This past week I finally decided to stop fighting some of the turmoil’s I've had inside. I prayed the following prayer, almost word-for-word:
"God, you know that I have trouble believing the sacrifice was ever truly made. But I want to accept it anyway and hope that you somehow help me reconcile those doubts. I'm inviting you back into my life."
Part of the "blame" for me coming to this decision must be layed on the Pastors of XXXChurch.com. In fact, JR flew out from Michigan to spend a day at my house and is currently sleeping in my guest room as I type this (more on that in a future blog entry).
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His mundane, even oblique lyrics are soaked in transcendent faith but aren't preachy, as when he sings to a friend with cancer: "Tuesday night at the Bible study / We lift our hands and pray over your body / But nothing ever happens." In "Chicago," perhaps Stevens' best song, he intones, "I made a lot of mistakes / I don't mind, I don't mind."
Stevens is hip to Christian bands yet gets respect from indie rockers and folk musicians. (An upcoming Christmas boxed set might change that; Stevens smiled, admitting Monday night, "most of it sucks.")
Flight was a recurring theme, from the psychedelic wings to footage of birds, "The Lord God Bird" (a cheesy, commissioned piece about the ivory-billed woodpecker) and the expansive new "Majesty Songbird." The lushly complicated 90-minute show was contrasted by two stripped-down encores in trio format. With its thunderous hook, "Songbird" suggests that if Stevens can avoid grandiosity, his best may be yet to come.
Changing clothes would have been safer than going to church for Christopher Peterson. His distinctive shirt had appeared in the newspaper, in a surveillance camera photo of an August 16 bank robbery, worn by a man who looked a lot like him. When he wore it four days later to Crossroads Grace Community Church in Manteca, California, another attendee recognized him, called the police, and told them the man in the photo was sitting in the back pew. Officers came in during the service, tapped Peterson on the shoulder, asked him to step outside, and arrested him as the rest of the congregation worshiped obliviously (read more).
The four Gospels are filled with demands straight from the mouth of Jesus Christ. These demands are Jesus’ way of showing us who he is and what he expects of us. They are not the harsh demands of a taskmaster. For example, the demand that we come to Jesus is like the demand of a father to his child in a burning window, “Jump to me!” Or like the demand of a loving husband to an unfaithful wife, “Come home!” What Jesus demands from the world can be summed up as: “Trust and treasure me above all.” This is good news!
In What Jesus Demands from the World, John Piper has gathered many of Jesus’ commands from the four Gospels. He begins with an introduction that puts them in a redemptive-historical context, then concisely examines each one. The result is an accessible introduction for thoughtful inquirers and new believers, as well as deep meditations for veteran believers.