ISO One Magical Wardrobe

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I’m re-reading The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe. I can’t express enough how much I love this book. I also can’t express enough how much I’d like one of those magical wardrobes that you climb inside and wind up in a different world.

I’d love to be able to visit Narnia from time to time and see all those wonderful characters.

I do realize that wardrobes don’t work that way all the time. I also get that Narnia exists only in the world of fiction. Or does it?

There’s a little bit of Narnia in the best of my dreams. There’s a little bit of Narnia in those moments when I am truly and freely myself, when I really don’t care what anyone else, when fear absolutely ceases to exist for a moment.

These books were written for kids, but even as a grown-up, I still find so much that makes me pause and think. There’s really so much depth in the simplicity of these stories.

I love that Aslan isn’t safe, but He’s good. That’s true of God. We want Him safe and predictable, never asking anything unexpected of us. But that’s not the God I read about in the Bible. The God I read about isn’t safe, but He truly is good.

God’s primary concern isn’t our safety. It’s us looking and behaving like Jesus, even if we go through some harrowing places to get there. God doesn’t want us happy as much as He wants us holy (which probably goes against most of the feel-good theology that comes out of most pulpits these days).

I even love that Mr. Tumnus who started out to do a very bad thing, but repented and stuck to his word, even if it meant being turned into stone. And even Edmund became a decent fellow in the end.

I just love these books!

 

Awaiting the Storm

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According to the weather people, Nashville is due for a storm tonight. There’s a tornado watch in effect until 1 am. Apparently, the bad stuff isn’t supposed to hit until around 10 pm.

Actually, I don’t mind storms as long as I’m not out driving in one. As long as I’m indoors, I’m good. Away from all the crazy people who can’t drive in perfectly good weather, much less inclement weather.

I used to be afraid of thunder. Specifically, I was afraid of the loud noises of thunder. I guess all kids are afraid of things like that. I outgrew my fear, although I really can’t tell you when that was. I just know that thunder doesn’t bother me anymore.

Everybody goes through storms. Everybody has seasons in their lives that don’t make sense, where the goal is just to survive until the storm passes.

God is in the storm. He’s before and after the storm. His is the voice that bids the winds be still. His is the voice you can count on and cling to when your storm comes.

I still love the analogy of storms and the fear of God. John Piper described the fear of God as being in a storm safe from the dangers but witnessing the power and majesty of it.

The truth is that God can be scary. He is a just God who hates sin. He has every right to punish that sin. But seeing God through eyes of mercy, I see what fear of the Lord means.

He could have nuked me, but He chose to save me instead. He could have let me have every bit of what was coming to me. Instead, He let Jesus have it instead.

So storms aren’t so bad. When you’re saved from the very worst, anything else isn’t nearly as bad.

Cruise-liner Christianity?

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I have another confession. I’ve spent way too much of my life seeking out comfort and convenience. I’ve avoided any possibility of suffering and some places because they were “less than safe.”

I know I’m not alone. So many go to their comfortable, air-conditioned churches and then to comfortable, air-conditioned restaurants and then on to comfortable, air-conditioned lives. We want to feel good and look good, but I think God is calling us more to do good and be good.

So many will use rain as an excuse for staying away from worship services. But the same will sit in the rain for hours at a Titans or Vols game.

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I’ve used just about every excuse to not pick up my Bible and actually read it. I’ll tell myself I’m too tired to pray. I will say that I can’t afford to tithe this week, but I’ll start back next week.

Jesus promised us there would be suffering. But He also promised that the reward at the other side would be more than worth it. Like when a mother forgets her delivery pains when she holds her newborn baby in her arms.

The problem with Cruise-line Christianity isn’t so much that it’s disobedience (which it is), but that you miss so many blessings and rewards and joys that only come with taking that narrow path, the road less travelled, the trail marked with suffering.

I don’t mean to intentionally seek out suffering. Just not to seek first and foremost to avoid it. I do mean saying YES to Jesus, whatever Jesus asks of you and wherever He calls you to go, whether it’s next door or across the world or even to the unsafe part of time.

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For me, it might mean getting up earlier in the morning and making time for God. Maybe it means going without Starbucks for a whole week. Egads.

All I know is that I want God more than I want to stay comfortable and safe and vaguely dissatisfied. I don’t want to get to the end of my life and wonder what I could have done for God if I’d only been more trusting and more faithful. I want to find out now.

I’ll keep you posted on how the whole waking up earlier thing goes. But for now, it means waking up at 5:30 instead of 6 am. Yikes.

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.