Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Prayer in temptation

Make no provision,
Not one small glance;
Shut the door fast
So there’s not a chance
Of compromise,
Of one “small” sin
Or diversions that
Let immoderation in.

It will not do then
To just ignore
The sin that beats
Down on my heart’s door.
Sin must be dealt with,
Ruthlessly killed
Utterly abandoned—
Oh, grant me the will!

The will and power
To love Your ways,
Hate what You hate
And run to obey.
You are a refuge,
Immovable, strong.
Fountain of pleasures,
Help me desire and long…

For You alone.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Sunday, August 17, 2008

He's here!

Aaron David Langley was born at 3:35 p.m. today, weighing 7 lbs. 13 oz. He had a rough start (came out blue, cord wrapped around his neck, and had to be resuscitated), but he is doing beautifully now. He's just perfect.

Dad and Mom are doing well, too, despite a long and difficult labor. Heather was amazing--as always. She is going to be the most incredible mommy. And David is as I had imagined--a natural.

So another Langley boy has graced our family, and I have a sneaking suspicion that he won't need a crib. No one's gonna wanna put him down for five minutes...

Monday, August 11, 2008

Going for the gold (and a baby update)

Like many of you, when I was young I dreamed of competing in the Olympics. But should I admit that I firmly believed I had the potential to run in the '96 Games? After outrunning a handful of girls on the soccer field and then watching Chariots of Fire for the hundredth time, I committed myself to an intense season of training: I ran up and down the block really fast, timing myself with a stopwatch.

During this brief but rigorous training stint, one thing was obvious: if I wanted to run fast, I needed to dress light. No parkas. No boots. No earrings or glasses or belts. Just a pair of shorts, a tank top, socks and shoes.

In his beautiful book The Grand Weaver, Ravi Zacharias (brilliant Indian philosopher and Christian apologist) writes:

"Susanna Wesley was a remarkable woman who gave birth to nineteen children. One can only guess the inner strength she must have had to raise John and Charles, two among many others who sat on her knee and learned from her to walk with the Lord. One day, John asked her to define sin. I doubt any theologian could have done better than she did: Son, whatever weakens your reasoning, impairs the tenderness of your conscience, obscures your sense of God, or takes away your relish for spiritual things; in short, if anything increases the authority and power of the flesh over the Spirit, then that to you becomes sin, however good it is in itself.

Zacharias continues: "As a young man, David Livingstone prayed, Lord, send me anywhere, only go with me. Lay any burden on me, only sustain me. Sever any ties but the tie that binds me to Your service and to your heart."

Sever any ties.
Get rid of whatever weakens, obscures, impairs, and takes away.
Even if it's "okay" or "good" or "permissible" (1 Corinthians 10:23)...

Lord, give us the desire and discipline to "lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us" (Hebrews 12:1).

Because, in the end, don't we all want to win that gold?

Did I mention that Little Langley was due TODAY?! I've taken up singing to Heather's adorable pregnant tummy--songs like "Aaron, O Aaron, You're Darling but Tardy."

[Long, reflective silence.]

I just realized that I'm gonna be the weird aunt.


Saturday, August 9, 2008

Live the Life

Yes, I'm a huge fan of Coldplay's new hook song, Viva la Vida. Accuse me of joining the bandwagon, and I'll unabashedly agree. The song has a terrific sound, reminiscent of U2. (I can never forget when a friend introduced me to Beautiful Day as we sped through a balmy autumn afternoon with the top down on her convertible. It was love at first sound. But this is a tangent.)

Whether you like the song or not, the lyrics--just dripping with biblical metaphors and references--are worth the read and some analysis, or at least a good discussion.

I used to rule the world
Seas would rise when I gave the word
Now in the morning I sleep alone
Sweep the streets I used to own

I used to roll the dice
Feel the fear in my enemy's eyes
Listen as the crowd would sing
"Now the old king is dead! Long live the king!"

One minute I held the key
Next the walls were closed on me
And I discovered that my castles stand
Upon pillars of salt and pillars of sand

I hear Jerusalem bells are ringing
Roman Cavalry choirs are singing
Be my mirror, my sword and shield
My missionaries in a foreign field

For some reason I can't explain
Once you go there was never
Never an honest word
And that was when I ruled the world

It was the wicked and wild wind
Blew down the doors to let me in
Shattered windows and the sound of drums
People couldn't believe what I'd become

Revolutionaries wait
For my head on a silver plate
Just a puppet on a lonely string
Oh who would ever want to be king?

I hear Jerusalem bells a ringing
Roman Cavalry choirs are singing
Be my mirror, my sword and shield
My missionaries in a foreign field

For some reason I can't explain
I know Saint Peter will call my name
Never an honest word
But that was when I ruled the world

I hear Jerusalem bells a ringing
Roman Cavalry choirs are singing
Be my mirror, my sword and shield
My missionaries in a foreign field

For some reason I can't explain
I know Saint Peter will call my name
Never an honest word
But that was when I ruled the world

(Written by Guy Rupert Berryman, Jonathan Mark Buckland, Will Champion, Christopher Martin)

I know. You need to go listen to the song again, too. It's okay to program it to "repeat." Years later, and I'm still not weary of Beautiful Day...

Friday, August 8, 2008

Two chicken sandwiches and a slice of humble pie

Some poor people stir within me a deep compassion, a mercy, an immediate desire to reach out and do whatever I can to help them.

Other poor people bug me. And then it bugs me that I'm bugged. Do you know what I mean?

A couple of weeks ago, I was walking out of a pet store (where I had gone for my occasional pet fix: every other month I wander through the bird, fish, and small rodent aisles--comparing prices, weighing pros and cons, and silently bemoaning the fact that I can't get a puppy) when a lady approached me to ask for money. She and her daughter were stranded and needed a hotel room for the night. I told her I don't give cash but would love to provide a meal for them.

It's always at this point in the conversation that I feel slightly self-righteous and incredibly discerning. I'm far too wise to contribute to a drug habit (as if "they" all have one), but I'm so full of mercy and love that I'll break the bank to buy "them" a meal.

With my halo sparkling atop my head, I offered to get two chicken sandwiches at the Chick-Fil-A across the street.

Suddenly, she had a husband in need of a chicken sandwich, too. This irked me.

With my halo now tipping precariously to one side, I started to head to the Home of the Original Chicken Sandwich when she added, "Oh, and if you get a meal with drinks, could you make it a Dr. Pepper and a Sprite?"

My halo made a lot of noise hitting the pavement. Are you kidding me, lady? I inwardly fumed as I caked on a good Christian smile. Ain't no way you're getting a drink, and you'll be lucky if I come back with your two (not three!)chicken sandwiches!

I stormed through the drive-through, I paid in a huff, and I drove back to that lady with her undeserved dinner.

And then it hit me. I am no better than this woman. In fact, she and I are very much the same. I too am poor, a beggar, in desperate need of stuff I can't afford. And my Lord does not ride by on a high horse, with fanfare and spiritual airs. He gives freely out of perfect mercy and grace--at great personal expense (His only Son). And while I demand a Dr. Pepper, He waits to give me much more than all I could ask or imagine, that which I need most: Himself. He, the spring of living water, promises that I will never go thirsty.

He doesn't distance Himself from me, never walks away irritated or disgusted, never withholds. He loves and gives, and then loves and gives some more.

Lord, teach me to live in the fullness of Your mercy... and then give away my mercy-filled life (not just chicken sandwiches) to other beggars like me.