Friday, February 26, 2010

Revised Standard Virus

As I type this post, I'm 95 percent certain that no, the codeine infused prescription cough syrup is not affecting my judgment.  The other five percent of certainty has a strong hunch that I will find Aqua Teen Hunger Force more hilarious than ever.  But regardless, I sit at home on day one of my three day home imprisonment.  Yesterday evening, I was diagnosed with RSV, respiratory syncytial virus, a disease whose spelling I now know quite well.  As far as contagious viruses go, RSV is an interesting one.  It's worlds better than the flu, that's for sure, but nevertheless, my cocktail of drugs is proof positive that it's five o'clock somewhere.

While on normal days, I dream of lazy days lounging around the house, watching independent films and sports, today I do so knowing that it comes at a price.  As I began my preparation to go back to school, I was excited to what seemed to be a unique and innovative opportunity to knock out another three credit hours.  "Adoption in Christian Though & Mission" was going to combine the "Adopting for Life" Conference with an addition 10 hours of lectures, six books, and a paper.  I was excited about the chance to learn, but RSV has destroyed that chance.  The conference is tomorrow.  The first lecture was this evening.  I can attend neither with an infection virus.  The circumstances force me to drop the course.  All I can do is pray that I get some money back.

In all honesty, I don't mind being set back another three hours.  I am saddened (but not sorrowful) over the loss of this chance to learn, but worse things have happened.  I am reminded yet again how little control I have over my life.  I ought to hold my plans in an open hand, knowing that the Lord's will trumps my own.  Nevertheless, I find myself waiting so often.  I read a Paul Tripp quote once about how  it's not about what we're waiting for (in my case, marriage and the chance to be a pastor) but what we become as we wait.  While listening to Sandra McCracken's song "Saturn's Fields" I was comforted by the mysterious thought of a joyful future, no matter how long the wait is.  Give it a listen below.  "I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living! Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the LORD!" (Ps. 27:13-14)

Friday, February 19, 2010

Remember When Music Videos Were Awesome?

I sure do.  Glad to see that one of my favorite bands, currently (Vampire Weekend), does too.  Their new album, Contra, is stellar, and one of my two favorite so far this year.  One of the best tracks on it is "Giving Up the Gun," and it makes for a pretty music video.  And yes, that is Joe Jonas and Jake Gyllenhaal.  (Thanks to

Saturday, February 13, 2010

A Time to Dance

There's something so familiar about it - comforting, even.  It's the song you know, the song you've loved for many years.  Something about it grips you, even as the smile grips your face.  It's not just you, either.  You look around the room and a collective unconsciousness seems to be pulling others in too.  Friend after friend is moving quickly, getting back to the floor as fast as they can.  After all, this is your song.  This is our song.  Maybe it's the creak of the door as the epic "Thriller" begins to play.  Maybe it's the raucous count-off from Andre 3000 as "Hey Ya!" sets the house ablaze, just waiting to shout what's cooler than cool.  These songs are anchors, hooks.  They hold the set together and they bring 'em back in when they scatter.

I play them because I love them, by the way.  I don't play songs that I don't love.  More fascinating to me, though, are the chains that thread the anchors.  Unearthing that new track with a good beat, hearing that old standard in a new way, I love throwing these into the mix.  Even more than spinning them, I love being on the floor when they come on.  I love finding the beat.  I love interpreting the lyrics in my moves.  I love the thrill of not knowing what I'm doing.  It forces me to try new moves.

I'm talking, of course, about dancing.  You know, dancing - that thing when you move a combination of head, shoulders, arm, hands, hips, legs, and feet in rhythm to music.  Against all odds, I've come to love it.  I came to Christ as a young boy, and naturally, I entered the church tradition of my parents, that being the Southern Baptist Convention. Needless to say, I didn't dance much at all growing up.  I might even gone as far as to share why I thought that dancing was bad because it would incite sexual arousal, or something like that.  The Lord has been very kind to me in teaching me that legalism has absolutely zero benefit in controlling sin (see Colossians 2), but don't hear me in saying "I used to be uptight and now I dance."  Here me saying that God has called me (and you) into a life of joy and celebration as fruits of his victorious Gospel.  If you aren't celebrating, you're in sin.

I'm very thankful for the testimony of three books of the Bible in understanding this, particularly.  Proverbs, Song of Solomon, and Ecclesiastes all exhort the believer to live and love life wisely, even in a fallen world.  Yes, this world is fallen.  Yes, Hebrews 11 reminds us that we are aliens moving toward our permanent home.  But yes, we are humans living on earth.  What is to mark our days, though?  Here's a summary of Scripture teaching from these three books:

Psalms, Proverbs, & Song of Solomon: Psalm 104:15 offers a classic proof of God's desire that his people experience joy and happiness even in the midst of a fallen world.  God's creative design produces "wine to gladden the heart of man."  Proverbs throughout points out so many things that come from the Lord, ranging from good wives to business success.  Song of Solomon is an entire book devoted to sex, which designed by God, is to be enjoyed for great pleasure within the union of marriage.  Clearly, God cares about the joy of his children, but Ecclesiastes puts the issue in broader context so we'll delve slightly deeper there.

Ecclesiastes: If read quickly, Ecclesiastes is downright depressing, an apparently nihilistic look on life. In reality, though, the anonymous "Preacher" who narrates the book (probably Solomon) urges balanced living with an eye to eternity, which God has placed in man's hearts. In the famous list of "times" in chapter three, "a time to mourn" is countered with "a time to dance." Further, "I commend joy, for man has no good thing under the sun but to eat and drink and be joyful, for this will go with him in his toil through the days of his life that God has given him under the sun" (8:15).  "Go, eat your bread with joy, and drink your wine with a merry heart, for God has already approved what you do. Let your garments be always white. Let not oil be lacking on your head.  Enjoy life with the wife whom you love, all the days of your vain life that he has given you under the sun, because that is your portion in life and in your toil at which you toil under the sun. Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might, for there is no work or thought or knowledge or wisdom in Sheol, to which you are going (9:7-10)."

This is obviously a cursory proof of the issue, but I think that it's clear that celebration is a must in Christian life.  I would like to go on record here and say that you don't have to dance to celebrate.  But, I'd encourage you to give it a try.  I was absolutely horrible the first times I tried.  Now, I'm kinda alright.
But, Scripture says there's a time to dance.  That's a good reason.  But one thing I love is that dancing is a great way to celebrate in community.  You learn to embrace the diversity of your brothers and sisters; they dance their way and you dance yours.  You learn from them in that community.  I love seeing a brother do something cool on the dance floor.  I can then immediately follow suit and join in the fun.  A second thing is that it can be a good way to practice humility.  There's a cheesy song lyric about dancing that says "I will become even more undignified than this."  Acting silly in the right context is helpful in keeping us from taking ourselves to seriously, or as the Bible would put, thinking more highly of ourselves than we ought.  There is a tails to this coin, though, as pride in one's skill can creep in.  This is true of all areas of life, so don't let that fear dissuade you.

Some people might fear that dancing might unleash a wave of sexual immorality, or at least, lust.  This is something to be guarded against - some small steps include being cautious of song lyrics and creating a culture in which sexual touch/mimicry on the dance floor is rejected as unwholesome and unhelpful (Eph. 5).  However, I can take delight in dancing with my sisters in a way that glorifies God, and they likewise me/with brothers.  The use of "brother" and "sister" is not meant to be a hokey Southern Baptist thing either.  If we are truly family, then we should act as family, with appropriate warmth and intimacy. (Compare this to the way that Islam dictates men and women should interact, for example.)

There's so much more that could be said here, but I've rambled on for long enough.  Do you have thoughts?  What are some of your fears or concerns on this topic?  What are your favorite songs to dance to?  Feel free to chime in.