here's what you get when you live in rural vermont:

random cows wandering into your yard.

certainly never dull up here...


where have all the [good] politicians gone?

i read this passage recently in brennan manning's RAGAMUFFIN GOSPEL. i thought it a telling story given the high political season we are in. i have always largely stayed out of the political realm of things, i think because i don't see any good coming out of it. i am an anti-institutional/anti-bureacratic person, so that doesn't help things. i always seem to be thinking that i'm voting for someone who "isn't as bad as this other guy". and that's depressing to me. and so when i hear about politicians of yesteryear and their goodness, i wonder how we've gotten to this point. no, i'm not naively believing that politicians of the past didn't have their negative sides - but you've got to join me in seeing that there has been a significant shift. regardless, i commend this story to you.

a story is told about Fiorello LaGuardia, who, when he was mayor of new york city during the worst days of the great depression and all of WWII, was called "the little flower" by adoring new yorkers because he was only five foot four and always wore a carnation in his lapel. he was a colorful character who used to ride the new york city fire trucks, raid speakeasies with the police department, take entire orphanages to baseball games, and whenever the new york newpapers were on strike, he would go on the radio and read the sunday funnies to the kids.
one bitterly cold night in january of 1935, the mayor turned up at a night court that served the poorest ward of the city. LaGuardia dismissed the judge for the evening and took over the bench himself. within a few minutes, a tattered old woman was brought before him, charged with stealing a loaf of bread. she told LaGuardia that her daughter's husband had deserted her, her daughter was sick, and her two grandchildren were starving. but the shopkeeper, from whom the bread was stolen, refused to drop the charges. "it's a bad neighborhood, your honor," the man told the mayor. "she's got to be punished to teach other people around here a lesson."
LaGuardia sighed. he turned to the woman and said, "i've got to punish you. the law makes no exceptions - ten dollars or ten days in jail." but even as he pronounced the sentence, the mayor was already reaching into his pocket. he extracted a bill and tossed it into his famous sombrero, saying, "here is the ten dollar fine, which i now remit; and furthermore i am going to fine everyone in this courtroom fifty cents for living in a town where a person has to steal bread so that her grandchildren can eat. mr. bailiff, collect the fines and give them to the defendant."
so the following day the new york city newspapers reported that $47.50 was turned over to a bewildered old lady who had stolen a loaf of bread to feed her starving grandchildren, fifty cents of that amount being contibuted by the red-faced grocery store owner, while some seventy petty criminals, people with traffic violations, and new york city policemen, each of whom had just paid fifty cents for the privilege of doing so, gave the mayor a standing ovation.
(p.93-4, Ragamuffin Gospel)

maybe i'll write-in LaGuardia this fall.

praise habit.

this, is david crowder. i love this man. i have seen him countless times in concert, love reading his thoughts, and got to see him on his home turf in waco, tx this spring. i even tried to emulate his legendary goatee once:but i digress.

there’s this passage at the back of crowder’s book PRAISE HABIT in the conclusion section. the first time i came across it, each phrase struck such tremendous emotional chords in me. as i continue to read it over and over, i take in more and more of what resonates with me. it’s beautiful and it’s truth. read it and take it in.

to follow Jesus doesn’t remove us from the stuff of life. it is not resolution. it is tension and journey. 1 john 2:6 states, “whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did”. Jesus was in the world, engaged, alive, involved, making a difference. to follow him, we must do the same. his prayer for us in john 17 is “not that you take them out of the world…” and “as you sent me into the world, i have sent them into the world”(verses 15,18). this is what God has done for us. he has come into our condition. he has come to bring us back. he has come and embraced us. he has come and covered us in himself. watch this Christ. watch as he is accused of being a drunkard, of associating with tax collectors. watch as he brings healing to the afflicted, love to prostitutes, forgiveness to sinners. watch as he climbs the hill bearing his destruction on his back. watch as blood and water flow. watch as salvation comes to us all. watch as glory ascends to come again. watch and fall in love with a God who does not resolve, whose rescue is never-ending. whose prayer is that you would be that rescue. who sends you to be that rescue. be courageous. even as you stand there hiding in the bushes, shaking to the bottom of your toes, frightened of what’s to follow, what consequences will come of it, know that evil will not prevail. that you are not alone. that you bring the Kingdom of God and there is hope. there is hope always. and others will walk out of dark places and see you standing there, arms outstretched, given completely to this hope.
praise is response. praise happens when there is revelation, and there is revelation waiting for us around every bend, in places we would not suspect. our task is to live with eyes wide open to God’s greatness because when we see the imprint of the creator, our insides will swell with devotion, our hearts will erupt with thankfulness. you will live, breathe, and radiate praise. the habit isn’t in learning HOW to praise; it is in reminding yourself WHO to praise. it is a remembering of who you are. it is a remembering of your identity. praise is redeemed and redefined with rescue. when you have been found by grace, your identity is swallowed in Christ. you are enveloped by him, clothed in his merciful sacrifice. to live in this remembrance is to bring awareness of Christ into your every encounter. in this awareness you bring his embrace to the things you embrace. (p.154)

and if you've never listened to the music of the david crowder band, i suggest you do so immediately. suggestions:
"everything glorious" off REMEDY.
"you're everything" off CAN YOU HEAR US?
"no one like you" off ILLUMINATE
and the entire ALL I CAN SAY album.

get on it.