Posted by: John Adams | September 25, 2010

“Like Shining from Shook Foil”

I attended an Andrew Peterson concert in Lexington tonight. I was deeply impressed by the depth of his lyrics, which are intricate stories set to simple folk tunes. Through the magic of language and song, simple melodies create complex universes that open up a doorway into ways of thinking his listeners may have never before experienced.

After the show, I re-read an interview with Marilynne Robinson, whose novel Gilead I read with deep appreciation this summer. In the interview with Christianity Today which originally piqued my interest in her writing, she says that “God willingly floods our senses with his grandeur in such a way that we can take it in and reflect it back, his glory ‘shining forth’ as we participate in it. It is as if we were to find a tender solicitude toward us in the fact that the great energy that rips galaxies apart also animates our slightest thoughts. Think how elevated a vision of the human soul this is, and how far it is from how we often view ourselves.”

It is this vision that I see at work in Peterson’s songwriting–the heart that has been given spiritual sight and is suddenly overwhelmed by the fullness of the glory of God that can be found in every nook and cranny of the universe. That sense of God’s unmediated presence (the restoration of which was the genius of the Protestant Reformation, doing away with sacerdotalism in favor of New Covenant priesthood) flooding the heart, paired with the aching reality that all manner of things have not yet been made well, and the earnest yearning for God to be all in all once again.

Gerard Manley Hopkins, one of my favorite poets, captures what I am trying to say in his poem, “God’s Grandeur”:

THE WORLD is charged with the grandeur of God.

It will flame out, like shining from shook foil;

It gathers to a greatness, like the ooze of oil

Crushed. Why do men then now not reck his rod?

Generations have trod, have trod, have trod; 5

And all is seared with trade; bleared, smeared with toil;

And wears man’s smudge and shares man’s smell: the soil

Is bare now, nor can foot feel, being shod.

And for all this, nature is never spent;

There lives the dearest freshness deep down things;

And though the last lights off the black West went

Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs—

Because the Holy Ghost over the bent

World broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings.

Oh, for more artists like Peterson, Robinson and Hopkins, who not only see the glory of God in the gospel, but can translate what they see into artful expression! May many lost souls get a glimpse through our lives and through our work of what the Kingdom of God looks like from the inside.

Posted by: John Adams | August 18, 2010

“Litany”

Part of an occasional series featuring my favorite poems.

You are the bread and the knife,
the crystal goblet and the wine.
You are the dew on the morning grass
and the burning wheel of the sun.
You are the white apron of the baker,
and the marsh birds suddenly in flight.

However, you are not the wind in the orchard,
the plums on the counter,
or the house of cards.
And you are certainly not the pine-scented air.
There is just no way that you are the pine-scented air.

It is possible that you are the fish under the bridge,
maybe even the pigeon on the general’s head,
but you are not even close
to being the field of cornflowers at dusk.

And a quick look in the mirror will show
that you are neither the boots in the corner
nor the boat asleep in its boathouse.

It might interest you to know,
speaking of the plentiful imagery of the world,
that I am the sound of rain on the roof.

I also happen to be the shooting star,
the evening paper blowing down an alley
and the basket of chestnuts on the kitchen table.

I am also the moon in the trees
and the blind woman’s tea cup.
But don’t worry, I’m not the bread and the knife.
You are still the bread and the knife.
You will always be the bread and the knife,
not to mention the crystal goblet and–somehow–the wine.

Billy Collins

Posted by: John Adams | July 24, 2010

Thoughts on the Last Few Weeks

As a believer in Christ, it is beneficial to look at events in retrospect and look for signs of God’s providential hand at work, to turn around and see the view of the valley floor after climbing the mountain. Rarely, however, does one get afforded a bird’s eye-view so quickly as I have over the last few weeks. The last time I wrote a post for this blog was July 3. The following day, my father suffered a brain aneurysm while visiting a church in Calgary, Canada. He collapsed and was taken to the ICU. The doctors told us that one of the carotid arteries in his neck had burst after weakening. His brain had flooded with blood and he was in very grave condition.

The next day, my siblings and I flew out to Calgary, where we spent eight days shuttling back and forth to the hospital from Didsbury, an hour away. After a week, our time was up and I flew back to Kentucky, where I have been prayerfully following my dad’s recovery from a distance. After 17 days (during which time the doctor in charge said that my Dad skirted death on three separate occasions), Dad had finally recovered enough to where they could remove him from the ICU. He is now in the neurology unit, awake if not completely coherent, and able to respond to some of the nurses’ commands. We are very grateful for every step he makes in the direction of progress. I am firmly convinced that if God had not intervened, he would already be dead.

Needless to say, this has been at times a very dark and scary time in my life. While I have had a sense of peace due to the fact that I know that God is sovereign, the thought of living the rest of my life without my dad, or with my dad as a permanent invalid or even a vegetable, has been daunting to say the least. Adding to this stress is the looming burden of what will be astronomical medical bills. From man’s perspective, we are in a very difficult spot. Nevertheless, I know that there is a higher principle than science at work and that if God can keep my Dad alive, He can also provide for all of his needs according to His riches in glory. In retrospect, I can see God preparing me for the difficult road that these last few weeks have been with the sweet blessing of a mountaintop experience of joy.

Beyond that, I can see the Lord’s hand woven into the warp and woof of the year 2010, which began for us with powerful services in Cap-Haïtien and Grand-Goâve, Haiti. The presence of God was thick and His affection for the Haitian people tangible at those meetings. We were blessed to have Pastor Bob MacGregor from Vancouver, Washington, and Henry Mears from TriCities sow fundamental principles into the churches there, and we had some tremendous times of worship. The level of faith and expectation was very high. I felt the Lord speak words to me about the coming restoration of Haiti, a cloud of rain upon an exhausted land.

Then came the earthquake of January 12. As we struggled to make sense of the suffering and devastation we were seeing on the news, there were small causes for rejoicing and hope–stories of believers whose lives had been narrowly spared, tales of believers boldly proclaiming the majesty of God amid the rubble, my own experience of God’s protection in flying out of Port-au-Prince just hours before the earthquake. A few months later, God blessed me with the privilege of returning to Haiti and preaching twice to a people whom I love more than any other, once on following Jesus outside the camp (Hebrews 13) and once on getting a vision of the holiness of God (Isaiah 6). At the time, I felt a conviction that God would indeed have me preach on those themes, but a lack of adequacy to the task since I was hardly the equal of Haitian believers in either suffering or perseverant faith. The last few weeks have been a sort of baptism into suffering, into the vulnerability and uncertainty that accompany a firsthand realization of our own mortality.

So far, crisis has been the theme of the year 2010. I have experienced crisis before–in 2006, my dad was kidnapped by bandits in Haiti seeking ransom money. He was released after 48 hours without incident, an outcome that my father would later attribute to the importunate prayers of the saints, since those bandits had been hired not to kidnap but to kill him. That trial was a bit easier than this one, I think, since it was over within two days, whereas this one promises to last several months at the very least.

Nevertheless, God is sovereign and I believe that He has a purpose for the suffering that 2010 has brought our way. The Scripture says that the tears of His saints are precious to Him (Ps. 56:8). We have cried our share this year, but “the Lord loves the gates of Zion…glorious things are spoken of you, O city of God” (Ps. 87:2-3). This momentary, light affliction is fashioning for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison (2 Cor. 4:17). This hope is sustaining us through the days of back-and-forth in the hospital and through the wreckage of a broken nation back in Haiti. We keep glimpsing the glory of God, and the memory of that light is enough to sustain us through the wandering dark.

Posted by: John Adams | July 3, 2010

Letting the Quarters Drop

The other day, I submitted my academic petition to switch from the Master’s of Divinity program here at Asbury to the shorter Master of Arts in Biblical Studies. This change means that I will be out of seminary by summer next year. I am both excited about the change and nervous about the transition to what lies beyond. I know that whatever happens, however, that God will be with me. I am so excited about continuing to pursue Him and His will for my life. There is such a peace that comes from knowing that He has His hand upon me and that whatever happens, I am His.

I have not always felt this way. I spent much of my teenage years feeling estranged from God due to sin in my life. I spent five years in Portland trying to work some of those things out, trying to find out who I was and what God wanted me to do with my life. There were so many times I nearly dropped out of Bible college or went to study something else. In retrospect, I am really glad that I didn’t make the change. Looking back, I can see the lead of love in my life, bringing me to repentance, instilling confidence in me, humbling me, bearing with me through all the petulance, anger, failure, sin, indecision, and angst. God has been far better to me than I deserve. I continue to marvel at the fact that He laid His hand upon me and continued to be determined to use me even when I didn’t deserve it.

Over the last few days, I feel like I have moved from one spiritual place to another. I was a believer before, to be sure, and I knew and loved the Lord, but lately things have just been…better. It is like something clicked into place and I feel stronger, more alive, more in tune with God than before. I think that this is how the Christian life works…you mature out of the stage that you are in and God just graduates you into more joy, more faith, different tasks that He wants you to accomplish, and more grace with which to perform them.

In any case, I have felt different lately. I listened to a Francis Chan sermon recently on being filled with the Spirit — on allowing the presence of God to so pervade our hearts that thanksgiving is just constantly flowing out of us like a river. I am trying to put that into practice, thanking God for every moment I am alive and for His many blessings in my life. I want to have a song constantly playing in my heart and I want the way that I interact with people to flow out of that internal melody.

There was a time in my life when I thought that following God meant losing out on what was really fun in life. Following Jesus meant no drinking, no premarital sex, no setting my own course in life. What I am coming to learn, however, is that when the Gospel really clicks — when you realize that your sins really are forgiven, when the Holy Spirit fills your heart with love, when you catch a vision for the Kingdom of God and begin to desire that with all your heart — the one thing that is in no short supply is joy! God is a hedonist and He invites us to take our fill of joy in Him. I think the reason that so many Christians are unhappy is that they live their lives like Coke machines in which the quarters haven’t yet dropped. If they would get into the Bible and glimpse the wonder of the Gospel, the quarters would drop and they would experience a Copernican revolution in their thinking. They would finally be able to raise their hands in worship, glimpsing the edge of God’s coattails as they sing their lungs out to the Lord.

I was watching Toy Story 3 the other day, and it hit me that the Gospel can be told from that movie. The toys have a misunderstanding at the beginning of the film that makes them think that their owner no longer wants them and does not care about them. They crawl into a box marked for the daycare, thinking that they will end up getting played with — their heart’s desire — by those other kids. When they arrive, however, they quickly find out that daycare toys are not cherished. They are treated roughly and soon desire to go home, but they are prevented from doing so by some evil toys who have grown hard hearts. The last part of the movie is their attempt to escape the daycare and make their way back home.

What struck me was that the toys were loved during the entirety of the film, but they didn’t realize it. At the end of the film, they are finally reconciled to their owner and get played with — really played with! — for the first time in years. They get their heart’s desire right where they had originally left to seek joy. I think that so often we think either that God is not really concerned with our joy, or that God will not take us back since we have sinned, and we are dead wrong on both accounts. Like the Prodigal Son making his way sheepishly home reciting mea culpas, we understand our guilt perfectly while not understanding God at all. The Prodigal Son found an exuberant father wanting to party! What kind of God do you think that you will find when you get home?

Dear reader, if you’re in need of someone to shake you until the quarters finally drop, may this post be the one that finally pushes you over the edge into joy. I assure you: God is going to be so thrilled to see you finally come home!

Posted by: John Adams | June 15, 2010

Final Update from Haiti

I fly home tomorrow, and I feel like this trip has been exactly the right amount of time. Any less time spent here and I wouldn’t have experienced everything I wanted to. Any more time and I may have started pulling out my hair.

This last week has mostly been spent preparing to preach on Saturday and Sunday. In my case, this means two parts procrastination feeling nervous about preaching, and one part actually studying, scribbling notes, and mentally translating it all into Creole. The week flew by and by Saturday, I realized that the day of the youth conference was here and I felt underprepared despite hours of study. I was nervous and it was very difficult to say all I wanted to say in Creole, but it wasn’t all that bad.

On Sunday morning, I preached at a church pastored by one of our Bible school graduates. I talked about Isaiah’s vision of God in Isaiah 6, about how seeing God and the atonement clearly gives us both humility and confidence in doing God’s work. Despite having prepared about half as much for that sermon, I felt like it went much better. I tried to be less attached to notes and speak more from the heart and in the moment, and I think people responded better to that style. I walked out of there feeling better and also feeling relieved that I wouldn’t have to do any more preaching in Creole.

The last couple of days have been spent indulging in far too much World Cup soccer. Seeing Haiti during World Cup time has been special, and was something that I really wanted to experience, since my family always spent summers in North Carolina when I was a kid. It seems as though almost everyone in Haiti roots either for Brazil or for Argentina. People take it really seriously, too – they fly the flag of their preferred team from their motorcycles, their cars – even from the tops of their houses. It seems as though Brazil/Argentina is something of a rivalry, too – the pastor at whose church I preached said that fans of one actively root for whichever team is playing the other. A bad loss for one team can result in years of ribbing for fans of the other team.

Speaking of which, my parents and I went to a local restaurant today. The place had been converted into an ad hoc sports bar, and it was packed, since today was the day Brazil was making its World Cup debut. They were playing North Korea and despite being heavy underdogs, they hung tough with the Brazilian team for about 60 minutes, until Brazil finally broke through and put in two goals. The reaction from the crowd in the restaurant was absolute exhilaration each time Brazil scored. There was some scattered applause (probably from Argentina fans) when North Korea put in a goal with about three minutes left. It was a wonderful experience – true Haiti.

Tomorrow, the last thing I wanted to accomplish on this trip will get done, albeit not in the way that I had hoped for. The airline I flew into Haiti on is having trouble with their plane, so they’re sending me down to Port-au-Prince then out to Miami. I will almost definitely miss my connections now once I get to Florida, but I don’t really mind. I wanted to see the capital before I left.

I imagine going back now will be like going through a time warp – the last time I was in Port-au-Prince was January 12, the day of the earthquake. My flight left about 5 hours before the quake hit. I want to see the city as it is now, and I want to see if the two people I met last time who worked the taxi stand at the airport are still alive. That is the only thing on my list left to do.

Posted by: John Adams | June 4, 2010

Update from Haiti #2

I haven’t been to Haiti during the summertime for about seven years. I had forgotten how incredibly, stiflingly hot it was. I did go to Santo Domingo (the other side of the island) on a missions trip last year, but the DR is more developed than Haiti and has air conditioning in a lot of places. The mugginess here just gets to you. After a while, you don’t want to do anything anymore. The will to produce and develop and make a difference just seeps right out of you and all you want to do is find a fan and listlessly listen to samba music on the radio and sip Coca-Cola. At least, that’s what usually happens to me.

We have had a couple of “do-nothing” days so far on this trip. I think the guys have gotten bored a few times. There isn’t that much to do in Haiti, and even the simplest things take twice the effort they do in the States. I was listening to an NPR report on Haiti the other day, and the host pointed out during her visit that it wasn’t the massive scale of the problems in Haiti that overwhelmed her, but the massive amount of small problems that could so easily be resolved. There are so many small things that slow things down here, and thus I always feel that I’ve gone backward in time about three centuries every time I visit here.

I’m not just visiting, though. I lived here once. Every time I come back, I feel like I see my childhood here as a slightly more developed photograph. Living cross-culturaly in any culture as a child is difficult, but in Haiti especially so. Haitian people can be very unkind (though many of them are very warm, wonderful people). I still cannot take a walk through my neighborhood without attracting some sort of antagonism — an ugly look, a cutting remark, or a command to “Go Home!” No matter how long you live here, you are still regarded as an outsider. Many Haitians are still living in the battle days of 1804 and think that you are really here to make money off of them or even take over the country. Many others know the truth, but want someone to hate anyway.

Sometimes, I am amazed that I made it through a childhood here without becoming severely bitter. I had a friend as a teenager who was angry at the people here. He would walk around the neighborhood, looking for fights to pick. His family had been taken in by a Haitian who stole their money and then convinced the townspeople that they were to blame. The people threw rocks at their house. I cannot blame him for being angry. I am often angry – the other night, walking home, a motorcycle cuts way too close, the driver yells “Get out of my way, blanc! (foreigner)” and I remember why living here was so hard.

I want to tell him how ridiculous it all is – how small a world he lives in, so close to other worlds like the Dominican Republic or Florida, where Haitians are the outsiders hoping for a bit of sympathy. However, I don’t think that it would do any good. You can’t empathize with an outsider until you’ve been one.

How to cross a cultural divide? Christians value the Incarnation as a model – God becoming flesh to show solidarity with fallen humanity. But I cannot grow black skin or make my blue eyes brown. I cannot lose the hint of an American accent that I still retain. No matter how long I live here, I will always be an outsider.

I am realizing that more the more I come back here.

Posted by: John Adams | May 28, 2010

Update from Haiti

I’ve been in Haiti since Monday morning. Apart from a brief scare when I left my passport aboard the airplane (one of the great things about Haiti is being able to turn around, climb aboard and hunt for it without raising an eyebrow), this has been a pretty good trip. My brother, freshly graduated from college, is here as well, along with two of his college buddies, Ian and Jerry. They are experiencing Haiti for the first time, and we are trying to show them a good time.

We went and played basketball in the park the other day and drew quite the crowd for an intense game. Afterwards, a couple of guys tagged along with us to a hotel where we bought soft drinks and talked for a few hours. One of the guys seemed to be searching spiritually – I got to talk to him about Jesus for a while. He said he would be coming to church on Sunday, and I hope that he was telling the truth.

Tomorrow is our Bible school’s graduation. We have to dress up for the occasion, and I am not too thrilled about wearing a collared shirt and tie in this weather (the heat has been unbelievable so far), but it should be a fun experience watching some promise be born into the world. The Gospel is the hope of Haiti, and of the world, and it is always a beautiful thing to watch new preachers be commissioned into its service. I am looking forward to the ceremony.

I wasn’t quite sure what to expect this trip to Haiti. The last time I was in Haiti was January 12 – the day the earthquake happened. Cap-Haitien (my city) was relatively unaffected, with the exception of some refugees coming to stay with their relatives, and that wave has mostly subsided by now. Crisis management has given way to political frustration – there have been nationwide demonstrations against the government. Bottles were thrown and shots fired in town today over the lack of electricity in a particular neighborhood, which shows how fractious things are. The only way the people feel their voice will be heard is if they burn tires and make a public show of their misery.

I am trying not to slip into the trap (so easy to fall into) of insulating myself emotionally from the intense need present here. The need is so great, the condition of everything so broken, the situation of the country so intractable, and my ideas of what to do about it so limited that the natural reaction is to compartmentalize the way you feel about the country and to try not to think about it. That is precisely what most people of means in this country do. I believe that it is also exactly the way that the devil wants people to react.

In a couple of weeks, I will be speaking at a youth conference hosted by my church. The text I will be preaching out of is Hebrews 13:12-17, a passage which talks about how Christ suffered outside the city gates – in the unclean, unholy, shameful outside of Jerusalem, like a common criminal – in order to make his people holy. The reaction Christ expects from his newly sanctified people, the text makes clear, is that they follow Him out into the Great Outdoors.

Under the OT system, sacrifices were made within the confines of the Temple, where the presence of God dwelt, in order to make atonement for the sins of the people. Christ, however, made atonement outside the city gates to make his people pure once and for all. There is no need for a repetition of sacrifice, since the sacrifice made the people pure forever.

In OT times, the presence of God was limited to the Most Holy Place, where only holy people and holy objects could enter and abide. Christ, however, has sanctified all that was once unclean through the shedding of His own blood. His people are now the “Most Holy Place,” the place where His Spirit dwells, and they now bear His presence into the world. Like Jesus, they carry a presence that sanctifies all it touches. That is why the author of Hebrews pleads with us to “go out and meet him, where he is.”

The burden that I want to share with the youth here in Haiti is to be people who heed Jesus’ invitation into the Great Outdoors. As John Piper says, Christians should be people who move toward need, not comfort. Heaven will be all the comfort we could ever hope for. The 70 or 80 years God allots to us on this earth are meant to be cruciform years, years shaped of the cross in anticipation of the day that we will share in Christ’s resurrection power.

Anyway, that’s what I’m going to be talking about in a couple of weeks. In the meantime, I will be studying and trying to keep an open heart and not allow myself to become callous to the need all around.

Posted by: John Adams | April 10, 2010

A Few Words about Falling in Love

I was driving through East Texas recently on a beautiful spring night when a friend told me that he doesn’t think that love is about emotion so much as it is about commitment.

“Our culture is full of people falling in and out of love, divorcing one another when they no longer ‘feel it,’ basing life decisions on a rush of chemicals to the brain,” he said. “In many countries, marriages are arranged. If you think you’ve found a good match, you have to your parents present their parents with a photo resume and hope they like your chances of compatibility.”

It sounds awkward to Western ears, he says, but instead of resulting in stilted relationships, arranged couples usually end up liking each other just fine. In any case, countries like India have a much lower divorce rate than their free-wheeling Western counterparts.

Pastor Matt Chandler made a similar point in a sermon he preached last year at Southern Seminary:

“Lauren, my wife, she’s just a girl,” he said. “You know how I know she’s the One? Because we’re married. I asked her, ‘Hey, what are you doing for the next 40, 50 years? Would you like to do that with me?”

My friend says that “people need to stop waiting for the One to come along and just pick someone Godly,” he said. “Commit to someone whether or not the feelings are there. Chances are if you commit the feelings will follow.”

Everything my friend said sounded pretty logical. There is nothing in the Bible about finding your soulmate. Nothing in Scripture gives you permission to back out of a marriage simply because you “fell out of love.” Most of Scripture affirms the fact that love is more often an action, a commitment of the will to someone else’s good, than it is a temporary feeling. What my friend said was Biblical and sound and I almost completely agreed with him.

Almost.

If you’ll excuse the use of a very humble example, there’s a line in the movie Finding Nemo that captures something I think my friend is missing. Dory turns to Marlin and tells him, “When I look at you, I’m home.”

I believe that that sentence captures something true about life. Once or twice in my life, it has been my experience in life to connect with someone in a way that transcends attraction. The shutter of my mind whirs, the lens of my heart comes into focus, and I realize that this girl is a moment in time I could swear that I’ve dreamed before. She is a song I know in my bones though I’ve never heard. She is a book whose pages say everything that I ever wanted to say but was never able to. I knew her before I knew her. Bone of my bone, flesh of my flesh.

There is a story in Genesis that I have always loved. Jacob, on the run from his brother Esau, skips town to hide out with some distant relatives. Hot, sweaty, and exhausted, he happens upon a well in the wilderness and is asking for directions and making small talk when he sees a girl who absolutely knocks him back on his heels. Moses, in his usual understated way, writes simply that Jacob “kissed Rachel and wept aloud” (Gen. 29:11).

I may have missed some cultural subtext here. Perhaps weeping and kissing was what people did upon meeting distant relatives in those days. On the other hand, the text does go on to say that Jacob fell in love with Rachel, that he worked for fourteen years to marry her. In the chapters that ensue, it becomes obvious that she was always his first love, even after he got tricked by his creep of a father-in-law into marrying her older sister first. In Jacob’s mind, Rachel was always the kind of girl who was worth working seven years for–and then another seven when it didn’t work out the first time. In all honesty, he would probably have worked the rest of his life to have her. Whenever Jacob looked at Rachel, he was home. Perhaps what prompted his weeping was his recognition of something in Rachel that he didn’t realize he had been missing.

While not everyone will experience love in exactly the same way, I don’t think that this mysterious aspect of love should be discounted. Good marriages don’t ride on feelings alone — they are founded on Christ, who gave his life for His Bride, the Church. Good marriages consist of partners who are friends, meaning that they are already walking in the same direction and see the same truth. Good marriages are ones in which both husband and wife are fully committed, for better or worse.

But marriage is more than following Christ’s example, more than friendship, and more than commitment. Marriage is also a mystery, as the Apostle Paul once wrote. Marriage is a prophetic sign-act, a kind of theater production played out on the stage of real life that evokes the great mystery of Christ and the Church. It is a sacrament (by which I mean a conduit through which grace is released that doesn’t come through any other means) that retells and foretells the fundamental truth lying in, with, and under the universe–the great story of sacrifice and worship, of sorrow that cuts like a sword and of joy that comes with the morning, of a longing that rivers cannot wash away, and of a love that even death cannot kill.

I believe that any marriage worth its salt is filled with longing, the kind of longing C.S. Lewis called, “That unnameable something, the desire for which pierces us like a rapier at the smell of bonfire, the sound of wild ducks flying overhead, the title of The Well at the World’s End, the opening lines of “Kubla Khan“, the morning cobwebs in late summer, or the noise of falling waves.” “Place me like a seal over your heart,” pleads the Beloved in Song of Songs 8:6-7. “Set me like a seal upon your arm.”

For love is as strong as death,
its jealousy unyielding as the grave.
It burns like blazing fire,
like a mighty flame.

Many waters cannot quench love;
rivers cannot wash it away.
If one were to give
all the wealth of his house for love,
it would be utterly scorned.

I would go so far as to say that any relationship that does not awaken this kind of longing in you is probably not a relationship into which you should invest your life. We were made for joy. If we deny that, we deny something essential about ourselves. Commitment is the context for joy, to be sure, and in the case of those who are already committed and lacking joy, commitment may have to suffice until joy resurfaces. However, I believe that longing is an essential element of love. Love that fails to kindle our hearts with wonder, that fails to make our hearts ache with longing, that fails to elicit poetry from our lips, may not be love at all, but rather settling for second best.

Posted by: John Adams | March 31, 2010

“Howdy” from Texas!

I’ve been enjoying myself in Conroe, Texas, for the last couple of days after what seemed like an eternity in my friend Bryan’s truck (the journey took about 16 1/2 hrs.). In the three days since we arrived, we have already eaten some excellent Tex-Mex food, fired a 9mm gun (the same kind Jack Bauer uses on 24) at Bryan’s dad’s shooting range (yes, they have a shooting range in their backyard), fired a pellet gun at a Diet Coke can, attended a Houston Rockets basketball game, and taken a boat out on Lake Conroe to go fishing. Needless to say, I’m having a pretty good time.

We plan to head over to San Antonio on Friday to see the Alamo before hitting the road home on Saturday. I’m not looking forward to the long drive back (or the church history midterm that awaits me upon my return), but I’m enjoying my week here in Texas and the small Sabbath from seminary that it entails.

Posted by: John Adams | March 25, 2010

Voices of Haiti

"Love Conquers All"

Voices of Haiti, a “daily photo essay,” is hands-down the coolest project I’ve seen come out of Haiti since the earthquake. Jeremy Cowart, a photographer from Nashville, is capturing moments of hope, despair, faith, love, and LIFE happening in the tent cities and sprawling neighborhoods of ruined Port-au-Prince. The above picture, from Day 3, captures a beautiful moment as a bride and groom celebrate their wedding day amid the ruins. The note reads, “With Love, We’ll Conquer All” in Creole.

Cowart is selling signed 16″ x 20″ prints of his photos online for $65.00. All proceeds go to benefit A Home in Haiti, a relief organization working to provide shelter for those made homeless by the quake before the rainy season begins in earnest.

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