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Archive for January, 2010|Monthly archive page

Jeremiah Burroughs on contentment with life circumstances

In books, prayer requests, quotes, recommendations, reviews, theology on January 18, 2010 at 10:26 pm

Right now is just about the most exciting and the most nerve-wracking time of my entire life. I am graduating from college in May, getting married to the most beautiful woman on the planet in July, and I’ve been accepted to seminary. Evidences of God’s grace are found everywhere in my life. However, there are so many decisions that we have to make in the next few months that I often feel bogged down with stress and anxiety. It is far too easy for me to focus on what is uncertain instead of focus on what is. I think a lot of my friends are in the same boat.

I’ve been reading an incredible book, The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment, by an old Puritan named Jeremiah Burroughs. His purpose in the book is to help believers find peace and contentment during difficult times. Today I came across a quote that was a very helpful word of grace that I just wanted to share with you:

“You should labour to bring your heart to quiet and contentment by setting your soul to work in the duties of your present condition. And the truth is, I know nothing more effective for quieting a Christian soul and getting contentment than this, setting your heart to work in the duties of the immediate circumstances that you are now in, and taking heed of your thoughts about other conditions as mere temptations.

…So it is with those who think, If I were in such circumstances, then I should have contentment; and perhaps they get into those circumstances, and they are as far from contentment as before. But then they think that if they were in other circumstances, they would be contented, but when they have got into those circumstances, they are still as far from contentment as before. No, no, let me consider what is the duty of my present circumstances, and content my heart with this, and say, ‘Well, though I am in a low position, yet I am serving the counsels of God in those circumstances where I am; it is the counsel of God that has brought me into these circumstances that I am in, and I desire to serve the counsel of God in these circumstances.'”

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Tullian Tchividjian on “relevance”.

In books, loving jesus, music, quotes, recommendations on January 4, 2010 at 11:59 pm

Today I started Tullian Tchividjian’s excellent (so far) book Unfashionable and let me tell you, my copy already has a lot of underlining in it. I just thought I would share a statement he makes about the church and “relevance”:

“Ironically, the more we Christians pursue worldly relevance, the more we’ll render ourselves irrelevant to the world around us. There’s an irrelevance to pursuing relevance, just as there’s a relevance to practicing irrelevance. To be truly relevant, you have to say things that are unfashionably eternal, not trendy. It’s the timeless things that are most relevant to most people and we dare not forget this fact in our pursuit of relevance.”

Don’t get me wrong, I (and Tullian) think it is incredibly important for Christians to be actively engaging and, as Andy Crouch puts it, creating culture, but if all we do is relate to and copy what is “cool” in whatever culture we find ourselves in, we don’t look like a people who have been changed by the sheer grace of God. If our number one goal is to be a “cool church” then we are already on the wrong track. We need to keep the gospel central, even if it means sounding completely uncool. Paul does call the cross a “a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles” (1 Cor. 1:23) and Jesus says that “If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you” (John 15:19). We have the best news in the world, but that news runs completely counter to the world’s way of thinking.

Besides, we tend to be pretty behind the times. If I hear one more song on K-Love that sounds like U2 circa 1987, I’m going to flip out. While U2 circa 1987 was, in my humble opinion, one of the best seasons of rock and roll, we really don’t need more worship songs trying (and failing) to sound like the intro of “Where the Streets Have No Name”. Oh wait… did I just try to be cool by ripping on Christian rock? I still have some work to do…

Ok fine. I have to leave you with one more quote…

“We can’t engineer God’s transcendent presence; we can only fall on our faces and beg for it. In fact, we rob this world of the opportunity to see God high and lifted up–above and beyond us–when we try to program him and fit him into contemporary categories of “cool.” When the size of God grips us more than the size of our churches and leadership conferences, and when we become obsessed with surrendering our lives to God’s sovereign presence, only then will we be redemptively different and serve as God’s cosmic change agents in a world yearning for change.”

Top 10 albums of 2009!

In music, recommendations, reviews on January 2, 2010 at 9:20 am

Here it is. With great jubilation, I present to you my ten favorite albums of 2009. I think we all can agree that this was a great year for music. For serious. At the end of 2008, I had a very rough time compiling my list (and looking back there are plenty of changes I would make). There were only about five albums that stood out. While there were other very good ones, none of them had the elusive “it”. This year, I have a list of about 20 albums that could very easily make the cut. Nevertheless, here are those lucky albums to earn a spot.

1. The Avett Brothers – I and Love and You


2. Neko Case – Middle Cyclone

3. Grizzly Bear – Veckatimest

4. Wilco – Wilco (the album)

5. M. Ward – Hold Time

6. U2 – No Line on the Horizon

7. The Swell SeasonStrict Joy

8. Derek Webb – Stockholm Syndrome

9. Animal Collective – Merriweather Post Pavilion

10. The Decemberists – The Hazards of Love

Now I have to admit, I even had second thoughts while writing this. The number ten spot could have gone to a few other albums (Brandi CarlileJohn Mayer, and Volcano Choir among others), and I’ve been recently listening to several records that could take a spot upon further listening (Joe HenryDave Rawlings Machine, The Low Anthem), but here’s my list and I’m sticking to it.