Dem Golden Streets

The twelve gates were twelve pearls, each gate expertly crafted from a single beautiful pearl. And the city street was pure gold, yet it was as transparent as glass.

And in the city, I found no temple because the Lord God, the All Powerful, and the Lamb are the temple. And in the city, there is no need for the sun to light the day or moon the night because the resplendent glory of the Lord provides the city with warm, beautiful light and the Lamb illumines every corner of the new Jerusalem” (Revelation 21:21-23).

Today as I was driving home from work, I was almost blinded by the setting sun blazing directly in my eyes.

I also noticed how the way the sunlight reflected off the pavement made the road looked golden. It was almost as if I-440 West was paved with gold.

It got me thinking about the place in the Book of Revelation where John describes the streets of heaven as being paved with gold.

This is just me thinking out loud, but what if those streets appear golden because they are reflecting the glory of God. After all, the same book mentions that there will be no need for sun or moon because God and His glory will be the only light there.

I never thought the afternoon commute would ever turn so theological. Nashville traffic inspires lots of thoughts and ideas, but most of them are very non-Baptist. So it was a nice change of pace to be sitting in rush-hour madness thinking of heavenly streets of gold in a new way.

So take that for however you want. It’s just a thought I had.

 

Music and Endorphins

I read somewhere that one of the reasons so many people love good music is that it causes the release of the endorphins which cause pleasure. In other words, for me a good song can take me to my happy place.

There’s nothing better than the right song at the right moment to create a soundtrack event. It’s almost like you’re suddenly inside a movie when that song comes on.  Maybe I’m the only one, but I have those moments often.

I think all the hymns and praise songs are a testament to the power of music to convey truths in a powerfully emotional way. Music is the only experience that engages all of your brain at one time (and I’m fairly certain that’s right because I read it on the internet. They can’t put anything on the internet that isn’t true, right?)

For me, the perfect song was Creepin’ by Stevie Wonder right as the sun was setting on my drive home tonight. Heck, there is no bad time for a Stevie Wonder song. Any Stevie Wonder song.

Jazz is good for late at night, especially after midnight. Nothing is more perfect than some Red Garland in the wee small hours of the morning.

My point? I love music. I probably love it too much, if that’s even possible. I have music and songs in my head almost non-stop. It’s like my life has it’s own incredible soundtrack that no one hears but me. Maybe they make pills for that. I’m not sure, but I wouldn’t change it if I could.

While music in worship is important, worship is more than music. It’s more than singing. In fact, if you’re not worshipping already when the music starts, if your worship isn’t a lifestyle, then you’ve missed it. But that’s another topic for another blog on another day.

 

I Wonder as I Wander

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I came home from a Christmas Eve service a little bummed. Not for any specific reason. Just that I was tired and thinking once again about all I didn’t have instead of what I do.

Then I saw it. I saw the setting sun reflected off the still waters of a shallow pond. It was almost as if God gave me that moment to remind me that what I DO have matters so much more than what I DON’T.

I started wondering a few things:

I wonder if Mary mourned the loss of all she gave up when God called her. I know it seems strange, almost sacreligious, to think such a thing.

But Mary was a teenager who must have had her own dreams and her own fantasies of how her life would turn out. None of them involved an unexplainable (in human terms) pregnancy or giving birth to a Son whom she would witness being unfairly tried, tortured, and publicly executed.

God’s dreams often require that we give up not just bad things, but even some good and even very good things if they’re not God’s best for us. Letting go of those things can feel like a death knell to our hearts even if we know something better is coming.

Mary could have had a normal marriage with normal children and been well-respected in her community and taken no flack. But no one would ever have remembered her name.

God has a dream for you in His heart that sometimes won’t make sense. At times, it will feel too much like a letting go and giving up of much that we hold dear. It will be painful at times, like losing a part of your heart.

The payoff is so much more than worth it. Mary got to see the Messiah, hold Him in her arms, see Him grow up, and watch Him prove that not even that horrific death could hold Him down.

She got to see with her own eyes the salvation of the world. Her own salvation.

I call that more than worth it.

That Old One-Note Symphony of Grace

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I’ll be honest. I sat here staring at my laptop trying to come up with something else. I even scanned the headlines on msn.com in a vain attempt to find some noteworthy news to comment on. Nothing exciting happened today, so I guess I’ll fall back on a familiar topic. Grace.

Grace never gets old for me. It may get old for you reading about me writing about it yet again, but it truly never gets old for me.

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If I lived to be 1,000 years old, I think I’d still be amazed by grace. You’d still catch me dumbfounded, mouth wide open in awe of grace working in my life.

Grace is why I’m not still mired in my own sins and phobias, trapped by my own sense of worthlessness, doomed to stay inside a prison of my own making.

Grace is the smile of God over me and the Everlasting Arms underneath me that keep me going on the good days and gets me through on the bad days.

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Grace sees past the awkward conversations, the good intentions once again executed poorly, the regrets of words not spoken, and all the failures to the perfect end result.

Grace sees the best in me and allows me to see the best in the other and helps bring it out of both of us.

Grace revives dashed hopes, broken dreams, crushed spirits, ruined relationships, and forsaken lives.

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Grace is me not getting what I deserve and getting what I do not deserve– life more abundant and full and satisfying than anything else out there.

Grace means I woke up today with a thousand blessings waiting to be seen through a heart filled with thanksgiving and gratitude and joy.

Grace is my family and my friends loving me, rooting for me, calling out the God-colors in me, and helping me remember the song in my heart when I’ve forgotten the words.

Grace is the setting sun, the autumn breeze, the laughter of children, the old couple still holding hands, the leaves changing colors, and the applause of heaven over one  wayward sinner who comes home.

And grace is mine, all mine.