There is something about sitting by a campfire that soothes. There is something about sitting by a campfire with an instrument in hand that imbues. Yesterday we lit the firepit— a nice addition to our lovely home, complete with a grilling top— and grilled up tons— 5-6 pounds, really— of meat. We like having food for the days ahead. After dinner, storytime, teeth brushing, after the kiddos went off to bed, as the sun went down, I went out with my mando and sat by the simmering coals. Just enough warmth and light.
And I sat in awesome wonder.
June 24th was a major victory. A battle won in a war long-waged. Just one victory— albeit a large one— in a war that is not over. But that is just the background, really. That victory is not ours, it is not a moment to pat ourselves on the backs. As Bill Maher’s guest stated clearly, this was just luck. A “happy accident”. Had Ruth Bader Ginsburg retired under Obama, this may not have happened. Had Hillary Clinton won in 2016, this may not have happened.
Here we are. A “happy accident”, just luck.
But I don’t believe in luck. I believe in sovereignty. I believe in a Living God seated on a celestial throne. I don’t believe in accidents. I don’t believe in mistakes.
But the world does.
When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars, which you have set in place,
what is man that you are mindful of him,
and the son of man that you care for him?
One of our elders at church preached yesterday morning from Psalm 8. Two words are used in verse 4 to describe mankind. “What is man (enosh)” and “the son of man (ben adam)”. Enosh often points to our mortality and frailty, while ben adam means “son of dirt”.
All go to one place. All are from the dust, and to dust all return.
In Genesis, the Creator makes us from dirt. Adam, the name of the first man, is literally dirt, which the Creator breathed life into. And the world doesn’t believe much different today. Our universe is one big accident. Your very existence is a chain of events, not driven with purpose, but with no direction whatsoever.
And your life? Meaningless.
The world has no definition of what life is. When it begins. When it ends. What is in between the beginning and the end is without meaning. Enjoy it while you can, get out of it what you want, and expire into the nothingness at the end of this.
It’s no wonder that the world rages against anyone that says that one shouldn’t live a specific way or enjoy certain pleasures. Why stop one from doing so? It’s all meaningless anyway. The void doesn’t care.
For you formed my inward parts;
you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
my soul knows it very well.
You weren’t made without purpose. You are not an accident. Nothing is. Our Lord, the Maker of the universe, the Creator of the stars and worlds untouched, the One that knows the number of hairs on your head, yet holds the Sun in his hand: He made you for a reason.
Oh Lord, my God
When I, in awesome wonder
Consider all the worlds Thy hands have made
I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder
Thy power throughout the universe displayed
Then sings my soul, my Savior God to Thee
How great Thou art, how great Thou art
I sat by the fire last night. Awesome wonder. As darkness crept over the earth. I considered. As the light of my fire glowed. My soul sang. His majesty is great, His power mighty, and His sovereignty complete. He has a plan. Every step is known. And He is owed the glory.
And He somehow cares for us. Despite us being mere mortals, frail. Despite us being made from dirt. He cares. He hears us. He is with us.
O Lord, our Lord,
how majestic is your name in all the earth!
Editor's Note: Since this post was made on Thursday, Jason claimed that I called him a pedophile in the words that follow. I will not edit these words, but clarify: When I say "don't get me started about a third-party individual thinking about my children, all under 6 at the time, sexually," I am not saying that he is a pedophile. I am saying he is thinking about my children sexually. Wanting to educate a 6 year old on gender and sex that is not your child is not appropriate. Focusing on it and making it a requirement for our relationship to continue is beyond creepy.
Jason claims that saying this will bring death threats against him. I say that he needs to stop thinking about my children sexually. Jason says that I am saying this because he is claiming to be transgendered. I say that he needs to stop thinking about my children sexually. This has nothing to do with his current worldview, group allegiance, religion, gender, or anything else: if you are insisting on being involved in teaching my 6 year old about sex: get the fuck away from me and my children.
Back to the original, unedited blog post.
Let me make abundantly clear that I only am posting this because Jason has spent years slandering my name, my wife's name, and my family's names publicly in Facebook posts. I would prefer to keep this between the two of us and find a resolution, but he would prefer to make a scene that is damaging reputations, spreading lies, and causing much lost sleep.
Do you know what it's like to have your parents tell you who you are as a person shouldn't be spoken about to your...Posted by Sassafras Finley on Tuesday, March 22, 2022
One key lie here. My brother posted earlier this week that I, his terrible bigoted brother, won't allow him around my children because of "who he is" unless he "hide[s himself] from them" and that I am "protect[ing his] niece and nephews from [his] unconditional love". Part of that is true. I will not allow him around my children. Period. The "why" is not.
The reason he gives is the same he tried to spin in the text messages last year that led to any and all contact being restricted last March. I of course corrected him multiple times, but now he is telling the world that this is why and that my parents are protecting my right and my decision to keep him away from my children for that reason.
The actual reason is rather simple.
Jason called me and my wife "assholes" in front of the whole family, including my children. He has called me even worse— including a "fucking moron" for believing the Bible— in front of my children, though that was the first time he insulted my wife. This is unacceptable behavior. You want to insult me, do it privately. You go after me in front of my children, don't be surprised if you find yourself not seeing my children.
Jason claims that I have no authority over my children, wants to see laws passed that make it illegal to teach Christian principles and morals to children in Christian schools, and wants to be in charge of teaching my children about "gender and sexuality". I can waiver a bit on the political matters, but the follow-through of insisting that he gets to teach them about gender theory and the LGBTQ worldview and ideology with or without my permission is an absolute no. His saying that I have NO authority over my children and that parental authority is not a real thing made it clear that he wouldn't respect my right to decide what my children learn and when they learn it. But that goes further because…
Jason told me that if my children came out to him— a conversation he decided was necessary to have and was unprompted by me; don't get me started about a third-party individual thinking about my children, all under 6 at the time, sexually— that he would introduce them to resources, groups, and experts that would "work to find the right path for them." You may agree with his philosophy around sex and gender, but he then said that he would keep this all secret from me and my wife because he was concerned about what we would do with the information.
He then said that when my children turned 18 he would reveal to them all the terrible things I had done to him— which as far as I am aware is just preventing him from seeing my children— and turn them against me.
I have text message records of the majority of the above.
I have a line.
I might have my thoughts about what you do with your life. Most of the time, it isn't of my concern. But the moment you step towards my children and say that they can tell you secrets, that you will keep them from my wife and me, that you will introduce them to other people without my permission, and that I have no authority over them: YOU ARE OUT. Not because you now claim to be a member of the LGBT community, but because YOU HAVE THREATENED MY CHILDREN AND MY FAMILY. You don't get to decide what they learn, you don't get to decide that you know better than I do, you don't get to hold secrets for them, and you sure as HELL don't get to take them where you please and introduce them to folks to help them find the "right path for them".
This is not an unreasonable decision.
It is the more reasonable one that I can make.
When a scorpion saunters up to your children and asks for a ride across the creek, letting them give it a ride would be the unreasonable decision. When that scorpion makes clear upfront his full intentions to strike and kill your children, you'd have to be, in his beautifully descriptive words for me, a "fucking moron".
The election doesn’t matter. I mean, it does in the short term. Very short. What matters is not who you vote for, though that does matter, but who is your Lord. You want change? You see hate rising? You see depression, racism, poverty, and worse?
Yeah, Man is capable of great evil.
Every single one.
Not just Democrats. Republicans too. And independents.
Christ is the answer.
Not the next politician with their oft empty promises. Not the seminars on anti-racism. Not the lectures on tolerance. Not the new racist business label on Yelp.
Christ is the answer.
On the other side of Biden winning the election is evil people in power. On the other side of Trump winning the election is evil people in power. Socialism? Evil people. Tolerance training? Evil people.
We cannot solve things without solving the true issue.
The human heart. Every one of us is a sinner. No one is good. And no matter what we do, we cannot be good. We just can’t. We can’t help but be a sinner. To be evil. To do bad things.
You need Christ to redeem you and His Spirit to burn out all that wretchedness from inside you. Christians aren’t perfect, but they are being perfected and have submitted to the God of the Universe to get better, to be made better.
And that is all that can make this world better. The only thing.
So the election doesn’t matter. Who you vote for doesn’t matter. The thing that matters is that you take a knee. Ask for forgiveness. For redemption. Salvation. Ask the Maker of your soul to do what He has promised to do. To scoop you up, clean you off, and welcome you into the Kingdom of God.
Something that has struck me in the response of churches to “re-opening”— after having their doors locked by governments in fear of a global pandemic— has been the seeming pushing away of the oldest age bracket and those that are sick.
I’ve heard of churches in Chicago checking temperatures of attenders and turning away those with low-grade fevers. I’ve heard churches warn that the elderly, the weak, the immunocompromised should stay home for the time being.
And nothing about that sounds like Christ. Not for a second. And it’s masked in language of “loving our neighbor,” while sounding like the way the lepers were treated in Christ’s day.
So I am overjoyed to see that Tim Challies, a preacher and author I greatly respect, has seen the same and they are trying to address it within their church’s plan. He writes:
We weren’t far into the planning when we realized the temptation to make plans that were premised upon youth and health—plans that did not account for those who are at the highest risk for COVID-19. We could default to messaging like, “If you are elderly or high-risk, please stay home for the time being.” And while that might be the safe play, isn’t church meant to be the place that deliberately and specifically welcomes the weak?
So they have started to flip the question:
For that reason we’ve begun to prioritize this question: How can we welcome the weak? Instead of assuming the weak should not factor into our plans, we are asking how they might factor first in our plans.
That’s the thing about Christianity. It is counter-cultural. If your plan to re-open church excludes the old, sick, weak, and weary, I might recommend that you dive back into your Bible, because they should be coming first.
Our sorrows are all, like ourselves, mortal. There are no immortal sorrows for immortal souls. They come, but blessed be God, they also go. Like birds of the air, they fly over our heads. But they cannot make their abode in our souls. We suffer today, but we shall rejoice tomorrow.
— Charles Spurgeon
How is your hope this week? How is your peace?
Satan is doing a great job trying to rip all hope from the world. Rip it out and replace it with despair and fear. Fear of our neighbor, fear of our fate, fear of our government, fear, fear, fear.
How is your hope this week?
Christian, we don’t find hope in this world. This world, apart from Christ, is hopelessly wretched. Men? Men fail. That is our defining trait. We cannot put hope in Man, in government, in scientists. Men fail.
No, we Christians find hope in Christ alone. When the world falls apart, Christ doesn’t. He still holds the whole world in His mighty hand. His voice spoke the world into creation! His voice calms the storms! He stood down Death and declared victory!
How is your hope this week?
If it is weak, you may be listening to the world too much. You may be spending too much time watching the news and not enough in the Word of God.
And I get it. I am struggling with this too. I’m now home 24/7. I’m not getting the human contact that my soul desires. My only view out into the world is online and it’s gotten so dark.
Here I type on a glowing screen that gives me access to so much despair. But right next to the app labeled Fear is the app labeled Bible. Go there, Christian. Bring a pillow and a blanket. A warm cup of coffee. Dive deep. Start a new reading plan. God speaks. He wrote this for you. You have no reason to despair. He is on the Throne.
I never learned music theory. And I have discovered since going down this path that most of my fellow guitarists have the same story. I learned chord shapes— never what notes were in a chord and how to get to those notes— and I learned songs. And don’t get me wrong, I loved playing guitar all those years and if you put a chord chart in front of me, I could play along with comfort.
But I never knew my scales, never knew how to solo, never knew what a key was and what chords were in it.
Last year I picked up a ukulele. I wanted one for a while, got some birthday cash, and bought a uke. And then I discovered that there were very few apps for looking up chords for uke. And I, of course, didn’t know how to do it myself. I needed an app. So I decided to build one. Couldn’t be too hard.
I learned how chords work. How they are based on the major and minor scales. A major chord is a formula. The first, third, and fifth notes of the major scale.
This app, Selah Chords, launched late last year and has seen thousands of downloads. Not only does it support uke, but it supports almost anything with strings and frets, from 3-strings up to 7-strings. Add custom tunings or use the built-in ones and it does the work for you in finding dozens of voicings— ways to play a chord— up and down the neck of your instrument.
But that app opened me up to theory. My brain was bubbling. For one, I suddenly understood musical keys. That major scale— take a C major with C, D, E, F, G, A, B— also gave you chords that sounded good together. Specifically— to start with— C major, D minor, E minor, F major, G major, A minor, and B diminished. I got there because of math. Take that, bullies! All of a sudden I could grab an instrument, plug in it’s tuning, and play a chord progression that sounded good. And so I bought a mandolin before launching Selah Chords too.
Much of what went into Selah Chords was under the hood. Hidden, below the surface. I could surface chord intervals— look at the expanded chord library view and you’ll see I III V under major chord, I iii V under minor chord, etc.— and surface the notes in a chord under the charts, but I didn’t want to make Selah Chords into a bloated app. Other apps do that. Tuners, scales, arpeggios, chords, and more all shoved into one small interface. Hard to navigate, ugly, and unusable.
So from day one, Selah Chords was the first app. And this weekend I announced the second app. Selah Scales is coming later this year. And I am learning so much more to build this. Last year I struggled when I was told an F# major seventh chord didn’t have an F in it, but an E#. It did because the F# major scale is F#, G#, A#, B, C#, D#, F. The formula for the major seventh chord is I III V VII, so F#, A#, C#, and F. Now, through math and readability, I’ve come to understand that the F should be rendered E#. Having two F’s— one sharp, one natural— in a key is a no-no. I am now understanding why some scales are rendered only with sharps and others only with flats— double sharps and double flats being the primary reason.
Once again, I can only surface a small fraction of what I have built into the engine, but what you will get in Selah Scales will help you grow musically, give you access to scales you may have never known about— especially if my journey is your journey—, and start to help you find the fascinating quirks of theory that I have come to the hard way— math, crazy scribbles on whiteboards, and rambling insanity that my lovely wife has had to put up with.
When something that you didn’t get before suddenly clicks.
I was told last year, when working on Selah Chords, that the F# Major 7 chord doesn’t have an F in it, but an E#.
Now if you, like me, blinked twice, you might also be a guitar player. Sorry.
I was told this is because the F# scale doesn’t have an F, but an E#. Still didn’t make sense, but because the individual was smarter than me, I made a complex system to fix this and other odd notes with no understanding of why.
Fast forward to today and I’m building a scales ap— #spoilers. And I rendered the tablature for an F# major scale.
F# G# A# B C# D# F
Well, that looks weird having two Fs…
And so it clicked. And now I better understand the “why” and can build a better system to handle these enharmonic notes.
Meditation has become a life hack to the gospel of self-optimization. Akin to an eerie scene from a Black Mirror episode, we’re powered up from meditation and optimized as human capital to increase our net productivity. Meditation apps are just one more tool in our toolbox to help raise a generation of lean, mean, production machines. But it’s having the opposite effect. By forcing even nature’s spacious, awe-inspiring beauty into the claustrophobic confines of personal productivity, we further reinforce the notion that the world revolves around us and our optimized utility. That is a heavy burden indeed, and it’s not making us happier.
The Gospel Coalition
Meditation should not be about you.
One of the earliest forms of mindfulness in the Bible was practiced by Israel’s King David more than 3,000 years ago. When he considered creation around him, unmediated by technology, he contemplated its wonder. David didn’t know then what NASA tells us now about our tiny place in a vast cosmos: We are one of 7.7 billion people who inhabit Earth. The earth and sun are part of the solar system. Our sun is one of at least one 100 billion stars in the Milky Way. The Milky Way galaxy is just one of a hundred billion galaxies in the universe.
A meditation focused on finding one’s better self inside and centering oneself is always going to come up wanting. Why? Because there is no better self inside us. Our best is still like filthy rags. Our hearts are deceitful above all else. Our flesh literally wants that which is against God.
Biblical meditation focuses on God and our relationship with Him. Less of me and more of God. And so, modern meditation is not godly. It is innately selfish and will not produce fruit. It is not compatible with the Bible in any way.
When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon, and the stars, which you have set in place, what is mankind that you are mindful of them? Human beings that you care for them?
We are small. Insignificant to the galaxy. A grain of sand on a beach. But:
Yet you have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings
and crowned him with glory and honor.
You have given him dominion over the works of your hands;
you have put all things under his feet,
all sheep and oxen,
and also the beasts of the field,
the birds of the heavens, and the fish of the sea,
whatever passes along the paths of the seas.
O Lord, our Lord,
how majestic is your name in all the earth!
Our purpose is not found in us. Our meaning is not found in us. Betterment is not found in us. Peace is not found in us. Contentment is not found in us. These things and more are found in the Creator of all things.
I woke to this picture. A picture of a child. And this quote:
“A life is not saved just by letting it be born” let that sit in your conscious.
The clear inference being that this child should have been aborted before he or she ended up in the place he or she is in.
And I wept.
My brother and I were adopted when we were 5 days old. I don't know much about our birth parents but we could have been this child. I could have been this child, told that I would be better dead than poor.
How calloused must you be to say that a child is better off dead? How cold must you be to say that this child is better off dead?
Why not just round them up now? All the orphans, all the foster kids that aren't wanted, all the poor, all the disordered and all the disabled. Round them up, put them in a room, tell them they are going to get a shower. And then gas them.
What the fuck is the difference?
I am not better off dead. This child is not better off dead.
We are not pawns in your fucked up unholy war. No. We are human beings; living, breathing, feeling, created in the Image of God, dignity-deserving human beings.