Grace Upon Grace

Currently listening to: “Suddenly” by BT
I actually only started listening to BT because Celldweller did a remix of this track for the Suddenly EP. Once I checked out some of his catalog, I discovered a lot of really great electronic stuff – and honestly, that’s about as specific as I can get, because this guy runs the gamut – trance, techno, house, etc. etc. etc. Good stuff for sure.

Things have been hopping. Between the looming Harvest church plant this coming September in Durham, our soon-coming daughter (or son, if the tech’s wrong!), juggling three part-time jobs, looking for a full-time job, and all sorts of other things… writing has really fallen by the wayside.

It hasn’t been from a lack of things to write ABOUT. There’s an abundance of that. Here, lets bust out some of it. Rather than my usual routine of apologizing for being inconsistent, lets just get right so some of the thoughts and ideas that have been hard at work in my head lately, by God’s grace.

First, something that came up out of my recent studies in John:

John 1:16 ESV
And from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.

How true is that? I think the old adage was “count your blessings”, but lets be really honest – they can’t even be counted.

I love this phrase – “and from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace”. The Apostle John was no theological slouch (if that weren’t clear from his epistles), nor was he crusty, and so it should not surprise us to find a remark of sheer praise and exclamation here amidst such profoundly theological statements. To think of the ‘grace upon grace’ instilled in my own life is remarkable if I spend any small amount of time bringing to mind the things of the past, or even the things of the prior week.

God’s grace (ie. things I don’t deserve) literally floods my life: Salvation through the gift of faith, a loving wife whose desire is to be useful to our Lord Jesus (full of “theological astuteness” and gentle wisdom), a child in her womb whose development has been (evidently) ideal and healthy, the blessing of godly leadership at Harvest York Region (whose leadership is both humble and authoritative!), a surrounding of friends who spur us on to love and good works, a series of God’s people to counsel and aid, a healthy God-fearing Bible-preaching church of small groups to be part of, the input of godly men in my life, a juggling of jobs to keep me productive for my family, the hope of full time and stable employment on the horizon as God provides, and so much more. I am inundated with grace upon grace – undeserved blessing is a hallmark of my life in Christ Jesus. His fullness is poured out in and around me with alarming regularity amidst both the glorious circumstances and the horrific events of present history.

Yet, just as often as I consider the abundance, I’m wholly mindful of the solid fact that I don’t deserve any of it. I’m a lawbreaker, a mutinous rebel.

I deserve hell, not all this grace upon grace.

The Gospel is an amazing thing – to think even briefly on the fact that the Holy and Righteous God who created me, the God whose laws and standards I spurned and spat on… entered human history, took on human flesh, and took my hell on the Cross. I don’t deserve it. Grace upon grace.

Second, a bunch of quotes that have been ricocheting around my noggin:

“There is no correlation between new and good.” (CS Lewis)

“Duty is a poor substitute for love.” (CS Lewis)

“Joy is a deep, durable delight in the splendor of God that ruins you for anything else.” (Sam Storms)

“Christians who understand gospel logic should be, taking one thing with another, the most accomplished and least envious people in the world.” (Douglas Wilson)

“Curse the scalpel, if you must, but kiss the Surgeon’s hand.” (John Piper)

and, most of all:

“It is written.” (God)

How incredible is it that God has communicated himself to us through a book – the written word? Grace upon grace, all over again, times infinity.

Rejoice?

Currently listening to: “Circles” by Thrice
Thrice recently did a session at Daytrotter, and the results are stripped-down, sparse, largely acoustic, and predominantly wonderful. If you’ve ever wondered what a masterful rock band would sound like when given a room with a bunch of instruments in various states of being, this is a great example. You can listen/download the tracks here at Daytrotter.

I have a bundle of news for those who don’t know me personally – namely, a bundle of Bolton that is on the way! Yes, my lovely Steph and I are happy to announce that (with God’s help) we’re in the midst of welcoming a new human being into the world. It’s one of the reasons that I haven’t been able to devote the kind of time to writing that I usually like to. The other reason is that my rebellious heart prefers distraction, abstraction, and escape to reality. So, truth be told, I’ve been much in the habit of wasting time on things far less than eternal.

I like to call her "wee bee".

So, with that said, and with my apologies implied therein… I would like to share some of what God has been teaching me through his Word as He speaks to me in the midst of the constant swirl and ebb of the circumstances of my life.

For starters, it hasn’t escaped me that for 21 weeks now, I’ve been a father. Granted, I haven’t been conscious of that for all 21 of those weeks, but increasingly as our lives already feel the weight of changes and as my wife’s abdomen swells with new life… I’m conscious of the responsibilities I now carry before God. Being a father means that, in addition to my wife and I, there is now another person for whom I am very intimately responsible. Another person, one for whose training and fathering I will answer, for whose provision I will be held to account, and to whom I must strive to be an example of the gospel in action. My daughter (assuming that the Ultrasound Technician was right – and they’re not always) or son will look to me to be an example of pastoral, godly, disciplined righteousness.

I love my daughter deeply – more with every passing day as she grows and develops and learns and changes and as God shapes and knits her together. I love my daughter, young as she is. I love her, and so many questions fill my mind:

  • What if my daughter died suddenly and unexpectedly in the womb (as a couple we know of recently experienced)?
  • What if, in a few short years, my precious young daughter was killed in an accident in our driveway (as a musician many of us are familiar with experienced a couple years ago)?
  • What if my daughter grows up and rejects Jesus Christ?
  • What if she lives a long and unrepentant life of rebellion and immorality?
  • Someone mentioned to me today that, because of how I love her, she will always be “Daddy’s Little Girl”. My head reeled. Not because I don’t treasure the thought of taking care of this little girl, nor because I really hope she doesn’t stay little. Neither was it because my hope and prayer is that she grows into a godly woman who loves Jesus Christ. No, I reeled because the thing that immediately jumped into my head was a question:

    Is this Little Girl mine?

    Let me explain:

    How dangerous would it be to my soul if I thought she was MINE… of all things? If I believe that she is “mine” and I lose her in any of the above ways I might despair of life or betray God!

    Isn’t it true that so often the line between responsibility and idolatry is very thin?
    Or what about the line between love and idolatry?

    I am responsible for my daughter. I love my daughter.

    But she is not mine.

    At my church, we’re about to start into a series in the book of James. This week we’ll be delving into the first twelve verses, which (among other things) say the following:

    James 1:2-5 ESV
    Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.

    If you’ve been a Christian for some time, you probably have encountered these kinds of ideas before. After all, from Genesis to Revelation, God makes incredible good come out of incomprehensible evils. Joseph’s brothers sell him into slavery and ultimately Joseph saves them from a famine many years later. David is pursued all over Israel and the surrounding areas by Saul (who is rabidly trying to murder him), and becomes a “man after God’s own heart”. Jesus, God of very God, is betrayed, spat upon, brutally beaten, and crucified… takes upon himself sin – that which he justly and righteously hates, and experiences the full Wrath of God poured out against sin… and in submitting himself on the Cross in this way makes a way for sinners to be reconciled to God.

    If you’re like me, the principle makes sense: God allows and sometimes causes trials and suffering in our lives in order to refine and purify us, in order to transform us and conform us into the likeness of Jesus.

    But James didn’t just say “Accept it, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds”. He said to count it all joy. Joy. In other words, James is saying “rejoice when you suffer!” and “be delighted when you go through difficulty” and “chalk it up as a sweet thing when your circumstances are sour and bitter”.

    What? I understand accepting that, as Joseph said to his brothers, “you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good” (Genesis 50:20)… but to rejoice in suffering? How?

    Let me take a stab at it, with my thanks to preachers like John Piper and Matt Chandler for crystallizing this in my thoughts lately:

    Everything we have is loaned to us that we might point to and make much of Jesus Christ and him crucified. ‘The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly’ – they are all given to us or allowed to us so that in all of it we would rejoice in the Cross.

    The Cross?

    The Cross, through which our worst adversity becomes an instrument of God in subjecting our hearts more wholly to him!

    The Cross, through which everything that would seek to destroy us serves instead to strengthen us – conforming us more and more to the likeness of Jesus!

    The Cross, the greatest sin ever committed, but through which sinners are reconciled to God!

    How else can we move beyond merely accepting our circumstances (especially when they constitute trials and suffering) to REJOICING in them? How else but to see God’s grace and mercy overflowing as he works through our varied and frequently terrible circumstances to accomplish the transformation of our hearts and lives?

    We rejoice in adversity because the worst of circumstances is a gift from God. The worst of circumstances is the gift of a dark, painful, and evil place in which to say to a watching world (and to our rebellious hearts):

    “God is enough! He is all I need! He is my life and sustenance! There is no world, no meaning, and no hope without Jesus Christ!”

    I am responsible for my daughter and I love her… but she is not mine. (May God grant that I never see her as mine!) My daughter, much like every good thing that I have, is a gift from God, created and sustained by him for my joy and for His glory.

    Ask Pastor John

    Currently listening to: “All The World Is Mad” by Thrice
    Thrice’s newest, “Beggars”, will go down as their best to date. I’m in love.

    John Piper is a pretty regular guy. A pretty regular guy who is passionate about Jesus Christ. He writes books, drops heart-piercing sermons, likes to hyphenate words together, and has managed to gather a lot of biblical wisdom into his noggin over the years.

    Last week he did a live version of his “Ask Pastor John” [APJ] series – in which he fields questions and does his best to answer them biblically and pastorally. With almost no reservations, I enjoy APJ. Thus, I enjoyed watching him respond live as questions came in via Twitter.

    My hope is that you can enjoy it too, now that the segments are posted on DesiringGod. Check them out here:

    Ask Pastor John Live

    …thirty years of bad hair that nobody cares about

    Current Tunage: Fee – Glory to God Forever
    It’s strange to me to hear a recorded song that up until now I’ve only heard in church. Usually it’s the other way around.

    I was introduced to Dr. John Piper when I was in Bible College and his manifesto on Christian Hedonism (“Desiring God”) was our text for Spiritual Life Emphasis week. The book for me was a turning point, speaking of my long-held faith in terms I’d seldom heard used in association with it, and suggesting a worldview far larger and more encompassing (and satisfying) than what I, in my childish understanding of Scripture, could have fathomed prior.

    I recall with some fondness that back in my second and third years of University, I would often listen to JP (as I sometimes affectionately refer to him) on the city bus as it took me to Trent’s Symons campus, headphones square on my head… with Bible in my lap. Amidst all the plethora of delicious hyphenated adjectives (ie. “Gospel-soaked”), I found my heart caught hold of just a small glimmer of the power that the faithful preaching of scripture can exert.

    This morning I had the privilege (and I mean that) of reading an account by Justin Taylor of how God called Dr. John Piper into the pastorate thirty years ago today. Something in me surged as I read this. Have a look, you might just find that your response is quite the same: 30 Years Ago Today: How God Called John Piper to Become a Pastor.

    …habitual sin and holy ostracism

    Current Tunage: Oh, Sleeper – Son Of The Morning
    New record out, sporting an inverted, “horns cut off” broken pentagram on the cover. Heavy material. Apparently it’s a concept album, where all but the last song on the record is voiced by Satan – and the last song (“The Finisher”) is God’s response. Check out an interview here that will explain it a bit better. All in all, it’s a pretty amazing record. The guest spot with Cody Bonnette of As Cities Burn on track 3 is wondrous to behold (or rather, to be heard). Either way, compelling stuff. I’ll share some lyrics soon.

    This morning on Facebook, I posted a video of Dr. John Piper responding to the question “How should Christian friends respond to a friend who has entered a homosexual relationship and moved to a church that accepts it?”. During the discussion that followed, I realized there’s something much deeper at stake, namely, “How should Christian friends respond to a friend who claims to know and follow Christ but has made a truce with their sin?”. Ultimately, “Holy Ostracism” isn’t about homosexuality in particular, it’s about any mode of sin that we might make habit and be unrepentant of.

    1 Corinthians 5:9-13 ESV
    I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people– not at all meaning the sexually immoral of this world, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler–not even to eat with such a one. For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? God judges those outside. “Purge the evil person from among you.”

    The answer? It depends on the person, and what they claim. In both cases, we love them.

    If they don’t claim to be a Christian – to know and follow Jesus – we love them. In this case, loving them means that we (among other things) seek to propose (not impose) the Gospel; that God became Man, lived a perfect life, and was crucified by his enemies (namely, us) to save and deliver and redeem them… and arose again 3 days later to prove all of the above.

    If they claim to be a Christian – to know and follow Jesus – we love them. In this case, loving them means that we do many things (worship together, “do life” together, bear each other’s burdens, serve Christ together, etc). It also means that, rather than sharing the Gospel with them, we hold them accountable to their claim OF it.

    What does this accountability look like? Well, obviously, it’s rooted in relationship. If someone claims Christ and avoids his body (the Church), that’s a separate problem (equally grievous, but separate). So, assuming they’re in relationship with other believers – in this case, you – what does holding them accountable look like?

    Simply, it looks like loving them enough to challenge them, question them, confront them, and rebuke them for their sin. Always gently, always in love, always with Truth (ie. the Word of God), always patiently and helpfully. It also looks like committing what Piper calls “holy ostracism” eventually.

    Titus 3:10-11 ESV
    As for a person who stirs up division, after warning him once and then twice, have nothing more to do with him, knowing that such a person is warped and sinful; he is self-condemned.

    Holy ostracism is something that, prayerfully, we do when someone refuses to deal with their sin (or acknowledge it as such despite the clear teaching of Scripture). It’s not something that happens overnight, it happens in response to a pattern of stubborn and selfish love for sin – a love for sin that eclipses love for Saviour and His Name & Glory. It looks like a severance of relationship because it is – it sounds like this: “We can’t be friends anymore until you either stop claiming to be a Christian, or repent and begin the process of making war with the sin you prize.”

    Quite frankly, I have some friends who – because of the way they live – need to stop claiming they know and follow Jesus. They are hypocrites to the n’th degree and, much more than that, their “peace” and “truce” with their sin declares to the world that the Saviour doesn’t save. For this reason and others, “ostracism” is what scripture prescribes for that kind of circumstance.

    Of course, I also have many other friends who claim to know and follow Jesus and their lives show it. Not in perfection, but in constantly moving forward and dealing with their sinfulness.

    2 Thessalonians 3:14-15 ESV
    If anyone does not obey what we say in this letter, take note of that person, and have nothing to do with him, that he may be ashamed. Do not regard him as an enemy, but warn him as a brother.

    If someone habitually and stubbornly refuses to deal with – for example – their pride (aka self-idolatry), they need to be held accountable and consider how, and IF, that is acceptable for a follower of Jesus. We present them with loving rebuke and correction – as brothers, not enemies – and if they consistently refuse to see the problem or to move forward against it, we break fellowship (and lovingly give them the ultimatum above). The rebuke is always loving, always geared toward restoration and reconciliation with God.

    To refuse to help others in this way (I believe) weakens churches, weakens believers, and gives plenty of weight to outsider’s charges of meaningful hypocrisy amongst Christians. There is nothing to be gained by refusing to break fellowship with the unrepentant, and much to be gained from “handing them over to Satan”.

    1 Timothy 1:18-20 ESV
    This charge I entrust to you, Timothy, my child, in accordance with the prophecies previously made about you, that by them you may wage the good warfare, holding faith and a good conscience. By rejecting this, some have made shipwreck of their faith, among whom are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have handed over to Satan that they may learn not to blaspheme.

    Obviously, one must be in a place in this person’s life to know about their habits and their patterns of living – this of course means that to be in a position to do ‘holy ostracism’, you must be in a place from which to ostracize. Of course, this is complicated by the way that things like Facebook and Twitter make friends who, in past ages, would have been more “stranger” and “acquaintance” than “friend” something much more. From the wonders of social networking, people’s lives are on display, and their attitudes and sinfulness with it. We don’t have to look far anymore to see “friends” who are pregnant (or have impregnated) outside of wedlock, or living with someone they’re not married to, or carrying on with a lifestyle of drunkenness and debauchery… all while claiming to be “Christian”. The trick with this is that although we might have the data, we don’t have the relationship and thus, holy ostracism’s goal (restoration to God) is unnattainable in such loose contexts – not to mention we aren’t close enough to them to know if they’re dealing with their sin, repentant and putting themselves under spiritual discipline. It is this which leads me to believe that holy ostracism is something reserved for honest-to-goodness real life contexts where not only will it actually have meaning, but where its purpose can actually be worked out through the division of relationship. This hints at something at the heart – holy ostracism isn’t something done entirely for the sake of the person being ostracized. Why? Simply because holy ostracism isn’t always helpful for the person being ostracized. If it were, we could say that was the reason behind it. Really though, doing ‘holy ostracism’ is about God – it is always helpful for the name of Christ and for the collective integrity of those who claim His Name.

    Matthew 18:15-17 ESV
    “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.

    We don’t cut off lightly, but we must do it when someone claims to follow Jesus but lives habitually in a “backslidden” state of habitually not battling the flesh, not battling pride, not battling selfishness, not battling their natural, sinful impulses. Believers are marked by war – against sin, against self, against the flesh, against pride, against lust, against everything that arrays itself against our God and Saviour. Those who claim to believe but live in contradiction need to be confronted with the witness their life gives and called to repentance – and if they refuse to agree with God and turn from their wicked ways – they need to either stop claiming to believe, or they need to be subjected to holy ostracism.

    …piper on macarthur/driscoll

    Just a quick post. I just got a hold of the unedited audio from John Piper’s recent Q&A (which he never does) at the Basics conference last week. The version that was up on their site was edited and pruned for time and stuff, and was missing the question I was most interested in (and many others with me) – namely, the MacArthur/Driscoll question.

    Check out Piper’s response around the 37 minute mark of this audio:
    John Piper – We Are Workers With You For Your Joy.

    My initial thoughts: I couldn’t agree more. I’m encouraged by everything John had to say about the issue. Check it out.

    …gospel coalition national conference 2009

    Current Tunage: Tunnel Rats – Line Finish

    1 Corinthians 9:23-27 ESV
    I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings. Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? so run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.

    Please pray for myself, Noah, Todd, Ben, and Alex as we drive down to Chicago today for the Gospel Coalition National Conference 2009. Over the next three days we will be hearing from the likes of John Piper, Mark Driscoll, Tim Keller, CJ Mahaney, Josh Harris, DA Carson, and others. It promises to be a time of challenge, of exhortation, and of great fellowship. Pray for safety as we make the 10+ hour drive, for God to move in our hearts as we hear from His Word and His people, and for a renewed passion to bring His gospel to the world. All of us are at that in-between stage of “figuring out what’s next” and so I think it’s safe to say we’re all looking for God to do some amazing things in and among us as we gather with folks from around the world for teaching, prayer, and fellowship.

    …criteria for cultural relevance

    Current Tunage: Mars ILL – Flirt With Fame
    Rockin’ some Pirate Radio this morning, courtesy of the mighty mighty mars ill crew – dust and manchild grinnin’ big.

    I’ll keep it brief, since I’m studying for my FINAL UNIVERSITY EXAM (on Shakespeare, if you’re curious). I thought this “Ask Pastor John” video was brilliant. I mean, the issue at stake (what’s relevant?) has been resolved in my mind for awhile, but I hadn’t really figured out just how that had happened – Piper illuminates:

    1. What is tied to creation? It has abiding value.
    2. What is carried across all of scripture? It has abiding value.
    3. What is related to the gospel? It has abiding value….

    Whatever doesn’t fall into these categories, generally, can be considered cultural in PRACTICE, but useful to us in PRINCIPLE.

    4. What OT is rendered obsolete by the NT?

    Such things, of course, are obsolete – still useful to consider with regard to their OT context, but no longer required of us (ie. animal sacrifices, circumcision).

    As he notes, this deals with the majority of “culturally relevant?” questions.

    Thoughts? Opinions?

    …destination: beautiful/intriguing

    Current Tunage: Relient K – Aulg Lang Syne
    “Let It Rain… Let It Reindeer” is a really great, listenable Christmas record. I discovered quite a few this year, such as Bebo Norman’s, Johnny Cash’s, smatterings from the Happy Christmas compilations, The Almost’s new EP, Jars of Clay’s, Josh Groban (I blame Steph for that one), Sovereign Grace ministries’ “Savior” album, and so on. It’s been a musically bountiful season.

    We left home a week ago and haven’t been back since. Peterborough, New Liskeard, South Porcupine (in Timmins), and later we’ll be in Englehart – all before returning to precious Pickering. It’s been quite a whirlwind tour.

    That being said, it’s been full of adventure, conversation, and warm memories which will be treasured all year long.

    I have made a few “new year’s revolutions” this morning and although it’s ne’er been my custom to do so (I prefer “new day’s resolutions” on the regular to an annual event), these are more of a compilation of those ‘new day’ items:

    I’ve kept it short, I’m just as apt to do nothing if an action list seems impossibly large as anyone else would be.

    1. Set up a dual-boot of Windows XP and Ubuntu Linux (Intrepid Ibex version).
    2. Complete my professional portfolio and accompanying website prior to graduation.
    3. Devote time to daily writing, whether it be a blog, a review, or just adding to current progress on my ‘book’.
    4. Read at least a book a month.

    There are more, however these “more” delve into the realms of intricate complexity too deep and profound to explicate upon in this hallowed place. In other words, I’m keeping them to myself.

    Here’s some things I’m thankful for from 2008 gone by:
    1. Marriage, to Steph. It’s pretty much the best thing on God’s green earth.
    2. Wonderful in-laws, which I’ve been enjoying throughout the year.
    3. A hacked Nintendo Wii full of Homebrew applications and joy.
    4. The chance to try out and enjoy the recent WoW beta (for WotLK) and spend some time with old friends from the guild.
    5. For such great friends to have stand with me on my wedding day (Noah, Todd, Mark, Al, Ian, Shane) – much love, guys.
    6. Terabyte hard drives, even though I don’t yet own one.
    7. Getting paid to sleep for the entire fall.
    8. A renewed enjoyment of composition as well as quality reading (I believe I read around 20 books this year, give or take).
    9. Only 12 weeks of classes and about 3 exams left until being DONE with full-time school.
    10. An amazing almost-full-time contract in Peterborough during the months leading up to the wedding.
    11. A lot of really great music that came out this year.
    12. A lot of really great sermons that I had the privilege of enjoying over the course of the year, both via the internet (ie. Driscoll, Piper, Harris, Mahaney, etc) or via Sunday Mornings (at Harvest York Region, c/o Whittingstall).
    13. Good, quality cordless phones. I don’t think I’ll ever look back to corded again… particularly when I throw on that speakerphone and it feels like I’m sitting across from whoever it is I’ve called.
    14. The fall LAN party thrown by my little brothers at my parents place – such a fun time.
    15. The ESV Study Bible, even though I haven’t gotten mine yet.
    16. Great Boxing Day sales – once again, it was worth hardly buying anything all year in order to frugally save a load of cash on some necessities (loot: new keys and mouse, colour laser printer, office07).
    17. Living closer to sweet concerts.
    18. Coffee mornings with my dad in the fall on my way to classes in Peterpatch.
    19. Free Toronto Stars at DC/UOIT Student Commons.
    20. The soon-coming TF2 Scout Pack.
    21. Harvest Bible Chapel, York Region – I can’t even begin to numerate the blessing that it’s been to fellowship in a place with timeless truth and timely methods.
    22. Our Tuesday night small group study in “Lord, Change my Attitude” – profitable not only due to the content but also the community/fellowship, accountability, and growth that we’ve been privileged to be a part of. Particularly, I’m thankful for the wisdom and insight provided us by virtue of the amazing friends who participate with us in it – it has truly been one of the highlight blessings of the year.
    23. Paper extensions.
    24. Snowstorms.
    25. Ice Hockey for the NES.

    And now, some far less meaningful lists:

    Currently reading:
    “Christianity’s Dangerous Idea” by Alister McGrath
    “The Master’s Plan for the Church” by John MacArthur
    “The Murder of Jesus” by John MacArthur
    “Wordliness” by CJ Mahaney
    “Through Painted Deserts” by Donald Miller

    Hoping to read this year:
    ESV Study Bible
    “Vintage Church” by Mark Driscoll
    “Death By Love” by Mark Driscoll
    “This Momentary Marriage” by John Piper
    “The Cross-Centered Life” by CJ Mahaney
    “Humility: True Greatness” by CJ Mahaney
    “The End Of Reason” by Ravi Zacharias

    Currently listening to:
    “Black-Listed Sessions” by Mars Ill
    “Slow Flame” by Mars Ill
    “Deepspace5oul” by Deepspace 5
    “Bake Sale” by Deepspace 5

    Looking forward to hearing this year:
    “The Future Ain’t What It Used To Be” by Deepspace 5
    new mewithoutYou
    new Project 86
    new As Cities burn
    new Mars Ill

    Currently playing:
    DotA AllStars
    Team Fortress 2
    Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare
    Metroid Prime 3: Corruption

    Looking forward to playing this year:
    World of Goo
    Sins of a Solar Empire
    Strong Bad’s Cool Game for Attractive People (Season 1)
    Braid
    No More Heroes

    Hoping to see released this year:
    Starcraft 2

    Anyways, having now ranted endlessly in list form, I wish you all the best in 2009 and look forward to saturating your blog-reader-eyes with a glut of posts ne’er before seen. Or not. Either way, it’s going to be a crazy ride – even if I am pants-on-head-insane.