God of Wonders, Declare Your Majesty

This is what I awoke to see on the morning of November 15th. Such beauty in Creation…full gallery here.

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Love is Patient: Words Worth Reading

“Love will inspire you to become a patient person.  When you choose to be patient, you respond in a positive way to a negative situation.  You are slow to anger.  You choose to have a long fuse instead of a quick temper.  Rather than being restless and demanding, love helps you settle down and begin extending mercy to those around you.  Patience brings an internal calm during an external storm.

No one likes to be around an impatient person.  It causes you to overreact in angry, foolish and regrettable ways.  The irony of anger toward a wrongful action is that it spawns new wrongs of its own.  Anger almost never makes things better.  In fact, it usually generates additional problems.  But patience stops problems in their tracks.  More than biting your lip, more than clapping a hand over your mouth, patience is a deep breath.  It clears the air.  It stops foolishness from whipping its scorpion tail all over the room.  It is a choice to control your emotions rather than allowing your emotions to control you, and shows discretion instead of returning evil for evil.”

– Excerpt from The Love Dare

I’m starting to go through The Love Dare with my church small group, and the first section is on love being patient. Patience doesn’t always come easily to me, though I have noticed it’s starting to come to the forefront more being a parent – which is a good thing, because I think I’ll need 100x more patience than I have now in order to be a good father to Logan. It’s amazing when I think of how much more patient God is with me than I am with anyone else in His Creation…

The Issue of Abortion

A family member and I were having a discussion of sorts on Facebook, and it involved this image [warning: it’s a shocking image]. The discussion itself isn’t material to this post (it started with a misunderstanding, which is never a good place to begin), but it’s been a while since I’ve expressed myself on a moral issue here on this blog. I thought it was time I took a public stance on something that has always been important to me, but lately it’s been on my mind to an even greater degree (one guess as to why). Here’s my response to part of the discussion:

“…for the record, I started to tear up looking at some of the images that organization is using – they’re horrific and shocking. But they’re reality – a reality that people don’t like to think about. It’s too easy to think of abortion as a routine clinical procedure. It’s not – it involves two heartbeats and two brains (depending on when it’s done). Two sets go in, one set comes out. That’s the hard reality, regardless of how you define “life”.

I don’t see how any rational person could look at those images and not see a tiny human being, every bit as worthy as life as Logan or any other baby is. It was darkly ironic that the route we took for all of Ashley’s pregnancy check-ups took us past the Kensington clinic. My heart ached every time I drove past it, knowing that we were on our way to care for a life, while in that place a life was ending.

I think society as a whole should wrestle with the morality of all important issue, forever. Capital punishment, abortion, euthanasia…taking important issues for granted, assuming that there’s only one “right” answer, is a dangerous road to walk down.”

I hope that regardless of how anyone reading this blog feels about the emotion-laden issue of abortion, respect for all viewpoints is foremost in everyone’s mind when posting a comment.

Quotable Quotes

When speaking of the harmony of natural law, this person said that it:

“…reveals an intelligence of such superiority that, compared with it, all the systematic thinking and acting of human beings is an utterly insignificant reflection…everyone who is seriously involved in the pursuit of science becomes convinced that a spirit is manifest in the laws of the Universe–a spirit vastly superior to that of man, and one in the face of which we with our modest powers must feel humble.”

Guess who said that? Albert Einstein. From “Einstein and Religion: Physics and Theology” by Max Jammer.

To Risk, by William Arthur Ward

To laugh is to risk appearing a fool,
To weep is to risk appearing sentimental.
To reach out to another is to risk involvement,

To expose feelings is to risk exposing your true self.
To place your ideas and dreams before a crowd is to risk their loss.
To love is to risk not being loved in return,
To live is to risk dying,
To hope is to risk despair,
To try is to risk failure.

But risks must be taken because the greatest hazard in life is to risk nothing
The person who risks nothing, does nothing, has nothing, is nothing.
He may avoid suffering and sorrow,
But he cannot learn, feel, change, grow or live.
Chained by his servitude he is a slave who has forfeited all freedom.

Only a person who risks is free.
The pessimist complains about the wind;
The optimist expects it to change;
And the realist adjusts the sails.

By William Arthur Ward

Lessons From Warren Buffett

I don’t know that much about Warren Buffet, but when my mother-in-law sent me this slide show today, I thought it contained some important concepts worth sharing: in particular, I’m impressed with how Warren Buffet didn’t radically change his lifestyle as he made more and more money. That takes a level of self-control that I find extremely admirable. I’m sure he has his flaws like any of us, but there are some lessons worth learning from this man. I was particularly impressed with the impact he had on Bill Gates, and vice-versa – I know Gates spurred him to donate more to charity.

Warren Buffet
Continue reading Lessons From Warren Buffett

Favourite Songs: “When You Call My Name” by Paul Brandt

Paul Brandt (Wikipedia) is a country artist, and for many, many years I really disliked country. I probably even said that I hated country music when I was in my 20’s. Sometime in my early 30’s, I started to enjoy some country music. One of the key artists to re-shape my feelings about country music was Paul Brandt. I really liked his music because it wasn’t the twangy “My dog got run over by a truck” stuff I thought of as being typically country. The first album I bought by Paul Brandt was This Time Around, his 2004 release. I liked it, and picked up a few more of his albums – and I discovered a song that blew me away, completely and totally: When You Call My Name.

To quote from this song, “the way that it moves me, it’s simply amazing”. Just like “World’s Apart” by Jars of Clay, this song impacted me in a big way when I first heard it, and it still does today. First, it’s live – the whole album it’s from, Small Town and Big Dreams, is live. Live music has a…realness that studio music can often lack. It’s raw, it’s pure, and it’s real (assuming there aren’t a rack of pitch-correctors back-stage). Paul Brandt’s voice is powerful, pure, and very real. I’ve heard him sing live (sadly, not this song), and his voice really does sound that good. Next, layer on some great playing/singing by the band, especially the background vocalists – one of which I think is his wife, Elizabeth. There’s also a male background vocalist that adds some great texture to the song. There are wonderful harmonies layered everywhere in this song – it’s amazing to sing along with – and some phenomenal mandolin and bass playing.

For me, the real power though is in the words. Music is poetry put to melody, and like all poetry, the interpretation is often left up to the reader or listener. When I close my eyes and listen to this song, I hear the cry of the created to the Creator. I hear the ache of a spirit, once broken, made whole.  I hear the gasp of amazement from a soul who hears his name spoken from the lips of Eternity. I hear the tears of joy falling on a face of someone who’s been forgiven, head tilted upward toward Pure Love. When You call my name.

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[you can listen to the entire song here]

“When You Call My Name”, Paul Brandt

Give me a moment
To try and explain it
And how it has changed
The man that I am
Life has a way
When you try to arrange it
Of makin’ a fool
Of the best laid plans

Guess what I’m tryin’ to say
Is you took me by surprise
One word is all that it takes
And forever’s on my mind
It happens every time

I hear the sweetest sound
My world stops turnin’ round
Like I’m on Holy Ground
When you call my name
It sets the sky on fire
Burning with my desire
Stronger deeper higher
When you call my name

The way that it moves me
It’s simply amazing
Yeah somehow it seems
Much bigger than words
When you call my name
Angels start singing
The most beautiful sound
That I’ve ever heard

And it starts all over again
This feeling deep inside
A blessed chain of events
A heaven sent desire
It happens every time

I hear the sweetest sound
My world stops turnin’ round
Like I’m on Holy Ground
When you call my name
It sets the sky on fire
Burning with my desire
Stronger deeper higher
When you call my name

When you call my name
Ahhhhhhhhhhhh
When you call my name
Ooooooooohhhh
It happens every time

I hear the sweetest sound
My world stops turnin’ round
Like I’m on Holy Ground
When you call my name
It sets the sky on fire
Burning with my desire
Stronger deeper higher
When you call my name

I hear the sweetest sound
My world stops turnin round
Like I’m on Holy Ground
(call my name)
When you call my name
It sets the sky on fire
Burning with my desire
Stronger deeper higher
When you call my name

Favourite Songs: “World’s Apart” by Jars of Clay

One of the joys in my life, one of the great blessings, is to discover music that connects with me on such a deep level that I can listen to it over and over again, reading the lyrics and be impacted by them every time. I wanted to share some of those songs with the readers of this blog; to shine the light on some great music that you may not have heard.

One of those songs is “World’s Apart” by Jars of Clay. The first time I heard this song, the lyrics hit me like a thunderclap. The beauty of music, of any poetry, is that the interpretation of the lyrics is left to the reader – but in my case, the fact that the first line is an admission of responsibility for our own actions is powerful. I believe pride, and the endless repercussions of pride, are at the forefront of so many things that are wrong with the world today. People hurt other people because of pride. People refuse to forgive others because of pride. Pride blinds us to our own faults, our own limitations, and our own mistakes. Blinded, we often cause harm to those around us. Pride limits us from learning, from growing. Pride keeps us from admitting when we’re wrong, or admitting when we’ve wronged others. And pride, in so many different ways, keeps us from admitting that we need something bigger than ourselves. In my own life, I often struggle against pride – I strive to be humble of spirit, sometimes succeeding, often times failing. Check out the lyrics to this song below…

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[click here to listen to a 30 second sample of the song]

“Worlds Apart”, Jars of Clay

I am the only one to blame for this
Somehow it all ends up the same
Soaring on the wings of selfish pride
I flew too high and like Icarus I collide
With a world I try so hard to leave behind
To rid myself of all but love
to give and die

Continue reading Favourite Songs: “World’s Apart” by Jars of Clay

Movies Worth Watching: Fireproof

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If you’re married, you should watch the movie Fireproof. If you’re engaged, you should watch Fireproof. If you’re thinking about getting married, you should watch Fireproof. The movie has strong a spiritual message to go alongside the message about marriage, but even if you’re not a Christian or a seeker, there are many great lessons to be learned. Despite being a small independent film, it had strong production and was nearly as high-quality as any major motion picture (well, ok, there were a couple of somewhat dubious actors…). We watched it last night as part of a date night that we hosted with our church, and had over 150 people show up to enjoy a dinner then watch this movie. Definitely a movie I recommend if you want to learn about the importance of marriage, and especially the importance of love not being a simple feeling that comes and goes. Love is a decision; a commitment.

This Dancing Fool Makes Me Smile

If you’re the kind of person to read a blog, you’ve probably already seen one of Matt “The Dancing Fool” Harding’s videos – his two videos of him dancing in various places around the world have been viewed over than 30 million times. The video above is his 2008 video, and every time I watch it, it makes me smile. Isn’t it interesting how when we see someone smile at us, we’re compelled to smile back? I believe we’re all created in the image of God and each have a divine spark – and when we see someone experience true joy we feel a resonance in our own heart; and we smile back.

If you find the song he used in this video as compelling as I do, you can snag it from Amazon.com for 99 cents.