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.
LifeHacker has a great article on how to automatically donate a portion of your Amazon Purchases to pro-abortion organizations, so I thought I’d share it with a little help for those of us disgusted by the killing of babies and want to help women and children in need out.
If you’re an Amazon customer and you’re disgusted with the onslaught of [babies], you can set your account to directly support [pro-life] organizations.
Through Amazon’s “Smile” program, you can choose from more than a million non-profit organizations that are qualified to receive a portion of Amazon’s sales in support of their mission.
The AmazonSmile Foundation donates .5% of the purchase price from eligible orders (that’s 50 cents for every $100 you spend), which admittedly is not much. But it does add up; Amazon reports that charities have received nearly $125 million, as of February 2019.
To set up your Smile account, go to the “Accounts and Lists” drop-down menu on Amazon’s homepage and then click “Your AmazonSmile.” From there, you can’t browse a full list of charities, but you can search for an organization to support by entering its name in the search field.
If you are in the Saint Louis area, I highly recommend searching for “Mosaic Pregnancy & Health Centers” in Granite City, Illinois, a great local organization that helps women.
When you’re placing an order, eligible products will be marked “Eligible for AmazonSmile donation” on their product detail pages. For your order to count, you have to place it through smile.amazon.com rather than the regular Amazon homepage.
Go make a difference and support women and children in tough situations.
Many U.S. political leaders may think of abortion as a key “women’s issue,” but it is not an issue about which women have substantially different attitudes than men.
Gallup, June 2018
44% of women identify as pro-life. Look at the comment threads on major news pages and you'll see just as many women as men speaking out against abortion and in support of these recent heartbeat laws.
Gender is not an indicator of whether one will support abortion or not. Worldview is. Religion is.
Don’t let the talking heads stir up a division that doesn’t exist.
This morning I’m reading more about our neighbor state’s abortion bill, which passed the Senate last night. This part makes me so happy to see:
Other provisions in the wide-ranging abortion bill include a ban on abortions based on race, sex or a "prenatal diagnosis, test, or screening indicating Down Syndrome or the potential of Down Syndrome."
Outlawing the systematic eradication of children with Down Syndrome is one of the most appalling things going on in the US. We literally have tests early in a pregnancy to detect potential “defects” that then the doctors use to persuade mothers to kill their children. This bill outlaws that practice. I couldn’t be happier.