Thursday, December 31, 2009

Forever love

"'The question is asked, "Is there anything more beautiful in life than a young couple clasping hands and pure hearts in the path of marriage? Can there be anything more beautiful than young love?" And the answer is given. "Yes, there is a more beautiful thing. It is the spectacle of an old man and an old woman finishing their journey together on that path. Their hands are gnarled, but still clasped; their faces are seamed, but still radiant; their hearts are physically bowed and tired, but still strong with love and devotion for one another. Yes, there is a more beautiful thing than young love. Old love.'"

--Author unknown.
The people believed. When they heard that the LORD was concerned about the sons of Israel and that He had seen their affliction, they bowed low and worshipped.

--Ex. 4:31

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

“If once God’s electing love rises upon the soul, it never sets.”

--Thomas Watson, A Body of Divinity

Monday, December 28, 2009

"Contentment, then, is the product of a heart resting in God. It is the soul’s enjoyment of that peace that passes all understanding. It is the outcome of my will being brought into subjection to the Divine will. It is the blessed assurance that God does all things well, and is, even now, making all things work together for my ultimate good."

--A.W. Pink

Sunday, December 27, 2009

There must be Someone in heaven who knows the truth about me,
in highest heaven, some Attorney who can clear my name—
My Champion, my Friend,
while I'm weeping my eyes out before God.
I appeal to the One who represents mortals before God
as a neighbor stands up for a neighbor.

--Job 16:19-21, The Message

Saturday, December 26, 2009

We should be thinking about and describing God in the ways that reflect who He really is what He has actually gone through. He is a musician and an artist. He is a dancer. He is a dreamer extraordinaire. He is an erotic God and a true hedonist (obviously: He created human sexuality). He is an extremely romantic God (Song of Solomon). He is a divorced God (He begged Israel to be His bride, but when she would not come back to Him, He eventually found another bride, the Church). He is a jealous God. He is a broken-hearted God who still loves immensely, who longs for fellowship and intimacy. All this is not to anthropomorphize God, but to admit both how He has revealed Himself and to connect the dots of how He created us, in His image; how He created mankind in the Garden was a direct reflection of His own nature. Anything good, beautiful, and splendid about us or about our desires comes because we are children of our Father.

Head Over Feet by Alanis Morissette

The Known Universe

"We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only son of God, eternally begotten of the Father, God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, of one being with the Father. Through him all things were made.


For us and for our salvation he came down from heaven: by the power of the Holy Spirit he became incarnate from the Virgin Mary, and was made man.


For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate; he suffered death and was buried. On the third day he rose again in accordance with the Scriptures; he ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father.


He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead, and his kingdom will have no end."


--The Nicene Creed

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

"So I will go wherever He is calling me
I lose my life to find my life in Him
I give my all to gain the hope that never dies
I bow my heart, take up my cross, and follow Him."

--Kristyn Getty

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The moment it all happened

"Was there a moment, known only to God, when all the stars held their breath, when the galaxies paused in their dance for a fraction of a second, and the Word, who had called it all into being, went with all his love into the womb of a young girl, and the universe started to breathe again, and the ancient harmonies resumed their song, and the angels clapped their hands for joy?"

--Madeleine L'Engle
"Whoever is not satisfied with Christ alone, strives after something beyond absolute perfection."

- John Calvin

Sunday, December 20, 2009

God made you special and He loves you very much.

--VeggieTales

Saturday, December 19, 2009

"Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others."

Philippians 2:3-4

Friday, December 18, 2009

"Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ."

--Galatians 1:10

Thursday, December 17, 2009

There is so much inside the heart yearning to be free that providence is almost bound to bring to pass a time of restitution when all wrongs will be made right and love will be requited. The dreams that put a sparkle in the eyes of a child and hope in a young man or woman in looking to the future are reflections of the place where humanity began--in Paradise, a utopic garden where God and man walked side-by-side, where shame did not exist, and where love flourished. While Eden cannot be regained, in Christ there is the hope of a return to that state of life, but not just in heaven. In the context of a man and a woman, a day can arrive when the lovers face each other--perhaps disillusioned, with all masks removed--and there find that the love of God has renewed all things: that while hope deferred had made their hearts sick, their desire fulfilled has become a tree of life. Because of trust, they can relinquish their fears and simply plunge into love as if purposefully falling backwards off of a high cliff, dropping into love itself, and finding the paradox that what others have tried to do to their demise, these lovers do, and for the first time in their lives, truly live. That is the nourishing of the soul and the rapturous requiting of love.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

"It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest and most uninteresting person you talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship, or else a horror and a corruption such as you now meet, if at all, only in a nightmare. . . . There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal."

--C.S. Lewis

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

A wise man once wrote that "Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but desire fulfilled is a tree of life." To live with dreams of what life could be and never see those dreams fulfilled creates emptiness and despair, because our lives are meant to be filled to overflowing with intimacy, romance, beauty, laughter, and joy.

Yet, many of us find ourselves ignoring our desires so we can ease the pain of our broken hearts and unfulfilled dreams. We tell ourselves the lie that it's all right for others to trample on what means the most to us. But if we're honest with ourselves, and if we truly have hope, we eventually admit the reason we protect our hearts so little is that we really don't think we're worth much at all. That admission is merely the first step to the healing and love that we desperately need.

Monday, December 14, 2009

"For I know the plans I have for you, plans to help you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future . . ."

--Jeremiah 29:11

Sunday, December 13, 2009

"Your priorities must be God first, God second, and God third, until your life is continually face to face with God and no one else is taken into account whatsoever. Your prayer will then be, "In all the world there is no one but You, dear God; there is no one but You."

--Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest

Saturday, December 12, 2009

"In great endurance; in troubles, hardships, and distresses; in beatings, imprisonments, and riots; in hard work, sleepless nights, and hunger; in purity, understanding, patience, and kindness; in the Holy Spirit and in sincere love; in truthful speech and in the power of God; with weapons of righteousness in the right hand and in the left; through glory and dishonor, bad report and good report; genuine, yet regarded as imposters; known, yet regarded as unknown; dying, and yet we live on; beaten, and yet not killed; sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; poor, yet making many rich; having nothing, and yet possessing everything."

--2 Cor. 6:4-10

Friday, December 11, 2009

"But He said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong."

--2 Cor. 12:9-10

Thursday, December 10, 2009

We are not meant to live our lives alone. We are meant to eat together, work together, live together. We’re not meant to handle life on our own. We're supposed to be strong enough to handle life filled with people. Relationships are what push us forward. Intimate relationships can open and heal wounds we've hidden for years. In a close relationship, we are constantly challenged to love when we're empty, to show grace where there's none due, and to unveil the flaws we try to conceal. It’s where we learn to be good forgivers and to live out the love God has shown us.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Trailer for the movie Babies

"… it would seem that Our Lord finds our desires, not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased."

--C.S. Lewis

Monday, December 7, 2009

"You are more sinful than you ever dared imagine and more loved than you ever dared hope."

-–Jack Miller

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Excerpt from sermon on the Judgment Seat of Christ by Leonard Ravenhill

Awesome quote on why we write

"I write to make peace with the things I cannot control. I write to create red in a world that often appears black and white. I write to discover. I write to uncover. I write to meet my ghosts. I write to begin dialogue. I write to imagine things differently and in imagining things differently perhaps the world will change. I write to honor beauty. I write to correspond with my friends. I write as a daily act of improvisation. I write because it creates my composure. I write against power and for democracy. I write in a solitude born out of community. I write to the questions that shatter my sleep. I write to the answers that keep me complacent.

I write to remember. I write to forget. I write to the music that opens my heart. I write to quell the pain. I write to migrating birds with the hubris of language. I write to a form of translation. I write with the patience of melancholy in winter. I write because it allows me to confront that which I do not know. I write as an act of faith. I write as an act of slowness. I write to record what I love in the face of loss. I write because it makes me less fearful of death. I write as an exercise in pure joy. I write as one who walks on the surface of a frozen river beginning to melt. I write out of my anger and into my passion. I write from the stillness of night anticipating–always anticipating.

I write to listen. I write out of silence. I write to soothe the voices shouting inside me, outside me, all around. I write because of the humor of our condition as humans. I write because I believe in words. I write because it is a dance with paradox. I write because you can play on the page like a child left alone in the sand. I write because it belongs to the force of the moon: high tide, low tide. I write because it is the way I take long walks. I write as a bow to wilderness. I write because I believe it can create a path in darkness. I write because as a child I spoke a different language. I write with a knife carving each word through the generosity of trees.

I write as ritual. I write because I am not employable. I write out of my inconsistencies. I write because then I do not have to speak. I write with the colors of memory. I write as a witness to what I have seen. I write as a witness to what I imagine. I write by grace and grit. I write out of indigestion. I write because I am starving. I write because I am full. I write to the dead. I write out of the body. I write to put food on the table. I write to the other side of procrastination. I write for the children we never had. I write for the love of ideas. I write for the surprise of a beautiful sentence. I write with the belief of alchemists. I write knowing I will always fail. I write knowing words always fall short. I write knowing I can be killed by my own words, stabbed by syntax, crucified by both understanding and misunderstanding. I write out of ignorance. I write by accident. I write past the embarrassment of exposure.

I keep writing and suddenly, I am overcome by the sheer indulgence, the madness, the meaninglessness, the ridiculousness of this list. I trust nothing, especially myself, and slide headfirst into the familiar abyss of doubt and humiliation and threaten to push the delete button on my way down, or madly erase each line, pick up the paper and rip it to shreds–and then I realize, it doesn’t matter, words are always a gamble, words are the splinters of cut glass. I write because it is dangerous, a bloody risk, like love, to form the words, to say the words, to touch the source, to be touched, to reveal how vulnerable we are, how transient we are. I write as though I am whispering in the ear of the one I love."

--Terry Tempest Williams, Red: Passion and Patience in the Desert.
"Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, 'Abba, Father.' So you are no longer a slave, but a son; and since you are a son, God has made you also an heir."

--Gal. 4:6-7

Saturday, December 5, 2009

"Most of the man's psychological make-up is probably due to his body: when his body dies all that will fall off him, and the real central man, the thing that chose, that made the best or the worst out of this material, will stand naked. All sorts of nice things which we thought our own, but which were really due to a good digestion, will fall off some of us: all sorts of nasty things which were due to complexes or bad health will fall off others. We shall then, for the first time, see every one as he really was. There will be surprises."

--C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

Friday, December 4, 2009

"I led them with chords of human kindness, with ties of love; I lifted the yoke from their neck and bent down to feed them."

--Hosea 11:4

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Sharing the love of Christ

Tonight I have invited a homeless man that I just met into my home and gave him a place to spend the night. We talked about his story, and shared food together. And I prayed for him and for his next steps in life. While we talked this evening, I saw tears in his eyes as he recounted his story, and I gave him a hug, and shared the love of Christ with him. I would work night and day for a year if only to get to a night like this where the doors open up for God to use me, a beggar, to show another beggar where to find the bread! God, open doors for us to share your love with those in need!
"I'll tell you what it really means to worship the LORD. Remove the chains of prisoners who are chained unjustly. Free those who are abused! Share your food with everyone who is hungry; share your home with the poor and homeless.  Give clothes to those in need; don't turn away your relatives.  Then your light will shine like the dawning sun, and you will quickly be healed. Your honesty will protect you as you advance, and the glory of the LORD will defend you from behind."

--Is. 58:6-8

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Milonga del Adios by Pablo Ziegler played by Meral Guneyman

How Can I Tell You by Cat Stevens

Beauty and sweetness

"Our summer was over. It had been a beautiful one. We had known the sweetness of common joys, the delight of dawns, the dream and glamour of noontides, the long, purple peace of carefree nights. We had had the pleasure of bird song, of silver rain on greening fields, of storm among the trees, of blossoming meadows, and of the converse of whispering leaves. We had had brotherhood with wind and star, with books and tales, and hearth fires of autumn. Ours had been the little, loving tasks of every day, blithe companionship, shared thoughts, and adventuring. Rich were we in the memory of those opulent months that had gone from us–richer than we then knew or suspected. And before us was the dream of spring. It is always safe to dream of spring. For it is sure to come; and if it be not just as we have pictured it, it will be infinitely sweeter."

--Lucy Maud Montgomery,
The Story Girl
"Sow for yourselves righteousness,
reap the fruit of unfailing love,
and break up your unplowed ground;
for it is time to seek the Lord,
until He comes and showers righteousness upon you."

--Hosea 10:12

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

"The sweetest thing in all my life has been the longing ... to find the place where all the beauty came from."

--C.S. Lewis

Monday, November 30, 2009

" ... even the most intimate human companionship cannot satisfy the deepest places of the heart. Our hearts are lonely ‘til they rest in Him."

--Elisabeth Elliot, Loneliness

You Alone can Rescue by Matt Redman

Who, O Lord, could save themselves
Their own soul could heal?
Our shame was deeper than the sea
Your grace is deeper still

You alone can rescue
You alone can save
You alone can lift us from the grave


You came down to find us
Led us out of death
To You alone belongs the highest praise

You, O Lord, have made a way
The great divide you healed
For when our hearts were far away
Your love went further still
Yes, Your love goes further still

We lift up our eyes, lift up our eyes
You're the giver of life

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Like A Sad Song by John Denver

"The gift of ourselves in total submission to God is a sacrifice in which, far from losing anything, we gain everything and recover, in a more perfect mode of possession, even what we seem to have lost. For at the very moment when we give ourselves to God, God gives Himself to us."

--Thomas Merton

Saturday, November 28, 2009

"To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket--safe, dark, motionless, airless--it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable ... The only place outside Heaven where you can be perfectly safe from all the dangers ... of love is Hell."

--C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves

Friday, November 27, 2009

"O God, early in the morning, I cry to You. Help me to pray and to concentrate my thoughts on You; I cannot do this alone. In me there is darkness, but with You there is light; I am lonely, but You never leave me; I am feeble in heart, but with You there is help; I am restless, but with You there is peace. In me there is bitterness, but with You there is patience; I do not understand Your ways, But You know the way for me. O Heavenly Father, I praise and thank You for the peace of the night; I praise and thank You for this new day; I praise and thank You for all Your goodness and faithfulness throughout my life."

--Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Goodness and faithfulness

"O God, early in the morning, I cry to You. Help me to pray and to concentrate my thoughts on You; I cannot do this alone. In me there is darkness, but with You there is light; I am lonely, but You never leave me; I am feeble in heart, but with You there is help; I am restless, but with You there is peace. In me there is bitterness, but with You there is patience; I do not understand Your ways, But You know the way for me. O Heavenly Father, I praise and thank You for the peace of the night; I praise and thank You for this new day; I praise and thank You for all Your goodness and faithfulness throughout my life."

--Dietrich Bonhoeffer
"God is not proud . . . He will have us even though we have shown that we prefer everything else to Him."

--C.S. Lewis

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

"I am still determined to be cheerful and happy, in whatever situation I may be; for I have also learned from experience that the greater part of our happiness or misery depends upon our dispositions, and not upon our circumstances."

--Martha Washington

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

A Prairie Home Companion

“It is a good thing to wait upon the Lord in a well-watered land. It is a holy thing to wait upon Him in a barren landscape.”

--Andre Seu

Monday, November 23, 2009

"To wait open-endedly is an enormously radical attitude toward life. So is to trust that something will happen to us that is far beyond our imaginings. So, too, is giving up control over our future and letting God define our life, trusting that God moulds us according to God's love and not according to our fear. The spiritual life is a life in which we wait, actively present to the moment, trusting that new things will happen to us, new things that are far beyond our own imagination, fantasy, or prediction. That, indeed, is a very radical stance toward life in a world preoccupied with control."

--Henri J. M. Nouwen

Sunday, November 22, 2009

I was reminded of the need to re-examine ourselves, asking the basic question: Is there anything we love more than we love Christ? If so, we need to confess the sin of leaving our first love, and turn our eyes on Jesus. Go back to the beginning: to the simplicity of listening to Him, talking to Him, and dwelling on the Cross, and ask the Father to increase our love for His Son.

Dar La Teta Es Dar Vida

Saturday, November 21, 2009

A Continual Feast

Desperately distant, you swallowed the grief,
The sanguine sadness, the soul-killing pain,
That tempted your palette with swine’s cuisine,
And starved your fading faith until weak and profane.

Unworthy of privilege, you will still obtain favor;
The fountain of joy will be yours in the end;
I formed your hard heart into an object of mercy,
Securing your fate as my guest and my friend.

With a single word I’ll open the floodgates
Of unbridled laughter, of uncontrollable tears;
Flung into the arms of unadulterated pleasure,
You will cry without restraint for your vanquished fears.

If you draw near and drink from my chalice of joy,
And drown your sorrows ‘till your cup overflows,
You’ll see streams of cold water for your sorely-parched soul;
And you will quench your thirst in the river of delights.

Sit here, at my table while I conjure new wine,
And savor the feast of the fat of the land;
Crave the cordial of dreams, the cascade of delight,
And share in the banquet at my right hand.

Then watch as I fill your barns with plenty,
Overflowing your land with milk and honey;
An unabated abundance for your cruise of oil,
With copious firstfruits from fertile soil.

I’ll intoxicate your heart with a double portion
Of emotional caviar, of milk from the breast;
Eat the bread of kindness; sip the fruit of the vine;
A profusion of pleasure, a wellspring of rest.

Indulge yourself freely in the manna of grace;
Taste it and see that my love is good;
So earnestly sought but for so long withheld,
Your abundant harvest and the latter rain.

Continually revel in my sumptuous feast;
Sigh for pleasure; sink to deep, dreamless sleep.
Guiltlessly wallow in this reckless self-abandon
And the consummate torrent of desire fulfilled.

Draw near and drink from my chalice of joy;
Drown your sorrows ‘till your cup overflows;
There are streams of cold water for your sorely-parched soul;
So come, quench your thirst in the river of delights.
May God, who puts all things together, makes all things whole, who made a lasting mark through the sacrifice of Jesus, the sacrifice of blood that sealed the eternal covenant, who led Jesus, our Great Shepherd, up and alive from the dead, now put you together, provide you with everything you need to please him, make us into what gives him most pleasure, by means of the sacrifice of Jesus, the Messiah. All glory to Jesus forever and always! Oh, yes, yes, yes.

--Heb. 13:20-21, The Message

Friday, November 20, 2009

"'Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,' says the LORD Almighty, 'and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it.'"

--Mal. 3:10

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Recently I heard someone speak about the concept of disciplining our disappointments so that they do not get the better of us, but instead become launching points for good choices and a better future. As a Christian, I do think that we should be embracing that mentality, given that all our failures were nailed to the Cross, that the Lord has a plan for our good, that He will even turn what has been bad into good, and because we already know that ultimately, everything will turn to glory since we are now children of God. We are blessed to be able to bring the optimism of God to our disappointments.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

"You will have courage because you will have hope.
You will take your time, and rest in safety."

--Job 11:18

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Unrequited Love

There is so much inside my heart yearning to be free
That Providence is almost bound to bring to pass
A time of restitution when all wrongs will be made right,
When all tears will be for joy alone,
And waiting love will be fully requited.

The dreams that put a sparkle in my eyes as a child,
Or as a hopeful young man, in looking to the future,
Are reflections of the place where everything began,
The seductive, blossoming gardens of Paradise,
Where God and man walked side-by-side,
Where we would have stood naked and without shame,
Where flourishing love and abounding grace
Healed all wounds before they were even inflicted,
And all that could be and should be was.

A day will arrive when you and I will face each other,
Perhaps disillusioned, but with all masks removed,
Finding that the love of God is renewing all things;
That while hope deferred had made our hearts sick,
Our desire fulfilled has become a tree of life.

Knowing only our shame, yet trusting and hoping,
We will relinquish our fears and all shadows of doubt,
Throwing caution to the wind of reckless delight,
To find ourselves exultant, in joyful flight,
With our innermost dreams as our constant abode,
Released from past pain, wrapped in bliss forever.

What others have tried to do for selfish reasons,
That was found to be only to their tragic demise,
We will do, and for the first time in our lives,
Truly live.

This is the awaited nourishing of the soul
And the rapturous requiting of love.

"Mountains, when in darkness hidden, are as real as in day, and God's love is as true to you now as it was in your brightest moments ... You will yet climb Jacob's ladder with the angels and behold Him who sits at the top of it--your covenant God. You will yet, amidst the splendors of eternity, forget the trials of time or only remember them to bless the God who led you through them and works your lasting good by them. Come, sing in the midst of tribulation. Rejoice even while passing through the furnace. Make the wilderness blossom like the rose! Cause the desert to ring with your exulting joys, for these light afflictions will soon be over, and then, forever with the Lord, your bliss shall never wane."

--C.H. Spurgeon

Monday, November 16, 2009

Your Heart of Beauty Rests

Your heart of beauty rests in stillness and in pain;
And tearfully you’ve told yourself you’ll never love again.

Your dreams were shaken hard, your faith was shaken more,
Emptiness has filled your life as your hopes and fears make war.

There seems nowhere to turn, no friends who will be true,
And the empty promises they made is all you have in view.

The day has turned to night; the warm has turned to cold,
The gentle rain of yesterday became an unforgiving storm.

Yet somehow in the gloom, you look past the despair,
And you won’t let go of what you know lies just behind the veil.

No dreams were dreamt in vain;
lost love you will regain;

And all those hopes for joy and peace
weren’t hoped only in pain.

Another day will come; the clouds will blow away;
What you hoped would be, will finally be, and will be here to stay.

Hear my prayer by Purcell, sung by the Choir of Clare College, Cambridge

My nature

"To conceal anything from those to whom I am attached, is not in my nature. I can never close my lips where I have opened my heart."

--Charles Dickens

A friend

"A friend is someone who knows the song in your heart, and can sing it back to you when you have forgotten the words."

--D. Roberts
"I am the LORD your God, who brought you up out of Egypt. Open wide your mouth and I will fill it."

--Psalm 81:10

Sunday, November 15, 2009

A Case of You by Diana Krall



(Song by Joni Mitchell).
I am a dreamer. God made me a dreamer, and when I dream, I feel His pleasure. I long for transcendence so strongly that it frequently overwhelms me. I long to revel in the deep things of God—of present beauty, of ultimate reality, and of future glory.

But there are events in our lives that ... [to read the rest of this essay, click here].

Saturday, November 14, 2009

An optimist

"For myself I am an optimist - it does not seem to be much use to be anything else."

--Winston S. Churchill

A beautiful soul

I am a dreamer. God made me a dreamer, and when I dream, I feel His pleasure. I long for transcendence so strongly that it frequently overwhelms me. I long to revel in the deep things of God—of present beauty, of ultimate reality, and of future glory.

But there are events in our lives that cause us to stumble, to break, and to focus on the storm rather than on the Master. We sometimes feel betrayed and abandoned by others, and even by God. And in the crucible of those moments, when our usually guarded worldviews are forced wide open, we allow fears, doubts, anger, and cynicism to creep in, even in small doses, and those feelings become hard to kill.

In those times of the dark night of the soul, we too often make subtle vows to ourselves that we won't ever be hurt those ways again. We build walls to make sure we stay protected, and create venues to avoid the pain.

But there is a better way.

These are the moments that become the hinges upon which our lives take major turns. These are the empty days and sleepless nights that count, despite how much they feel like a waste. These are the moments when we choose to seize the day, to seize the beauty, and to seize what truly matters.

A beautiful soul. I wonder what it takes to be a beautiful soul.

We all have things that weigh us down, but in the midst of our burdens, a transcendent mindset beckons us, one which the world cannot comprehend. Not all of us will choose it, and not all of us can even understand it yet, including me. But we can take small steps. We can admit we are not where we need to be, and purpose where our lives are headed. We can choose to truly be people of faith.

We tend to live by the notion that as life seems more trustworthy, we will be able to take more risks, and conversely, that if life gets less trustworthy, we will protect ourselves and take fewer risks. But what would be necessary for our hearts to take those risks even when life feels unsafe?

There is a kind of heart that learns to truly trust God for real, no matter what. There are eyes that see past today to eternity. There is a brokenness that embraces surrender like never before.

One of the most crucial choices we will make in life is vulnerability. Being open to the possibility of woundedness, disappointment, and even treachery, yet remaining willing to pursue life's beauty.

When we walk through dark valleys, we have the opportunity to take some terrifying emotional and spiritual risks which expose us to both the greatest joys and the deepest pains possible in this life. But without making the choice to be vulnerable, to seize the beauty of God and of life no matter what comes our way, we are only half alive.

C.S Lewis wrote that "Christ did not teach and suffer that we might become, even in the natural loves, more careful of our own happiness . . . we shall draw nearer to God, not by trying to avoid the sufferings inherent in all loves, but by accepting them and offering them to Him; throwing away all defensive armor. If our hearts need to be broken, and if He chooses this as the way in which they should break, so be it."

In that mindset, we choose to keep holding on, to believe that dawn is coming. We embrace brokenness, and embrace it God's way. We know that He is using the trials of life to challenge our hearts, to prove us, and to help us surrender our wills—not to avoid pain. God, do whatever it takes to make us holy, no matter what the cost, and teach us to rejoice in whatever that cost may be.

Life is about intimacy and beauty, and will be for all eternity. It's what God, the Gospel, heaven, and humanity are all about. We embrace the beauty. We pursue it, revel in it, and dive into it with all our hearts.

God, You have woven beauty and majesty everywhere. Even in the darkest hours, we have abundant reason to stand in awe of You, in amazement at what You have created, and in gratitude for what You have done and are still doing. You delight to give Your children good gifts. You cannot but bless Your Son's beloved Bride.
We drink deeply from the fountain of delights.

A beautiful soul. I wonder what it takes to be a beautiful soul.

We choose to be carefree, unworried, and untroubled. We choose to cast our cares on the Lord, because He cares for us. We choose to be resolute, confident, cheerful, joyous, and lighthearted. We choose optimism. We play the Glad Game and really mean it.

We purposefully choose to not be disillusioned. We reject cynicism. We sanctify our imaginations. We resist the tendency to take shortcuts and the easy way out. We choose the way of wisdom.

We choose to believe that the presence of pain does not equate in any way to the absence of God and does not imply His displeasure. God allows all His children to go through dark valleys to teach them trust and obedience.

We choose to believe that the wilderness may, indeed, be the best place for God to find us. Empty of all pride, success, and confidence in our own strength, we turn to God, admitting that we cannot enter the Promised Land without Him, and that in truth, He—not our supposed dreams and plans—is the Promised Land.

We choose to believe that everything God had made, and everything God does, is good, and that His design is always right. He is the sovereign, brilliant Master Designer. He never makes mistakes of any kind, and He constantly takes our lives—including our wounds and even our mistakes—and turns them into glory.

Oh, God, may the depths of me collide with the depths of You! May I be transformed through and through, from the inside out.

We choose to believe that God cannot help but bless us. He blesses us constantly, whether we realize it not. He constantly works things together for our good, and will only ever bless those who are His. What could He do that would not ultimately be a blessing, even if it currently feels like a loss or a disappointment? Even His discipline is a blessing, because in teaching us to give up something, He is focusing us on His will, our character, His glory, and our good.

We choose to believe that God loves to celebrate. God delights to invite His family to a feast He has prepared. He is the King who serves, the Friend who prepares a table before us, the Father who will throw the most lavish wedding in history, the Master who even washes our feet as we sit down to have Him share His bread with us. In that spirit, we offer our lives as a constant celebration, a continual feast, a neverending expression of joy. We choose to be carefree because our hearts' deepest desires were already met at the Cross of Christ. The Lord is our Shepherd, and so we lack nothing.

We choose to embrace the paradoxes. We know that there is beauty beyond comprehension in the mysteries, in not knowing all the answers yet running to the One who does, and in being children with endless questions yet belonging to the faithful, trustworthy Father. We question for a short time, but we do not let our questions hold us back from wonder, amazement, and worship. We fall on our knees and stare and laugh. We stand confidently, and walk without fear, and dance for Him, whether He answers all our questions or not.

We choose to not let anything draw us away from the simplicity of our love for Jesus and our devotion to Him.

We believe that God is on our side and He does not write any truly sad endings. The Lord will be faithful to complete what He started in us. God is the Master Artist, and we are unfinished portraits. God will make us glorious in the end. Jesus, paint my life!

Lord, we have set our sails as best as we know, in the direction of Your will, so far as we understand it. Please fill our sails with Your wind and guide and redirect us where You will.

We hold nothing back. No reservations. No separate stash for ourselves. It all belongs to You. Our only goal is to be pleasing to You, our Master.

We bow our knees to You with tears of joy and gratitude that we no longer bow to sin and death. We do not argue with doors You open or shut. We are soldiers committed to Your task. We are children dedicated to the honor of Your name.

We are Your followers, forever grateful for Your opening our eyes to see, and forever ready to do Your bidding, so that others may see what great things You have done for us.

You alone are the One worthy to direct our lives. You are the only One we can truly trust to write the very best story of our lives. You alone call the shots in our lives, and for that we are eternally and joyfully indebted.

Lord, make our lives a song. Let the words of our mouths and the meditations of our hearts be acceptable to You, and may they pour out as praise to You. Write the lyrics of our lives, and let them be worship to You. Whether the songs sound upbeat, sad, calm, or fearful, let us take those songs and offer them up, imperfect though our offerings may be. Rewrite the songs of our lives the way You choose, and we will learn the tune and sing it back to You with a grateful heart.

Lord, I know what it will take to be a beautiful soul. Lord, I believe; help my unbelief.
Come what may; to You be the glory.

"Christ did not teach and suffer that we might become, even in the natural loves, more careful of our own happiness . . . we shall draw nearer to God, not by trying to avoid the sufferings inherent in all loves, but by accepting them and offering them to Him; throwing away all defensive armor. If our hearts need to be broken, and if He chooses this as the way in which they should break, so be it."

--C.S. Lewis
"Christ did not teach and suffer that we might become, even in the natural loves, more careful of our own happiness . . . we shall draw nearer to God, not by trying to avoid the sufferings inherent in all loves, but by accepting them and offering them to Him; throwing away all defensive armor. If our hearts need to be broken, and if He chooses this as the way in which they should break, so be it."

--C.S. Lewis

Friday, November 13, 2009

Thursday, November 12, 2009

That I Would Be Good by Alanis Morissette

"... To bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair."

--Isaiah 61:3

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Bach's Mass in B minor - Dona nobis pacem

"You will make known to me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness and joy; In Your right hand there are pleasures forever."

--Psalm 16:11

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

"To have found God and still to pursue Him is the soul's paradox of love, scorned indeed by the too-easily-satisfied religionist, but justified in happy experience by the children of the burning heart."

--A.W. Tozer, The Pursuit of God, 14

Monday, November 9, 2009

Skalkaho Falls - with Katie Sitler, Helen Howell, and Jenni Travis


“Costly grace is the gospel which must be sought again and again, the gift which must be asked for, the door at which a man must knock. Such grace is costly because it calls us to follow Jesus Christ. It is costly because it costs a man his life, and it is grace because it gives man the only true life. It is costly because it condemns sin, and grace because it justifies the sinner. Above all it is costly because it cost God the life of his Son: ‘ye were bought at a price’, and what has cost God much cannot be cheap for us.”

--Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Sunday, November 8, 2009

“While vast continents are shrouded in darkness, the burden of proof lies upon you to show that the circumstances in which God has placed you were meant by God to keep you out of the foreign mission field.”

--Ion Keith-Falconer

“It will not do to say that you have no special call to go to China. With these facts before you and with the command of the Lord Jesus to go and preach the gospel to every creature, you need rather to ascertain whether you have a special call to stay at home.”

--J. Hudson Taylor

Saturday, November 7, 2009

"If Jesus Christ be God and died for me, then no sacrifice can be too great for me to make for Him."

– C.T. Studd

Friday, November 6, 2009

"The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit."

--Ps. 34:18

Thursday, November 5, 2009

"God is on our side and He does not write any truly sad endings."

--a kindred spirit

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Through the Lord's mercies we are not consumed, because His compassion does not fail; it is new every morning. Great is Your faithfulness!

--Lam. 3:22-23

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Monday, November 2, 2009

This is what the LORD says: "Don't let the wise man boast of his wisdom, or the strong man boast of his strength, or the rich man boast of his riches. Instead, let whoever wants to boast about something important boast about understanding and knowing Me. Let him take pride in knowing Me, the LORD, and in understanding that I exercise kindness, justice, and righteousness on the earth, because these are the things in which I delight," declares the LORD.

Jer. 9:23-24

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Whom do I have in heaven besides You?
And there is no one on the earth that I desire besides You.
My flesh and my heart may fail,
But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.

Psalm 73: 25-26

Friday, October 30, 2009

For the eyes of the LORD move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose hearts are completely His.

--2 Chron. 16:9

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Our capacity for gratitude, love, and joy

"We are now capable of a joy which unfallen spirits could not have known: the bliss of pardoned sin, the heaven of deep conscious obligation to eternal mercy. The bonds which bind redeemed ones to their God are the strongest which exist.

What a joy it will be to love the Lord more than any other of His creatures, and assuredly we shall do so. Do not think that this is an unwarrantable assertion, for I feel sure that it is the truth. Do you not read in the gospels of a woman who washed the Savior’s feet with tears and wiped them with the hairs of her head, and anointed them with ointment? Did not the Savior say that she loved much because she had much forgiven? I take it that the same general principle will apply to all places, to eternity as well as to time, and therefore I believe that forgiven sinners will have a love to God and to His Christ such as cherubim and seraphim never felt; Gabriel cannot love Jesus as a forgiven man will do.

Those who have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb will be nearer and dearer to Him, and He will be nearer and dearer to them, than all the ministering spirits before the throne, for He took upon Him our nature and not theirs."

--Charles Spurgeon, Honey from a Lion

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The Lord is enough. The Lord is more than enough. The Lord is our sufficiency.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Lord, make us pliable in Your hands. Mold and shape our lives in Your wisdom. May we not resist the ways You change our hearts and lives, knowing that Your ways are always trustworthy.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Walk with God in the cool of the evening. Carve out time to be alone with God.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

This is the day that Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it.

--Psalm 118:24

Friday, October 23, 2009

Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever!

--Ephesians 3:20

Such a home

"The blessed influence of loving speech day after day and month after month is impossible to estimate. It is like the falling of warm spring sunshine and rain on the garden, causing lovely flowers to spring up in every nook and corner, and filling all the air with sweet fragrance. Only beauty and gentleness of character can come from such a home."

--Rev. J.R. Miller, The Family

Thursday, October 22, 2009

The beauty and the wonder

"I still find each day too short for all the thoughts I want to think, all the walks I want to take, all the books I want to read, and all the friends I want to see. The longer I live, the more my mind dwells upon the beauty and the wonder of the world."

--John Burroughs
Trust in Him at all times; Pour out your heart to Him, for God is our refuge.

--Psalm 62:8

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

No one will be able to stand up against you all the days of your life ... I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you.

--Joshua 1:5

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Contentment

"Contentment, then, is the product of a heart resting in God. It is the soul’s enjoyment of that peace that passes all understanding. It is the outcome of my will being brought into subjection to the Divine will. It is the blessed assurance that God does all things well, and is, even now, making all things work together for my ultimate good."

--A.W. Pink
I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith. I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.

--Philippians 3:8-11

Monday, October 19, 2009

"Give up on your pondering, and fall down on your knees."

--Michael Card

Sunday, October 18, 2009

I bow my heart

"So I will go wherever He is calling me
I lose my life to find my life in Him
I give my all to gain the hope that never dies
I bow my heart, take up my cross, and follow Him."

--Kristyn Getty
Will not the Judge of all the earth do what is right?

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Loss

"... God has allowed in the lives of each of us some sort of loss, the withdrawal of something we valued, in order that we may learn to offer ourselves a little more willingly, to allow the touch of death on one more thing we have clutched so tightly, and thus know fullness and freedom and joy that much sooner. We're not naturally inclined to love God and seek His Kingdom. Trouble may help to incline us--that is, it may tip us over, put some pressure on us, lean us in the right direction."

--Elisabeth Elliot
Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost. Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy? Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and your soul will delight in the richest of fare.

--Isa. 55:1–2

Friday, October 16, 2009

The best way to begin the day

"Do not have your concert first, and then tune your instrument afterwards. Begin the day with the Word of God and prayer, and get first of all into harmony with Him."

--Hudson Taylor
"… it would seem that our Lord finds our desires, not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased."

--C.S. Lewis

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Christ alone

"Whoever is not satisfied with Christ alone, strives after something beyond absolute perfection."

--John Calvin
But God told Samuel, "Looks aren't everything. Don't be impressed with his looks and stature. I've already eliminated him. God judges persons differently than humans do. Men and women look at the face; God looks into the heart.

--1 Sam 16:7, The Message

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

It has always been my ambition to preach the gospel where Christ was not known, so that those who were not told about him will see, and those who have not heard will understand ... how will they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? ... declare His glory among the nations, His wonders among all nations ... go into all the world and preach the Gospel to every nation ... you will be my witnesses to the ends of the earth ... redeemed ... out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Because of Christ's death, I will never perish in hell. I will live with the Lord in glory forever.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Lord, we have set our sails as best as we know, in the direction of Your will, so far as we understand it. Please fill our sails with Your wind and guide and redirect us where You will.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Through Christ's blood, we have access to the throne of God. Jesus is our High Priest. He cleanses us and takes us into the Most Holy Place, God's presence.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Anna Michelle Biondi (my niece)


"Do not take up your time so much with studying your own heart as with studying Christ's heart. 'For one look at yourself, take ten looks at Christ!'"

--Robert Murray McCheyne

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

I would rather be a "fool" for Christ than a wise man for the world. The wisdom of this world is foolishness to God, and vice versa. If you choose to live for Christ, you will not be understood by the world. The things of God are discerned through the Holy Spirit alone, not by human wisdom. Be a "fool" for Christ, or you will, in the end, be a fool for eternity.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

God elects His chosen completely apart from their wills, and despite their sin. God alone is the active agent of salvation. He chooses whom He wills, and hardens whom He wills.

Monday, October 5, 2009

God is pleased when we build altars of worship to Him in remembrance of the great things He has done. Do not forget the waters He has parted for you, the battles He has fought for you, and the ways He has led you.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Lift your vision of God off the anthropomorphic, anthropocentric, idolatrous perspectives we get caught up in so easily. God is holy. God is separate. God is stunning, compelling, and terrifying. Let's not let familiarity with theology cause us to think we understand God or degrade Him to a subject of study. God is the Creator, powerful beyond compare, brilliant beyond comprehension, stunning in His beauty, and amazing in His lovingkindness.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

The presence of pain does not equate in any way to the absence of God and does not imply His displeasure. God allows all His children to go through dark valleys to teach them trust and obedience.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Spoiling each other

I was just talking with a friend who was sharing how she is using an upcoming bonus to get the love of her life a special gift that she knows will really bless him. And he blesses her as well in many ways, big and small. What a beautiful picture of how a life of love is supposed to be lived, where two people almost work to outgive each other, outserve each other, outbless each other. What better kind of life could there be?

"Jesus specializes in making dead things alive and making broken things new."

--Matt Ballard

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Forgiveness is letting go of all hope of a different past. It is absorbing the debt someone owes you.

"Jesus said, "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing."


--Luke 23:34


"At my first defense, no one came to my support, but everyone deserted me. May it not be held against them."

--2 Tim 4:16

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Without your wounds

"Without your wounds where would your power be? It is your melancholy that makes your low voice tremble into the hearts of men and women. The very angels themselves cannot persuade the wretched and blundering children on earth as can one human being broken on the wheels of living. In love's service only wounded soldiers can serve."

--Thorton Wilder, The Angel That Troubled The Waters

More than meets the eye

"Behind the corpse in the reservoir, behind the ghost on the links,
Behind the lady who dances and the man who madly drinks,
Under the look of fatigue, the attack of migraine and the sigh
There is always another story, there is more than meets the eye."

--W. H. Auden

February Song by Josh Groban

When two people love and live for each other

"It is so beautiful to be loved as Laurie loves me; he isn’t sentimental; doesn’t say much about it, but I see and feel it in all he says and does, and it makes me so happy and humble that I don’t seem to be the same girl I was.

I never knew how good, and generous, and tender he was till now, for he lets me read his heart, and I find it full of noble impulses, and hopes, and purposes, and I am so proud to know it’s mine. He says he feels as if he "could make a prosperous voyage now with me aboard as mate, and lots of love for ballast."

I pray I may be all he believes me, for I love my gallant captain with all my heart, and soul, and might, and never will desert him, while God lets us be together.

Oh, mother, I never knew how much like heaven this world could be, when two people love and live for one another!"

--Louisa May Alcott, Good Wives
Give everything for Christ. Don't look back. Let go of anything that hinders you. Run the race, steady and strong. Love those around you with a heart full of grace and gratitude to Jesus. Run your heart out. No selfishness. No mediocrity. No quitting. No complaints. Run until the end, for the prize.

Keep your eyes on the Witness, the Example, the Martyr who has already testified to what happens when it's all said and done. A life lived for God, sold out to the honor of His name, even "wasted" for Christ, is all glory. Never give in, never give up, never look back. Love the Lord, love the body of Christ, love your family, love your beloved, love the world, love the lost, love with everything you have in you, for Christ's sake. Run the race well.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Vulnerability

"To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket--safe, dark, motionless, airless--it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable ... The only place outside Heaven where you can be perfectly safe from all the dangers ... of love is Hell."

--C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves

A larger, lovely whole

"After three years, I continue to live in that tension. But there is a significant difference now. The sorrow I feel has not disappeared, but it has been integrated into my life as a painful part of a healthy whole. Initially, my loss was so overwhelming to me that it was the dominant emotion--sometimes the only emotion--I had. I felt like I was staring at the stump of a huge tree that had just been cut down in my backyard. The stump, which sat all alone, kept reminding me of that beloved tree that I had lost. I could think of nothing but that tree. Every time I looked out the window, all I could see was that stump. Eventually, however, I decided to do something about it. I landscaped my backyard, reclaiming it once again as my own. I decided to keep the stump there, since it was both too big and too precious to remove. Instead of getting rid of it, I worked around it. I planted shrubs, trees, flowers, and grass. I laid out a brick pathway and built two benches. Then I watched everything grow. Now the stump remains, still reminding me of the beloved tree I lost. But the stump is surrounded by a beautiful garden of blooming flowers and growing trees and lush grass. Likewise, the sorrow I feel remains, but I have tried to create a landscape around the loss so that what was once ugly is now an integral part of a larger, lovely whole."

--Jerry Sittser, A Grace Disguised, pg. 51.

A dreamer

"A dreamer is one who can only find his way by moonlight, and his punishment is that he sees the dawn before the rest of the world."

--Oscar Wilde
When you have responsibility without ability, you have to go to the One who is able.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Lord, grant us precious moments in Your presence. Grant us rest beside quiet waters. Lead us to places of refreshing. Please help us quiet ourselves and be still before You. Teach us to pray, not so that we would speak better, but that we would listen better. Please teach us to hear Your will.

Friday, September 25, 2009

A while ago I used the phrase “Gatekeeper of Eternal Beauty” to describe a very dear friend, and it’s become a recurring theme ever since. As Christians, we long for transcendence. We want our lives to count for something infinitely bigger than just the random nothings that the world tells us are so important. But how do we do it, especially when we face so many distractions in our daily lives. I want to offer a suggestion: we need to surround ourselves with Gatekeepers of Eternal Beauty and follow their examples ... [to read the rest of this essay, click here].

Gatekeepers of Eternal Beauty

A while ago I used the phrase “Gatekeeper of Eternal Beauty” to describe a very dear friend, and it’s become a recurring theme ever since. As Christians, we long for transcendence. We want our lives to count for something infinitely bigger than just the random nothings that the world tells us are so important. But how do we do it, especially when we face so many distractions in our daily lives. I want to offer a suggestion: we need to surround ourselves with Gatekeepers of Eternal Beauty and follow their examples.

In the New Testament, Paul personally taught Timothy how to be a pastor, and then exhorted Timothy to teach others, and for those others to teach others, too. Today, we also need these kinds of Gatekeepers, these friends and mentors who are further down the road of the Christian life than we are. They’ve seen the beauty of God, the Gospel, and eternity better than we have yet, so we spend time with them because we want to think their good thoughts after them, and follow their example. We mimic their hearts and lives so the eternal beauty that’s reflected in their lives gets imprinted onto our lives, too, so that we, too, can increasingly reflect that same beauty to others.

Gatekeepers are not easy to find. They are few and far between, but they are definitely worth the search. If you find a Gatekeeper, befriend him or her as if your life depends on it—because, in one sense, it does. A Gatekeeper watches out for our best interest, often because he or she has already been down the road we’re about to take and knows the dangers we will face. If we want a victorious journey, we must take heed to their exhortations and encouragements.

A Gatekeeper of Eternal Beauty is a student of beauty, a lover of goodness, and a seeker of truth. A Gatekeeper is someone who sees beyond the façade of daily life, and even of a whole lifetime, to eternity, to heaven, to the Gospel, to ultimate reality—the way God sees things. A Gatekeeper is someone who understands that our preoccupation with eternity and the Gospel doesn’t just affect our future status in glory, but our daily life today as well. God has woven His story and His beauty into our daily lives, right here and now. Gatekeepers love life, not because their lives are perfect, but because their hearts know the One who put all the beauty into life, and they are blissfully overwhelmed by Him and by what He does in their lives.

A Gatekeeper is not only a pursuer of beauty, goodness, and truth, but is also a guardian, a sentry who makes sure that we do not lose touch with those issues which matter most. In a metaphorical, shepherding sense, they help us know which gates to enter and depart from, and they send us in the right direction.

Becoming a Gatekeeper happens to those whose worldviews are entrenched and wrapped up in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. This world is utterly dark until we understand and receive the forgiveness of God through Christ, who died in our place, as our Substitute on the Cross. That truth, the Gospel, is the cornerstone of all beauty in our lives. Sadly, few of us plumb its depths and its massive implications for the beauty that our lives can enjoy. Why? Because we do not understand how to take the truths we hear and read and reach to the depths of our worldview.

Reprogramming our worldview is not as easy as we may think. Changing our worldview is not about taking a class or reading a book. We can change our beliefs fairly easily, but not our worldviews. They are deeply hidden inside us, and though they get easily programmed when we are children, they get harder and harder to change as we grow up. In fact, it’s difficult to even identify them. A worldview is not what you think about; it’s simply what you think.

Very often our beliefs and our worldviews are polar opposites, even though we don’t necessarily realize it. For example, we can truly believe that life is beautiful, but have worldviews that “know” on a deeper level that life is sad and disappointing. Or we can truly believe that our bodies are good, because God made them, but on a worldview level we may hate our bodies. We can adhere to something in principle, but not really “buy it” internally. And in the contest of belief versus worldview, worldview always wins.

Gatekeepers are people who have deliberately asked God to push eternity into the depths of their thinking and to reprogram their worldview. In Romans 12, after Paul plumbed the depths of the Gospel, the very first way he applies that great theology is by exhorting us to offer ourselves as living sacrifices to God and to be transformed by the renewing of our minds. God wants our minds—our worldviews—renewed.

God takes such willing servants and grants them the desires of their hearts, which He Himself planted there. He shapes them into seasoned warriors, passionate poets, more prepared than ever to minister grace to those around them. He makes them better able to cry out to God in prayer than ever before. He gives them eyes to see the angels coming down from the mountain that no one else can see. He helps them see that He really does bring beauty from ashes.

As God transforms our worldviews, He puts into us a greater capacity for joy, and a deep gratitude for the good things in life that He grants us. But whether every dream of ours comes true or not, we find ourselves realizing more and more that life’s beauty does not come from God becoming our personal Genie Who grants all our wishes. We find that beauty is already all around us. Our eyes lose the scales that were over them, and we find our hearts welling up to the point of overflowing. We find ourselves smiling at everyone we meet, not because our lives are perfect, but because no matter what storm we may face, we have the settled conviction that God knows everything that is happening in our lives and has a plan for our good and His glory.

A heart set on fire with that worldview cannot help but want to cherish life and soak in the beauty all around us. The Gospel takes us to the point where we want to give and give and give, to be “wasted for Christ.” A heart set on fire for God knows how much it’s been chosen, forgiven, loved, wooed, cherished, and protected. Gatekeepers put all of life’s circumstances through that paradigm—that filter, that grid. As with all of life, any particular situation isn't just about that situation; it's about something much bigger. It’s about the Gospel and about ultimate reality, about how the circumstances of our lives reflect or explain God's character, His salvation plan, and heaven. There is a always massive theme going on behind the scenes, and though we can't see it yet, it's there.

If your heart is focused on God’s beauty, you will find that you will naturally surround yourself with Gatekeepers because those cherished moments in their company are what make life seem healthy, whole, and beautiful. You’ll find yourself asking them what they are reading, what they’ve been thinking about, what songs they’ve been singing, and what kind of art they’ve been enjoying or creating. You’ll find that you have conversations that you look back on with amazement. The cheap stuff of life—the gossip, the celebrities, the tv shows, the pursuit of more and more “stuff”—will show its true colors, and will sicken you. You won’t reject the cheap side of life because a preacher told you to, or because you read about it in a book; you will reject it because you really want to, and you will replace it with the true beauty—God’s beauty. Changing our worldviews is not about setting up a list of dos and don’ts; it’s about truly wanting to pursue God, from the heart.

Some of us might feel discouraged by these concepts because though we want that kind of life, we feel like it’s out of reach. If you don’t feel like much of a Gatekeeper, like you really want to be but can’t imagine how you’ll ever get there, take heart. Chances are you’re already on the path and don’t realize it. The key is not our perfection, but our direction. We don’t need to focus on where we think we should be or could be by now. We need to ask ourselves what makes our heart soar and what makes us feel like we are home. We need to ask ourselves what are the deepest desires of our hearts. If what you want most in life is to tell others about what God has done for them in Christ, and to glorify God with your life, and enjoy and share the beauty He’s given us in Himself and in His creation, then you are already well on the way to being a Gatekeeper. You’re already marching to the beat of a different drum than the world; keep marching. May we not grow weary.

To all that is beautiful, good, and true,

--Tim