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Geriatric Jazz

Squeaking and squawking this thing out.

Here are the words that I read this year. Some of them I had read a million times before. Some were first reads. Just so you know now the best thing I read this year was “The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay” by Micheal Chabon. I’ll keep it in the list. But you should know. It’s my new favorite book.

  • The Lady With The Toy Dog bu Anton Chekhov (There is a reason he is the grand pooba of short stories.)
  • Rothschild’s Fiddle by Anton Chekhov
  • The Sad, Beauitful Fact That We’re All Going To Miss Almost Everything by Linda Holmes
  • The Amazing Adventure of Kavalier and Clay by Micheal Chabon (The Very Best Thing I Read All Year)
  • Manhood for Amatures by Micheal Chabon
  • At Home by Bill Bryson
  • The Magicians by Lev Grossman
  • The Magician King by Lev Grossman (a distant second to The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay.)
  • The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery
  • The Pull Of The Ocean by Jean Claude-Mourlevat
  • Why Don’t You Dance by Raymon Carver
  • My Side Of The Mountain by Jean Craighead George (a childhood favorite)
  • The Horse and His Boy by C.S. Lewis (a coal in the series when I was a child, after years of polishing- a diamond)
  • The Lost Are Of Reading by David Ulin
  • 13 Things Lemony Snicket Observed About #OccupyWallStreet by Lemony Snicket
  • On Writing by Stephen King (I read this probably annually)
  • The Jesus I Never Knew by Phillip Yancey
  • The Golden Compass by Phillip Pullman
  • Tent City, U.S.A. by George Saunders
  • The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien
  • The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart
  • Notes From The Underground by Fydor Dostoyvesky
  • Does Anyone Want To Be “Well-Read?” by Roger Ebert
  • The Pull Of The Ocean by Jean Claude-Mourlevat
  • Why Don’t You Dance by Raymon Carver
  • Remember an Inspiring Teach by Dave Eggers
  • Watership Down by Richard Adams
  • Grown Adult Actually Expects To Be Happy by The Onion
  • To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee (Actually, I lied about The Magician King… This was the second best thing I read this year)
  • The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
  • Roll Over Copernicus! It Turns Out We Are the Center of the Universe by Adam Frank
  • Letter From Birmingham Prinson by Marting Luther King, Jr.

Here is a snapshot of the best short stories, emails, tweets, statuses, poems, church services, essays and generally any written word that I thought of this year:

Tom Hanks singing Billy Joel- very funny. Billy Joel singing Billy Joel- also funny.

In the Electric City there is always something to do. You could see a play by the Marionettes, have a conversation with a zucchini in the Produce District, go to the wonderful-stupendous-blah-blah-blah circus, take a class in “Theoretical Abstractions” from Professor Pogglewog at the Electric City College…

The young prince was one of these brave fools who was told the stories and heard the call to quest.

My office looks like a ferocious Christmas monster that had too many Christmas cookies and threw up all sorts of Christmas cheer. #messy

If you’re wondering what can make me swear real loud in a church I have an answer. Glitter. It has always been glitter.

Eventually, when the crowd grows restless of my friends throwing torches at each  other, the star shaped tower, with me in it, will be lit on fire. When throwing fire isn’t enough light up a small structure and the crowds will cheer, pointing so their children will know where to crane their necks and look. 

It was always my choice. But these were people. These were their souls. I had to pick up the pieces. I couldn’t bring myself to throw them away. I wrapped them in cloth, put them in whatever I could find and kept the pieces on a shelf. This whole collection just happened. More and more I could see people breaking themselves or being broken. I could never let the pieces be.

It’s exciting to watch my imaginary friends grow and become better people as I transcribe their adventures.

What is a novel if not an exploration of it’s characters? Who wants to explore characters who don’t change and are vapid, and mean spirited?

When the World Ends I Hope it Ends in Blinding White Nothing/ We watched the snow bury us/ into obscurity./ Looking out our window/ all we could see was/ nothing!/ And it was beautiful./ When the storm ended/ we crawled out of our caves/ and were blinded by white/ nothing!/ This would be our new world./ So we grabbed our shovels,/ dug each other free,/ carved new roads,/ claimed what was ours,/ nothing! 

Who else is as excited about Christmas as I am?!?!?! I love everything about this season: the music, the gifts, the cheer, the weather, Charlie Brown, heck I even am okay with a little bit of indoor foliage this time of year. But mostly I love Christmas because it reminds me of the fact that God loves the world. Not just created and rules it, but loves it. Loves it enough to join it and be a part of it. Loves it enough to leave his throne in Heaven and become a man. Who as a man lived as we lived, was tempted as we are tempted, but never sinned. Remaining pure and blameless, as God must be. Then that perfect Man, who loves the world so much that he would join it, took on death because of how much he loved the world. But being a God of all power (power enough to create and rule this world) he couldn’t, wouldn’t stay dead. Jesus Christ has overcome the grave. This is why I love Christmas.

Sometimes (when I’m in a particularly passive-aggressive mood) I’ll use larger, more fantastic verbiage to condescend to people.

(Three tweets in succession) I love listening to Christians speculate on the end of the world but qualifying their theories with, “but of course, no one knows.” / Now they’re talking about boys. I can’t read here. Way to ruin a perfect night. / Now their conversations have merged: “I’m not even sure I want to be with him if the world is ending – but of course no one knows.”

Books, like glitter, multiply uncontrollably and without want in my bedroom. The simile falls apart at “without want.”

When she was a very young woman, in love with her new groom, and full of adventures Dylan’s grandma travelled. She would pick up a rock from every place she had been. Now that she was an old lady she no longer travelled, instead she reorganized her rocks. Sometimes she would arrange the stones by size, other time by color. This summer she poistioned them according to date – the newest rock closest to the house and the oldest on the far end as if to creat a trail to the girl who once saw the world in technicolor.

“I am the dastardly, no good pirate Sammy! And I want to play!”

Jack looked surprised that I believed him. And I did believe him. Jack had made a time machine and we could go anywhere.

My favorite part of the Sunday funnies: all the chuckles.

Butch started a story explaining how biologically all us Welty men are performers, “My grandpa and grandma were vaudevillian roller skaters.”

“What?”

“Vaudevillian roller skaters.”

“What?”

“Dammit, Tommy! They were roller skaters.”

“Right but what do you mean they were roller skaters?”

“They roller skated.”

And that is what those fingers that are not mine, but are entirely mine, are doing: playing like children on the first day of summer vacation. They run to the fields. They throw themselves with reckless abandon at each other. They create havoc. They are wild. They run through the fields with mason jars, catching fireflies. And when night comes they won’t stop playing. They play until they are tired. When they tire they find their way home. They crawl into bed. They dream of the first golden day of summer. “Tomorrow will be like this,” they whisper to no one.

Despite no definite answer it can be suggested that ancient humans stopped being nomadic hunter-gathers to brew and drink beer. #seemsright

If You’re Willing/ I would follow you/ to the Earth’s imagined round corners/ where the four winds gather/ to bring new life./ If you fear/ what I want/ is to stay home,/ let me whisper/ in a quiet,/ still,/ voice,/ “What I want/ is you alone.”/ But, if you must go,/ then go./ But go with healing in your wings/ and love in your heart.

Hey! Kid with that crazy wheezing cough. You sound like an alien spaceship revving its engines. Stop it. You’re creeping me out.

Dear Friends,

This past week I was listening to a story on NPR about Burmese folk music and the newscaster kept switching between calling the country Burma and Myanmar.  At the end of the story the newscaster explained why he called the country both Myanmar and Burma – explaining that it has historically been Myanmar but recognized as Burma because that is what the hostile government has decided it would be called. The newscaster ended the broadcast with a rhetorical question, “Is it right to call something by its proper name or by a name given to it by oppressive force?”

I think this is true of our lives; we’ll often take on identities that are not true to who God has made us to be, or to what Christ redeemed us from, or from what the Spirit is leading us to. We could define ourselves by our work, our kid’s achievements, by loss of a friend, or a job, or a broken relationship. The holiday season can be a time when we’re even more tempted to take on more false identities or be reminded of a tough year. Perhaps we’ll become too busy to give our best love to God and our families. Perhaps we’ll judge our value on if the gifts we give are well received.  Maybe this season becomes a constant reminder of what we’ve lost – a loved one, the finances to buy presents, a relationship that is seemingly beyond repair…

I want to be in an old timey motorcycle gang.


The holidays are a time that can be covered in plastic cheer and artificial happiness. All of our troubles are supposed to be miles away. But, what if it’s been a tough year? What if the truth is we can’t quite forget what we’ve lost? What if we’ve lost a job, a friend, a spouse? What if the holidays remind us of a loved one who has gone on before us? How can our troubles be miles away?

Hey Skinny-Guy-Running-Down-The-Same-Street-As-Me, I fit into clothes I used to fit into. Sincerely, Oh-God-Have-Mercy!-Why-Am-I-Running?!

As the year comes to a close I thought it would be fun to take sometime to review it. So, I’m going to do a couple of posts in review of 2011. I’ll do a general one post, a post on the best songs I head this year, the best books I read, the best sentences, the best movies, the best things I ate this year, and the best thigns I wrote this year. Here is a general look back at the year.

JANUARY:
I started the year weighing something in the ballpark of 245-250lbs. The end of school was nowhere in sight. I had severe writer’s block. Then the worst thing that could happen did. My exfiance, Stephanie, and I were at the same shindig, and then a week later we went out for drinks. By the end of the January I was pining for her and decided I’d do all in my power to be back with her. She needed time to think and so after our drinks we said we’d wait a month until we talked again.

FEBRUARY:
Snowmageddon 2011. Ahem. Awesome. Thunderblizzard! Zombies! Exile! I spent the first three days of February stuck in Elgin. My hometown was quarentined due to either an undead apocalypse or the roads were closed due to heavy snow. I don’t know. I just wasn’t couldn’t go home. Also, in the wooing process I decided to try and loose weight. It was a very slow start.

MARCH:
Steph and I really began spending a lot of time together again. We’d hang out once a week or so. By the end of the month we were dating again. At some point during one of our dates I told her I was thinking about climbing the ranks at Starbucks. “Eventually,” I said, “I’d like to be a store manager, maybe even district manager.” She subtley suggested that there was better for me. I began to search for a job in a church that night.

APRIL:
I started interviewing at Light of Christ Lutheran Church for the Director of Blended Worship posistion. I was also informed that I had enough credits to graduate. So, that was all good. I was convinced by my dear friends, Ken and Becky R., that I must go to the Czech Republic in July after years of not going but thinking about going.

MAY:
I finished school with the highest semester GPA I ever had, and a surprising cumulative GPA. Steph and I were doing swell, spending lots of time together before she went off to spend the summer in Iowa. At the end of the month after an excrutiating long interviewing process I was asked to join the staff of Light Of Christ as Director of Blended Worship.

JUNE:
I spent June doing three things – starting to meet musicians and staff members at Light of Christ, going to Iowa on the weekends to visit Stephanie, and preparing for the trip to the Czech. By this time I was weighing something like 230-235lbs. Life was going great.

JULY:
I led a God and Country Service. I don’t plan on ever doing that again. It was a low moment of an exceptional year. After about three months Steph and I realized that, yeah, there was a reason we didn’t initially work out and broke thigns off. Just like Brenda and Eddie from Billy Joel’s song “Scenes From an Italian Restruant” we parted the closest of friends. The rest of July I spent in the Czech Republic. I met so many wonderful people – Jirka, Katka, Alca, Autumn, Liv, Abby, Simon, Zuzka, oh I can’t name them all. I hope to make it back there soon.

AUGUST:
I came back from the Czech weighing 220lbs. I was at the weight I weighed in 2006. I started to run again. I drank a ton of water. I was on a roll. I spent much of August preparing for September. Light of Christ was going to two campuses and despite being quite new there was much work for me to do for the launch to be successful at the home campus. Putting teams together and putting tunes together was difficult and I realized what I had always known: I am not administratively inclined. I also turned 23 at some point, I think it was the 14th. I ended my six year tenure at Aboveground:.

SEPTEMBER:
By the start of September I was between 210-215lbs. The lightest I weighed since the start of high school. Light of Christ launched it’s offsite service. Things were a bit shaky for me. But, I recovered. I have this maxim that I tell all the different teams I work with: “In every church in America something is going to go wrong, it’s not about what goes wrong it’s about how we recover.” This is true of just about anything and it’s the heart of the Gospel. Things go wrong, but Christ has saved us from our failures when we couldn’t save ourselves. The Gospel frees up to recover well.

OCTOBER:
In October, one of my favorite people in the world – Jordan, needed to move out to Elgin. We had discussed the possibilities of moving in together somewhere in Elgin around January 2012. We started searching for places at the end of September. We were moved in by October 1st (actually a bit before, but our lease says October 1st). We have a library. We also learned a lot about each other. I like common places to be clean. He doesn’t care so much. I was a jerk about it. We fought. Now things are better.

NOVEMBER:
I started work on my first novel. I did the Thanksgiving thing. Led some church services. I wrote something for church: “A Multi-sensory, Intergenerational Christmas Presentation in Three Parts.” We ened up not using it and instead I started work on a “Blue Christmas” service. November was a month with much creative output. I loved it.

DECEMBER:
Despite getting down to 210lbs earlier in the year I’m ending at about 220lbs. I blame this on so much Christmas goodness this month. Like eating too many cookies, the sweetness of Christmas has worn out and made my belly a bit ill. With Starbucks’s looking like a Christmas Dragon spit up too much Christmas Cheer in the cafe, eggnog lattes splattering all over my glasses, and hearing “Santa Baby” twelve-thousand times I’m a bit worn out on this particular version of Christmas. But! On the other hand, I love Advent and spending time reflecting on the Incarnation. The “Blue Christmas” service was a week ago, it went over well. People were able to spend time being honest with God about their troubles, while still hearing that Christ empathizes and deals with our burdens. It is awesome that God moved through the work I did writing the script, arranging and rehearsing the music, and decorating the room. It was also incredible how God brings creative minds together to collaborate. I had a lot of excellent conversations that fueled the work I was doing.

I’ve read at least 112 books, if I am allowed to count the fact that I’ve read the entire Chronicles of Narnia from beginning to end something like sixteen times. I started reading it in the third grade; those seven books were the only books I read that year. In fact the school librarian was amazed at my ability to spell “magician” when I searched the library for The Magician’s Nephew. She’d be disappointed at my future grammar skills. After the third grade I read them, at least once a year (preferably in the spring) until I was twenty. And in the past couple of years I’ve been known to pick up a copy of The Silver Chair or The Voyage of the Dawn Treader when I’m hankering for something fantastic – in every sense of that word.

When I was a child, and in a moment of weakness (or, possibly great strength) still as an adult, I believed Narnia to be a real place. In The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe Lucy Pevensie entered into the magical realm of Narnia through a backroom wardrobe, during a rainy day, when she was least expecting it. Later when the other Pevensie children went intentionally looking for Narnia they couldn’t find it. It was when they least expected to that Lucy’s siblings entered into Aslan’s kingdom. And as true in the rest of the books (waiting for a train in Prince Caspian, looking at a painting in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, running from bullies in The Silver Chair.) it is in unlikely places that one finds themselves whisked away.* I used to wander through my hometown looking for unlikely places.

Was Aslan waiting for me in the alley next to the arcade that burned down before I was born? Between the railroad and factory on the far side of the town? Behind the shelf of ancient books at the library that were surely Narnian in origin?

I still get excited when I find myself in an oft neglected stairwell that leads to places unknown, or when I find a locked door that shouldn’t be locked. Maybe that’s it on the other side, maybe that’s Aslan waiting for a Son of Adam.

At the beginning of time in Narnia there is nothing but darkness, a solid mass that holds Digory Kirk (The Professor from The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe), Polly Plummer, Uncle Andrew, the Charn witch-queen Jadis (possible The White Witch from The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe), the cabby who would become Narnia’s first king, and that cabby’s horse. From the nothingness that these characters find themselves in, Aslan sings, sings, sings, the world – Narnia – into being.

I then think that Aslan taught the song he sang to Andrew Bird. I think Andrew Bird is a Narnian. The Mysterious Production of Eggs has an other-worldliness, a magic, to it.

The opening track “ ~ ” (that is its actual title) is the sound of album coming to life as I always as a child imagined Narnia coming to life. Soft, warm, layered strings slowly start like the first morning light, then Andrew Bird’s familiar whistling begins, after his whistling is layered in a few guitars chime – this layered instrumental crescendos but never resolves allowing the album to be the culmination of that track. Just like all the adventures of Narnia are a culmination of Aslan’s creation song.

I’ve several favorite tracks on the album including “Sovay,” “A Nervous Tic of the Head to the Left,” and “The Happy Birthday Song,” but the standout for me is “Tables and Chairs.”

Another favorite writer of mine, poet John Donne, writes in one of his holy sonnets: “At the round earths imagin’d corners, blow/ Your trumpets, Angells, and arise, arise/ From death, you numberless infinities” and it is with this – the numberless infinities of those who’ve gone before us, the angels, the imagined round earth’s corners – in mind that I listen to “Tables and Chairs.” Mr. Bird paints an image of the apocalypse that is so compelling that one cannot wait for it all to end. Bird sings “And we were tired of being mad. We were so tired of being mad… I know we’re going to meet someday in the crumbling financial institutions of this land. There will tables and chairs, there will be pony rides, and dancing bears, there’ll even be a band.”

All of this is very Narnian. My favorite scene of the last Narnia book, The Last Battle, is when all my favorite Sons of Adam and Daughters of Eve arrive (sans Susan, and what do we do with Susan and her nylons, and lipstick?) – in full royal regalia. Then Mr. Tumnus! And Reepicheep! Then best of all Aslan himself. In the end they are always there: John Donne and his “numberless infinities” rising at the end of the world, all of the kings of Narnia (“once a king of Narnia, always a king”), Andrew Bird and all his friends meeting in the crumbling financial institutions of this land.

The last words of The Chronicles of Narnia:

“And as He spoke, He no longer looked to them like a lion; but the things that began to happen after that were so great and beautiful that I cannot write them. And for us this is the end of all the stories, and we can mostly truly say that they all lived happily ever after. But for them it was only the beginning of the real story. All their life in this world and all their adventures in Narnia had only been the cover and the title page: now at last the were beginning Chapter One of the Great Story which no one on earth has read: which goes on for ever: in which ever chapter is better than the one before.”

Andrew Bird opens his album with a creation of a world, and closes his album at the appropriate end of a world – the eventual apocalypse. And like The Chronicles of Narnia, I go to The Mysterious Production of Eggs whenever I’m in want of the fantastic, of new worlds.

All The Love My Massive Heart Can Give,
Tommy


*The Horse and His Boy breaks from the rule of getting into Narnia from our world. It starts in that world and the horse and his boy get into Narnia from a different country, Carlomen.

Ian and I met in the first grade. Probably the first day of first grade, I don’t know. Really I don’t know how we met, just that we did and became best friends. When you meet your best friend in the first grade you must, must, ask your mom if it is okay to play with them. My mom, of course, wanted to meet Ian’s mom.

In what felt like years – but was probably the same week I asked Mom if I could play with Ian – the fall open house at the elementary school came up and our mom’s had the chance to finally meet.

“Mom! Mom! Over here!” I pulled with all my first grade might my mom towards Ian and the woman that was probably his mom.

When they came face to face, my mom and Ian’s hugged liked old friends. As it turns out Ian’s birthday is August 13th, and mine the 14th. Also, when our mom’s were in labor they shared a room together. And then after we were born, hours apart from each other, our mom’s shared a recovery room together. They had befriended each other in the hospital and for a few months after we were born they would go out with each other.

Ian’s family moved several miles east of the hospital, mine moved many more miles west of the hospital. Without cell phones, facebook, twitter, whatever you use to keep in touch with people, the two ladies stopped talking. This happens in life.

My parents divorced, and my mom moved east a few miles to the town she grew up in. I don’t know the circumstances but Ian’s family moved west to the town my mom grew up in.

Ian and I have stayed friends to this day, in fact I’m going to text him right now… This is what I texted him: “Just so you’re aware- I believe myself to be the paul McCartney to your John Lennon.”

I’m pretty sure this is an apt description of the two of us. I’m the pop-sunshine-everything-is-happy Paul to Ian’s creative-mad-man-try-anything-Love-pationately John.

And Ian looks like John Lennon when he has long hair.

The Beatles White Album, and this is arguable, is where I think that John and Paul’s songs collapse into each other, creating blackhole tension of musical genius. Their collision is violent and dazzling, but it shows an image of what was to come in their individual careers. Paul’s perfect pop, silly love songs, music (“Back In the U.S.S.R” “Martha My Dear”) and John’s avant-garde experimentation (“Happiness Is A Warm Gun” “Revolution 9″).

Two of my top three Beatle’s songs are on this album, “Dear Prudence” and “Blackbird.” (The third, “Golden Slumbers,” is on Abbey Road.) “Dear Prudence” is a Lennon tune, “Blackbird” a McCartney tune. Both perfect pop songs.

I can remember summer evenings where Ian and I, along with some other friends, would sit around listening to this album and discussing the same things our father’s probably discussed when they first listened. The same things that made our father’s fall in love with music and then our mothers.

The White Album is part of my creation myth.

During my quarter life crisis I began reviewing my favorite albums. I went back as far as my memory would allow me. So I began making a list. The list started to grow to an enormous size, apparently, every album I’ve ever listened to is my favorite album. I’m very forgiving. I decided to whittle the list down to a more mananagble, not-at-all cliche top 11 list. It was not a scientific process; I listened to music and thought about what was enjoyable, defendable, and which had the best story for why it had burrowed into my conscious and made camp.

I make lists all the time. I almost never order them. This list is in no order. As I love all my children equally, I love each of these albums.

1. Andrew Bird “The Mysterious Production of Eggs”
2. Death Cab For Cutie “Transatlantacism”
3. Ben Folds “Live”
4. The Beatles “White Album”
5. The Avett Brothers “I And Love And You”
6. Elton John “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road”
7. Sufjan Stevens “Come on feel the Illinoise!”
8. John Mayer “Continuum”
9. John Denver “The Essential Jon Denver”
10. Smoking Popes “Destination Failure”
11. Josh Garrels “Over Oceans”

Over the next few days, maybe weeks, months or years, I intend to tell the stories of why these albums are my favorites.

We’ll see.

All The Love My Massive Heart Can Give,
Tommy

Today I woke up worried about the day ahead of me. It was my first Sunday with no evening obligation – in six years. I knew that this day would eventually come and I’ve been dreading it. What do human beings do on Sunday’s? I don’t know! I’ve had a set routine for six years. But today was the first of many Sunday’s to come where I no longer have that routine and I’ve been anxious leading up to this day.

And yet,* upon waking up, I saw the sun shining through my window (seriously, 6:30am is beautiful) and heard some birds chirping, and there was a light breeze coming through the window and it was the most idyllic way to start a day. Before any other thought that I could have came to mind, I prayed: “God, this day, is the day that you’ve made. I will enter your gates with thanksgiving.” Usually, I’m praying: “God please send my alarm clock right on back to the lowest layer of hell that it came from.” But, not today, this day I had been so worried about. So I got of bed with a right attitude, ready to commit my day to praise and thanksgiving for what God has done in creating a beautiful day, for sending His only son to take my death, and for the new life He offers through His son and spirit.

At church during the opening set of music, Melody (the other musical director at the church) is praying in between songs. Her prayer starts: “Father, we want to enter your gates with thanksgiving…” Needless to say, my curiosity was piqued by her prayer. But I let it slide – it’s a common enough Christian thing to say and pray…

After church I had no idea of what I wanted to do with my now completely free schedule and it was freaking me out. So I did what I do when I don’t know what to do… I went to Starbucks. While there I was able to grab lunch with a coworker and talk about her son a bit. Little did I know that my new, totally awesome, coworker Ryan had recently shared the Gospel with her – after a conversation about her son. As she and I finished lunch I figured I’d spend time with my dear friends Becky and Mike at their church. I knew that they were working all afternoon and since I had no big plans I decided that it’d be fun to keep them company. We went out and had an early dinner and then they had a church service that evening to instate a new senior pastor. I’m not involved with that church, but I’m used to Sunday evening services so I decided to sit in.

The service
opened with a reading of Psalm 100:

A psalm. For giving grateful praise.

1 Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth.
2 Worship the LORD with gladness;
come before him with joyful songs.
3 Know that the LORD is God.
It is he who made us, and we are his[a];
we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.

4 Enter his gates with thanksgiving
and his courts with praise;
give thanks to him and praise his name.
5 For the LORD is good and his love endures forever;
his faithfulness continues through all generations.

There it was again! The THIRD time today that I had heard that phrase… It gets stranger.

After that service I didn’t know what to do so I went back to Starbucks; Hi, my name is Tom and I have a problem… My plan was to spend some time in this new book I bought (The Gospel Primer by Milton Vincent) and pray a bit. But as I arrived I saw my new, totally awesome, coworker Ryan and he was all like, “Hey, do you want to go to the college ministry at Harvest? It started 15 minutes ago. But music doesn’t start for another ten. We can make it.” And because I was seriously craving some Sunday evening college ministry I went. We arrive just as they band is reading a scripture to the crowd. They’re reading:

Psalm 100

A psalm. For giving grateful praise.

1 Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth.
2 Worship the LORD with gladness;
come before him with joyful songs.
3 Know that the LORD is God.
It is he who made us, and we are his[a];
we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.

4 Enter his gates with thanksgiving
and his courts with praise;
give thanks to him and praise his name.
5 For the LORD is good and his love endures forever;
his faithfulness continues through all generations.

This is something God wanted me to hear – and I believe that good things should be shared:

So remember that the LORD is good and his love endures forever! We can now enter His gates, His courts, and be in His presence because in His ultimate goodness and love He sent His only son, Jesus of Nazareth, Emmanuel, to be with us. To live here on this rock, being tempted as we are but found without blemish or sin. And yet,* at just the right moment when we were at our most unlovely and most undeserving He, Jesus, took our death and died for us – washing us in His blood. On the third day he conquered death, turning the curse of sin backwards. He’s ascended and sits at the right hand of His father, God almighty creator of all things. We can enter His gates, His courts with thanksgiving and praise.

He is good all the time…
In Christ,
Tom

*And yet… are these two words not some of the most beautiful words you’ve ever heard? And yet…

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