Witnesses…

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. Hebrews 12:1 NLT

One of the amazing things about the journey of faith is that it is not done in isolation. There are always others involved. Sometimes a church community, sometimes a few friends, sometimes authors and songwriters and artists. Sometimes, you don’t have the faintest clue about how you’ve impacted the faith journey of another.

Andrew Peterson wrote this about the death of another singer/songwriter named Rich Mullins, whose music had a great impact on Peterson:

 Three Days Before Autumn, A cold winter came
Blew in on a telephone cord, when my friend went away
And I swear I heard thunder at the sound of his name
And he never even knew me at all,
But I loved him the same

(Andrew Peterson, Three Days Before Autumn

The first time I heard that song I was struck by the lines, “And he never even knew me at all, but I loved him the same.” I knew just what Peterson was saying. There are so many who don’t know I exist, but whom I love. I could make a list of preachers whose words have taught me from afar: Erwin McManus, Bruxy Cavey, Rob Bell, Andy Stanley, Christine Cain, Barabara Brown Taylor, John Ortberg – to name a few, and in no particular order.

I could make another list of singers, songwriters and bands whose music have brought me through the various dark nights of my soul: Ginny Owens, Michael W. Smith, Caedmon’s Call, Nichole Nordeman (who featured in yesterday’s post), Larry Norman, Third Day, Casting Crowns.

All of these speakers and singers have been witnesses – surrounding me with works telling of God’s love, God’s mercy, God’s grace. God has used each of them to teach me, to encourage me, to continue the process of faith formation in me.

But when it comes to Andrew Peterson – well, he’s kind of my favourite. There’s something about the lyrics he writes and the way he composes music. I can’t tell you exactly what it is – all I know is that his music speaks directly to me. I’ve never seen him perform live, I’ve never really interacted with him. He doesn’t even know me at all. But I love him the same.

So I am excited (so excited!) for his new cd, The Burning Edge of Dawn, to release on October 9th. If you’re interested, go to the Rabbit Room website – you can pre-order the cd (and receive an instant download of three of the songs from the album -they’re beautiful!). You can also poke around the site and find many other witnesses whose art, music, and writing may just point you to God’s love, God’s mercy and God’s grace.

On your journey, may you also be surrounded by witnesses whose encouragement will help you run with endurance the race that God has set before us.

The Burning Edge of Dawn

Season’s change…

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It’s been a long while – too long a while – since I posted on my blog. Summer is an easy time to be distracted by other things – the slower pace, the gorgeous weather, books to read, movies to see, ice coffees to be sipped. And I fully admit to having spent a season of distraction.

But today is September first. September means the beginning of fall (I know it doesn’t officially begin until late in the month!). All the stores are suddenly stocking sweaters and boots and scarves. The decor sections are festooned with golden and burnt orange and crimson leaves. There are back-to-school supplies EVERYWHERE.

The season is changing. Fall has always held a special place in my heart. There is something a little sad, and a whole lot beautiful about this season. There is a wistfulness in the loss of Summer and the approach of winter. There is a glory in the colors that explode on the trees and the bounty of harvest as all becomes ripe for the feast.

The truth is – every season has its beauty, it’s gifts, if one will open their eyes to see them.

I love what Nichole Nordman sings in her song, Every Season: “Still, I notice You when change begins, and I am braced for colder winds…”

The “You,” of course, is God. And if we would open our eyes – He is indeed all around. Present in every season. Palpable in the beauty of creation, unmistakable in times of joy, consoling in times of loss, sometimes silent in times of struggle, but always, always, always WITH US.

So as the season changes, I pray that you and I will open our eyes. That we will see God all around us. That our hearts might be strengthened and our faith deepened by all places that we notice Him.

I can never escape from your Spirit!
I can never get away from your presence!
If I go up to heaven, you are there;
if I go down to the grave, you are there.
If I ride the wings of the morning,
if I dwell by the farthest oceans,
even there your hand will guide me,
and your strength will support me.
I could ask the darkness to hide me
and the light around me to become night—
but even in darkness I cannot hide from you.
To you the night shines as bright as day.
Darkness and light are the same to you.
Psalm 139:7-16 NLT