Today's Devotions

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Showcase: Worry

  • Worry +

    Do we trust God to take care of each and every one of our troubles, or do we act like Read More
  • One Prayer Away: Yolanda Adams +

    Yolanda Adams effectively portrays the experiences of brokenness and longing for change I know there are times in your life,When Read More
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music merle watson doc watson 1974 1Well, we just got back from our yearly pilgrimage to the Merlefest bluegrass festival, and it was kind of a different one.

Usually we are there nearly every waking moment – or maybe it just feels that way. I love it there, don't get me wrong... it just seems like an awful long time to be in one place where the quantity of port-a-johns way outnumbers the quantity of indoor "seating." This time, though, rain and cold kept us from sticking it out too long on any given day... which was a little disappointing, but it was fine.

Jim Lauderdale,Jim Bird3SMALL rockin'
a Nudie suit
Anyway, it was the first Merlefest without Doc, its founder and driving force. Sure, he was getting up there, but he was still the benevolent spirit that infused the festival with goodness and mercy. Oh wait, no – that was God. But still, Doc started the whole thing in memory of his late son Merle, and now I guess we're doing it in memory of them both – two musicians who could play the hell out of their guitars.

The musicians who knew Doc best did do a special tribute one night for him, but the rest of the weekend... well, people mentioned him occasionally, but the man they really talked about was George Jones. Maybe because the wound was fresh – we just got word of his passing on Friday. George's music was straight country rather than bluegrass – not exactly the type championed at Merlefest... but as a man, he was exactly the type of guy we're all about.

george jones1960s George Jones,
rockin' a Nudie suit

Jim Lauderdale, a fantastic musician who always comes to the festival, might actually be considered George's "successor." If anyone COULD fill his shoes, Jim could do it. He's got the talent, the charisma, the Nudie suits, the plaintive country twang, and the hard-luck story it would take to live up to George Jones' legacy.

Heck, once I saw Jim play George in a production called Stand By Your Man: The Tammy Wynette Story. His portrayal of the man they call "Possum" was eerily accurate. Jones lived a wild, drankin', partyin' life... His love life was turbulent as well – heck, he was married four times. But of singing, Jones was a master. He could wail and croon... he wrung every bit of emotion out of any song he sang.

More recent george-jones smGeorge
Jones... RIP
And that's why Jim Lauderdale crowned him (in song) The King of Broken Hearts. If you click on this link, you can hear Jim explain the title, and the awesome song.) Oh sure, George Strait tried to sing it, but it was Jim who wrote it and meant it. And during his set at Merlefest, when Jim introduced the song he did so with a quaking voice, full of grief and missing.

He did the song right, though, because he's a great performer. Anyway, I love the title The King of Broken Hearts, but I think it belongs to someone else. Or some One else! And I'm pretty sure you know where I'm going with this... that's right... the Man of Constant Sorrow.* Or as Isaiah called him, the Man of Sorrows. (Isaiah 55:3)

You know – the one who said, "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven." (Matthew 5:33) Yeah, that guy, Jesus. I love Him. He pulled all our sorrow and brokenheartedness onto Himself and bled it out of his own body.** Yeah, it's nasty. But it's altogether real. And wonderful. And scandalous. And beautiful.

XTCI love Him more than I can say, and surely much less than He deserves, this King of Broken Hearts. But no amount of love or "goodness" on my part can make Him love me more, or make Him more concerned about my broken heart. Because it is His first priority no matter what. He was betrayed, beaten, ridiculed, spit on, hung on a tree and stabbed for my broken heart. And for yours.

CHBC ClipOur church has a
generous share
of clip-art-looking
families.
I always loved this verse from a song called The Disappointed by XTC... "The disappointed all congregate at my house." Because it reminds me of church. I go to a church with a wide mix of people, but I'm not going to lie to you – there are some beautiful, well-to-do people in that mix – people that look like they could be clip-art models. I remember once when I was very young, and even more obviously broken than I am now, I was sitting in church and I noticed an extremely handsome, well-dressed man with a lovely family... the look on his face... just full of hurt. I thought to myself, everyone here is sitting on a pile of sh*t. I can't assume that just because they look like they have it together... that they do. Because they most likely don't... otherwise why would they seek solace from the King of Broken Hearts? Of course, that's not the only reason people go to church, but it's a likely one.

He's not judging
not pootyou, he's just
trying not to poot.
Now, I was deep in therapy at this time and sometimes when you get deep in therapy, you get so busy looking at yourself, that you start to think everyone else is fine – that you're the only one who is messed up and needs special consideration. But this subtle event at church marked a distinct increase in the amount of empathy I had for others. Not that I'm not still selfish as all get-out, but now, I tend to give people the benefit of the doubt a bit more than I used to. I mean, I didn't think people were terrible before, I just didn't think of them as flawed creatures that may or may not be hauling around a big suitcase of crap from their past... or, as my friend Grace says – that look on their face may not be a grimace or judgy look - they might just be trying to hold in a poot.

So... anyway... I'm definitely off track now with this... I guess I just wanted to talk a little about George Jones, who I miss – and Jim Lauderdale, who I have a crush on... and The King of Broken Hearts, who is our God.***

*I linked to Ralph Stanley's version of this song because, well, he just sounds more like the title than the smooth-singing Dan Tyminsky who provided the voice for George Clooney in O Brother Where Art Thou. Here's THAT version. If you really prefer looking at George Clooney, here's that one.

**Read Isaiah 55 and John 19 and you'll get the whole picture.

***Okay, one last song, a prayer to the King of Broken Hearts...

http://www.bigmouthagain.com/2013/05/he-talks-to-angels-and-stars-start-to.html

 

Reflections to Consider

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Publications

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Music

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Audio & Video

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Favorites

  • Prayer by Alex Kirk, Chatham Community Church +

    What role does prayer play in our lives? What is prayer, anyway? Alex Kirk, pastor of Chatham Community Church, gives Read More
  • How to be Mary in a Martha world by Jim Abrahamson, Chatham Community Church +

    Jim Abrahamson spoke at Chatham Community Church on an essential of the Christian walk Who/what is our savior? What is Read More
  • Christ the King Sunday by Art Going (Holy Trinity Chatham) +

    A thoughtful discussion of how we function as colonizers for Christ the King.  Read More
  • MY STUPID MOUTH by Steve Tamayo of Chatham Community Church +

    Tremendous sermon on the liabilities of our tongue, both in what we say and don't say. Read More
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Hidden Blessings

  • Witnesses for Jesus by Tim Keller (Mark 15) +

    Tim Keller discusses the significance of the women and men who saw Jesus die, buried, and resurrected.  Read More
  • Prayer-bringing light into darkness by NT Wright +

    NT Wright discusses the importance of prayer in maintaining a relationship with Jesus. Read More
  • After darkness, light-the reformation by Michael Reeves +

    Michael Reeves discusses the transformative power of bringing Jesus to the world at the heart of the Reformation. Read More
  • The Esther Option-Living in a fallen world by Mike Cosper +

    The following is an excerpt from an article on The Gospel Coalition website. Read More
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