life is but a weaving
Between my God and me.
I cannot choose the colors
He weaveth steadily.

Oft’ times He weaveth sorrow;
And I in foolish pride
Forget He sees the upper
And I the underside.

Not ’til the loom is silent
And the shuttles cease to fly
Will God unroll the canvas
And reveal the reason why.

The dark threads are as needful
In the weaver’s skillful hand
As the threads of gold and silver
In the pattern He has planned

He knows, He loves, He cares;
Nothing this truth can dim.
He gives the very best to those
Who leave the choice to Him.” (Corrie ten Boom).

Amy, Amy, Amy

“And shall I pray Thee change Thy will, my Father,
Until it be according unto mine?
But, no, Lord, no, that never shall be, rather
I pray Thee blend my human will with Thine.

I pray Thee hush the hurrying, eager longing,
I pray Thee soothe the pangs of keen desire—
See in my quiet places, wishes thronging—
Forbid them, Lord, purge, though it be with fire.”
Amy Carmichael

“He hath never failed thee yet.
Never will His love forget.
O fret not thyself nor let
Thy heart be troubled,
Neither let it be afraid.”
Amy Carmichael

“I wish thy way.
And when in me myself should rise,
and long for something otherwise,
Then Lord, take sword and spear
And slay.”
Amy Carmichael

“Thou art the Lord who slept upon the pillow,
Thou art the Lord who soothed the furious sea,
What matters beating wind and tossing billow
If only we are in the boat with Thee?

Hold us quiet through the age-long minute
While Thou art silent and the wind is shrill :
Can the boat sink while Thou, dear Lord, are in it;
Can the heart faint that waiteth on Thy will?”
Amy Carmichael

These are just a few of the reasons why I love Amy Carmichael, who spent over half a century as a missionary in India rescuing young girls from temple prostitution. She was one of the first to fight against sex trafficking, long before the term existed.

She was of an old school faith that I think we need more of in this day and age. She never minced words and never compromised her convictions to curry favor with those she sought to reach with the message of the Cross.

I’m not saying she was a perfect saint (in the sense that most of us think of the word), but she was a saint in the sense that she was someone who had experienced the goodness of God.

I love this quote attributed to her. I think it sums up perfectly what love in the truest sense means: “You can give without loving, but you cannot love without giving.”

I Love Me a Good Quote

I love a good quote. I love the way someone can express a thought so succinctly. Better yet, I love how someone can take what I’ve been trying to say and state it in a way better than I ever could.

Here is a small sample of some of the quotes that I’ve run across recently that have impacted me.

“To clasp the hands in prayer is the beginning of an uprising against the disorder of the world” (Karl Barth).

“Let your religion be less of a theory and more of a love affair” (G. K. Chesterton).

“Failure is unimportant. It takes courage to make a fool of yourself” (Charlie Chaplin).

“Religion is what you are left with after the Holy Spirit has left the building” (Bono).

“See, I return good for evil, love for injuries, and for deeper wounds a deeper love” (Father Peter Chrysologus).

“Kind words do not cost much. Yet they accomplish much” (Blaise Pascal)

“The discipline of gratitude is the explicit effort to acknowledge that all I am and have is given to me as a gift of love, a gift to be celebrated with joy” (Henri Nouwen).

“The greatest single cause of atheism in the world today is Christians: who acknowledge Jesus with their lips, walk out the door, and deny Him by their lifestyle. That is what an unbelieving world simply finds unbelievable” (Brennan Manning).

“Do not meddle in the affairs of dragons, for you are crunchy and taste good with ketchup” (Someone Wise).

“I want neither a terrorist spirituality that keeps me in a perpetual state of fright about being in right relationship with my heavenly Father nor a sappy spirituality that portrays God as such a benign teddy bear that there is no aberrant behavior or desire of mine that he will not condone. I want a relationship with the Abba of Jesus, who is infinitely compassionate with my brokenness and at the same time an awesome, incomprehensible, and unwieldy Mystery” (Brennan Manning).

Quotes I Love Part One

I think this says it all.

“WE CAN SAY THAT the story of the Resurrection means simply that the teachings of Jesus are immortal like the plays of Shakespeare or the music of Beethoven and that their wisdom and truth will live on forever. Or we can say that the Resurrection means that the spirit of Jesus is undying, that he himself lives on among us, the way that Socrates does, for instance, in the good that he left behind him, in the lives of all who follow his great example. Or we can say that the language in which the Gospels describe the Resurrection of Jesus is the language of poetry and that, as such, it is not to be taken literally but as pointing to a truth more profound than the literal.

Very often, I think, this is the way that the Bible is written, and I would point to some of the stories about the birth of Jesus, for instance, as examples; but in the case of the Resurrection, this simply does not apply because there really is no story about the Resurrection in the New Testament. Except in the most fragmentary way, it is not described at all. There is no poetry about it. Instead, it is simply proclaimed as a fact. Christ is risen! In fact, the very existence of the New Testament itself proclaims it. Unless something very real indeed took place on that strange, confused morning, there would be no New Testament, no Church, no Christianity.

Yet we try to reduce it to poetry anyway: the coming of spring with the return of life to the dead earth, the rebirth of hope in the despairing soul. We try to suggest that these are the miracles that the Resurrection is all about, but they are not. In their way they are all miracles, but they are not this miracle, this central one to which the whole Christian faith points.

Unlike the chief priests and the Pharisees, who tried with soldiers and a great stone to make themselves as secure as they could against the terrible possibility of Christ’s really rising again from the dead, we are considerably more subtle. We tend in our age to say, ‘Of course, it was bound to happen. Nothing could stop it.’ But when we are pressed to say what it was that actually did happen, what we are apt to come out with is something pretty meager: this ‘miracle’ of truth that never dies, the ‘miracle’ of a life so beautiful that two thousand years have left the memory of it undimmed, the ‘miracle’ of doubt turning into faith, fear into hope. If I believed that this or something like this was all that the Resurrection meant, then I would turn in my certificate of ordination and take up some other profession. Or at least I hope that I would have the courage to” (Frederick Buechner).

-Originally published in The Alphabet of Grace

It’s A Good Feeling When . . .

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It’s a good feeling when you can finally be you– the real you– with no shame or embarrassment. That you can be a full-on goober and not care what anybody else thinks. That you can be the ultimate anti-hipster and go against all that is hip and trendy and not give a rat’s . . . tail.

It’s a good feeling when people walk out of your life and you can smile and wave goodbye and move forward. When you know the people who mind don’t matter and the people who matter don’t mind. The people in your life are God’s blessing to you. When He removes people from your life, it’s often a bigger– though underappreciated– blessing. You never really know what He protected and saved you from when He did that.

It’s a good feeling when you’re content with who you are and realize the best things in life can’t be bought or sold or even valued. When you hear your Abba’s voice and decide that that one voice speaks more meaningfully to you than all the other voices of popularity and fame and success.

It’s a good feeling when you can finally forgive yourself for not being all things to all people, for not being perfect all the time, for being a forgiven sinner and not a first-rate saint. It really is a good feeling when you can not only hear God calling you His beloved in whom He is well pleased, but receive it and live out of it and never ever get over it.

So go live boldly. Make big mistakes and fail ridiculously. As one of my favorite quotes from a movies goes, “Have the courage to fail big and stick around and make ’em wonder why you’re still smilin’.”

And most of all, go out and love being you because not even you can love being you as much as God does.

 

Rainy Saturdays, Maltese Falcons, and Such

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Just a note before I begin in earnest: All those reports of my giving up the ghost after I wrote that blog entitled “A Prayer for the Weak” are highly exaggerated. I’m still alive and I’m still kicking (though only metaphorically). I haven’t given up. I was only trying to get into the head of someone who might have felt that way (which I have at times, though not now).

Now on with the show.

What do you do on a rainy and cold Spring Saturday? Watch old movies? Well, I did.

I chose The Maltese Falcon, one of the first and certainly one of the best of Hollywood’s film noir movies out of its golden age. I mean, you have Humphrey Bogart, Mary Astor, Peter Lorre, and Sydney Greenstreet and a gumshoe plot second to none.

I love the line Bogie delivers near the end of the film. When asked what he’s holding in his hands (the very falcon in question), he answers, “The stuff dreams are made of.”

What a great line. It reminds me of another, this one from the first Harry Potter movie: ” It does not do to dwell on dreams, Harry, and forget to live.”

Dreams are good. As the proverb says, without vision, the people perish. But dreams are only just dreams if you don’t do anything to make them realities.

Enough of that. I recommend The Maltese Falcon, especially when it comes on TCM with an introduction by host and old movie expert Robert Osbourne.

As always, I’m thankful for waking up this morning and having another day to celebrate the greatest gift of all– life. I’m thankful that (as a pastor once said and as I’ve quoted before) what seems impossible to me isn’t even remotely difficult to God. Making impossibilities into realities is God’s specialty, and He’s had plenty of practice at it.

Just keep that in mind and you’ll be fine.

Bittersweet Memories, Regrets, and Grace

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Today, I found out that a friend of mine who has cancer is in ICU. He’s septic and may not make it through the night. And if I’m honest, I didn’t really know him in high school. Or at least I don’t remember much about him. I regret that.

Lately, he’s been one of my biggest encouragers, even though what he’s going through is a million times worse than anything I’ve ever faced. I’m praying for one more miracle.

I find myself missing my childhood best friend Nathan. I miss my Grandmother Iris and my Granddaddy Bud. I miss both Uncle Bob and Uncle Monty. I even miss my high school homeroom teacher.

I have lots of unspoken words I wish I had spoken and a lot of unfulfilled promises I intended to keep but didn’t.

I can never go back and tell these people what they meant to me. I can never see their faces and hear their funny stories and hear tales of a legacy of faith that’s been passed down. I can never ask those questions that I thought I would have time to get around to.

But grace means that I still have a chance to set that right. I can say those words to the people who are still in my life. I can make good on promises I made to family and friends in honor and memory of those whom I’ve lost and miss still.

Don’t presume that you’ll have tomorrow to say your “I love you”s. Don’t think that anybody whom you love is guaranteed a tomorrow. Whatever you need to say or do, today is the day.

I’ve said before that when you take things and people for granted, what you’re granted gets taken. And I’ve asked the question before: “If God only let you keep what you thanked Him for and were grateful for verbally, what would you have left? Who would you have left?”

There’s an insidious kind of casualness to relationships these days. Maybe it’s because of people having 5,000 friends on facebook. Maybe it’s because no one thinks they’re really and truly mortal. But once someone is gone from your life, you can never rewind the tape. You can never skip back to the last scene. You can only live with those unspoken words and unfulfilled promises.

I know this is not one of my usual frivolous and witty posts. But sitting in St. Paul’s Episcopal Church with tears rolling down my face, I was reminded that sometimes I need a wake-up call. I need to be reminded that life is precious and people are more precious. Right now, have one purring cat in my lap that I must attend to, so I bid you all adieu and a good night.

Things I Love 50: The Last Farewell

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“Joy in looking and comprehending is nature’s most beautiful gift” (Albert Einstein).

“When you rise in the morning, give thanks for the light, for your life, for your strength. Give thanks for your food and for the joy of living. If you see no reason to give thanks, the fault lies in yourself” (Tecumseh).

“A thing of beauty is a joy forever: its loveliness increases; it will never pass into nothingness” (John Keats).

“Count blessings and discover Who can be counted on” (Ann Voskamp, One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are).

This is the last one. But as C.S. Lewis wrote in The Last Battle, the the end of history was not the end; history itself is but the title page and preface, and after that begins the real story which goes on for ever and where each chapter is better than the previous one. That’s how it is with joy. There really is no end to joy and its gifts for those with thankful hearts and wide-open eyes.

1,551) The good tired feeling after mowing the lawn.

1,552) Hugs from my grandmother.

1,553) Great music from Coldplay and Radiohead.

1,554) Freshly clipped toe nails.

1,555) How perfectly cold water quenches my thirst.

1,556) The Living Water than never runs dry and never leaves me thirsty ever.

1,557) People who “get” me.

1,558) The freedom that comes with forgiveness.

1,559) Finding out that being broke doesn’t mean the end of life as I know it.

1,560) My friend Wendy who is just a facebook message away at all times.

1,561) That post-shower feeling.

1,562) “God is a safe place to hide, ready to help when we need him. We stand fearless at the cliff-edge of doom, courageous in seastorm and earthquake, Before the rush and roar of oceans, the tremors that shift mountains. Jacob-wrestling God fights for us, God-of-Angel-Armies protects us” (Psalm 46:1,MSG).

1,563) Jesus’ promise of rest to those who are weary and exhausted.

1,564) God making me and loving me just the way I am.

1,565) Catfish and hush puppies, all fried.

1,566) Relaxing in a jacuzzi.

1,567) Liking me for me and being good with being a nice guy.

1,568) Knowing when to hold ’em, knowing when to fold ’em (like Kenny Rogers sang).

1,569) My very sleepy yet very comforting feline therapist yet again at her job.

1,570) iCloud automatically transferring pictures from my iPhone to my iPad and my iLaptop (just kidding, it’s a Sony Vaio).

1.571) How much better typing out one of these lists makes me feel.

1,572) My dad’s goofy but totally lovable dog, Molly.

1,573) My goofy and random sense of humor.

1,574) My impressive t-shirt collection.

1,575) People who wait until they are married before living together (which is so rare these days).

1,576) Planning up a Delilah playlist of cheesy love songs on my iPhone.

1,577) The safe recovery of that 16-year old girl Hannah who had been kidnapped.

1,578) All news stories that have happy endings.

1,579) Friendly neighbors.

1,580) Credence Clearwater Revival.

1,581) The photo frame option on my iPad that turns it into . . .wait for it. . . one of those electronic photo frames.

1,582) Stepping out of a muggy summer day into air conditioning.

1,583) People who not only speak their faith but live it out.

1,584)  The car KITT from the old TV show Knight Rider.

1,585) Seeing pictures of healthy newborns from friends and family on Facebook.

1,586) Taking a spoonful of local honey that’s supposedly good for my allergies but so good to me.

1,587) That girl’s smile in the picture that I used for one of my blogs. I’ll probably never see her again but I won’t ever forget that smile.

1,588) John Mayer’s lyrics.

1,589) Checking out the newest smart-phones in the stores (even though I’m perfectly content with my iPhone 5).

1,590) Looking forward to my next coffee and conversation outing.

1,591) Knowing all my family and friends are safe and sound for the night.

1,592) Real and authentic conversations about life and faith.

1,593) Having all my needs supplied out of God’s glorious riches in Christ Jesus.

1,594) Perfect love casting out fear.

1,595) That Jesus isn’t safe, but He’s good.

1,596) One day going overseas on a mission trip.

1,597) Having no regrets about following Jesus.

1,598) “For to me life is Christ, and death is gain” (Phil. 1:21).

1,599) Having many local coffee spots to check out in the next few months.

1,600) Every second I’ve spend writing these lists over the last couple of months.

I hope these lists have inspired you to start list of your own where you name those things you’re thankful for that you love. Not necessarily the monumental or earth-shaking things, but even the tiniest of things that make you smile or make your day a little brighter. It has been so much fun writing these and I thank you for reading them. God bless.

Things I Love 12: Tested And Approved by Lucy The Wonder Kitty

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Lucy is in my lap, approving  whatever I type. Of course, she can’t read, but if she could, she would add her own comments (most of which would not be fit to print in a family-style blog such as this one). So I’ll take her silence as either approval or extreme sleepiness.

The list commences with #264 (I think).

264) Ice-cold water to quench my thirst on a humid summer day.

265) A long walk alone under a full moon at night (as opposed to all those moonlit walks during the day).

266) That I’m finally at a place where I’m comfortable alone or in a crowd.

267) Planned spontaneity.

268) That I’ve come to the place where if I never see a certain person ever again (and at the moment it appears very likely to be the case), that I will be glad for the friendship; I will miss her, but my life will go on.

269) Those quiet moments of peace where God speaks into my silence.

270) That with God, every day is a day to look forward to.

271) Reading collects out of The Book of Common Prayer and seeing my own prayers expressed better than I could ever put them.

272) That this blog site has spell-check so that I can appear smarter than I really am, i.e. that I can actually spell.

273) That I really don’t have to be friends with everyone or have everyone like me to be content.

274) That everything will be fine in the end, and if it’s not fine, it’s not the end.

275) Good lines from good movies (like the one I just referenced earlier).

276) Chocolate bars with bacon in them (it sounds gross, but tastes divine).

277) All of my quirks

278) That I have to show my driver’s license to prove that I really am the age I say I am.

279) That even though Jon Acuff might have more readers for one blog than I’ve had for all my 1,000+ blogs combined, that I have touched and impacted lives that wouldn’t have been touched and impacted had I chosen not to write a blog.

280) That I can use bad grammar, and bad punctuation, in my blogs, if I so, choose.

281) Those rare times when the Church is known for what it’s for rather than what it’s against.

282) That I can learn something from anybody, no matter what their philosophical, theological, political or social beliefs and regardless of whether or not they have the same worldview as mine.

283) That hamburger from The Pharmacy with bacon, ham, and a fried egg (10,000 calories of deliciousness!)

284) That the last spoken words from Jesus in the Bible aren’t a condemnation but an invitation.

285) When I talk into a box fan and make my voice sound like a robot.

286) That being grown-up doesn’t always mean having to be mature all the time.

287) That the steadfast love of the Lord never ceases.

288) The way my cat Lucy hovers when she goes to the bathroom.

289) Not knowing all the answers (or even all of the questions).

290) A perfectly made and perfectly thrown paper airplane.

291) That I saw the actual Batmobile from the campy 60’s TV show tonight in downtown Franklin

292) That this list will continue– maybe tomorrow, maybe not. You’ll just have to tune in tomorrow to find out. Same bat time, same bat channel.