Bring Your Nothing

This is one of my all-time favorite songs. It's so rich in truth but also in celebration and fun. It's a good song to dance to.



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Jaquelle

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After 30 Years, It's Good To Be Married

Young singles like me thrive on writing like this. John Kass and his wife have been married 30 years, and he shares just a few reflections on that with the Chicago Tribune. There's nothing revolutionary or novel about it all, but there is something wonderful in it. 

Take five minutes out of your day (yes, just five), and read his brief and lovely words. 


She sat at the kitchen table the other day, looking at an album. He peered over her shoulder and held her hand as she stared at a photograph.

That photograph.

In it, she is the happy, young and beautiful bride. He is the serious, skinny groom, looking stunned, like some hoofed forest creature staring helplessly into oncoming lights.

"You're so serious," she laughed. "You're so scared."

"Overwhelmed," he said.

Overwhelmed that this beautiful Sicilian girl with the big brown eyes and the angel's heart would love him and promise to grow old with him.


Jaquelle

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Should Christians Be Listening to "Clean" Music?

I remember one of the most provocative and eye-catching titles for me was from a Christian website for millennials. 

It was something like this: Don't Confuse The Phrase "Biblical" With "Family-Friendly."

And I could only say, "Yes," because I realized that many Christians do confuse these two labels, myself included. We think if a song doesn't have any curse words or a movie any sex scenes, it's good and soul-nourishing for us.

But that is not the way Christians should engage with media. The merit of art is not its "cleanness." It's its presentation of truth. A month or so ago I realized this afresh. I was listening to a "clean" song by a mainstream female artist. As I sang the lyrics, the deeper, underlying messages of what I was singing dawned on me. Its lyrics were actually communicating a drastically unhealthy and unbiblical view of romantic relationships. I immediately stopped listening to it.

Engaging in entertainment to the glory of God is not necessarily nitpicking "d-words" or counting kiss scenes. It's about evaluating a piece's whole worth -- yes, its moral presentation, but also its worldview, its values, its philosophy. That's not to say I won't listen to a catchy and "clean" dance song, but it means I don't use "family-friendly" as my primary filter. I use "God-given truth" instead.

As one writer puts it:

Let’s not confuse “family-friendly” with “Christian.” Let me just tell you as a person who has been struggling, trying to live the Christian life for almost 30 years, there’s nothing safe about Jesus nor His Truth. In fact, be prepared to confront some pretty unattractive things about yourself as He shines a big light on the darkness in you, and then strap on your seat belt and see what happens when you try to live out His commands of loving and forgiving people.
So I can only encourage you, whether you're a creator or consumer, don't be entertained on auto-pilot. Think. Really think about what you're singing, what you're watching, what you're laughing at, what you're reading, what you're following, and why that is. 

Be entertained by truth. Think truth. And create truth. 


Jaquelle

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Your Saturday Smile: French Revolution Edition



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I'm At The Gospel Coalition Women's Conference Today

As I write this, I'm actually not at The Gospel Coalition Women's Conference. I'm in my grandparents' kitchen, in sweat pants, watching the Nova Scotia rain and trying to get ahead of articles before I leave for Indianapolis. 

But as you're reading this, on June 17, I'm at the conference. 

This is my first big conference. I get to see John Piper and D.A. Carson and Jen Wilkin and Kathleen Nielson in the big and shiny Indianapolis Convention Center. My dad drove me down, and we're staying just across the street from the convention center. 

This will be a wonderful conference. I know it. I get to meet up with some friends and some fantastic people from Crossway and listen to male and female writers and theologians that I've read and respected for years. What an epic three days this will be.

The theme of TGCWC is "Resurrection Life in a World of Suffering" on the book of 1 Peter. It's perfect timing. Dad just finished his extensive sermon series through 1 Peter, and I'm eager to hear these speakers' teaching on it.

If you're a lady and you have time and interest in this conference, all plenary talks with be live-streamed. You can access them here. You will most definitely be edified and blessed. 

I'm sure you'll hear (read) my thoughts on the conference after I get home in a week. Until then, keep learning, friends. Keep reading and watching and listening and engaging and being edified. Keep paying attention to life and all its lessons.

Photo courtesy of The Gospel Coalition.


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Two Rare Sights In This World


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Those Days You Want to Punch the World in the Face

Don't act like you don't have those days too. 

We all have those frustrating, tinglingly irritable days. Nothing is wrong, and everything is wrong. The world is out to get us at every twist and turn. Every stop light, every customer, every family member, every inanimate object is part of a global conspiracy to ruin our day. 

And it works. We're about ready to punch the world in the face.

My question is: how do we honor God on those days?

I actually hate that question. At least, my sinful self does. Because who's the focus of it? Not me. Not my bad day. The question answers itself. In those frustrating days, we're not "let off the hook" from honoring God. These are the days when it counts the most. When we're wrestling with sin and selfishness, that's when our faith is tested. 

Do we really believe God is more worthy than us? Do we really believe our happiness is in Him? Do we really believe He's better than anything? Do we really trust Him more than our feelings? And will we really act on that trust?

Those days we are tired and angry at life, the ones where everyone and everything bothers us, will we honor God? Will we pray? Will we soak in the peace-inducing words of Scripture? 

Those are the questions we face. The way we answer them changes our day. 

Even more, the way we answer them changes our life. 

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Your Saturday Smile: Disney and Pixar "Hello" Edition



This is without a doubt the best rendition of Adele's "Hello" I've heard.



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Some Summer Book Recommendations

While I recently posted 11 of the best books I've read this year (so far), I thought I would post a few of my favorites for summer. Not all of these are books I've only read in the last six months, but some are. If you're looking for light or heavy or fiction or non-fiction, I've included some of it all. 

What are you reading this summer?

Voracious: A Hungry Reader Cooks Her Way through Great Books by Cara Nicoletti - This is a marvelously fun book that combines two of my great loves - food and classic literature. It's part memoir, part cookbook, part literary guide. Cara's a light and lovely writer and includes one dish from multiple famous works - from the chocolate walnut sundaes in Nancy Drew to the oysters and cucumber mignonette in Anna Karenina - while reflecting on the beauty in each book.

Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell - I'm still not quite sure what to make of this fascinating and perplexing study of success. Whatever you think about it, you can't argue that it's not interesting. It is, very. Here's an excerpt: 

"The lesson here is very simple. But it is striking how often it is overlooked. We are so caught in the myths of the best and the brightest and the self-made that we think outliers spring naturally from the earth. We look at the young Bill Gates and marvel that our world allowed that thirteen-year-old to become a fabulously successful entrepreneur. But that's the wrong lesson. Our world only allowed one thirteen-year-old unlimited access to a time sharing terminal in 1968. If a million teenagers had been given the same opportunity, how many more Microsofts would we have today?"

The Joy Project: A True Story of Inescapable Happiness by Tony Reinke - A fresh and delightful reminder of what happiness is and where it comes from. It's not a long read, but it's a very good one. We need books like this to remind us of the old, old story again and again. Quote: "True happiness is not found. It finds you."

Gilead by Marilynne Robinson - If you haven't read this Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, you should consider reading it this summer. It generated so much buzz, I was compelled to pick it up, and it is truly something remarkable. It's the story of fathers and sons in a little town, but it's about so much more than that. It's difficult to describe. Read it, and you'll understand what I mean.

Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy by Gary Schmidt - This is one of my all-time favorite novels. It's a YA work, but it's a deeply moving, deeply disturbing, deeply sad, deeply happy story. It's about a boy, a pastor's son, in the early 20th century, who moves to a new place and befriends someone who is a different color than him. And it's about all the things that happen because of that. It will leave you thinking and hoping.

The Religious Affections by Jonathan Edwards - Summer is a good time to pick up a big book, a book that may require more mental energy and more concentrated time and effort. Look no further than Jonathan Edwards. Religious Affections is a thick book (with small print), but it is a great theological work. You will be edified and blessed by reading it. Here's an excerpt

"A truly Christian love, either to God or men, is a humble broken-hearted love. The desires of the saints, however earnest, are humble desires. Their hope is a humble hope; and their joy, even when it is unspeakable and full of glory, is a humble broken-hearted joy, and leaves the Christian more poor in spirit, and more like a little child, and more disposed to a universal lowliness of behaviour."

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The 10 Pleasures (Instead of Commandments)

David Murray attempts "to re-frame the 10 commandments as 10 pleasures to pursue." I love what he does. It gives one a little fresher, more holistic perspective on the law.


1. Enjoy the pleasure of knowing, worshipping and serving the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength.

2. Enjoy the pleasure of worshipping God in ways that He approves, loves, rewards, and responds to.

3. Enjoy the pleasure of speaking and singing about God’s beautiful persons, names, attributes, and acts.

4. Enjoy the pleasure of six days working in God’s calling for you and then enjoy the freedom of one full day off work to worship God and rest.


Jaquelle

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