unstoppable

Have you ever sung a song dozens of times in church it became old? Or sung a song enough to forget the meaning of the song because you are too familiar with the lyrics? Today I was singing a song I’ve sung many times before, but became enraptured by on of the words in the song. The word was unstoppable. It stuck and pierced me to the soul. The object of the song is a beautiful lover. Not any ordinary lover, but a Lover who defines and exemplifies love.

There is no one like our God. Many have come to the realization that God is God and we are not. Moses warned [Exodus 8:10], Hannah prayed [1 Samuel 2:2], David worshiped [1 Chronicles 17:20; Psalm 86:8], Asa reformed [2 Chronicles 14:11], and Jeremiah challenged [10:6-7]. That is why people consider who God is they tend to use absolute terms to describe Him.

He is indescribable, incomparable, unchangeable, uncontainable, unshakeable, and utterly unstoppable. God is as passionately romantic and relentlessly pursues you with His love for His Creation. He bears patiently with tireless compassion despite the ways you ignore His love or neglect to show love for Him. The greatest example of His love is when His Son came down from Heaven as a human to die in my place [Romans 5:8], bearing my wrath, taking my shame, and giving me a new name.

God’s like a freight train with no brakes. He has more compassion than I could ever imagine or comprehend barreling down on us. Whether you acknowledge it now or later. Sooner or later all will know who is greater. His name is above every name, and at His name every knee will bow [Philippians 2:9-11]. There is no like Him. He is unstoppable.

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a concise theology of art

Art moves. Art has the innate ability to captivate your thoughts and stir your emotions. Art encompasses all of your life and the world in which you live. You cannot step outside your home or inside your home without taking in some kind of artistic expression. What is art? What is good art? What is the origin of art?

creativity and beauty is in the eye of the Beholder

Have you ever thought about art being a biblical concept? Have you thought about art origins being God—the first artist? And His Creation and created beings reflect His creativeness? God is an artistic God. He has created a wonder of colorful marvel. From the tiny microbe to the massive mountain ranges to the myriads of stars that glitter the night sky, God is a masterfully skilled artisan. Creativity and beauty reflects your Creator. Art in the Bible can be any creative medium to express God’s character: music, songs, poetry, prose, dance, fashion, sculpting, architecture, interior design, graphic design, drawing, carpentry, even teaching and preaching.

I would define art simple as creating beauty for God’s glory. Man has the ability to create and be creative because he mimics his Creator. The Creator has given His creation the ability to create. Creating for the glory of God is art at its chief and highest purpose.

Francis Schaeffer, the apologist and cultural critic, says art is a reflection of God. He believed that Christian art had a minor theme–the abnormality of the revolting world—and a major theme—the meaningfulness and purposefulness of life. By this definition an artist doesn’t necessarily have to be a Christian in order to produce “Christian art.”

twisted creativity and beauty

“GOD was pleased to make man, and GOD made man with creative capacities. Apart from GOD, man would not be, nor would man have any artistic, creative ability. Therefore, to engage in any artistic expression of man as being apart from GOD, is to both dishonor GOD, the Author of man and artistic expression, and to deny ourselves the full pleasures that GOD has intended for our enjoyment in art; culminating in our enjoyment in Him, through JESUS CHRIST.” – Artist’s Creed

God defines artistic beauty and creativity, but man has perverted and distorted art through sinful intentions and expressions. Any art that does not adhere to biblical guidelines is not for the glory of God. Here are four examples of sinful art.

First, graffiti without permission is lawless. Law considers defacing public property with graffiti vandalism. Now I have seen a lot of graffiti that makes an ugly wall beautiful, but without adhering to the law it is still sinful. Get permission before you paint graffiti.

Second, pornography is not biblical art. There are numerous rationalizations for nakedness being a genuine art form. Yes, man once walked naked in the Garden of Eden, but since the fall of mankind nakedness was synonymous with shamefulness. God, as the first fashion designer, made man clothing to cover their nakedness and shame. What is beautiful about nakedness according to the Bible is sexual intimacy in the context of committed marriage. For more on this check out a great article called, “Art, Nakedness and Redemption”.

Third, blaspheming God in art is more than irreverent it’s unregenerate. Can artists go too far? Absolutely, creating blasphemous or ironic religious imagery crosses biblical standards. In the Law of God given to Moses it says, “You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or serve them.” [Exodus 20:4-5] Then Leviticus 26:1, goes on to say, ”You shall not make idols for yourselves or erect an image or pillar, and you shall not set up a figured stone in your land to bow down to it, for I am the Lord your God.” What is being forbidden is not the creation of all representational art, but what is forbidden is the worship and praise of graven images. When God commanding Moses to create the tabernacle and decorate it with imagery it included representations of “anything that is in heaven” [i.e. cherubim] and of that which is “in the earth beneath” [i.e. flowers and pomegranates). If God were prohibiting the creation of all representational art He would order Moses to disobey his command.

Fourth, artists do not create the rules. The underlying assumption in modern art is that artists are allowed to “create their own rules.” It is a common standard in Western culture that the artist, as an individual creative genius, stands apart from or outside of culture. In other words, the artist has taken the role once reserved for the prophet. However, according to the Scripture we are not autonomous individuals, but persons bound in community. God’s Word is not a private message given to us as individuals to interpret as we choose. It is a guiding text that is given to the church in order that we may live, work, and breathe as the beautiful Bride of Christ. The artist is in the same position as teachers and preachers, who are held to a higher standard because they are entrusted with communicating the truth.

Sin has a tendency of distorting really good things that God intends for His glory. All art must have a biblical standard and framework. This does not mean all art must have be pictures of Jesus or clouds with rainbows, but art must reflect the redemptive purpose of Christ and the creative glory of God [Romans 11:36]. All people should be encouraged to create art that is creative, beautiful, displaying truth. Just as all truth is God’s truth, all beauty is God’s beauty.

“The artist is called and gifted by God—who loves all kinds of art; who maintains high aesthetic standards for goodness, truth, and beauty; and whose glory is art’s highest goal. We accept these principles because they are biblical, and also because they are true to God’s character. What we believe about art is based on what we believe about God. Art is what it is because God is who He is.” – Philip Ryken

creating beauty for the glory of God

Since, a child I have loved art. I learned a lot about art from watching my dad paint and carve wood. My favorite classes in school were art, not because it was an easy A. Even now, I enjoy drawing in my idea book, make a hobby out of writing, dabble in graphic design, and marvel at architecture and nature when I travel. I love to dance, and am moved when I hear my wife sing or play the guitar. Art moves me.

For all eternity, we will be awed by the creative genius’ God has displayed in His creation. I still think the best is yet to come. God will reveal to us the beauty and creativity of the heavens, which captivates our imaginations. God has wired us to enjoy creativity and beauty.

BOOKS ON ART FOR GOD’S GLORY:

ARTICLES ON ART FOR GOD’S GLORY:

SERMONS ON ART FOR GOD’S GLORY

thumb lick thursday [4.21.11]

Parenting Daughter’s
I am only 5 months into parenting a new born daughter. Already I am thinking about that day when I will give her away to a future husband. In preparation for that day Dave Bruskas shares some practical insights about leading his daughter well in the dating season of life.

One thing a parent should never say
Is there a method of parenting that is so effective that it will erase the sin nature in our children? Short answer? “No.” And if you don’t get this, it’s very possible that you’ll expect more from parenting than it can deliver. But here’s the tricky part: parenting matters! It’s possible to be a good parent or to be a terrible parent. Parenting makes a difference! But how much is parenting meant to provide? How much can we actually do for our children?

Why So Many Words in Worship?
Perhaps you’ve wondered why Christian worship is so heavy on words? Perhaps you or your church has been criticized for being too propositional, too auditory, too…wordy. Well, here are twenty-five reasons why verbal proclamation–through the reading, preaching, singing, and praying of the Bible and biblical truth–should have the preeminent place in corporate worship

Why We Sing in Church
Christians sing together during corporate worship gatherings. Colossians 3:16-17 helps us understand why. Paul tells us that worshiping God together in song is meant to deepen the relationships we enjoy through the gospel. This happens in three ways (or three R’s): remember, respond, and reflect.

Matrix Music
I’ve always dreamed about being a DJ. You can spend hours creating mixes on this beat blasting application. Who knows, you might be the next Moby!?

A Beautiful Mind
It is amazing what the human mind can do. In this video a man with a gifted mind is able to draw entire cityscapes from memory by flying over that city for an hour in a helicopter. The drawings are precise, almost perfect.

limits, sleep, gospel song

Limits

It is okay for me to have limits–God doesn’t. It is okay to get a good nights sleep–God doesn’t sleep. It is okay for me to rest–God doesn’t need to. We don’t know a lot about what heaven looks like, but this much we know: God is not pacing the throne room anxious and depressed because of the condition of the world. He knows, He is not surprised, and He is sovereign. It is okay for me to have limits. He is able. – Richard A. Swenson, The Overload Syndrome, p.37

Humility

Humility, rightly understood, shouldn’t be a fabric softener on our aspirations. When we become too humble to act, we’ve ceased being biblically humble. True humility doesn’t kill our dreams; it provides a guardrail for them, ensuring that they remain on God’s road and move in the direction of His glory. – Dave Harvey, Rescuing Ambition, 14

Cross

Every time we look at the cross Christ seems to be saying to us, “I am here because of you. It is your sin I am bearing, your curse I am suffering, your debt I am paying, your death I am dying.” Nothing in history or in the universe cuts us down to size like the cross. – John Stott, The Message of Galatians, 179.

Sleep

Your sleep tonight will be a small but real fact of faith. You’ll lay your full weight on a bed, trusting this structure to support you. You can fully relax, because no effort at supporting yourself is required; something else is holding you up. And in the same way, throughout the night sleep, Someone else is sustaining you. This is a picture of what it’s like to belong to Christ. – C.J. Mahaney, Humility: True Greatness, 85.

Gospel Song

spiritual vitality, cross and tongue, peace of mind

spiritual vitality

When people lose their global vision, they begin to lose their spiritual vitality. And of course all this affects their values. – Tom Julien, Antioch Revisited, 23.

cross and tongue

When the message of the Cross captures our hearts and captivates our imaginations, our tongues, stammering, halting, insulting, awkward, sarcastic, imperfect as they may be, won’t be far behind. As Jesus said, “Out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks.” [Matthew 12:34] – Mark Dever, Nine Marks of a Healthy Church, 144.

what’s to come

Christianity is not finally about anesthetizing us to life’s pain, or even about waking us up to it and teaching us to live with it. it is about teaching us to live with a transforming longing, with a growing faith, with a sure and certain hope of what’s to come. – Mark Dever, The Gospel and Personal Evangelism, 35.

The gospel, you see, is not simply an additive that comes to make our already good lives better. No! The gospel is a message of wonderful good news that comes to those who realize their just desperation before God. – Mark Dever, The Gospel and Personal Evangelism, 40.

peace of mind

get off your pedestal

This weekend I graduated from Faith Bible Seminary with a Master of Divinity. Sounds important, eh? No, I am not more divine! It was quiet the accomplishment 6-years in the making. I started taking classes in 2004 at BBS and finish the last 3 years at FSB. I am grateful for the spiritual growth from digging deep into God’s Word. However, the more that I study God’s Word the more I have come to realize and appreciate that there is a whole lot more to know about God and His Word. I have just touched the base of the mountain of God’s glory in His Word. I cannot wait to spend the rest of my life unpacking and applying His Truth to my life.

Now it could be really easy to sit on top of my puny pedestal boasting and bragging about my brains, brawn and bucks. Sure I might have expanded my brain since pre-school with books, papers, and higher education, but that doesn’t give me the right to flex those intellectual muscles [personally, I think they are quite flabby].

What does it mean to brag and boast? To think you are above others in attitude and action. Sure you may have Bucks, Brains or Braun, but compared to whom? Where is the ultimate source of all things? What about boasting in God?

This is a reason why most rap music drives me bananas. Some rap artists would say boasting about yourself is built into rap. It’s common for a rap artist to talk up his skills, his money, or his sexual conquests. Even some Christian rappers jump on the boasting bandwagon. However, there is some radical rap that rocks the name of Christ:

What is a boaster and bragger to do? Turn boasting about your own greatness into boasting about God’s greatness: “Let him who boasts boast in the Lord” [2 Corinthians 10:17]. Paul even went as far as to boast in how weak he was, because he knew God’s strength could fill in for his own failure [2 Corinthians 12:5].

I can’t claim bragging rights about everything I’ve done, am doing, or will do in my life [cf. Philippians 3:1-11]. Any accomplishment I claim must give glory to the God who is the source. Compared to God I see my imperfection and His perfection. Compared to God I see His holiness and my need for forgiveness. Compared to God I can only claim bragging rights about God. As Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 1:29-31: “It is because of [God] that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. Therefore, as it is written [in Jeremiah 9:24]: “Let him who boasts boast in the Lord.”

We see in these three short verses that God’s source of any significant spiritual change. “It is because of [God] that you are in Christ Jesus.” God Himself is the means and motivation for our salvation. He has claimed me, He called me, He comforted me, and by the faith “in Christ” He has given me salvation.

Now the Corinthians Paul was writing to were know for their boasting in wisdom. The Corinthians were consumed with wisdom, which they seemed to have equated with their salvation. However, Paul poo-poo’s their pride party by repeatedly emphasizing that Jesus Christ is God’s wisdom. If you love wisdom, you will love Jesus. Why? Because in Christ, God gives us “righteousness, holiness and redemption.”

In those three words [righteousness, holiness, and redemption], God has given us in Christ a reason to boast. First, righteousness is a legal metaphor meaning in Christ believers have been declared innocent of sin. Second, holiness is a religious metaphor meaning that in Christ believers are been set apart like God. Third, redemption is a marketplace metaphor meaning that in Christ He has purchased my freedom from the power of sin.

When I look at all that God has done for me in Christ I am awed. And so should our response be, “Let him who boasts boast in the Lord.” I have nothing to boast about before God, except what God has done for us in Christ. He is the source of all my bucks, brains and brawn. Only God is the omnipotent and omniscient Creator. He is the means, source and end of all things [cf. Romans 11:36].

“Let him who boasts boast about this: that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight,” declares the Lord.” – Jeremiah 9:24

The Gift of Worship

Worship
Worship s a huge thing.
We look forward to worship every week.
When the music includes one of our favorites, we say, “The worship was great!”
When the music stinks, we yawn and wonder why the worship wasn’t very good.
We leave churches because of the “worship style”.
Worship s a huge thing. 
 
Have you ever wondered if we’re more concerned with what worship does FOR us
And less concerned with the Object of our worship?
It seems like it’s more about what we GET not what we GIVE.
It would be like taking a gift to a friend’s birthday party, but keeping it for ourselves.
 
Worship is all about GIVING our lives (again) to God. 
Worship is not about the feeling we receive when we sing.
Worship is not about convincing God to bless us.
Worship is not about whether or not the guitar is too loud.
Worship is not about what’s happening on the stage.
Worship is not about entertainment, lighting or sound.
 
Worship is not about us at all.
IT’S NOT ABOUT US.
It’s about Him.
And we enter through the gateway of the cross.
At the cross, we surrender, love, cry, dream, give up, shut up, kneel, confess.
We look to God, and place Him about all else
Because He is worth it! 
 
Live gets crazy and painful.
No one can deny that.
Job stress, divorce, death, addictions, parenting, loneliness.
No one is asking you to pretend that those things aren’t affecting you.
DON’T PRETEND.
You’re just being invited to bring that stuff to the cross, and to simply gaze at Jesus.
And as you look at Him, allow your response to be
Worship 
 
-unknown
 
 

entertainment

What kinds of movies, TV, music, books, etc., can a Christian enjoy and still be honoring to God? No other issue has been the source of more debate and friction between Christians in our media-saturated and pleasure-seeking society. This issue has been the source of so many legalistic rules in an attempt to keep Christians from being contaminated by the world.

Some Christians say we should avoid movies altogether; others would say G-rated ones are acceptable, and others say that you can watch whatever you want. Christians are far too loose on their entertainment standards, but on the other hand, many others overreact to the dangers of modern media by setting up rules that “go beyond what is written.” Can we understand these issues in a way that avoids extremes and maintains a biblical balance?

If someone were to approach me and say that I were in sin for watching and promoting the movies list in my blog or shelved in my personal library then I would say, “Let’s look at the heart.” Is what your are convinced in the heart to be sinful or evil what I should be convinced is sinful or evil? Is there law or liberty on this issue?

The Bible offers very few specifics on the issue of media/entertainment. Here there is no easy answer. It is a matter of “the heart”—a term which the Bible refers to as the “inner man,” where we think, desire, worship, and make decisions (“mind” and “will” are aspects of the heart; Gen.6:5, Prov.4:23, 23:7). Jesus says that “whatever goes into the man from outside cannot defile him,…that which proceeds out of the man, that is what defiles the man.” (Mk.7:18-21) He then goes on to say evil comes “from within, out of the heart.”

What I take into my eyes and ears can definitely tempt and influence me, but it cannot necessarily cause me to sin. Why take the risk then and use my liberty to watch an R-rated movie I know will have violence, vulgar language, etc? To this there is no easy answer.

There is nothing inherently wrong  or evil about some of the media people enjoy today, and there is nothing wrong with enjoying it merely for entertainment. Ecc.9:9 tells us to “enjoy life” and throughout the book to “eat, drink and be merry”, of course we are to enjoy life within the moral confines of the Scripture. Now if the entertainment is causing you to be desensitized by sin or tempting you to do evil them it should be avoided altogether. And such verses have been used offensively, “avoid of the appearance of evil”, and do not be conformed to the world,” which both of these verse are primarily targeting the heart/mind rather than appearance.

Media and entertainment can be used for godly purposes. Even Hollywood produced TV, movies and music can be a great platform for sharing the gospel. I have often used movie clips and songs from today’s popular culture to share biblical truth. Both the strength and weakness of secular media can be useful tools for building an unbelievers (and believers) understanding of biblical truth. I have been encouraged to hear from a few teens after using a secular song to amplify a biblical truth that later when they were listening to secular radio and heard the song they were reminded of the biblical truth.

Most Christians can enjoy the music of Mozart and Tchaikovsky even though one was a libertine and the other a homosexual. So why can’t we enjoy modern media even though they are ungodly? To His people God “has given wisdom and knowledge and joy, while to the sinner He has given the task of gathering and collecting so that he may give to one who is good in God’s sight” (Ecc.2:26). The abilities that unbelievers have been given to them by God and can be used for His glory even though they do not give credit to God for their gifts and use them with evil intentions. This does not mean all of the unbeliever’s media is for Christians to enjoy, but it is certainly reasonable to assume some of it is.

The movies I enjoy and promote illustrate biblical principles. Now I am guilty of watching far too many movies that I would be ashamed to admit I have watched and enjoyed. For these I have repented. I know it is my responsibility to be wise and careful what I take into my eyes, and discerning about the trust and error depicted in movies and TV. If there are movies in the list that offend another Christian and cause them to have a tarnished view of my walk with God. Then I must ask, “Who are they to judge?” And do they know my heart?

The 7 E’s of Entertainment(by Dave Swavely):

Exalt God. 1 Cor.10:31; Mt.4:10, Lk.4:8; Rom.14:6, 1 Thess.5:18

Exercise biblical discernment. 1 Thess.5:21; Phil.4:8

Expose evil rather than enjoy it. Eph.5:10-12

Economize your time. Eph.5:15-16

Edify your brothers and sisters. 1 Cor.14:26, 8:13; Rom.15:2, 14:13; Lk.17:1-2

Excise anything that tempts you to sin. Mt.5:29-30; Rom.13:12-14

Eliminate anything you’re not sure about. Rom.14:23

now HE is BIG

I love cool stats. It’s weird, I know. Sometimes, I remember stats that are just plain stupid. Like, last year only 12% of americans bought cars with stick shifts. I drive stick, but who gives a rip.

I was attracted to this set of stats today:

If you were to hold out a dime at arms length, the coin would block out 15 million stars from your view, if your eyes could see with that power.

To help us grasp the vastness of our galaxy, one scientist suggests we imagine a smooth glass surface. Shrink the sun from 865,000 miles in diameter to two feet and place it on the surface. Using this scale, Earth would be 220 paces out from the sun, and would be the size of a pea. Mars, the size of a pinhead, would be 108 paces beyond Earth. But to reach Neptune, youd need to step off another 6,130 paces from Mars. By now you would be five miles from the sunbut there still wouldnt be room on the glass surface for Pluto! And you would have to pace off 6,720 miles beyond Pluto to reach the nearest star. Yet, this glass model represents only a tiny fraction of the universe.

WOW, my God is BIG. Though He is BIG, and when I think about this I feel small…He still cares for me more than all His creation. Glory to God!!!

 

A Fitting Worship Song

The splendor of a King, clothed in majesty 
Let all the earth rejoice 
All the earth rejoice 
 
He wraps himself in Light,
and darkness tries to hide 
And trembles at His voice 
Trembles at His voice 
 
How great is our God,
sing with me How great is our God,
and all will see How great,
how great is our God 
 
Age to age He stands 
And time is in His hands 
Beginning and the end 
Beginning and the end 
 
The Godhead Three in One 
Father Spirit Son 
The Lion and the Lamb 
The Lion and the Lamb 
 
Name above all names 
Worthy of our praise 
My heart will sing 
 
How great is our God 
How great is our God,
sing with me How great is our God,
and all will see How great,
how great is our God 
 
Behind the Song:”Another simple song that started from the thought of Gods greatness and presence. I love how Psalm 104 writes that he wraps himself in light My hope is that it is simple enough to sing, yet profound enough to cause the heart and soul to stand in wonder. Ive already been overwhelmed from the response Ive seen from this song.” – Chris Tomlin

love

Today is the famed day of love. Valentines Day. I cannot help but think of the One who created and defined “love”.

I read somewhere that the words to this song were penciled on the wall of a narrow room in an asylum by a man who supposedly was demented, and they were discovered after his death. He was not demented at all. He had learned one of the most precious truths of all time, that God’s love is infinite. We can no more exhaust it than we can empty the ocean with a bucket. And we are invited to keep drawing from His inexhaustible supply. To do so will enable us to keep extending love to those around us even when our love is not returned.

F. M. Lehman, The Love of God, 1917 

  1. The love of God is greater farThan tongue or pen can ever tell;It goes beyond the highest star,And reaches to the lowest hell;The guilty pair, bowed down with care,God gave His Son to win;His erring child He reconciled,And pardoned from his sin.
    • Refrain:Oh, love of God, how rich and pure!How measureless and strong!It shall forevermore endure—The saints’ and angels’ song.
  2. When hoary time shall pass away,And earthly thrones and kingdoms fall,When men who here refuse to pray,On rocks and hills and mountains call,God’s love so sure, shall still endure,All measureless and strong;Redeeming grace to Adam’s race—The saints’ and angels’ song.
  3. Could we with ink the ocean fill,And were the skies of parchment made,Were every stalk on earth a quill,And every man a scribe by trade;To write the love of God aboveWould drain the ocean dry;Nor could the scroll contain the whole,Though stretched from sky to sky.

 

 

     

 

1,000 Tongues

Have you ever had an amazing time of worship while driving in the car, standing in the shower or mowing the lawn? I love finding the unique and simple ways to worship God. I had one of those moment today while cleaning my house. Crazy, I know, especially when I despise dusting, mopping and doing the dishes.
 
I cranked my Passion ’06 CD and scrubbed-scrubbed-scrubbed all the while belting out praises. I wish I could sing. Someday I will sound like Josh Groban!?
 
Anyways, the CD ran out of tracks. It didnt loop so I started singing songs off the top of my head that I knew enough from memory like…All in All, You Are Holy, Famous One, It Is Well, etc. But one song made me think…O for a Thousand Tongues to Sing.
 
This is a standard hymn written by the ol’ Charles Wesley. I sang this a gajillion times in church growing up. There is nothing impressive about the number 1,000. I mean a thousand is not that big. I have been in churches where there have been a few thousand singing. Sure its awesome, but nothing compared to the millions and millions of voices before the throne of heaven. So I did a little research on the song with the help of modern day worshipper Matt Redman.
 
The phrase, “O for a thousand tongues to sing” doesn’t refer to 1,000 individual singers, but A SINGER who desires to have 1,000 tongues to sing praises to his redeemer. Wow, this truth has given a whole new meaning to this song for me.
 
“Hear Him, you deaf; His praise you dumb, your lossened tongues employ;
You blind behond your Savior come, and leap you lame, for joy!”