The Gospel Every Day

No Place That I Know
If there’s one topic I can’t stop thinking about lately, it’s my need for the Gospel. Not a “saving” Gospel in that I need to be evangelized, but an applied Gospel. Not just the saving Truth of Christ dying for my sin, but the application of that Truth in my life.

The last few weeks the Lord has used his Word mightily in my life. It’s incredible for me to think that He goes beyond the bounds of saving me, to then nourish and train me through the teaching of His Word. Fortunately, I am a part of a church that cherishes God’s Word and proclaims it week in and week out and is committed to it.

I was reading in 1 Thessalonians last night where Paul writes to the church, “Having so fond an affection for you, we were well-pleased to impart to you not only the gospel of God but also our own lives, because you had become very dear to us” (I Thess. 2:8). What strikes me in this passage is Paul is explaining how he didn’t just give the church a Gospel presentation and leave town, but he stayed on with them and gave “his life”. He gave his time, his energy, his knowledge, his whole life to the church. He wanted to see them grow and watch as their hearts were transformed by the grace of God. Obviously, it didn’t happen over night because he had to stay on with them and continue to teach and train them. But Paul loved the church there and earnestly desired to be with them because they “…had become very dear…” to him. So apparently, the Gospel of Christ had brought him and the church in to a new and exciting relationship — one where God could be glorified and the church could be edified. This is why I need the Gospel every day.

I need the Gospel daily because it takes the focus off of my own life. It allows me to see the grace of God at work in both the Church and my heart and forces me to my knees in humble and willing submission to the God of the universe. It’s when I lose sight of the cross that I don’t want to serve, don’t want to love people, and simply drown in self-righteousness — which is how my heart unfortunately has felt these past weeks. I appreciate Martin Luther’s words when he writes, “…it is true that the doctrine of the Gospel takes all glory, wisdom, righteousness, etc., from men and ascribes them to the Creator alone, who makes everything out of nothing.” If I don’t get a daily reminder of my need for the Gospel, my heart grows hard and I continue to walk in my former ways — that is, in disobedience to the Creator. Praise the Lord for the way He works in each of our hearts and praise Him for how He uses His Word to reveal areas in our lives that need change.

Hear, See, and Do – #2

It’s that time again for another crack at Hear, See, and Do. It’s just another way to get inside my head…

Hear: John Piper’s Sermon “How the Supremacy of Christ Creates Radical Christian Sacrifice”
John Piper recently preached this sermon at the Together For the Gospel Conference in Lousiville, Kentucky and I’ve listened to it a few times now and would like to pass it on. If this doesn’t go down as one of the defining sermons of his life I’ll be sad — trust me, it’s a good one.

See: This video and song by Phil Wickham.
It’s a song called “True Love” off his Cannons album. This acoustic version is ridiculously good:

Do: Visit evadethenoise.com and read reviews by my friends and me!
I love music and movies, there’s no denying that. That’s why my friend Abe and I created and founded evadethenoise.com. It started out as a way for us to push our love for music and is slowly evolving into more. This past week we added movie reviews (thanks to Jared), and we’re continually adding more news and reviews each week. Oh, and I did a review on Wall-E that’s a must read…robots are neat.

Some recent reviews from me: Wall-E, Coldplay, and Death Cab For Cutie.
Some from the rest of the evade team: Expelled and The Killing.

[To visit the first Hear, See, and Do click here]

Digging Deeper

Cyclical

Last night I had a great time with my friend Josh just hanging out and shooting (our cameras) under a nearby overpass. I’ve had this recent thought that photography can be a little like studying the Bible, and vice versa. In Bible study, we always want to dig deeper in to a passage until we can’t dig any further and we’ve pulled out all the nuggets we can find. The classic example is one of my teachers from high school said that when he was in seminary he was told to go study Ephesians 5:18 and write down 20 different observations. Unfortunately, it’s not a long passage, so getting 20 would be tough — though not impossible. When all the students returned to class with their observations the professor was satisfied, but then he assigned the same assignment again, only this time they would have to think of 20 more observations, all of which needed to be different than the first set they turned. This continued until they had something like 50-75 different observations on one passage. Each student was forced dig deep, then dig a little deeper, then even more. But in the end they were taught never to underestimate the power of observation and being able to study well.

I think the same goes for photography. Last night we spent almost 3 hours underneath the 5 freeway and we weren’t bored. We saw different angles and different objects to fill our camera frame. We tried different lighting and different poses in order to create something new and inventive. I laid in the ground and my friend Josh got inside of a concrete tube. Nothing was going to stop us from getting everything out of that place as we could, and now I feel like we’ve got some great images. All we have to do is take the time and effor to dig a little deeper and we’ll start to see change. For Josh and me, we started to see how to make a concrete tube look new and interesting and even how to use a porta potty for something other than going to the restroom.

My desire is always to dig deeper, but sometimes I just give up a little early. In Bible study, I probably short myself on time and don’t let the verses sink in long enough for me to dwell on them and think through them. In photography it’s similar — I give up too early and don’t pursue a subject or a place long enough to know what it’s all about. I think I’m going to continue to try this out in both my study of God’s Word and in my photography. I have this feeling that the results will be both a blessing and encouraging.

See more of my photos from the underpass in my “Titles and Images” group on Flickr.
Josh’s photos can be found here.

Hear, See, and Do – #1

If there’s one thing I love, it’s everything. Seriously though, there are a ton of things that I think are amazing. For instance, TiVo. I think TiVo is ridiculously awesome. The fact that I can be at work and it can record the EuroCup 2008 soccer matches for me — unbelievable. By the way, if you didn’t catch the German vs. Turkey semi-final game — you missed out.

I thought I would try a sort of different blog post today — something for your senses. I’m calling it “Hear, See, Do” and I’m borrowing the concept from Newsweek. I’m a subscriber to the weekly publication Newsweek and every week they have this little side bar of things they think we should read, buy, see, etc., and I thought it would be fun to give you my picks for this week. I don’t know if I can pull this off every week, but we’ll see how it goes. Now on to the list!

Hear: Coldplay - Viva La Vida Or Death And All His Friends
This fourth full length album from Coldplay is ridiculously good. Many longtime listeners of Coldplay aren’t impressed, but let me tell you I’m stoked on it. They describe themselves as “soft-hitting rock and roll” and that’s exactly what this album is. It’s just got a good vibe to it. I’d say it’s great for driving or running — not because it’s fast, but because it moves. It’s a little hard to explain, but just get yourself a copy (a legal copy).

See: Chicago - A ridiculously awesome photo gallery
Everyone that reads my blog knows I love photography. Whether it be still life, weddings, or whatever, I’m digging beautiful images. So when I came across this photo gallery of “outtake” images from the Chicago Tribune I wanted to book the flights and go see if Oprah wanted to do lunch with Bethany and me. Honestly, these 83 photos of Chicago during all seasons of the year are inspiring and definitely worth a look (and make sure and read all the lovely captions!).

Do: Buy a Long board (for the streets)
My wife bought me a long board for my birthday a few weeks ago and I’ve been cruising around town and lovin’ life. In fact, if you’re on Twitter you may have seen my update last week as I was skating from Starbucks back to our apartment. Let’s just say, I might get rid of my car.

That’s all for this week — enjoy.

Fixing Cars and Thoughts on Fathers

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Today wasn’t a normal day for me — I worked on my wife’s car. I’ve never really been “Mr. Fix-It”, but I was willing to give it a shot today. For a few months now we have been forced to get in to Bethany’s 20 year old Toyota Corolla (which I call “Black Magic”) from the passenger side. The door handle on the driver’s side decided it didn’t feel like working and we’ve been perplexed as to how to fix it for some time now. But after months of this annoying problem, I decided that today I would fix it. Actually, it really wasn’t all that hard and if it were not for the learning curve of how to disassemble a car door, it probably wouldn’t have taken that long. Thankfully I have 2 fathers (birth father and father-in-law) that were able to guide me through some of the processes to keep me moving forward in my mission. With only about 3 hours of work — including driving to a from Pep Boys twice — I finally got the door fixed, put back together, and the wife is quite happy. But the point isn’t that I fixed the car, it’s really about dads.

My dad really was Mr. Fix-It. I’m convinced that man could fix anything and everything that is mechanical. I’ve seen him take engines apart, air conditioners, thermostats, dishwashers and many other items and put them back together in a functional fashion. The same goes for my father-in-law. He too is a very handy guy and though I can’t say I grew up seeing him fix things, I’m confident that he could get the job done if need be. I guess it just comes with territory of being a dad. And as I drove around town today picking up parts and getting the right tools, I felt like a got a glimpse of being a dad. Dads do things because they love their families. They also love accomplishing tasks and getting jobs done — that’s probably a guy thing too, but mainly it’s a dad thing. Dads have to be able to think outside the box and get creative when they don’t know what they’re doing. They have to be able to learn on-the-fly and act like they know what they’re talking about to the “super knowledgeable” sales guy at that auto parts store. They have to be confident in front of their wives and convince them that the car door will actually work again and that the scratch they just made on the door isn’t noticeable or already existed. Dads have to take their Saturdays off and work the yard, fix the car, mow the grass, clean the garage, etc. Even today when I called my own dad for help he was out in the yard and I quote “taking these 1/2 inch weeds, loading them in a wheel barrow, and putting them a big pile so I can burn them.” That’s just what dads do.

I know tomorrow is Father’s Day and many will celebrate with gifts and big meals, which is great. But can I urge you to thank your dad for the many hours he spent putting bikes together so you could ride with your friends. Thank him for playing catch with you so you could learn to throw the ball just right. Thank him for going to work at 4:30 every weekday so you could live in a house and play in the yard that he mows. Thank your dad for taking care of your mom and bringing her flowers, cards, chocolate and remembering their anniversary. Thank him for showing you the way to hold a screw driver, start the grill, hold a baseball bat, and chop wood. Don’t forget to thank him for showing you how to fix a leaky faucet and at the same time, how not to fix a leaky faucet. Thank dad for buying you cleats, shin guards, and a soccer ball so you could go to practice equipped. Thank him for taking you to “urgent care” when soccer practice didn’t go as planned. Thank him for showing you how to tie a tie, drive a car, and how to apply for a job. Thank your dad for whatever you’ve learned over the years that you are just starting to apply in your life. For me, it was fixing a car door, but for you it might be something different — either way, you know you wouldn’t have been able to do it without him.