Because life is a series of edits

Archive for February, 2011|Monthly archive page

Freedom

In Calling, Church, Musicians, Places on February 27, 2011 at 8:39 am

Calvin (cropped)
 
I just finished up the weekend at Bible Fellowship Church in Sebring, Florida, as part of the Biblical Imagination conference with Michael Card. We had 90 folks from all over the state join us for 24 hours of teaching, listening, and learning together from the book of Luke. I'm very tired, but, as my father would say, it's a good kind of tired.

In reflecting this morning at the hotel before we (the Biblical Imagination team of Ron, Holly, Susan, Mike, and me) drove to Tampa to catch flights back home, I wanted to share a little about a man named Calvin whom we met here in Sebring.

Calvin has the build of a small NFL wide-receiver: broad shoulders, wiry but strong (in fact, I grinned when he came to Mike's concert last night in a football jersey as it just seemed to fit). Though he looks young from a distance, when you get face to face, you realize he's older than he first seemed – probably in his fifties – as the lines in his face run deep and there's a depth to his eyes that makes you want to hear his story.

While I didn't get all the details, the gist is that Calvin (who has St. Louis roots) spent 22 years incarcerated before he came to Christ in the last six years of that time. He got out of prison and is now being helped through a ministry here in Sebring called Little Lambs led by John and Eileen Sala, who were also at the conference (John, a native of Brooklyn, had once been in prison as well).

All through the conference, Calvin sat with the Salas and soaked up everything Mike and I taught about Luke, biblical imagination, and responding to Jesus. Warm, kind, and with a great smile, he asked questions, interacted, and even contributed a few observations that blessed all in the room. In response to our last "assignment" at the end of the conference, he shared a parable of his life that brought tears to the eyes of many as he described growing up as a boy who never really knew love.

After almost every song that Mike played at the concert last night, Calvin had some kind of one-word verbal response – "Yes" or "Amen" or "Thank you" – that he felt free to share because of the acceptance of God and those in the room. Toward the end of the concert, as Mike was introducing "Freedom" (my favorite song from his new "A World Turned Upside Down" album), he commented that of all the people in the room, this one might mean the most to Calvin, who beamed. The lyrics are as follows:

I am lost and I am bound
and I am captive to the shame that keeps on holding me down
And all I need to be found is freedom

I am tired and I am dying
and I am trapped inside a cage I've made of hopelessly trying
But the door would open and I'd be flying if I could find freedom

Freedom, freedom
All the burdens we have borne, all the losses that we mourn
Cry out for freedom, freedom

Prison walls and bolted doors
Something keeps on telling me that I was made for more
That there is Someone Who can restore my freedom

A gentle voice I can't evade
speaks in the darkness of the heart and whispers "Do not be afraid"
You can be free, the price was paid for your freedom

Freedom, freedom
From the darkness of the night, from desolation to delight
Freedom, freedom
The chains are broken, the door is open – He is your freedom

It was a beautiful, beautiful picture of the gospel – certainly in Calvin's life because of his story of imprisonment, but also for the rest of us whom Christ has freed from our own "cages of hopelessly trying." I was too tired to cry, but I wanted to – thanking God for what he has done in Calvin's life, in the lives of those there, and in my own as well. The weekend let me speechless as – in the words of Luke – I am both "amazed and astonished" at God's love for me, a sinner.

Random Schmada

In Pop Culture on February 23, 2011 at 12:55 pm

Saw a sign in Barnes & Noble the other night for what must be a particularly interesting book genre: "New Teenage Paranormal Romance." Seriously?

My friend, Katie, sent me this link, as she knows what I think of shallow small groups.

Funniest thing my 12-year-old daughter has said in a while as to how she was feeling about a particular issue: "Well, Dad, I'm kind of half-and-half. You could pour me in coffee."

Funny (or sad) thing my 10-year-old daughter said after stepping up a level in her fiction reading: "I expected them to kill animals, not people. All my books have happy endings."

Deep thought (via Philosoraptor): "Doesn't expecting the unexpected make the unexpected become the expected?" Still thinking on that one.

Hoping the temps in the seventies of last week come back next week when we're actually supposed to start playing spring baseball. Brrr.

That's all.

Forget Chocolate; I’ll Take a Book Instead

In Books, Holidays, Technology on February 13, 2011 at 8:36 pm

Book Heart
Our Valentine's Day tradition here at the Half-Pint House involves two things: board games and books. Megan usually picks out a new game for the fam and purchases a new book for each of the girls to unwrap and enjoy.

This year, we're changing up our routine and letting the girls pick out their own books thanks to Groupon doubling some gift money set aside for Barnes & Noble. With that to look forward to, here's a quote I read in Newsweek over the weekend that sums up my thoughts on the whole ebook question. It's from James H. Billington, librarian of Congress:

"The new immigrants don’t shoot the old inhabitants when they come in. One technology tends to supplement rather than supplant. How you read is not as important as: will you read? And will you read something that’s a book—the sustained train of thought of one person speaking to another? Search techniques are embedded in e-books that invite people to dabble rather than follow a full train of thought. This is part of a general cultural problem."

There are other quotes in the article worth considering, but this one particularly struck me as addressing the real issue. Whether one reads is one thing; how one reads is another. Personally, I need fewer – not more – distractions when I read; thus, I'm still in need of (and in love with) the printed page.

Regardless (and whichever way you may read), have a happy Puke Valentine's Day.

Ten Things

In Pop Culture on February 7, 2011 at 7:07 pm

Ten things for my ten readers:

  1. I'm back from my 40-day blogging hiatus. It was good. Hope you missed me.
  2. I'm back on Facebook in an info-only capacity. I nuked my wall, but you can still message me.
  3. I'm not really back on Twitter yet. I like it better than Facebook, but only if there's a purpose (and right now there isn't).
  4. I'm clean-shaven. The beard looked okay, but I felt like I was hiding in plain sight.
  5. I'm two pages away from finishing up a writing journal I started over six years ago. It was a big book, but it shouldn't have taken that long to fill it.
  6. I'm still reading the Old Testament prophets and listening for the love of God for his people in his call to repentance. This was the section of the Bible that I started reading during my 40 days and I'm glad to still be listening.
  7. I'm also still reading Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand, but I'm only halfway through its 1,000 pages. When I need a break, I pick up one of six others I've started since the beginning of 2011.
  8. I'm sick of snow days. Yes, you read that correctly. Bring on Spring.
  9. I'm still very much in love with my wife and glad she'll kiss me again since I shaved.
  10. I'm glad to be 40 and grateful to be alive.

More to come…