Five Minute Friday: create

“There will be time to murder and create,
And time for all the works and days of hands
That lift and drop a question on your plate.”

I write lying on my back on an ironing board leaned agains the couch, head down, feet up — thanks SpinningBabies — in hopes of encouraging a stubbornly breech boy to turn and get himself ready to be born. Our ceiling fan and the upper branches of the trees outside the window grow more familiar.

upside down (1)

Other times I’m pre-washing crib sheets and folding diapers and wondering, and if a breech baby is all I have to worry about, how much peace I have!

Yesterday, someone drove a truck through crowds of people in Nice, France, deliberately creating havoc of what should have been a celebration. And I’m in Mississippi creating a nest for a baby.

I don’t know quite how to reconcile the two things, how to consider the world into which this baby will be making his entrance in a matter of weeks, how to think of the likelihood that similar things may be happening in Mississippi before too long, that this baby may one day see, not just hear about, similarly horrible things.

Christ was born, a helpless baby in a world at war with its Maker, born for the purpose of dying a horrific death, born to gain the victory and create a new kingdom.

He did it.

So that however ugly the warfare may look to us, these enemies are fighting in a cause that they’ve already lost. “All things new” is no ephemeral hope, but a certainty upon which we confidently stake our very souls.

So that the peace of this nesting time is no illusion, but a foretaste of glory.

So that I don’t need to be afraid for my baby.

create

Linking up with Kate Motaung and her Five Minute Friday writers to write on her prompt, Create.

©2016 by Stacy Crouch

 

 

 

lament. rejoice.

We’re topping international headlines with our news of racially-charged violence, and I’m remembering how, after 9/11, my family’s Ugandan sponsored child wrote to tell us she was praying for our country: she in whose country the LRA was kidnapping children and brutalizing communities while the world at large barely batted an eye.

rl

I’ve been trying to write some of the grief for days now, but it just keeps piling up: Orlando and Dhaka, Baghdad and Medina, Baton Rouge, St. Paul, now Dallas . . . .

I used to start each semester of college English instruction by sharing two basic premises with my students: “Words are important” and “People are important.” I rooted both of them in the first chapter of John.

Words are important because God calls Himself “the Word.” The Word who was in the beginning, who was with God and was God, through whom all things were made.

Our words, though lesser, also have power to make things, to build up and to tear down. Their meanings and their connotations matter. It matters that we understand why it may hurt to respond, “All lives matter,” when we are told that “Black lives matter.” Both of those statements are true, but in so hastily asserting the universal truth, we may actually seem to ignore the importance of the subset, we may seem to imply that, in the big scheme of things, black lives don’t matter that much.

They matter infinitely. And gay lives matter. Southeast Asian lives matter, and Muslim lives matter. Police lives matter; the lives of the snipers who take police lives matter. And the lives of ISIS operatives and the Orlando shooter also matter.

This is what I mean when I assert that “People are important.” John tells us that the Word became flesh — God became a person — and dwelt among us. The Word who produced the stars ex nihilo put on a body formed of the dust of one tiny planet and ached and sweated and bled with us and for us. He stood outside the tomb of a man he was about to raise from the dead, and He wept for a grief He was about to undo. He was spread upon the cross, laden with the sins of the world, to purchase eternal life for everyone who believes in Him.

People are important because God values people at no mean price: the cost of the blood of His beloved Son. And lives matter eternally because it is eternal life Christ bought for us.

The bombs and the bullets for which we grieve send eternal souls to eternal torment or eternal glory, and if we truly believe in the importance of all lives, this is the message we must be preaching. The wages of sin: death; the free gift of God: eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord (Rom. 6:23).

In Christ, all the barriers come down, the categories marked by hashtags and riots: “Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all” (Col 3:13). Christ was “slain, and by [His] blood [He] ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation” (Rev. 5:9).

He is building a new kingdom; He is making all things new (Rev. 21:5). He promises to wipe away every tear from our eyes (Rev. 21:3) — He’s going to undo this grief — but He is the Savior who wept for the griefs He was going to undo.

Brothers and sisters, rejoice in this hope and grieve with the grieving. We, of all people, can confidently declare that lives matter, and we know the reason why. Share that reason: it matters infinitely.

©2016 by Stacy Crouch

 

 

 

 

 

 

Five Minute Friday (on Saturday): pass

pass1

I looked it up on the computer dictionary: pass. Not because I don’t know what it means, but because it means so many things. All the definitions share this in common: they involve some sort of motion, from point A to point B or beyond.

I could take it a million different ways, but today overcast, and we’re caught up in a million different here-and-now concerns — baby registries and house-hunting and final exams, to name a few — and here’s where I am:
“And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever” (1 John 2:17).

The world is passing away along with its desires. All these things that seem so urgent, the wants of right now . . . passing away. These are for now, but they aren’t for always. In light of today, we have to do and decide for now, but in light of eternity, the color of baby’s bedding, or the numbers of windows on our house, or a graduate GPA will matter not at all.

Last night we joined in David Platt’s Secret Church via simulcast. As he discussed world religions, I remembered an honor’s seminar on world religions from my college days. Particularly, I remembered an essay in which I meditated on Buddhist ideas of impermanence and suffering. Buddhist ideology identifies desire as the root of suffering, and further suggests that desire hurts us because nothing is permanent: we can’t keep the things we want to keep.

So far as it goes, it’s true. The world is passing away along with its desires.

But the Buddha said that cessation of desire was the path to end suffering, while, as Platt pointed out last night, Christianity promises satisfaction of desires — not in this world, but out-of-this-world satisfaction. This world is passing away, along with its desires, but fix your heart and your longings elsewhere.

He makes known to us the path of life. In His presence is fullness of joy. At His right hand are pleasures forever. Pleasures that do not pass away. They abide forever.

pass

Linking up with Kate Motaung to write on her prompt, pass. The “pass” button above will take you to her site.

©2016 by Stacy Crouch

 

Five Minute Friday: surprise

dazzl3Tell all the truth, but tell it slant– 
Emily Dickinson advises:
Success in Circuit lies
Too bright for our infirm Delight

The Truth’s superb surprise
As Lightning to the Children eased

With explanation kind
The Truth must dazzle gradually
Or every man be blind–

I thought of this poem as I read of Paul’s account of his Damascus-road conversion last week: “As I was on my way and drew new near to Damascus, about noon a great light from heaven suddenly shone around me. And I fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to me, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?’. . . . And since I could not see because of the brightness of that light, I was led by the hand by those who were with me” (Acts 22:6-11).

The superb surprise of the Truth caught Paul at high noon, dazzling him with a light greater than the full power of the sun, leaving him — the powerful man who had dragged Christians from their homes and struck terror in the hearts of many — groping for help on a dusty road.

“Who are you, Lord?”
“I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom you are persecuting.”

“I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life. . . . I am the way, the truth, and the life . . . .” (John 8:12; 14:6).

Look slantwise at this splendid Truth, and dazzle your infirm delight with its bright surprise. Fear no blindness — He at whom you look is He who makes blind eyes to see.

“And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb. By its light will the nations walk, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it, and its gates will never be shut by day–and there will be no night there” (Rev. 21:22-25).

Surprise-2

Linking up for Kate Motaung’s Five Minute Friday, writing on her prompt, surprise. The green surprise button will take you to her site.

©2016 by Stacy Crouch

possible: small and glad, day 6

“I dwell in Possibility — / A fairer House than Prose,” quoth Emily Dickinson.

I always stop and look at that juxtaposition: possibility vs. prose. Not poetry vs. prose, nor yet again possibility vs. certainty — negative or positive certainty.

I suspect Dickinson wanted me to look at it. To think that somehow she means poetry and possibility are the same — that in poetry, things are possible which in prose are not. Possibility has more windows and superior doors, she goes on to say, and I wonder about this.

possibility

Poetry is tight, limiting in some ways. And yet it escapes the usual rules of punctuation and syntax and even parallelism. In poetry, you may behave as though “possibility” and “prose” are two of the same sort of thing — which they aren’t — and moreover behave as though the things which both of them are are houses in which one may dwell. In prose, such behavior is nonsensical. And if we’re picking which house to inhabit, possibility or prose, I’m going to pick possibility every time.

Moreover, I think that’s where I do live.

I live in the King’s not-of-this-world kingdom. The kingdom into which entrance is as simple as fitting an ordinary camel through an ordinary needle’s eye.

“Who then can be saved?” the astonished disciples asked. But Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” (Matt. 19:24-26)

In prose terms — dealing with facts and human reality as we know it — no one gets in. But by the grace of God, all things are possible, and through the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous (Romans 5:19).

But Dickinson is wrong about possibility in this one thing: she said “doors,” but there’s only one door here, Jesus Christ, who says, “I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and find pasture” — pasture in possibility! — and who also says, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 10:9, 14:6).

Nonetheless, this one Door is superior. Christ is the door who came to seek and save us — not a door waiting to be found (Luke 19:10). He is the door who comes knocking — inviting us into fellowship with Him (Rev. 3:20).

Come, camel, in through this needle’s eye, and find pasture. In the Father’s fair house, be small and glad with me.

heart string 2

©2015 by Stacy Nott

Five Minute Friday (on Saturday): Yes

“For all the promises of God find their Yes in [Christ Jesus]. . .” (2 Corinthians 1:20).

P1050504

I don’t even have words to follow that . . . all the promises. ALL of them.

The seed of the woman promised to Adam and Eve — to crush the serpent’s head: Yes.

The promise to Noah to never destroy sinful mankind with a flood: Yes.

The promise to Abraham to bless all the nations of the earth through his offspring: Yes.

Christ is the Yes.

When God promises: “I will be exalted among the nations,” Christ is the Yes.

When God promises not to deal with us according to our iniquities: Christ is the Yes.

There is no other Yes but our Jesus, but in Him, gloriously, all the promises find their Yes.

Through Him, then, Amen.

yes1-600x600

Linking up again with Kate Motaung to write on her Five Minute Friday prompt, yes. Click “yes” above to visit her site.

©2015 by Stacy Nott

Five Minute Friday (on Monday): find

So I find it to be a law, Paul says, that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand.

Sin is crouching at your door, the LORD warned Cain. Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it.

You must rule over sin. But you are enslaved to sin, sold and law-bound to keep on sinning, and how is a slave to rule over his master?

He must be set free.

Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! 

Crucified with Christ, the body of sin is brought to nothing, for one who has died has been set free from sin.

Thus we live and walk, no longer slaves of sin, but sons of Almighty God, set free from the law of sin and death, declared righteous, loved with a love from which nothing can separate.

Oh, yes, evil lies close at hand, but there is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

I find this to be good news, indeed.

find-600x600

Today I link up with Kate Motaung and her Five Minute flash mob of writers, writing on her prompt, find. Click the image above to visit her site.

©2015 by Stacy Nott

Thus we