Monthly Archives: March 2007

Amazing Grace

“Why is it that you only feel the thorns in your feet when you stop running?”
-Pitt the Younger (Amazing Grace)

“Although my memory’s fading, I remember two things very clearly. I’m a great sinner and Christ is a great Savior.”
– John Newton (Amazing Grace)


Amazing grace, how sweet the sound,
That saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost, but now am found,
Was blind, but now I see.
‘Twas grace that taught my heart to fear,
And grace my fears relieved;
How precious did that grace appear,
The hour I first believed!
Through many dangers, toils and snares,
We have already come;
‘Tis grace has brought me safe thus far,
And grace will lead me home.(Lead me home!)
The Lord has promised good to me,
His word my hope secures;
He will my shield and portion be,
As long as life endures.
Yes, when this flesh and heart shall fail,
And mortal life shall cease;
I shall possess, within the veil,
A life of joy and peace.
The earth shall soon dissolve like snow,
The sun forbear to shine;
But God, who call’d me here below,
Will be forever mine.

Some versions of the hymn include an additional verse:

When we’ve been there ten thousand years,
Bright shining as the sun,
We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise
Than when we’d first begun.

This verse is not by Newton. It was added to a version of “Amazing Grace” by Harriet Beecher Stowe, as it appears in her novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin. Uncle Tom has pieced the lyrics of several hymns together; those who learned the lyrics from the novel have assumed that it belongs.


See the movie.


Matthew 6:34

I try again-

Arms stretched to the full

Grabbing, groping, grasping.


Hands clenched, refusing to release

Hands empty, heart the same



With all my might holding on

Holding on



I lose my grip

I fall…into strength.


The depths from which I held myself

Disappear beyond the warmth that holds me now.


One of my many hats at Wal Mart is that of a “thrower” of trucks. This means that I climb into an 18-wheel truck with between 1300-2100 pieces of merchandise, then place then on a long device which conveys the item to other people who put it where it belongs.

When throwing a truck, you are right up against the (seemingly) endless and infinately tall wall of boxes that you are throwing onto the line. While this is the place where the thrower can do the most good (indeed, he is no good anywhere else), he is also incredibly unable to predict what is coming next, or to see how much is left in the truck.

While the thrower is able to see progress based on the amount of space between the back of the truck and where he stands at that moment, he is still entirely unable to see how far is left, or what will be coming next. He relys completely upon a helper, one who not only pushes the freight on down the line so that the thrower has room to continue working, but is far enough away from the wall of obstacles to see not only what is coming, but how much of the truck is left. The thrower must listen to the helper if they are to succeed at throwing the truck without causing a wall of merchandise to fall upon them, and to prevent them breaking many items in the process.

In the same way, we are so close to our lives, to our work (for Christ, not necessarily our jobs), which is exactly where we must be to remain useful for the kingdom, yet we are unable to see the future, we don’t know what might be just over that next box of Cheetos- is it a lawn mower ready to fall atop you, or a box of pillows waiting to land easily on the line? It is only through listening to, and building an intimate relationship with the Helper that Christ sent us that we will be able to be effective in our lives, and not grow despondent and fear of ever reaching the goal for which we run. We don’t know what is next, or how far to the end of the truck (or our race), but we do have personal access to someone who does, who lives inside of each of us who are saved through the blood of Christ Jesus.


C.S. Lewis, Donald Miller, Clay Aiken, and Hercules?

I recently read Searching for God Knows What by Donald Miller, and I must confess that it is far better than Blue Like Jazz. When reading the latter, I found myself bored, the former, while still not something I completely agree with, had many interesting and potentially life changing ideas.

The most impacting of these ideas for me is this: our relationship with Christ is to be that- a RELATIONSHIP. Yes, I knew this before. Yes, I’ve said the same many a time. The key difference here is that Miller uses such a set of examples and anecdotes to make a point that one cannot help but feel it on a very real level. This brings up an underlying question that he also asks in the book: what if we read the Bible not as some sort of formula, not as some sort of 16-step guide to living like Christ, but really appreciate it as God revealing Himself to us. What if we read the stories of David, Moses, Hosea, Job, and all the rest, and instead of asking what things about their lives we can turn into formulaic patterns (eg the prayer of Jabez), look for who God Is in that person’s life. How does He act, respond, love, punish, reward, and love?

Miller says it better, needless to say, so read the book. (Jay, in your case, read it when I give it back to you…) I love the point he makes about the way in which our culture has erred WAY too far to the side of Science. We have made life about facts, about figures, about some cop on Dragnet saying “Just the facts, ma’am.” This isn’t the way humans live life. Even as young children, people tell stories. We tell stories when things go well, we share sorrows when they don’t. We do not tell what happened to us with numbers and facts, we do not say “I fell down three steps and fractured my left olna, causing myself pain in large quantities,” we say “I was walking and was tripped by the dog, then broke my leg, and it hurt like a snakebite in July.” Or, at least, something like that. We live stories, not facts.

I’ve also been reading The Great Divorce over the last two days, and what it is really teaching me is humility. I don’t understand half of what Lewis is saying. Oh, I understand the plot alright, the story at the fore, but for the life of me I cannot see the meaning of many of the things he talks about.

I love this sort of book. When I tried to read it in high school, I could only read a few chapters, then grew bored with it. Now, I am enthralled, but cannot understand but a taste of it. Fifty years from now, perhaps I shall begin to understand, then sometime during eternity I can just ask old Clive what he meant.

Last but not least, I would like to compare the two songs “I Will Go the Distance” by Clay Aiken and “Go the Distance” by Michael Bolton (from Disney’s Hercules). In the latter, the singer is wanting fame, glory, power, honor for themself. They don’t care about others, the people they will save, but merely that he obtains the glory he wants so badly. How much does this reflect the reasoning for why we do “noble” things? How often are our good actions the result of us wanting good PR?

“I don’t care how far, I can go the distance,
I will face the world, fearless, proud and strong
I will beat the odds, I can go the distance
Till I find MY hero’s welcome right where I belong.”

To contrast, in the former, the vocalist sings as though he were Christ, speaking with God the Father and sacrificially saying:

“I will go the distance, I will go that far.
I will give up everything to bring them where You are.
Even though I could choose the path of least resistance,
Father I will take the cross.
I will go the distance.”

Job at E-Rock

Well, I just got back from E-rock, and that is some beautiful country out there. Last night several of us hiked up the rock in the dark, and while there were some…interesting moments, it was AMAZING to stand at the top of that “exfoliation dome”, in the pitch black of night, feel the wind swirling around you, and find yourself almost entranced by the incredible number of stars that are visible. When standing there, it felt like I was right out of Job;

“Then God answered Job out of the storm. He said…

Can you bind the beautiful Pleiades? Can you loose the cords of Orion? Can you bring forth the constellations in their seasons or lead the Bear with its cubs? Do you know the laws of the heavens? Can you set up God’s dominion over the earth?”

So humbling. Wow.

Anywho, then I slept on a table, then today we went spelunking…..tight spaces…..big guy…….interesting… Anywho, came out of it ok, and it was actually quite fun. Challenging, but fun.

Well, that’s all for now. No joust.

Faith! Tis time for food/football/sleep!