Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Luther Allison - You Can't Always Get What You Want

Super Bowl Question - Wheres Peyton?

Demi Moore’s Deepest Fear

Are you insecure? Hate your body? Fear the sheer unknown-ness of your future? Lay awake wondering if you’ll end up alone? Would it help if your father was a famous race-car driver? And if you’d been married to the bassist for one of the biggest bands of the 1980s and were now married to the guitarist for a big indie rock band? What if you turned a career as an actor into a career as a sought-after photographer? And you had three attractive kids. And you were rich and beautiful?
Not enough? Let’s try another route. What if you were not only rich and beautiful, you had been married to two of the most famous actors in Hollywood? What if you had made millions in movies, at one time being one of the highest paid in your field? What if you had homes in resort areas in Idaho, California, and Maine? And what if you also did all kinds of great charity work for some really worthy causes? Would that help?
Apparently not. Amanda de Cadenet (the first person described above) and Demi Moore (no introduction needed) recently announced plans for a TV interview show called The Conversation, to air this spring on Lifetime. The origin of the show? De Cadenet “looked around and saw women in the media who looked like they were doing it all perfectly, and I thought, ‘Well, I’m not doing it perfectly. Where are the women like me? Why isn’t anyone being honest?’”
To promote the show, Demi and Amanda discussed their lives in this month’s Bazaar. Their candid revelations strike a nerve. Talk about honesty!
Here’s one exchange:
DM: All right, so what scares you?
ADC: Infidelity scares me. It scares me when it happens to my friends; it scares me that it’s going to happen to me. And I’m scared of dishonesty. I just really don’t know what to do when people are dishonest. It is alarming to me.
DM: What does it mean to you?
ADC: It’s like an ultimate fear, you know. Of being rejected, of being betrayed. I guess dishonesty and betrayal. Those are the things I’m afraid I wouldn’t recover from.
And here’s a scorchingly self-revelatory response from Demi:
And I think there is no way to reach your fullest potential if you don’t really find the love of yourself. If I were to answer it just kind of bold-faced, I would say what scares me is that I’m going to ultimately find out at the end of my life that I’m really not lovable, that I’m not worthy of being loved. That there’s something fundamentally wrong with me (emphasis added).

So people that have achieved enormous wealth, fame, and power—the cool kids in the high school cafeteria of life—are terrified that they are unloved.
The sentiment itself—the fear of unworthiness—is not uncommon. We’ve heard things like this before. The surprise is that these feelings are coming from people so successful. They’ve attained all the things we relentlessly chase in order to keep our insecurities away. They’ve got the full array of things one needs to justify oneself, to say “I matter!” But the fear only gets worse. The two women go on about their connection to a vague and undefined Spirituality, and how that takes the edge off. But for the most part, they’re still stuck in their fears.
I, for one, need more than Spirituality. I need the One who while I was dead in my trespasses, made me alive (Ephesians 2:5). I need the One who takes away my unworthiness and grounds me in the Unshakable. I need the Friend of Sinners. What was it that he said? Oh, yes. “Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest” (Jesus in Matthew 11:28).
That’s a message that never gets old. And I hope Amanda and Demi get to hear it.
(And in a totally non-ironic way, pray for Ms. Moore, who just checked into rehab.)

Junior Wells - You Don't Love Me, Baby

Buddy Guy & Junior Wells - Stormy Monday Blues

John Mayall - Key to Love - With Eric Clapton

Monday, January 30, 2012

Eric Clapton - Five Long Years (Live In Hyde Park 1996)

To The Moon Newt, To The Moon

Our Fatal Love Affair with the Law

Grace cannot prevail until law is dead, until moralizing is out of the game . . . until our fatal love affair with the law is over--until, finally and for good, our lifelong certainty that someone is keeping score has run out of steam and collapsed. As long as we leave, in our dramatizations of grace, one single hope of a moral reckoning, one possible recourse to salvation by bookkeeping, our freedom-dreading hearts will clutch it to themselves.

Restore to us, Preacher, the comfort of merit and demerit. Prove for us that there is at least something we can do, that we are still, at whatever dim recess of our nature, the masters of our relationships. Tell us, Prophet, that in spite of all our nights of losing, there will yet be one redeeming card of our very own. . . . But do not preach us grace. It will not do to split the pot evenly at 4 a.m. and break out the Chivas Regal. We insist on being reckoned with. Give us something, anything; but spare us the indignity of this indiscriminate acceptance.

Lord, let your servants depart in the peace of their responsibility. If it is not too much to ask, send us to bed with some few shreds of self-respect to congratulate ourselves upon. But if that is too hard, leave us at least the consolation of our self-loathing. Only do not force us free. What have we ever done but try as best we could? How have we so hurt you, even by failing, that you should now turn on us and say that none of it makes any difference, not even our sacred guilt? We have played this game of yours, and it has cost us.
Where do you get off suggesting a drink at a time like this?
--Robert Farrar Capon, Between Noon and Three: Romance, Law, and the Outrage of Grace (Eerdmans 1997), 7; italics original

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Jonathan Winters roasts Johnny Carson as Willis Mumford

Tedeschi Trucks Band - Bound for Glory

I love this song. yes I am bound for glory.

Why Grace is Not a License to Sin

When the old Adam is put to death one is set free forever from bondage to spiritual ambition, legalism, and tyranny. And Luther for one meant this quite literally. One is absolutely free. It is a total state.

'But,' we immediately ask, 'is this not dangerous? Can we really say that man is absolutely free?'

Even to ask the question is to betray the presence of the old Adam in us. It is the fear of moral chaos, the threat to our spiritual pretensions that prompts us to ask. The implied answer, of course, is that we really can't allow that much freedom, and so we retreat--and remain bound.

But the point is not to retreat, but to push on, to allow the old Adam to die and to arise to newness of life. Look at it this way: if the old Adam has been put to death, if what is selfish, fraudulent, and deceitful has perished what is there to fear in freedom? Can a new man possibly do evil? Luther's theology is often criticized for two things: on the one hand for too much bondage--for saying that man's will is absolutely bound--and on the other hand for too much freedom--for saying that the Christian man is absolutely free. The criticism arises, of course, from old Adam theology. Mix together a little bit of bondage and a little bit of freedom and all will be safe and sound.
--Gerhard Forde, Where God Meets Man: Luther's Down-to-Earth Approach to the Gospel (Augsburg 1972), 60

The danger of being safe and sound!

Saturday, January 28, 2012

From the 1966 Album "Blues Etude." Oscar Peterson, piano; Sam Jones, double bass; Louis Hayes, drums. Recorded December 3, 1965, and May 4, 1966 at Chicago Sound Studios.

Oscar Peterson -Fly Me to the Moon-

I never get tired of listening to Oscar Peterson. His Piano playing soothes my soul.

Charlie Brown mashed up with Hellboy

22 words

Sustained by the Lord's Constant Grace

Not only does the Lord through forgiveness of sins receive and adopt us once for all into the church, but through the same means he preserves and protects us there. . . . Every godly man is his own witness that the Lord's mercy, if it were granted only once, would be void and illusory, since each is quite aware throughout his life of the many infirmities that need God's mercy.

And clearly not in vain does God promise this grace especially to those of his own household; not in vain does he order the same message of reconciliation daily to be brought to them. So, carrying, as we do, the traces of sin around with us throughout life, unless we are sustained by the Lord's constant grace in forgiving our sins, we shall scarcely abide one moment in the church. . . .

[His children] ought to ponder that their is pardon ever ready for their sins.
Calvin --Institutes, 4.1.21

Friday, January 27, 2012


Eric Clapton & Jeff Beck - Shake Your Money Maker

The Difference Between Federal Employees And You

Edwards on Justification

And to the one who does not work but trusts him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness. --Romans 4:5

When it is said that God justifies the ungodly, 'tis as absurd to suppose that our godliness, taken as some goodness in us, is the ground of our justification, as when it is said that Christ gave sight to the blind, to suppose that sight was prior to, and the ground of that act of mercy in Christ, or as if it should be said that such an one by his bounty has made a poor man rich, to suppose that it was the wealth of this poor man that was the ground of this bounty towards him, and was the price by which it was procured.
--Jonathan Edwards, 'Justification by Faith Alone,' a sermon series on Rom 4:5 that, Edwards believed, was instrumental in sparking the first local revival of 1734-35; the 100-page sermon series can be found in the Yale edition of Edwards' Works, vol. 19, pp. 143-242 (here 147)

Dane Ortlund

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Will McFarlane - Spirit Led Blues Power

Follow the link for a great interview with my friend Will McFarlane. Will played with Bonnie Raitt and many many more. He also worked at Muscle Shoals studio in Alabama.

Christian Musician Magazine

A Real Wake Up Call

Gotta Serve Somebody with Etta James

Warren Haynes Soulshine Live At The Crossroads Guitar Festival, June 26, 2010

Grace is Wildly Irreligious Stuff

Grace is wildly irreligious stuff. It's more than enough to get God kicked out of the God union that the theologians have formed to keep him on his divine toes so he won't let the rifraff off scot-free. Sensible people, of course, should need only about thirty seconds of careful thought to realize that getting off scot-free is the only way any of us is going to get off at all.
--Robert Farrar Capon, The Romance of the Word: One Man's Love Affair with Theology (Eerdmans, 1995), 11

Capon seems to have been a mildly eccentric man, and he has an awful (and awfully confused) understanding of the atonement, one which flirts with universalism. So, as with anyone, one must swallow the meat and spit out the bones. But I am loving this guy. Gospel defibrillation!

Dane Ortlund

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Cal Smith -- Lord Knows I'm Drinkin'

Cal Smith’s equally well-informed comments on Pharisaism. Now here's a song most guys can relate to. From 1973

Red - Painting with a Basketball - Yao Ming Portrait

Here's a painting of NBA superstar Yao Ming I did, with some red paint and a basketball! I guess all those years of basketball training in high school did come in handy!

Stevie Ray Vaughan - Pride And Joy (Montreux '82)

Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble Concert at Montreux Jazz Festival, Montreux, Switzerland , 1982

What's Your Blues Name?

My blues name is Jailhouse Fingers Brown, My oldest son Jeremy is Boney Gumbo Brown, My son Jeffery is Boney Sugar brown, my son Jason is Boney Boney Brown and my daughter Jessica is Boney Killer Brown

22 words

Joel Osteen: Great Smile, Crushing Theology

Pastor Joel Osteen is, in the words of (fake) fashion icon Mugatu (played by Will Ferrell in Zoolander), “so hot right now.” The 46-year-old pastor heads America’s largest church, the Houston-based Lakewood Church, with 43,000 people in attendance per week. His 2004 book, Your Best Life Now, was a New York Times bestseller, as was his 2007 Become a Better You. He is hugely popular and hugely influential. Many people at the church where I work read his books, watch his shows, and listen to his sermons. He’s a really likable guy.
Steven Waldman, the founder and editor of Beliefnet.com, the Internet’s “largest faith and spirituality website,” recently interviewed the always-perfectly-coiffed Osteen, providing the good people of Mockingbird a lot of food for thought. (The article appeared in The Wall Street Journal.)
Here are two noteworthy Osteenisms:
“I believe that when you think of the negative, and you get up discouraged — there’s nothing good in my future — I really believe it almost ties the hands of God. God works where there’s an attitude of faith. I believe faith is all about hope.”
“I believe God’s keeping the records, and I believe you will be rewarded even in this life. Somehow, some way, God will make it up to you. It may be He protected you from an accident you never knew. You can’t give God something without God giving you more in return, whether it’s peace or joy or satisfaction.”
How should we respond? I’ll keep it short and simple. Osteen’s articulation of Christianity is totally conditional: Think good thoughts, and good things will happen to you. Think bad thoughts, and bad things will happen to you. You pull the lever, God gives the prize.
The problem with this is twofold. First, this conditional relationship makes you more powerful than God. The level of your faith determines God’s ability to act in your life. The idea that my mental state could, as Osteen says, “tie God’s hands” is frightening. I don’t want that much power. (Although, Osteen puts this in a pretty package, one that ultimately appeals to the ego.)
Second, Osteen’s conditional Christianity gives people an impossible task. Just stay positive? What about the very real bondage many people are in? The human condition, described in the Bible, is that “no one seeks God”—rather, we are bound to seek our selves, our own good. To tell bound people, people enslaved to compulsive self-destructive behavior, to just change their thinking is dead-on-arrival.
In the Bible, God is seen as a Savior—someone who rescues people when they are at their worst, not when they are thinking positive thoughts. St. Paul met Jesus while he was still “breathing out murderous threats” against Christians. In Acts 27:20, St. Paul and St. Luke “abandoned all hope of being saved” in a storm at sea, before Paul comes to his senses and affirms God’s presence with him. In Matthew 26, Peter denied Jesus three times, just as Jesus went to the cross to save him (and everyone else). In the Old Testament, God chooses Israel not because of their greatness and strength, but because of their smallness and weakness.
So if you have total control of your mental outlook, and if you are able to always do the right thing, Osteen’s your man. However, if you are frustrated, tired, unable to do the thing you ought to do, I suggest you look to Jesus.

Bonnie Raitt - "Pride And Joy"

A Tribute To Stevie Ray Vaughan

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Etta James - Dust My Broom - From Blues To The Bone CD

Why Worry?

Allman Brothers Band with Eric Clapton - Why Does Love Got to Be So Sad....

Live at Beacon Theater NYC March 20th, 2009

Derek Trucks & Susan Tedeschi Band - Comin' Home

Crossroads Guitar Festival Chicago - Featuring WARREN HAYNES Sit back and turn it up this is a great rocking song!

Where all Illinois Governors Go

What Is Grace?

What is grace? Grace is love that seeks you out when you have nothing to give in return. Grace is love coming at you that has nothing to do with you. Grace is being loved when you are unlovable. The cliché definition of grace is “unconditional love.” It is a true cliché, for it is a good description of the thing…Let’s go a little further, though.
Grace is a love that has nothing to do with you, the beloved. It has everything and only to do with the lover. Grace is irrational in the sense that it has nothing to do with weights and measures. It has nothing to do with my intrinsic qualities or so-called “gifts” (whatever they may be). It reflects a decision on the part of the giver (the one who loves) in relation to the receiver (the one who is loved) that negates any qualifications the receiver may personally hold…Grace is one-way love.
The one-way love of grace is the essence of any lasting transformation that takes place in human experience. You can find this out for yourself by taking a simple inventory of your own happiness, or the moments of happiness you have had. They have almost always had to do with some incident of love or belovedness that has come to you from someone outside yourself when you were down. You felt ugly or sinking in confidence and somebody complimented you, or helped you, or spoke a kind word to you. You were at the end of your rope and someone showed a little sympathy.
Some fear that grace-delivered, blood-bought, radical freedom will result in loveless license. But grace alone–redeeming, unconditional, one-way love–(not fear, not guilt, not shame) carries the power to compel heart-felt loyalty to the One who bought us (2 Corinthians 5:14).
Tullian Tchividjian

Monday, January 23, 2012

James Cotton - Blow Wind Blow

James Cotton - Cotton Crop Blues

Trouble In The Magic Kingdom - Minnie Down And Out

The Flock of the Fainthearted

May a merciful God preserve me from a Christian Church in which everyone is a saint!

I want to be and remain in the church and little flock of the fainthearted, the feeble, and the ailing, who feel and recognize the wretchedness of their sins, who sigh and cry to God incessantly for comfort and help, who believe in the forgiveness of sin.

--Martin Luther, preaching on John 1, in Luther's Works, 22:55

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Etta James - It's a Man's Man's World

Wow what a song!

Sonny Boy Williamson - Your Funeral and my Trial

I love this song. The lyrics are great. "I'm begging you baby cut out that off the wall jive, woman if you can"t treat me no better, its going to be your funeral and my trial"

You’re a Hopeless Case, Charlie Brown: Law and Gospel According to Peanuts

This is the first in what I hope to be a series on Charles Schultz’s legendary comic strip (and TV specials), Peanuts. In part, my contribution picks up from DZ’s recent review of Robert Short’s popular work of apologetics, The Gospel According to Peanuts (1965). In many ways, I owe my conversion to Schultz, Short, and Snoopy; in fact, seven years of exploration culminated when I read Short’s book. Some might have thought it ridiculous for him to compare Snoopy to the “Hound of Heaven”—the one who humbles the exalted yet exalts the humiliated–but at least for me, it wasn’t much of a stretch.
I can clearly remember the day I devoured Short’s book while sitting in a café for several hours. I got up after finishing it and went outside, and felt something like scales drop from my eyes (Acts 9:18)—I was now a Christian, but I felt like Alice tumbling down the rabbit hole. It made sense why much in life seems to fail despite our best efforts—why he is depressed, why she is so unsatisfied, why they are angrily honking car horns, and I realized that I was just as bad an offender as anyone. I had been reading the Bible and apologetic works and debating with Christians for years, but it took Charlie Brown and company to speak to my heart and ultimately bring me to my knees.
Since then, Peanuts has become an abiding interest, and with Short’s help, the themes of Law and Gospel in Charles Schultz’s work and life emerged, which this series will attempt to highlight. Of course, I do not mean to imply that Schultz had Law and Gospel in mind when crafting Peanuts, but even Schultz appreciated (and was flattered by) Short’s creative use of his strips to illustrate the Good News (see, for example, Schultz’s 1987 interview with Gary Groth and Rick Marschall in volume 1 of The Complete Peanuts).
Our series begins with an unexpected discovery: An unpublished Peanuts strip from 1958 was recently uncovered and will be up for auction next week (I wish I had enough money!). In this strip, Schultz’s poignantly touches on themes of soul-crushing legalism in just about every frame:

 Everywhere Charlie Brown turns, he hears contradictory messages about why he is not good enough to be somebody’s idea of something, yet when he tries to live up to these standards, he is demolished by someone else’s moralistic advice—Charlie Brown is everyone’s project. I can relate: I remember being an adolescent and deeply resenting when people told me to smile—still do. You might think of your own life: what the commercials and billboards tell you or what people in your life (perhaps a spouse, or parent, or son or daughter, or boss) would like you to do and become. You’re a hopeless case, Charlie Brown!

What then can we say of Linus’ ever-present security blanket? The world and all its judgment have trampled Linus in the same ways it has Charlie Brown. “Linus, you’ve got to get rid of that stupid blanket!” his sister Lucy exclaims in A Charlie Brown Christmas Special. Perhaps the blanket is a false idol like Linus’ other favorite: the Great Pumpkin. But we can instead see the blanket as an oasis, a safe haven, a mighty fortress. Before we know it, Charlie Brown has joined Linus under the blanket. Like the plaque at the Statue of Liberty, it seems to say, “Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.” Or it might say, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). The blanket is a judgment-free zone—all are welcome, yet it is a stumbling block; those like Lucy reject it as pure folly (1 Corinthians 1:23).
Similar to Linus with his blanket, we too are cloaked by what Christ has done on our behalf—the Cross covers our sins before God (Psalm 32:1-2/Romans 4:6-7). This is how it is with imputed righteousness: Still remaining sinful and downtrodden, we are nevertheless covered by the tattered Security Blanket. And we do well to carry the Blanket around, offering it up, letting others lose their pride like Charlie Brown so that they too may safely huddle underneath.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

The Mackinaw Bridge - Pure Michigan

This photo was taken from a web cam January 19, 2012 of the Mackinaw Bridge ~ Pure

Etta James -- "I Sing The Blues" -- Down and Dirty Blues

Etta James died yesterday at age 73. What a great singer who paved the way for many others. Listen and enjoy her singing the blues.

Buddy Guy with Ron Wood & Johnny Lang - Five Long Years 'Crossroads Guitar Festival 2010'

The Princess Bride Pregnancy Test

My Death Was Not The Tragedy I First Thought

In 1974 the American Episcopalian priest Robert Farrar Capon had an experience so devastating to him that his life, as he understood it, was over. Though he was still physically breathing, death had come.

He writes:
I was not just devastated, or hurt, or ill-used, or broken; I was dead. Unless you have been through such an experience, you may find this overblown; but my life, as I had known it, was over, gone, kaput.
Capon then says a very interesting thing--
If I ever lived again--and it was inconceivable to me that I could--it would not be by my hand. Fairness or unfairness, guilt or innocence, blame or exculpation had nothing to do with the case. My life-designing capabilities were not impaired or in need of remedial treatment; I just didn't have my life anymore.
He goes on to describe how new life began.
But far from being a sad state of affairs, that turned out to be the best news I had ever heard. My death was not the tragedy I first thought; it was my absolution, my freedom. Nobody can blame a corpse--especially not the corpse itself. Once dead, we are out from under all the blame-harrows and guilt-spreaders forever. We are free; and free above all from the messes we have made of our own lives.

And if there is a God who can take the dead and, without a single condition of credit-worthiness or a single, pointless promise of reform, raise them up whole and forgiven, free for nothing--well, that would not only be wild and wonderful; it would be the single piece of Good News in a world drowning in an ocean of blame. It was not all up to me . It was never up to me at all. It was up to someone I could only trust and thank.

It was salvation by grace through faith, not works.
--Robert Farrar Capon, The Romance of the Word: One Man's Love Affair with Theology (Eerdmans, 1995), 8 (italics original)

So much I want to say about this. But I will leave it, for your own reflection. But be sure not to pass too quickly over the words, "especially not the corpse itself."
Dane Ortlund

Friday, January 20, 2012

Elmore James - The Sky is Crying

Elmore James (January 27, 1918 -- May 24, 1963) was an American blues guitarist, singer, song writer and band leader. He was known as The King of the Slide Guitar and had a unique guitar style and stirring voice.

Bob Dylan - Sweetheart Like You

Otis Redding- (Sittin' On) The Dock Of The Bay

Great song by Otis Redding; The Dock Of The Bay is probably my favourite one.

Child Labor

The Contrast Between Religion And The Gospel

Justifying the contrast between religion and the gospel, Tim Keller has pointed out that the Greek word for “religion” used in James 1 is used negatively in Colossians 2:18 where it describes false asceticism, fleshly works-righteousness, and also in Acts 26:5 where Paul speaks of his pre-Christian life in strict “religion.” It is also used negatively in the Apocrypha to describe idol worship in Wis 14:18 and 27. So, according to Keller, the word certainly has enough negative connotations to use as a fair title for the category of works-righteousness. In the Old Testament the prophets are devastating in their criticism of empty ritual and religious observances designed to bribe and appease God rather then serving, trusting, and loving him. The word “religion” isn’t used for this approach, but it’s a good way to describe what the prophets are condemning.
Keller goes on to tease out this distinction with this helpful comparison list:
RELIGION: I obey-therefore I’m accepted
THE GOSPEL: I’m accepted-therefore I obey.
RELIGION: Motivation is based on fear and insecurity
THE GOSPEL: Motivation is based on grateful joy.
RELIGION: I obey God in order to get things from God
THE GOSPEL: I obey God to get to God-to delight and resemble Him.
RELIGION: When circumstances in my life go wrong, I am angry at God or my self, since I believe, like Job’s friends that anyone who is good deserves a comfortable life
THE GOSPEL: When circumstances in my life go wrong, I struggle but I know all my punishment fell on Jesus and that while he may allow this for my training, he will exercise his Fatherly love within my trial.
RELIGION: When I am criticized I am furious or devastated because it is critical that I think of myself as a ‘good person’. Threats to that self-image must be destroyed at all costs
THE GOSPEL: When I am criticized I struggle, but it is not critical for me to think of myself as a ‘good person.’ My identity is not built on my record or my performance but on God’s love for me in Christ. I can take criticism.
RELIGION: My prayer life consists largely of petition and it only heats up when I am in a time of need. My main purpose in prayer is control of the environment
THE GOSPEL: My prayer life consists of generous stretches of praise and adoration. My main purpose is fellowship with Him.
RELIGION: My self-view swings between two poles. If and when I am living up to my standards, I feel confident, but then I am prone to be proud and unsympathetic to failing people. If and when I am not living up to standards, I feel insecure and inadequate. I’m not confident. I feel like a failure
THE GOSPEL: My self-view is not based on a view of my self as a moral achiever. In Christ I am “simul iustus et peccator”—simultaneously sinful and yet accepted in Christ. I am so bad he had to die for me and I am so loved he was glad to die for me. This leads me to deeper and deeper humility and confidence at the same time. Neither swaggering nor sniveling.
RELIGION: My identity and self-worth are based mainly on how hard I work. Or how moral I am, and so I must look down on those I perceive as lazy or immoral. I disdain and feel superior to ‘the other
THE GOSPEL: My identity and self-worth are centered on the one who died for His enemies, who was excluded from the city for me. I am saved by sheer grace. So I can’t look down on those who believe or practice something different from me. Only by grace I am what I am. I’ve no inner need to win arguments.
RELIGION: Since I look to my own pedigree or performance for my spiritual acceptability, my heart manufactures idols. It may be my talents, my moral record, my personal discipline, my social status, etc. I absolutely have to have them so they serve as my main hope, meaning, happiness, security, and significance, whatever I may say I believe about God
THE GOSPEL: I have many good things in my life—family, work, spiritual disciplines, etc. But none of these good things are ultimate things to me. None of them are things I absolutely have to have, so there is a limit to how much anxiety, bitterness, and despondency they can inflict on me when they are threatened and lost.
Tullian Tchividjian

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Cream - Stormy Monday (2005) Live At Royal Albert Hall (HQ)

Liberal Shock

Quit Asking for Forgiveness

One way I reinforce my inveterate functional Pelagianism is by allowing remembrance of a past sin to bring me back into despondency and a renewed plea for forgiveness every time it comes to mind.

The trouble is that (normally) I've asked the Lord to forgive me in the wake of the sin, yet when it comes to mind again I find myself crumpling internally into yet another anguished prayer for forgiveness.

The enemy loves it. He sees I'm not letting a decisive placing of that sin under the blood of Christ settle the issue once and for all. Somehow I allow myself to feel that the more often I ask for forgiveness, and the greater the anguish, the more effectual the blood of Christ on my behalf.

Which is itself works-righteousness. It's a denial that the blood of Christ is enough. It's thinking: I need to help out Christ's work by a super intense, repeated, pleading for that blood. The very gospel application is a gospel denial. My mind pleads grace while my heart self-atones.

Place it under the blood. Once. Then quit asking for forgiveness.

'. . . and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.' --Isaiah 53:6

Dane Ortlund

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

How To End A Campaign

Blues Brothers - Sweet Home Chicago

Kenny Wayne Shepherd "Voodoo Child" Live

The music from Lionel Ritchie’s song “Hello” with lyrics performed by numerous excerpts from your favorite films…

Hello from ant1mat3rie on Vimeo.

22 words

The Grace of God in the New Testament

There is always a danger of squeezing the Bible into a mold we bring to it rather than letting the Bible mold us. And, there could hardly be more diversity within the Protestant canon--diverse genres, historical settings, authors, literary levels, ages of history.

But while the Bible is not uniform, it is unified. The many books of the one Bible are not like the many pennies in the one jar. The pennies in the jar look the same, yet are disconnected; the books of the Bible (like the organs of a body) look different, yet are interconnected. As the past two generations' recovery of biblical theology has shown time and again, certain motifs course through the Scripture from start to end, tying the whole thing together into a coherent tapestry--kingdom, temple, people of God, creation/new creation, and so on.

Yet underneath and undergirding all of these, it seems to me, is the motif of God's grace, his favor and love to the undeserving. Don't we see the grace of God in every book of the Bible?

 Matthew shows God’s grace in fulfilling the Old Testament promises of a coming king. (5:17)

Mark shows God’s grace as this coming king suffers the fate of a common criminal to buy back sinners. (10:45)

Luke shows that God’s grace extends to all the people one would not expect: hookers, the poor, tax collectors, sinners, Gentiles ('younger sons'). (19:10)

John shows God’s grace in becoming one of us, flesh and blood (1:14), and dying and rising again so that by believing we might have life in his name. (20:31)

Acts shows God’s grace flooding out to all the world--starting in Jerusalem, ending in Rome; starting with Peter, apostle to the Jews, ending with Paul, apostle to the Gentiles. (1:8)

Romans shows God’s grace in Christ to the ungodly (4:5) while they were still sinners (5:8) that washes over both Jew and Gentile.

1 Corinthians shows God’s grace in favoring what is lowly and foolish in the world. (1:27)

2 Corinthians shows God’s grace in channeling his power through weakness rather than strength. (12:9)

Galatians shows God’s grace in justifying both Jew and Gentile by Christ-directed faith rather than self-directed performance. (2:16)

Ephesians shows God’s grace in the divine resolution to unite us to his Son before time began. (1:4)

Philippians shows God’s grace in Christ’s humiliating death on an instrument of torture—for us. (2:8)

Colossians shows God’s grace in nailing to the cross the record of debt that stood against us. (2:14)

1 Thessalonians shows God’s grace in providing the hope-igniting guarantee that Christ will return again. (4:13)

2 Thessalonians shows God’s grace in choosing us before time, that we might withstand Christ’s greatest enemy. (2:13)

1 Timothy shows God’s grace in the radical mercy shown to 'the chief of sinners.' (1:15)

2 Timothy shows God’s grace to be that which began (1:9) and that which fuels (2:1) the Christian life.

Titus shows God’s grace in saving us by his own cleansing mercy when we were most mired in sinful passions. (3:5)

Philemon shows God’s grace in transcending socially hierarchical structures with the deeper bond of Christ-won Christian brotherhood. (v. 16)

Hebrews shows God’s grace in giving his Son to be both our sacrifice to atone for us once and for all as well as our high priest to intercede for us forever. (9:12)

James shows us God’s grace by giving to those who have been born again 'of his own will' (1:18) 'wisdom from above' for meaningful godly living. (3:17)

1 Peter shows God’s grace in securing for us an unfading, imperishable inheritance no matter what we suffer in this life. (1:4)

2 Peter shows God’s grace in guaranteeing the inevitability that one day all will be put right as the evil that has masqueraded as good will be unmasked at the coming Day of the Lord. (3:10)

1 John shows God’s grace in adopting us as his children. (3:1)

2 and 3 John show God’s grace in reminding specific individuals of 'the truth that abides in us and will be with us forever.' (2 Jn 2)

Jude shows God’s grace in the Christ who presents us blameless before God in a world rife with moral chaos. (v. 24)

Revelation shows God’s grace in preserving his people through cataclysmic suffering, a preservation founded on the shed blood of the lamb. (12:11)
Dane Ortlund

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Art With Salt - Jimi Hendrix

Gone,Gone,Gone - Alison Krauss & Robert Plant

The Grace of God in the Old Testament

There is always a danger of squeezing the Bible into a mold we bring to it rather than letting the Bible mold us. And, there could hardly be more diversity within the Protestant canon--diverse genres, historical settings, authors, literary levels, ages of history.

But while the Bible is not uniform, it is unified. The many books of the one Bible are not like the many pennies in the one jar. The pennies in the jar look the same, yet are disconnected; the books of the Bible (like the organs of a body) look different, yet are interconnected. As the past two generations' recovery of biblical theology has shown time and again, certain motifs course through the Scripture from start to end, tying the whole thing together into a coherent tapestry--kingdom, temple, people of God, creation/new creation, and so on.

Yet underneath and undergirding all of these, it seems to me, is the motif of God's grace, his favor and love to the undeserving. Don't we see the grace of God in every book of the Bible? (NT books include the single verse that best crystallizes the point.)
Genesis shows God’s grace to a universally wicked world as he enters into relationship with a sinful family line (Abraham) and promises to bless the world through him.

Exodus shows God’s grace to his enslaved people in bringing them out of Egyptian bondage.

Leviticus shows God’s grace in providing his people with a sacrificial system to atone for their sins.

Numbers shows God’s grace in patiently sustaining his grumbling people in the wilderness and bringing them to the border of the promised land not because of them but in spite of them.

Deuteronomy shows God’s grace in giving the people the new land 'not because of your righteousness' (ch. 9).

Joshua shows God’s grace in giving Israel victory after victory in their conquest of the land with neither superior numbers nor superior obedience on Israel’s part.

Judges shows God’s grace in taking sinful, weak Israelites as leaders and using them to purge the land, time and again, of foreign incursion and idolatry.

Ruth shows God’s grace in incorporating a poverty-stricken, desolate, foreign woman into the line of Christ.

1 and 2 Samuel show God’s grace in establishing the throne (forever—2 Sam 7) of an adulterous murderer.

1 and 2 Kings show God’s grace in repeatedly prolonging the exacting of justice and judgment for kingly sin 'for the sake of' David. (And remember: by the ancient hermeneutical presupposition of corporate solidarity, by which the one stands for the many and the many for the one, the king represented the people; the people were in their king; as the king went, so went they.)

1 and 2 Chronicles show God’s grace by continually reassuring the returning exiles of God’s self-initiated promises to David and his sons.

Ezra shows God’s grace to Israel in working through the most powerful pagan ruler of the time (Cyrus) to bring his people back home to a rebuilt temple.

Nehemiah shows God’s grace in providing for the rebuilding of the walls of the city that represented the heart of God’s promises to his people.

Esther shows God’s grace in protecting his people from a Persian plot to eradicate them through a string of 'fortuitous' events.

Job shows God’s grace in vindicating the sufferer’s cry that his redeemer lives (19:25), who will put all things right in this world or the next.

Psalms shows God’s grace by reminding us of, and leading us in expressing, the hesed (relentless covenant love) God has for his people and the refuge that he is for them.

Proverbs shows us God’s grace by opening up to us a world of wisdom in leading a life of happy godliness.

Ecclesiastes shows God’s grace in its earthy reminder that the good things of life can never be pursued as the ultimate things of life and that it is God who in his mercy satisfies sinners (note 7:20; 8:11).

Song of Songs shows God’s grace and love for his bride by giving us a faint echo of it in the pleasures of faithful human sexuality.

Isaiah shows God’s grace by reassuring us of his presence with and restoration of contrite sinners.

Jeremiah shows God’s grace in promising a new and better covenant, one in which knowledge of God will be universally internalized.

Lamentations shows God’s grace in his unfailing faithfulness in the midst of sadness.

Ezekiel shows God’s grace in the divine heart surgery that cleansingly replaces stony hearts with fleshy ones.

Daniel shows God’s grace in its repeated miraculous preservation of his servants.

Hosea shows God’s grace in a real-live depiction of God’s unstoppable love toward his whoring wife.

Joel shows God’s grace in the promise to pour out his Spirit on all flesh.

Amos shows God’s grace in the Lord's climactic promise of restoration in spite of rampant corruption.

Obadiah shows God’s grace by promising judgment on Edom, Israel’s oppressor, and restoration of Israel to the land in spite of current Babylonian captivity.

Jonah shows God’s grace toward both immoral Nineveh and moral Jonah, irreligious pagans and a religious prophet, both of whom need and both of whom receive the grace of God.

Micah shows God’s grace in the prophecy’s repeated wonder at God’s strange insistence on 'pardoning iniquity and passing over transgression' (7:18).

Nahum shows God’s grace in assuring Israel of good news' and 'peace,' promising that the Assyrians have tormented them for the last time.

Habakkuk shows God’s grace that requires nothing but trusting faith amid insurmountable opposition, freeing us to rejoice in God even in desolation.

Zephaniah shows God’s grace in the Lord's exultant singing over his recalcitrant yet beloved people.

Haggai shows God’s grace in promising a wayward people that the latter glory of God’s (temple-ing) presence with them will far surpass its former glory.

Zechariah shows God’s grace in the divine pledge to open up a fountain for God’s people to 'cleanse them from sin and uncleanness' (13:1).

Malachi shows God’s grace by declaring the Lord’s no-strings-attached love for his people.

Dane Ortlund

Oscar Peterson - Tin Tin Deo

Oscar Peterson - Tin Tin Deo The bassist is Ray Brown and the drummer is Ed Thigpen. The album is titled 'ACTION'. Recorded in 1964 at the studio of Hans Georg Brunner-Schwer in Villingen, West Germany as Volume1 in the 'Exclusively for My Friends' series. And released in 1968 on the MPS Record label.

Our Fatal Love Affair with the Law

Grace cannot prevail until law is dead, until moralizing is out of the game . . . until our fatal love affair with the law is over--until, finally and for good, our lifelong certainty that someone is keeping score has run out of steam and collapsed. As long as we leave, in our dramatizations of grace, one single hope of a moral reckoning, one possible recourse to salvation by bookkeeping, our freedom-dreading hearts will clutch it to themselves.

Restore to us, Preacher, the comfort of merit and demerit. Prove for us that there is at least something we can do, that we are still, at whatever dim recess of our nature, the masters of our relationships. Tell us, Prophet, that in spite of all our nights of losing, there will yet be one redeeming card of our very own. . . . But do not preach us grace. It will not do to split the pot evenly at 4 a.m. and break out the Chivas Regal. We insist on being reckoned with. Give us something, anything; but spare us the indignity of this indiscriminate acceptance.

Lord, let your servants depart in the peace of their responsibility. If it is not too much to ask, send us to bed with some few shreds of self-respect to congratulate ourselves upon. But if that is too hard, leave us at least the consolation of our self-loathing. Only do not force us free. What have we ever done but try as best we could? How have we so hurt you, even by failing, that you should now turn on us and say that none of it makes any difference, not even our sacred guilt? We have played this game of yours, and it has cost us.
Where do you get off suggesting a drink at a time like this?
--Robert Farrar Capon, Between Noon and Three: Romance, Law, and the Outrage of Grace (Eerdmans 1997), 7; italics original
Dane Ortlund

Monday, January 16, 2012

The Real Vulture Capitolists

Definitive proof that Stephen Hawking has no ability to time travel

If anyone could know how to travel back and forth through time, it would be Stephen Hawking, right? Well, I’m sorry to say he doesn’t know how — at least he didn’t in 1995, when he sent this response to The Face magazine after they asked him if he had a formula for time travel…

22 words

Eric Clapton - Have You Ever Loved A Woman Live From Crossroads Guitar Festival 2004

Rock Me Baby - Buddy Guy & B.B. King & Eric Clapton

Letter from Birmingham Jail

If you read one thing today on Martin Luther King Day, make it his “Letter from Birmingham Jail.”
On April 12, 1963, eight white Birmingham clergymen published an open letter as “A Call for Unity.” They urged “calm” and spoke against “extreme,” “unwise” measures, encouraging the Negro community to settle the issue in the courts, not the streets. They also argued that this was a local matter, urging “outsiders” (like King) to stay out of it.
On the same day that this letter was being published—Good Friday of 1963—King and 50 Birmingham residents were arrested for disobeying Bull Connor’s injunction against the protest. Four days later (April 16, 1963), King began composing the letter in bits and pieces, and it was passed along piecemeal to his associates to stitch together.
It’s a moving letter, not only for its rhetoric but also for its natural-law argument rooted in the Christian tradition. King was a man of moral failing and neo-orthodox theology but in certain areas a man of tremendous moral courage. Let us celebrate what he said right, and said so well.
In the video below you can watch actor Cory Jones recite the contents of the letter:

And here is the text: Continue

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Cream - Crossroads (1968) Live at the Fillmore

One of the greatest live recordings of all time.

Robert Johnson - Come on in my Kitchen

The Page Turner

Joseph Herscher takes a sip of his coffee, pulling string thereby tipping paintings. Balls roll down paintings, lighting burner to boil water causing books to tip. Vase and computer get knocked off the table, releasing tape to open front page of newspaper.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Stevie Ray Vaughan - Couldn't Stand the Weather

Live at Shiba Yubinchukin Stadium Tokyo, Japan Jan 24th, 1985

Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble "Leave My Girl Alone" Live From Austin , Texas 1989

Donut Upset About Life

Cup Of Joe

A Letter from Martin Luther on Spiritual Warfare

The following is from a letter written in July 1530 to Jerome Weller, a 31-year-old friend who had previously lived in the Luther home, tutored his children, and was now struggling with spiritual despair:
. . Excellent Jerome, You ought to rejoice in this temptation of the devil because it is a certain sign that God is propitious and merciful to you.
You say that the temptation is heavier than you can bear, and that you fear that it will so break and beat you down as to drive you to despair and blasphemy. I know this wile of the devil. If he cannot break a person with his first attack, he tries by persevering to wear him out and weaken him until the person falls and confesses himself beaten.
Whenever this temptation comes to you, avoid entering upon a disputation with the devil and do not allow yourself to dwell on those deadly thoughts, for to do so is nothing short of yielding to the devil and letting him have his way.
Try as hard as you can to despise those thoughts which are induced by the devil. In this sort of temptation and struggle, contempt is the best and easiest method of winning over the devil.
Laugh your adversary to scorn and ask who it is with whom you are talking.
By all means flee solitude, for the devil watches and lies in wait for you most of all when you are alone. This devil is conquered by mocking and despising him, not by resisting and arguing with him. . .
When the devil throws our sins up to us and declares we deserve death and hell, we ought to speak thus:
“I admit that I deserve death and hell.
What of it?
Does this mean that I shall be sentenced to eternal damnation?
By no means.
For I know One who suffered and made a satisfaction in my behalf.
His name is Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
Where he is, there I shall be also.”
Martin Luther
Luther: Letters of Spiritual Counsel, trans. and ed. Theodore G. Tappert (orig., 1960; reprint, Vancouver, BC: Regent College Publishing, 2003), 85.
Justin Taylor

Friday, January 13, 2012

Muddy Waters - You're Gonna Miss Me (When I'm Dead and Gone)

Lowell Fulson-You're Gonna Miss Me

Panetta Says No Nukes In Iran

Does God Care Whether Tim Tebow Wins on Saturday? By Owen Strachan

Tim Tebow succeeds on the football field because of elves.
You can't see them on television. They're tiny. But when the game gets tight and the Denver Broncos need a fourth-quarter miracle, the elves come out and do his bidding. Forming a dense pack, they push 350-pound lineman aside, knock defensive backs off their stride, and give speed to Demayrius Thomas after he catches a pass. 
That's why he wins.
What? You don't buy that? It's a lie, you're right. You know Tebow doesn't accomplish what he does because of elves. But when you hear about his faith, and the connection that some make between his devout Christianity and the success he enjoys on the football field, you might think it's about as likely that Tebow succeeds because of God's direct and benevolent intervention as it is that he wins games because of a roaming band of miniature wood elves.
Both sound ridiculous. God doesn't care about football games, right? If he exists at all, isn't he up there making sure that the planets spin in their proper orbits and, I don't know, that there's enough rainwater falling on Argentinean forests? Doesn't he have better things to do than to propel a certain football team to victories?
As someone who teaches theology to college students, and so is used to winning unlikely attention from the bleary-eyed and skeptical, let me try to answer this question, for several months now the fodder not merely of church youth groups, but of bars, dorm rooms, and the front pages of serious sports sites like ESPN and Bill Simmons's Grantland.
The doctrine of providence is a 50-cent phrase from Christian theology. It's basically the idea that God directs all things that happen in this world according to his wise counsel and for the ends, the purposes, that will bring him the most glory.  If you've had a class in theology or remember, say, the sermon Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God by Calvinist preacher Jonathan Edwards (we read it in my Maine public high school, and you may have too), then you may know that this particular idea caused a ruckus throughout history. 

In the 16th century, guys like Martin Luther, the Tim Tebow of his day (the Pope said he was "like a bull in the church's vineyard," an apt description for Tebow's running style), and John Calvin kick-started what was historically called the "Reformation." This epochal period, which featured the Catholic Church contra mundum and included such hilariously-named religious incidents as the "affair of the sausages," saw a massive rise in interest in God's control over all things, including salvation, the life of Christians, and, well, everything. Medieval Catholicism offered Ye Olde Peasant a worldview in which they cooperated with God to earn salvation; Reformational Protestantism suggested that nothing could thwart the will of God and that salvation came only through divine fiat.
Luther and Calvin drew upon the teachings of Jesus in formulating the doctrine of providence. In the course of arguing with Pharisees, as he seemed to always be doing, Jesus taught that God superintended everything, including even the most ordinary animals of his creation, like the sparrow. "Are not two sparrows sold for a penny?," he asked a hostile crowd. "And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father" (Matt. 10:29). In other words, God ordains—or decides—when the sparrow dies and when it lives. According to Scripture, this is true also of what king rules when, how many hairs grow on our heads, and every twist and turn our lives on this fragile sphere take (see Prov. 16:33; 21:1; Matt. 10:30). 
But enough about sausages and Reformers and sparrows—what about Tim Tebow? Does he win because God miraculously propels him to victory? Is the "hand of God," as footballer Diego Maradonna famously called it, directing his passes (or at least his fourth-quarter attempts)?
Yes and no. The Bible says that God oversees everything that happens in this world. He ordains what socks we put on in the morning, how burnt our toast is, what we think about in the day, and everything in between. All things happen "according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will," as the apostle Paul said in Ephesians 1:11. So does that include Tim Tebow and his playmaking? Yes, it surely does.
But, as you can see, this is saying less than you might initially think. I believe that God is overseeing all of Tebow's passes, but he's also overseeing the typing and reading of this paragraph. He's overseeing the Denver Broncos, but he's also overseeing the Boston Celtics (much as it may seem otherwise at present), the Museum of Modern Art, and the playtime of your nephew.  He's in control of all things. In this sense, which is called "secondary" causation (God's oversight of all things), the Lord is directing Tebow's life.
But is God directly intervening on the football field in the same way that, for example, he did to cause the virgin birth of Luke 2 (in what is called "primary causation")? That I don't know. It's not clear to my human eyes how this all shakes out.  I do know that the Lord is working everything out according to his wise and mysterious counsel which, try as we might, we cannot fully understand.
I can say from the Bible that God oversees the lives of his people, of those who trust the death of Christ for their life in heaven, with special concern. According to his Word, God is carrying out a mission of salvation (John 3:16; Rom. 10; Eph. 1). He has a special interest in directing the lives of his people so that in every endeavor, in myriad fields, they bring him glory.  That's why Paul said to Christians, "whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God" (1 Cor. 10:31). Life affords countless opportunities to simultaneously speak the gospel and live in a distinctly Christian way and thereby advance the kingdom further.
Tim Tebow was given natural and freakish athletic ability. He also has tremendous character and seemingly strong faith, gifts that, according to the Bible, only God can give. We know from 1 Corinthians 1 that God delights to make foolish "the wisdom of the world," showing that God, and not only rappers and rock stars, has a subversive side, too (1 Cor. 1:20). It may be that God is working through the miraculous feats of Tebow on the field to draw attention to his own glory. God is regularly pleased to do such things, it seems, whether that means rebuking upper-crust Anglicans or bloated Bible-belt Baptists by raising up believers in massive numbers in marginalized regions of the world or by giving favor to politicians and accountants and homemakers who nobody else deemed worthy.  
So yes, God may be directly—not generally—working in his wise providence to bless Tim Tebow (for which the Denver Broncos organization is no doubt much obliged!). But this is not altogether clear. Two things are clear to me, though. First, whatever God does is best. Second, in certain times he grants unusual favor to his people, as biblical episodes like the life of Joseph show (see Genesis 37-50). Most of us muddle along, living unspectacular yet meaningful lives in God's sight, but some are appointed by God for unusual service and prominence.
But what happens when Tebow loses? What happens if my New England Patriots, a team I have loved since Dave Meggett was getting stuffed on every punt return and Drew Bledsoe was completing cannon-like passes to more sideline coaches than receivers, steamroll the Broncos, as they did earlier in the season? Has God capriciously retracted his blessing on this All-American golden-boy, who runs like a lion yet speaks like a Sunday-school teacher?
This is easier than your average late-night philosophical chat in the college lounge might make it seem. The Bible teaches that no believer is assured an easy road. In other words, contrary to what health-and-wealth teachers like Joel Osteen say (to the tune of massive earnings), God nowhere promises to unendingly bless his people in worldly terms. On the contrary, it seems from biblical texts like Hebrews 11:35-38 that Christians will know considerable suffering in this world. Speaking of the most faithful leaders of the historic church—not the bad boys and girls of the Bible who would seem to deserve pain—the author says of their earthly sojourn that
Some were tortured, refusing to accept release, so that they might rise again to a better life. Others suffered mocking and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were killed with the sword. They went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, afflicted, mistreated—of whom the world was not worthy—wandering about in deserts and mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth.
This is an incredible reality. It's why I have heard famed pastor and apologist Tim Keller of Manhattan's Redeemer Presbyterian Church say, to a wealthy evangelical audience, "Suffering will get you" (see pages 22-34 in his excellent book The Reason for God for more on this subject).  There is no way to avoid it as a Christian.
What does this mean in light of a possible Broncos loss on Saturday? It means that there is no reason to believe that God has failed Tebow, that the light of the divine in Tebow's life is extinguished. God's Spirit, directed by God's will, blows like the wind where it wishes (John 3:8). It may be that Tebow will succeed in spectacular fashion; it may be that he will have the worst game of his life. Either way, the Bible assures us that God loves his chosen, God is orchestrating every detail of their lives, and God will lead them through success or failure to the end of all things. Sometimes God grants believers great victories, and sometimes he asks them to walk through the fire. This is true whether it is experienced on the football field, in the office, or in a country that rewards outspoken Christianity with a sword to the throat. 
Perhaps this sounds like a cop-out, as weird as the mystical, linebacker-thwarting wood elves I introduced earlier. But if it does, remember the one whom Christians worship. Jesus Christ was the Son of God in human form.  He did not come to earth to be lauded, though, but to serve and to suffer (Mark 10:45). It was the will of God to bruise him, and through his vicarious death and life-giving resurrection to make a way to heaven for fallen mankind. 
There is no greater reminder than this that God uses suffering in the lives of believers to accomplish his will. Whether, as with Joseph, he grants Christians incredible accomplishment and wealth, or whether, as with Job, he leads them steadily through the valley of the shadow of death, he loves them all the same. Sometimes, we remember, it is through tremendous hardship, suffering even to the point of death, that his people gain the greatest victories. 
That is the message of the cross, where an innocent man was crucified, naked and gasping, on behalf of the guilty. It is the lodestar of every Christian, the confession that no one can stymie, whether we make our way through life as a mailman, Down's syndrome sufferer, or football star.
The Atlantic