Linkage 2.28

I stepped away for a bit because I’m having one of those weeks where I wildly over-scheduled myself. You don’t have those, right? I know I’m the only one.

Anyway, here’s to slowing down a bit. Enjoy this overstocked post of bits of goodness from the interwebz:

This was an interesting milestone in the life of the Presbyterian Church of America: Pastor Ligon Duncan reflects on years of a conscious pursuit of more diversity in the PCA.

Now friends, I am a son of the old Southern Presbyterian Church. These are my people, and I am no better than my fathers. It is humiliating to stand before you today and confess these things.

So, what happened? What accounts for this change, and for our present joy in you?

Well, the answer is complex, and many things could be said…. But it gets down to the cross, the Gospel and repentance.

Our family is already big fans of Stephen Curry, the Charlotte-area native who is breaking records left and right with the Golden State Warriors. He is a humble, kind man. Here’s a great picture of him asking for an autograph from Mo’ne Davis.

The One Question Every Parent Should Quit Asking

Sometimes It Really Is As Simple As Cake: a lovely reflection on the simple art of feeding people.

Alissa Wilkinson rightfully scolds our “hot take” culture: In Praise of Slow Opinions

And lastly, this is a great interpretation of what was already good advice from Ira Glass.

Linkage

I have just two things for you today.

One, if you have had it up to here with political advertising like I (and my children) have, head over to this Random Political Rhetoric Generator for a couple of laughs. You can take important stands like, “I want an America where internet pirates and violent video game makers cannot corrupt our cherished national parks.”

Two, this article by Carl Trueman is a highly influential one for me when it comes to music in the church. I return to it now and again to recalibrate and ask questions of myself and others: What Can Miserable Christians Sing? Here’s a taste:

A diet of unremittingly jolly choruses and hymns inevitably creates an unrealistic horizon of expectation which sees the normative Christian life as one long triumphalist street party — a theologically incorrect and a pastorally disastrous scenario in a world of broken individuals. Has an unconscious belief that Christianity is — or at least should be — all about health, wealth, and happiness silently corrupted the content of our worship? Few Christians in areas where the church has been strongest over recent decades — China, Africa, Eastern Europe – would regard uninterrupted emotional highs as normal Christian experience.

Trueman wrote a follow-up piece for the 9marks blog earlier this year that is also worth a read.

Why It Matters

This is a devotional I recently wrote for our homeschool co-op.

Sara Groves wrote the above song in tribute to a man in Sarajevo whose name is Vedran Smailovic.  Vedran was the principal cellist for the Sarajevo Opera Orchestra.

In Sarajevo in the 1990s there was a great war and many people died.  Some of those people were civilians — people who were standing in a breadline, hoping to take some food home for their families.  Twenty two of them were killed by a mortar shell.  They were not soldiers or politicians or involved in the conflict at all — other than the fact that they lived there.

That was on May 27, 1992.  On May 28, Vedran Smailovic went to the blackened part of the city where this tragedy happened, took out his cello, and began to play.  He played in that park for twenty-two days, in tribute to the twenty-two men, women, and children who died there.  It was his way of answering the tragedy.  He mourned with music.  He brought lavish beauty to a place that was war-torn, chaotic, and tragic.

The story of Vedran expresses some of God’s character.  God created the world out of chaos.  He spoke it into being and it was very good.  If you look at creation, what He has made, it is amazing and beautiful.  It works perfectly.  And there are so many details that are there that didn’t need to be.

Think about this season of fall.  God could have intended that autumn happened in a week or so.  The trees would close up shop, lose their leaves in a pile of brown, and be done with it.  But no — in His generosity to us, He intended for the season to be colorful:  full of reds, yellows, oranges, and the bluest skies you can ask for.  He didn’t have to do it that way, but the fact that He did means that beauty matters to God.

For thus says the Lord,

who created the heavens

(he is God!),

who formed the earth and made it

(he established it;

he did not create it empty,

he formed it to be inhabited!):

“I am the Lord, and there is no other. (Isaiah 45:18, ESV)

And so I want to encourage you students today that when you take an extra moment on your homework to get it right; when you stop to jump in the leaves that are turning; when you color a picture for your mom; when you draw what you see; when you sing with all your heart in church — YOU are creating and YOU are reflecting God’s glory when you do that.

And moms, when you light a candle at dinner even though the rest of the house is chaos; when you take an extra minute to love that child who is giving you a terrible attitude; when you bring beauty in what seems to be a darkened place, YOU are reflecting God’s glory.

These efforts can seem to go unnoticed for years at a time, maybe for our whole lives.  Like the single cellist in the blackened park, we might feel as though our efforts are fruitless.  They cannot raise the dead.

But we serve an audience of One, who made us like Him, in His image.  Be encouraged.  He sees.  He knows.