"He is no fool who gives up what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose." ~Jim Elliot

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Friday, August 30, 2013

Draw the Line

Draw the Line
Disciple, O God Save Us All (2012)

Another crash, another fall, another fall another failure
Another choice I don't want to remember
Been here to many times
Every day's another fight
I'm at war with the person I could be
Give me a chance and I'll mess up a good thing
But this is where it ends
Yeah, this is where it ends

This is where I draw the line
This is where the old me dies
Light a match, let it burn, kiss it goodbye
Give it up - what I was
This is where I draw the line

Another battle I lost fighting solo
How many times must I learn what I already know?
Can't do this on my own
Wasn't meant to fight alone
So I'm lifting my hands in surrender
Take my faults and my flaws; make me better
Cause this is where I end
Right where You begin

This is where I draw the line
This is where the old me dies
Light a match, let it burn, kiss it goodbye
Give it up - what I was
This is where I draw the line

Set me on fire
Set me on fire
Burn me up, burn me up, burn me all the way
Till there's nothing left but You
Burn me up, burn me up, burn me all the way
Till there's nothing left but You
Set me on fire

This is where I draw the line
This is where the old me dies
Light a match, let it burn, kiss it goodbye
Give it up - what I was
This is where I draw the line

This is where the old me dies
Till there's nothing left but You
This is where I draw the line

Sunday, August 25, 2013

When the Busyness Takes Over

It is a simple phenomenon of life - people are busy. Busy with work, busy with school, busy with friends, busy with entertainment, busy with problems, busy with promotions, busy with events, busy with social groups, busy with possessions. And it seems like every time we try to start a new routine (like a blog), it fails unless we have a strong motivation or accountability. That is my best attempt at explaining why the posts are (and probably will be) dwindling to a meager number.

Yes, I am busier now than I have been yet in Arizona. Thankfully, that is due in part to a revived focus on school and a decent number of hours at work. I am seeing success in both, and I praise God for that. But I don't want to be deceived. I know that my own heart is "prone to wander"; when I get busy, I am so easily taken from spiritual things and drawn to material things that do not last.

So if you find yourself in the same predicament and need guidance, here is a priority list I aim to keep for myself:
1. Love God and enjoy Him in everything.
2. Love His word and read it daily with passion.
3. Love your neighbor as yourself.
4. Invest most in the things you should love most - the things that will truly last.

And thank God every day. If all goes well, praise the Lord. If you fail, praise Him still. Rest in His unchanging love and mercy that do not fail, and remember that one day all our striving will be repaid in full and we will enjoy the busyness and satisfaction of the presence of the Lord forever and ever.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Overcoming Evil: The Human Condition and Cure

I was planning on doing something else at the time of this post, but something is disturbing me tonight. Allow me to give a bit of a background.

A Human Example
Since the big move to Arizona, it has been a blessing to read more - books, blogs, and media. I have also been able to keep up with the news quite a bit more than I did in Indiana, and recently there was a story that caught my attention; tonight I followed the trial resulting from the incident. If you're not able to cope with seeing malice as well as others may be, I'll explain below. Do please take warning; this is video is hard to watch. 

So in summary, as best as I understand the situation, one 12-year-old refuses drugs from two 15-year-olds then tells a teacher. Those two 15-year-olds, along with one other, beat up the kid in the bus.

The Human Response
1. Anger at cowardice. Even from a foolish perspective - if you beat a 12-year-old kid up and it takes you bringing two of your buddies into it when you're 3 years older than the little kid, you're a spineless coward.
2. Anger at malice. Hating someone enough to extensively harm them physically is unnerving. I don't get it.
3. A desire for justice. This should never be ignored or excused. Appropriate measures should be taken for protection of the victim and punishment of the guilty.

The Human Tendency
The one man who spoke up from the trial was the father of Julian McKnight, one of the offenders. And what did he say? "I'm so sorry my son behaved dishonorably and violently"? No:

"We're sorry about what happened to the victim, but that's just the way it is. You know, my son ain't no bad person. You know, he just got a little mixed with bad people, that's all... He's sorry."

Meanwhile, Julian did not say he was sorry. He didn't say anything.

The Human Condition
Sir, I am glad to hear that your son isn't a bad person. Even though he repeatedly kicked and punched a younger kid and broke the kid's arm, it's at least a comfort to know he's not horrible deep down on the inside.

Is this the response? Your kid isn't a bad person, but someone else's is? That's the explanation?

No - I am sorry - your kid is a monster.

But Before We Throw Any Stones...
Much more could be said, but you get the point. You feel the anger that I did when I heard this story. But let us not park on that anger and point fingers forever because much more can be seen here. Much more can be seen in all of us.

Julian McKnight and his two culprits are not the only monsters in this world. They are only an example of the monster in all of us. Remember the story of the adulteress in John 8:1-11? She was caught red-handed. The Law demanded justice. The Pharisees were ready to deal out the punishment. But before they did, Jesus gave one statement that would shake their entire view of social justice: "He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her" (8:7).

I know this isn't adultery, but does this saying not capture the essence of the human condition? When something like this happens, we are so quick to become angry and pick up the stones to throw. My friends, that is not justice - it is revenge, bitterness.

The people over us will deal with justice (Rom. 13:1). God will bring this horrendous act to judgment on the final day. But a desire for revenge - the poisonous desire in me to take my friends and gang up against one of them - is only a worsening of the situation. So imagine that horrible feeling you have in your stomach doubling. That is what our bitterness accomplishes. We cannot overcome evil with evil.

But God's compassion and grace are deep enough to cover all, to cleanse the vilest of sinners - even Ninevah, even Saul, even Julian.

Romans 12:19-13:1
Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, "Vengeance is Mine, I will repay," says the Lord.
"But if your enemy is hungry, feed him, and if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap burning coals on his head."
Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

(More) Promised Photos + random life snippets

 I love this kid...

 ...enough to tell him the truth that the D-backs
aren't the greatest team in the NL.

 Uncle Whit!

Uncle Whit's aviators!

 Playing what I will hereafter refer to as
"Tickle/Tackle." It's a very simple game but
very hilarious.

 He hasn't quite learned yet that sometimes
pushing down hard on a person's face isn't the
best way to socialize. Uncles are only the

 Climb up the couch...

 ...climb down on Jon.

Matthew took me to my first
MLB game: the D-backs and Rays.
(Arizona won 9-8 in a close game).

Praise God - I have finally been given a job: 
Domino's Assistant Manager / GM-in-Training.
I started work in the store Thursday.

This is a New Testament read-through
I'm heading up in October. 17:27, as I call it,
will have its fourth go-around this year. However,
this is only the second year I've tried to rally
other people to join me. If you're interested, shoot
me an email at jmross94@gmail.com, and I'll
sign you up.

I still have fears and gaps and holes. And I'm not where I should be - I know that. But, as evidenced only in part here, God gives grace and little joys every single day. All glory be to Him.

Hosea 6:2
He will revive us after two days; 
He will raise us up on the third day, 
That we may live before Him.

"I am not what I ought to be,
I am not what I want to be,
I am not what I hope to be.
But thank God
I am not what I used to be.”
~John Newton

Friday, August 9, 2013

"Reading" and Reading

Through July and this first part of August I've been working on reading Mere Christianity. Recently I came to the conclusion that there are far too many books to read, and I have far too little time to read. So I pulled up Scratchpad on my Chromebook and made a priority list of sorts. Almost all of the books that ended up on that list were ones that have impacted the church for years if not centuries. Those are the ones I most want to read.

On a side-note, I heavily recommend Mere Christianity to any person who wants to think seriously about God, ethics, morals, and life in general. The books begins by examining possible explanations to the moral law, eventually counts off atheism as too simple, and settles on Christianity for the best system of belief and practice for life. It is a mental work. One has to stay with the author and think critically. But the thoughts given are not too lofty for the common man, and there are a variety of illustrations to help.

Finally, I want to put in a word about reading. When I talk to my friends and tell them I'm "reading" a book, something totally different may come into their minds than is in mine. To me, reading is grueling discipline requiring heavy attention and mental effort. When I read, I have a conversation with the author. I ask him questions, put in objections, agree on points I find valid, summarize and reword what he has already stated, and I mark the pages that have the most important points.

That's what I mean by reading. And I would encourage you to do the same. It takes much time and effort. You won't get through a whole bookshelf in a year, but you will get much more out of your books and be able to refer back to them later. Unless you have a photographic memory, you're not going to get as much out of your books by simply letting your eyes roll over the text as you will by stopping, contemplating, and thinking your own thoughts about the book.

That's my 2 cents. It was Mortimer J. Adler who got me started on it, so if you have any further questions this essay will explain.

Picture of Daniel will come soon. =)

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