Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Song Recommendation: Let Justice Roll Like a River

This past Sunday, we studied Isaiah 58 together. Afterwards, Pastor Tyler told me about the song, "Let Justice Roll Like a River." It's a meditation on the words and context of Amos 5:24, but it's also a great complement to the call of Isaiah 58.

I'd encourage you to listen (HERE) and meditate on the words (HERE): 

Let Justice Roll Like a River
Bobby Gilles and Rebecca Elliot

Forgive us Lord, for passing by
When children cry for bread
Forbid it Lord, that justice lie
In tatters, cold and dead

Outside these walls run desperate streets
Where greed is law and life is cheap
We bar the doors, refuse to see
Or hear the words You said:

Let justice roll like a river, Like a river, let it roll
Let justice roll like a river. Like a river, let it roll

Convict us Lord, we dance and laugh
Ignoring those who weep
Correct us Lord, our golden calf
Has lulled our hearts to sleep

The gap between the rich and poor
Grows ever wider, shore to shore
There's racial hate, religious war
And wolves among the sheep

Indwell us Lord, and purify
Our hands to work for You
Enlist us Lord, to serve nearby
And ʻcross the waters, too

Your image-bearers on the earth
Will never know how much theyʼre worth
Unless we love and help them first
And show the way to You.


©2007 Bobby Gilles and Sojourn Community Church
CCLI Song #4974842

CCLI License #1888971

Friday, August 12, 2016

Who Was Right: Orwell or Huxley?

In 1985, Neil Postman published the book Amusing Ourselves to Death. I read it 10 or 15 years ago. It was prophetic then. It still is.

In the foreword, he spells out what his book is about. He does so by contrasting George Orwell's vision in his famous novel 1984 with Aldous Huxley's in Brave New World.

Here's what he says (emphasis added): 
We were keeping our eye on 1984. When the year came and the prophecy didn't, thoughtful Americans sang softly in praise of themselves. The roots of liberal democracy had held. Wherever else the terror had happened, we, at least, had not been visited by Orwellian nightmares. 
But we had forgotten that alongside Orwell's dark vision, there was another - slightly older, slightly less well known, equally chilling: Aldous Huxley's Brave New World. Contrary to common belief even among the educated, Huxley and Orwell did not prophesy the same thing. 
Orwell warns that we will be overcome by an externally imposed oppression. But in Huxley's vision, no Big Brother is required to deprive people of their autonomy, maturity and history. As he saw it, people will come to love their oppression, to adore the technologies that undo their capacities to think
What Orwell feared were those who would ban books. What Huxley feared was that there would be no reason to ban a book, for there would be no one who wanted to read one
Orwell feared those who would deprive us of information. Huxley feared those who would give us so much (information) that we would be reduced to passivity and egoism
Orwell feared that the truth would be concealed from us. Huxley feared the truth would be drowned in a sea of irrelevance
Orwell feared we would become a captive culture. Huxley feared we would become a trivial culture, preoccupied with some equivalent of the feelies...and the centrifugal bumblepuppy (or, Pokemon?). As Huxley remarked in Brave New World Revisited, the civil libertarians and rationalists who are ever on the alert to oppose tyranny "failed to take into account man's almost infinite appetite for distractions." 
In 1984, Huxley added, people are controlled by inflicting pain. In Brave New World, they are controlled by inflicting pleasure
In short, Orwell feared that what we hate will ruin us. Huxley feared that what we love will ruin us. 
This book is about the possibility that Huxley, not Orwell, was right.
 So, what do you think? Is our greater danger totalitarianism or a sort of Stockholm Syndrome

Thursday, August 11, 2016

The Olympic Parable

The greatest thrills and joys come not from validations of our own self-worth, but from the sight and enjoyment of glory and greatness.

John Piper has shared many times this illustration (my paraphrase):
How many people go the Grand Canyon to look in the mirror and enhance their self-esteem? Not many. They go to see and drink in a greater glory outside themselves. And it is profoundly thrilling and satisfying.
His point is this: God's supremacy and transcendence is true, but it's also good news. We don't find the highest joys by looking in at ourselves. The greatest joys come from beholding and experiencing the glory of God (out there in the world and in the Word and in his Son).

The Olympics actually provide a window into this reality. Piper gave the following illustration at a Desiring God National Conference in 2006 (entitled “The Supremacy of Christ and Joy in a Postmodern World," and found here):
What if we asked someone, “Would you want to watch a football game (or an Olympic event) where all the players were no better than you? Or watch a movie where the actors could act no better than you and were no better looking than you? Or go to a museum to see pictures by painters who could paint no better than you?” 
Why are we willing to be exposed in all these places as utterly inferior? How can we get so much joy out of watching people magnify their superiority over us? 
The biblical answer is that we were made by God to get our deepest joys not from being superior ourselves but from enjoying God’s superiority. All these other experiences are parables. God’s superiority is absolute in every way, which means our joy in it may be greater than we could ever imagine.

The greatest and highest good for our souls is not found in our souls. The path of joy is not lined with mirrors, but windows. The answer to our ache and longing is not self-esteem, but God-esteem, not self-glory, but self-forgetfulness. Things get really good when we stop trying to be the center of the universe, and start enjoying the fact that God is. 

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Feeling Stuck?

Four words of wisdom from Paul Tripp when we find ourselves in this all-too-familiar place.

His first point:
  1. Feeling stuck reminds us that God is most important. Feeling stuck often reveals how highly we think of ourselves and what we think we're entitled to. When we get angry in traffic, we're declaring that no one deserves to be on the road more than us. The spiritual reality of the universe, however, is that we're never on center stage; this world was created to serve and celebrate its Creator (Psalm 19:1).

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

The Sower's Song by Andrew Peterson

Here's the song by Andrew Peterson that we played on Sunday on the heels of Isaiah 55.

The lyrics while you listen:

Oh God, I am furrowed like the field
Torn open like the dirt
And I know that to be healed
That I must be broken first
I am aching for the yield
That You will harvest from this hurt

Abide in me
Let these branches bear You fruit
Abide in me, Lord
As I abide in You

So I kneel
At the bright edge of the garden
At the golden edge of dawn
At the glowing edge of spring
When the winter's edge is gone
And I can see the color green
I can hear the sower's song

Abide in me
Let these branches bear You fruit
Abide in me, Lord
Let Your word take root
Remove in me
The branch that bears no fruit
And move in me, Lord
As I abide in You

As the rain and the snow fall
Down from the sky
And they don't return but they water the earth and bring they forth life
Giving seed to the sower, bread for the hunger
So shall the word of the Lord be with a sound like thunder
And it will not return, it will not return void
We shall be led in peace
And go out with joy
And the hills before us
Will raise their voices
And the trees of the field will clap their hands as the land rejoices
And instead of the thorn now
The cypress towers
And instead of the briar the myrtle blooms with a thousand flowers
And it will make a name
Make a name for our God
A sign everlasting that will never be cut off
As the earth brings forth sprouts from the seed
What is sown in the garden grows into a mighty tree
So the Lord plants justice, justice and praise
To rise before the nations till the end of days

As the rain and the snow fall
Down from the sky
And they don't return but they water the earth and they bring forth life
Giving seed to the sower, and bread for the hunger
So shall the word of the Lord be with a sound like thunder
And it will not return, it will not return void
It will not return, it will not return void
It will not return, it will not return void
We shall be led in peace
And go out with joy

And the sower leads us
And the sower leads us
And the sower leads us

Tuesday, August 2, 2016


C.S. Lewis on calibrating our expectations:
"If you think of this world as a place intended simply for our happiness, you find it quite intolerable; think of it as a place of training and correction, and it’s not so bad. 
Imagine a set of people all living in the same building. Half of them think it is a hotel, the other half think it is a prison. Those who think it a hotel might regard it as quite intolerable, and those who thought it was a prison might decide that it was really surprisingly comfortable. ... 
The people who try to hold an optimistic view of this world would become pessimists; the people who hold a pretty stern view of it become optimistic."
From “Answers to Questions on Christianity,” in God in the Dock (Grand Rapids, 1970), 52

Steve Saint, who has known more suffering than most:
"Suffering is your expectations divided by your experience. ...  
Come to think of it, so is blessing."

Jesus gets the last word (John 16:33):
"In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world."