Christian, are you ready?

The brouhaha over Chris Broussard’s comments on homosexuality could not be more predictable, and it’s an indicator of what we should now expect. This is the new normal.

Broussard did not inject himself or his Christianity into this event. He was asked about his personal views, and he explained them. He’s done so before, in an honest, non-hateful manner. This is not Pat Robertson blaming the latest natural disaster on “the gays.”

Most of us are fortunate enough not to have a million people listening in on our responses, but we will have these same conversations. We need to have answers for these questions. We need to be ready for our reasonable, humble, respectful, Gospel-flavored answers to be condemned as hate speech. And we need to be ready to respond with grace when we are slandered and hated.

Are you ready?

Are you ready to explain that, yes, because you’re a Christian, you accept the Bible’s teaching that God created sex for marriage, and marriage for a man and a woman?

Are you ready to respond to the question about why we eat shellfish but still believe homosexuality is wrong?

Are you ready to affirm that people with homosexual desires are created in God’s image, that they’re not in some especially gross class of sinner, and that he’s eager to extend his forgiveness and grace to them, just like to liars and gluttons and nice well-behaved Republicans?

Are you ready to put yourself in the same category, a fellow sinner in need of God’s mercy? To open up and talk about the specifics of your own need for God’s forgiveness?

Are you ready to love and support your fellow Christians who have these desires? Who act on them? Who feel lonely and abandoned and rejected by God and the church?

Are you ready, even if you do all the above, to be called a homophobe and a bigot? To be compared to the Taliban, or segregationists, or slaveowners?

Are you ready to respond with grace and love when you’re treated this way? To pray for those who hate you? To repay good for evil?

We need to be ready. This is where we are.

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500

This is my 500th post at Wiser Time.

I’m a little proud and a little embarrassed. Proud because to have written something and said “Here, I made this” 500 times is hard and good. Embarrassed because, well, it’s taken over 5 years, and there have been lots of dry spells.

If there’s anyone who was reading years ago and still is, you’ve noticed that I tend to write regularly for a while, then go dark, then start up again. That’s because I get busy/lazy, then decide to get serious about writing, then fizzle out. I don’t want it to always be like this. But a friend once told me “Blessed is the man who never stops starting family devotions,” and I think the same holds for writing.

I started this blog for 2 main reasons. First, I was running a bookstore, and I realized that if I reviewed books I could 1) sell books and 2) get free books. I’m just being honest. Second, I’ve always loved to write, and blogging was the thing back then. I guess it still is for some real writers, so I hang in there. Even without the free books.

In the early days I was honest-to-goodness trying to be a big deal, A-list Christian blogger. (Spoiler alert: nothing close.) Back then I wanted to be a big deal in lots of ways. I don’t anymore, at least not on my better days. But I do love to write, and I do love the things I write about, and I love to have created something. So I hang in there, and we’ll see if anything bigger ever comes.

Here are some of my favorite posts and stories.

***

The best kind of heartache” is, I think, my favorite thing I’ve ever written. That day we had toured the hospital where Eliza would be born. It was fine, but to us it was foreign, and that was a little scary. Then the doctor told us she thought it wouldn’t be long, and it hit me that this was all actually going to happen. Another kid, another million ways to have our hearts ripped out of our chests. I went back to the office and wrote this as sort of external processing, which is not normally my scene. Having a family is the hardest and best thing that has ever happened to me.

I still laugh out loud when I read “You don’t know what it’s like out here.” Because I’m the kind of guy who laughs at my own jokes, sometimes when no one else does. (Also, I really miss going out for beers with Tyler on Tuesdays when he finished RUF.)

One day, just before we moved to Prague, I started getting emails that people were commenting on “Coexist?“, a post from several months before. Like, lots of emails. It turned out I had been linked by one of my favorite political writers on my favorite political blog. I had 30,000 visitors that day, and was called lots of fun names. I later swapped several emails with the big-deal guy when he was visiting Prague. He remembered me. So I got that goin’ for me.

I Will This Day Most Joyfully Die,” a post about Jan Hus, means that I am officially an award-winning writer. I have the Charles Spurgeon caricature poster to prove it.

And another one about these “feelings” things I sometimes have: “Music = home.

***

Thanks for reading. Seriously.

Sabbath thought for “professional Christians”

Pastors and others in ministry, for whom Sunday is the busiest work day, typically take another day (or half-day) off during the week. A few times I’ve heard people say “I take my Sabbath on Friday,” or something like that.

Minor quibble: I want to suggest we should take the extra day, but should not refer to it as a Sabbath. Sunday is the Sabbath*. The Fourth Commandment is not “Take a day off every week,” it’s “Honor the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.”

Keeping the day holy is about resting from things we normally do, but it’s not just about rest; it’s about setting the day apart, making it different. Sunday is the hardest day of my week, but I do try to prepare for it so that it can be as smooth as possible. And I do rest from the internet, housework, and whatever work isn’t necessary for the day. The phone usually stays upstairs until it’s time to get ready for worship.

The Sabbath is a weekly gift. Those of us who don’t have the day off do have to get creative with how we receive that gift, but with good preparation even a busy day can be holy. And, to some extent, restful– though I’m still taking my other day off.

*This post assumes my view that the Fourth Commandment is still valid, and that the Christian Sabbath moved from the seventh day of the week to the first. I’m not trying to defend that view here (I did write about it about it in the early days of the blog), though maybe I should soon.

My superpower, and two related stories

I have an interesting-but-not-all-that-useful superpower: The ability to remember with surprising specificity where I was the last time I heard a song. (This relates to my recent post Music = Home.)

It applies to some spoken-word recordings as well. For example, one day circa 2005, probably in the spring, I was out for a run and listening to a talk from the 2004 Desiring God National Conference, which was on “Sex and the Supremacy of Christ.” It was Piper’s Sunday morning sermon at the conclusion of the conference.

Not surprisingly, a great deal of the sermon was Piper talking about the supremacy and sovereignty of Christ. (You know, the Piper sermon where he talks about that.) But in this particular one, he actually spent 10 minutes or so listing all these aspects of Christ’s supremacy (his deity, his eternality, his knowledge, etc.), and then all these things he’s sovereign over (galaxies, atoms, governments, terrorists, etc.).

My short run in those days was a 2-mile loop in South Park. The first 3/4 mile was flat, but then there was this beast of a hill– not all that steep until the very end, but long– about a half mile. So as I approach the hill, Piper’s warming up with the supremacy section. Then I think, “He’s still going. This is pretty good.” I hit the hill and his volume and intensity are going up. Then he goes into the sovereignty section. He keeps going the whole time I’m climbing this hill, then right as I get to the top, hardest part of the run, he blows it up with the Kuyper quote that every self-respecting YRR guy has tattooed on his back:

There is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is Sovereign over all, does not cry, “Mine!”

I think I might have actually jumped and pumped my fists, Rocky-style. Man, that was a good run.

(Slightly cooler story: Another time I was listening to a bootleg from Derek Trucks and Susan Tedeschi. At the end of the run I was on the beginning of the encore, and the band’s just sort of messing around, when suddenly Susan leads into a Wilson Pickett-esque “Hey Jude,” with horns and everything. It was so good that I ran an extra mile and a half.)

Music = home.

Prague offers lots of personal time. I appreciate this. Specifically it offers a lot of time in transit– walking, on the tram, on the metro, on the bus. Which means there’s lots of time for the iPod, if you’re into that sort of thing. And I am.

I have been amazed how life-giving it is to listen to music going from point A to point B. More than having it on in the background– I mean having the earphones in, not doing anything else but walking, listening hard, hearing things you never heard before. I get so lost in it I’m sure I look like an idiot.

I wondered why this was such a big deal, why it lifts my mood so much. Then it occurred to me: Music is home.

Home’s a complicated word for us right now. A heavy word, even. But when His Band And The Street Choir comes on, I’m home: on the back porch at Cross Creek in Athens. When I hear Live at the Georgia Theatre, I’m driving back home to Charlotte after seeing that show with Taylor. When Ray LaMontagne sings “Let It Be Me,” I’m holding Foard, at 2 weeks old, in the middle of the night at our house in Plaza Midwood. And of course there’s the Black Crowes and the Wood Brothers.  Friends old and new.

Is this an escape? Sure. It’s not our real home– but then neither is Prague, or Charlotte, or Athens. And this pilgrim is thankful for whatever I can get.

Why is Facebook taunting me?

My word verification for a link I posted just now:

Picture 1

And I went to public school.

I’ve done lots of stupid things that involve a lack of foresight, or general absentmindedness. (See Black Crowes Tickets, Loss Of.)

But here’s one smart thing I did: When I moved out of my office at RTS, I boxed up my books so that they’d be ready for moving to Prague, and stored them in the attic. But I also labeled each box by category, according to how they were arranged on the shelf, so that if I needed a book in the interim, I’d only have to open one box.

I thought that was just me being anal about books, but I’ve probably gone to the attic for a book about a half-dozen times, and I’ve never had any trouble finding what I was looking for.

Facing Circumstantial and Spiritual Depression

If your circumstances are leading you to depression and hopelessness– as they often do– then your biggest problem isn’t circumstantial, it’s spiritual.

The circumstances might improve, but eventually they’ll get worse again. If your spiritual problem gets better, then you’ll be less dominated by your circumstances.

Sometimes, though, the spiritual state improves and then the circumstances improve. That’s the best case scenario. In those seasons, thank God for his kindness, and pray that the next time circumstances take a dip (as they surely will), your spiritual life will weather the storm.

Things you’ll very rarely say.

  1. I wish I’d stayed up later last night.
  2. I wish I’d eaten a little bit more.
  3. I wish I hadn’t asked that hard question.
  4. I wish we’d watched TV instead of talking.
  5. I wish I hadn’t gone for that run.

“Everything’s awesome right now, and nobody’s happy.”

Somebody finally said it.

Extra points for the phrase “non-contributing zero,” which I plan on stealing repeatedly.