[ Songs... ]
Here is a message from the myspace folks, posted on Friday, October 8 re: the music player: "Playcounts are mostly fixed for everyone now! I know some bands are uploading songs and they're not showing up right away. We're working on this delay. Also, in about 2 weeks you will once again be able to reorganize songs and randomize the order of song plays. Thanks!"
"How Deep the Father's Love for Us" stills shows that it is 'processing' and, unfortunately, I can't even delete it in order to try to upload it again. I really want you to hear it though, so I'll probably let the current poll play out as planned thru Friday and then try to get "How Deep..." up on the player. Will keep you posted.
[ House... ]
The person who was supposed to look at it last Friday didn't show... which was kind of a bummer, but it's ok. Thanks for your prayers on the house situation. Please pray that the Lord would speak peace and discernment into our hearts as to what He is up to. In the grand scheme of things, it hasn't been on the market that long, and we've had a good number of folks look at it (12-13 individuals and couples). And so we wait... (Psalm 130:5-6)
[ Life... ]
I made my (at least) weekly call to my friend/mentor, Clayton, last Friday. He was in the middle of studying for his message on Sunday (he's a pastor in Bangor, Maine). He said he was starting a new series in 1 Peter. Our conversation naturally wound its way to the struggling economy and Clayton made this statement, which really caught my attention: "The news from Wall Street this week sure puts Peter's comments on our incorruptible inheritance in perspective"... or something to that effect.
Here's the passage he was reflecting on...
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls. (for context, 1 Peter 1:3-9; specifically, v. 4)
Over the weekend I read that last week alone Wall Street had lost $2.4 trillion in value. Last evening, a friend who is very knowledgeable on this subject told me that in the past year the value of stocks had dropped by an estimated 5 or 6 trillion dollars. So I wasn't stunned when I read an Associate Press article that began like this: "Trillions in stock market value — gone. Trillions in retirement savings — gone. A huge chunk of the money you paid for your house, the money you're saving for college, the money your boss needs to make payroll — gone, gone, gone." But I was surprised to read the answer to the question, Where did all those trillions go? In that same AP article, an economist from Yale put it this way: "The notion that you lose a pile of money whenever the stock market tanks is a 'fallacy.' ...the price of a stock has never been the same thing as money — it's simply the 'best guess' of what the stock is worth."
I'm no economist, but I understand what he's saying. Nicol has a much better grasp on this stuff than me, but I do get this part. Case in point. The house we bought in February 2006 was "worth" X amount of dollars. Today? You guessed it. Based on the recommended selling price, our house has probably lost 10-15% of its "value"... which, if I'm understanding things correctly, is someone's "best guess." Great. What has been the best investment in this country for decades is, in the end, worth whatever someone "guesses" it's worth. Or whatever someone is willing to give us for it.
To be honest, I'm not real worried about it. I am saddened by it, though, because it seems like a lot of our economic woes maybe/possibly/conceivably/perhaps (...probably?) could have been avoided. But worried? Nah. Ask me later on down the road, if or when things really bottom out... like if it becomes difficult or impossible for our family to eat, or if gas is in such short supply that it's difficult or impossible to get around, or if income streams dry up, or if the U.S. banking system buckles, or if the global market totally crashes, or... you get the point. I've got to be honest, I probably would not be so quick to say that I'm not worried if faced with the kinds of desperate circumstances those events would create.
My preoccupations issues like these, the cares of this world, are much less in my face these days. Sure, it matters, no doubt. I'd either be in serious denial or flat out lying if I said that worry and anxiety aren't a problem for me. I would love to say that I am blissfully at peace and that daily I give all my cares to the Lord because He cares for me. No, I struggle with it. What if this? or what if that? What if we go thru another Great Depression? What if we can't sell our house? What if we do sell our house but we can't get a loan to buy another one because credit has dried up? What if my dad loses his retirement? What if my grandparents lose their savings and investments? What if it gets so bad that we don't have any food to eat? What if we aren't able to see our families because it's too expensive to travel? What if our country is taken over in some crazy one-world solution to fixing our problems? What if panic sets in? What if violence escalates?
What if? What if? What if?
Ok, so I do have worries. But since losing Luke it seems like Nicol and I have a greater sense of contentment... odd as that may sound. Maybe it would be more accurate to say that we are less concerned about things we used to be very concerned about. Paul's words sort of ring truer than ever: If we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. And, I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me. Jesus' words too: Do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble. Also, Luke's words in Acts: They [the Christ followers] devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. Those in the early church had a pretty good handle on things, even in the midst of tough times. They considered God's Word, meaningful time together, shared meals, the Lord's supper, and prayer to be the things they couldn't do without.
Contentment. The necessities of life. Things that don't really matter. I feel like we're learning a little bit about these things. I struggle with the road we are on while learning these lessons because I would rather not have had to go thru the devastating loss of our son. Candidly, I would take my son back in a heartbeat in favor of another way of doing this. But that's not option. I can say, though, that God has been incredibly kind to us over the past 4+ months. He's given us everything we've needed during THE most difficult days of our lives. He's been near to us. He's soothed our hearts. He's bandaged our wounds. He's brought so many kind people our way, people who have loved us and supported us in any way they can. He's given a share of our burden to a countless number of people who have carried us... and THAT is a mystery, truly a miracle. He has burdened people to pray for us. He has taught us about Himself. He has drawn us to His Word. He has drawn Nicol and I closer to one another. He has caused us to be thankful for what we do have. He has blessed us with a beautiful, healthy little girl. Most importantly, He has reminded us of the hope that is ours, of the inheritance that, because of Jesus Christ, is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, eternally secure and ready to be revealed when God says so.
So while Wall Street continues its schizophrenic ebb and flow, while stock values melt away like snow in August, while banks in America, Europe, Asia and all over the world grapple with timely solutions, while global economists try to figure out how to stop things from caving in, while the wealth of this world rots away, while the clothes on our backs are coming apart at the seams, while my golf clubs are tarnishing in the sun, while ESPN SportCenter airs yet another re-run, while college football teams kick off one more essentially meaningless week of practice... let us hold tightly to and stand firmly on the promise of an inheritance that is not subject to decay or corruption, that is pure and unstained, that is pristine and not short-lived in its beauty but rather never-fading and always shining brightly.
Thanks for the reminder, Clayton, that the things of this world come and go, but the things of eternity go on forever. God help me to be content with the necessities of life... food, water, shelter, clothing, meaningful relationships... oh Lord, and give us each day our daily bread. Amen.