Monthly Archives: May 2010

Over ‘n Out

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I’m taking a break. Signing off.

Because I think I have a real problem; I think I might be slightly addicted.

To Facebook… and Twitter.

I truly never thought I would be the person that needed to “fast” from those things– those social media sites that are completely inanimate objects; lifeless potholes to meaningless information about utterly irrelevant things that primarily revolve around self.

But alas, here I am.  Taking a large step back in order to reevaluate how I spend my time, my energy, my effort and trying to determine just where I derive my personal hope, self-worth, and intrinsic-value.  As it stands now, I must admit that Twitter and Facebook have dominated most of these areas as of late. 

While I am embarrassed to admit that I am not strong enough to limit myself and instead need complete and total separation from these things, I am overwhelmingly grateful for two things:

1. The awareness of the toxicity of these outlets.  Not to say that they are inherently evil, but that they can be used and abused, manipulated and misconstrued to be bigger and better than they truly are

2. That my sweet friend Amye is doing this with me; because the reality is, I’m not strong enough to do this on my own.  More importantly, I don’t want to do it on my own.  Perhaps it’s my pride, but I don’t want to be the only one that really needs to do this. So thank you Amye.

So here’s the deal– Amye and I are fasting from Facebook (and Twitter too for me) for the month of June.  No checking newsfeeds. No status updating.  No “relationship status” stalking.

Why? Because I feel like I am going crazy.  And as it turns, I don’t like that feeling. 

So for all the time that I spend on Facebook and Twitter, I am going to spend it elsewhere.  Memorizing scripture, reading books, playing outside, and hopefully writing more here. 

My prayer for this next month is simple– God show me where my worth and value lie; show me how much more satisfying you are than a network of (let’s face it) mostly strangers that don’t see my heart the way You do.  Break off chains of insecurities that have taken deep root where they don’t belong and replace them with the fruits of Your Spirit so that I stop speaking in acronyms (i.e. OMG) and start speaking in truth with grace. 

Amen.

June… you don’t scare me.

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“Bless Your Beautiful Hide”

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My all time favorite musical (technically tied for first with The Sound of Music) is Seven Brides for Seven Brothers.

I owe my appreciation of musicals to my dad.  I wouldn’t know what a “classic” was unless he took the time to watch them with me. He could name nearly every actor and would tell me about the when he watched it for the first time– where he was, how old he was, and who he was with.  What’s even more impressive, he could sing every song. 

Seven Brides for Seven Brothers is the one, of the plethora, that has stuck with me.  There are countless songs and scenes that need to be watched by all.  But, there is one that is epic. The barn-dance scene. 

Please note three very imporant things–(1) Benjamin, the brother in the orange shirt is the one I wanted to marry and (2) I secretly wished I could dance like this and (3) I always wanted one of this puffy dresses.

Inspiration from the “Peak”

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"I am doing a new thing... do you not perceive it?" Isaiah 43:18

Spring is slowly but surely
winning everyday’s battle;
Chasing winter’s cold darkness
with its’ warm light.
Trees are remembering their color,
flowers are awakening their scent.
Buds are blossoming with boldness
and breezes bring refreshing breaths.
All that lay dormant before is arising,
Bringing sure promises of hope, newness and life.
 
Faith is slowly but surely
winning everyday’s battle.
Chasing every lies’ darkness
with its’ marvelous truth and light.
My spirit is remembering His Word
and His Word is awakening my spirit.
Love is blooming new boldness
and His breath brings renewed light.
All that lay dormant in me before is arising,
Brining sure promises of hope, newness and life.

Divine Romance

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I’m not cool. 

I only say that because I go on long walks all by myself for hours at a time, skipping and frolicking about whilst listening to music that I may or may not sing out loud as I pass by innocent people working in their lawns.  Truly.

What is  cool though is how much the Lord meets me there on the pavement; right in the middle of the sidewalk, He whispers my name and takes my hand.

I literally stopped dead in my tracks yesterday as I passed by a recently blossomed crape myrtle. I love crape myrtles and there was a row of 5 of them that lined someone’s fence.  Each was a different, vibrant color and each had their own unique aroma. I couldn’t help myself but to touch each pedal and  smell each bud.

The newness of each blossom made them soft and supple; bright and radiant as the sun showed through them, revealing all the little lifelines breathing vitality into each new pedal. 

Then I came to the last tree with nearly bursting buds, but no blossoms.  They simply weren’t ready yet.  They were still developing– perfecting their pigments and making fresh the fragrance that they would soon release. 

I started to tear up as the imagery resonated with my soul— I’m still just a bud.  Nothing was wrong with that last crape myrtle– it was tall, strong, and healthy.  It was planted in the same soil.  It was watered the same way its’ friends were.  Its’ flowers were still just “in the works.” It will, soon too I think, blossom.  It will radiate the same beauty, just in its own way.  It will release an intoxicating fragrance that will renew and refresh all who pass by.  It’s pedals will be soft and supple, they will be welcoming to gentle touches.  It will serve it’s purpose.  It will be beautiful the way it was created to be. 

I closed my eyes in that moment as I prayed a simple little prayer, “Lord, let me be like this tree.”  As I stood there (probably looking like someone who had escaped the local mental institution) with my eyes closed, the sun sat softly on my eyelids and the breeze rustled the limbs above my head, tickling my imagination with shadows of things to come.

One of the inspiring influences of this moment of divine romance is in part due to Dave Barnes and his killer new album “What We Want, What We Get.”  I highly recommend you get yourself a copy.

One of his songs I repeated… a lot.  It’s called “God Gave Me You.” And while it paints a beautiful picture of a man who is given a wife that truly helps him become the hero he is meant to be, I couldn’t help but hear my heart sing the same song back the Lord. I just changed the lyrics a wee bit. Sorry Dave.

The chorus goes like this:

God gave me you for the ups and downs
God gave me you for the days of doubt
For when I think I’ve lost my way
There are no words here left to say, it’s true
God gave me you

As I listened to the song seemingly endlessly, I sang this:

God gave me truth for the ups and downs
God gave me faith for the days of doubt
And when I think I’ve lost my way
When I have no words left to say; You do
God gave me truth.
 

Is it cheesy? Heck yeah… but that’s how I roll.

Here’s a look and listen at the real deal. Take it away Mr. Barnes…

The “Harm”

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Confession– I tried eHarmony. For about six months.

And I only did it because, as  it turned out, it wasn’t just for freaky-deaky, socially awkward, used-to-be-homeschoolers.  I found out that a lot of my friends were on it and were enjoying their “results” shall we say.  So I gave it a go.

Turns out the world of “eHarmon-izers” is really small. 

I went to the movies on Friday night with two friends of mine from Bible study.  As we were standing in line to get our tickets, I glanced behind me and spotted a young man that was looking at me, or so I thought. 

Huh… he looks really familiar. Why?  Another glance confirmed it. He was my first eHarmony date.

As I chuckled to myself, I told my friends that I had a funny story for them but that we needed to get into the theater first.

As we walked into lobby, Lindsay exclaimed, “OMG y’all, I went out with that guy last week.”

“Which one?” we asked.  Lindsay pointed. 

She pointed to the same guy I went out with.  “Um.. are you on eHarmony?” I asked her.

“Yeah… we went out last week.”

“Welp,” I said, “I went out with him too… in September!  And he told me that he was cancelling his subscription! LIES!  So, how did it go?”

“Not well,” she remarked dryly, “I couldn’t get him to talk!”

“That’s ironic,” I said. “I couldn’t get him to shut up.  Maybe we should start a support group.  I’m sure there are many more just like us out there.”

Evangelistic vs. Missional

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The subject of “evangelism vs. missional” seems to be a regular theme in my surroundings as of late.  It’s appearing in conversations with friends, sermons that I podcast, and even discussions I have had at work (which is normal because I work for a Christian organization, for those of you who didn’t know.)

And it’s got me to thinking about, wrestling with, and trying to conclude what the difference is and why it’s important.  Had you asked me a year ago what the difference was, I would have said there wasn’t one.  However, I am beginning to see that there is.

In terms of how they are defined, here’s are how they’re broken down:

Evangelical– relating to or being a Christian church believing in personal conversion and the inerrancy of the Bible especially the 4 Gospels

Missional– Missional living is the embodiment of the mission of Jesus in the world by incarnating the gospel. “It is imperative that Christians be like Jesus, by living freely within the culture as missionaries who are as faithful to the Father and his gospel as Jesus was in his own time and place.”[5] This embodiment of the gospel is often referred to as “contextualization” or “inculturation.”

There is clearly a stark difference between the two, but I think that maybe, there really shouldn’t be.  If one is believing the Gospel message and one is living the Gospel message, shouldn’t they be interchangeable?

I was reading through James today and the little book is densely packed with this repeating theme: faith without works is dead.”  Over and over again it is stated one way or another that if you have faith in Christ, you will live and He lived and if you live as He lived, your faith is evident by your actions. 

Faith and lifestyle are not only reflections of one another– they are Siamese twins; where one goes, the other follows.

Tim Keller, who is much smarter than me, explains it this way.

Let’s discuss this, shall we? Participation would be greatly appreciated.

Ready? Go.

Reality Demands Fervency

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I am slowly but surely (key word being slowly) beginning to piece some things together… I think.  Remember a while back when I told you how I felt like reality was suddenly screaming in my face it’s pervasive and overwhelming presence?  And remember how well I didn’t deal with it?  “Life” has become clear in that I now see and recognize all the things and all the places in which God and His glory do not reside– areas in which the fruits of His nature and attributes of His character are not abiding.

My initial reaction was fear and trembling, literally.  I fought and wrestled with anxiety I have not known before.  And while, to a certain degree, that reaction might have been warranted, it was not the proper response.

The only response to such realities is a greater fervency– fervency in prayer, fervency in surrender, fervency in worship.  And all of these examples were displayed in Christ and His life on earth as mortal man.

He was fervent in prayer because He understood and felt the weight of humanity. He bore the sin of every person for all time.  He faced every trial, temptation, and test that we would ever know and conquered it, in His human flesh by His divine power.  And what do we read about Him more than any other one attribute or trait? “He went away and prayed.” Read any gospel you choose and you will find it there– Jesus’ unwavering devotion and committment to prayer. 

Perhaps the most beautiful and, simultaneously, excruciating scene in the Bible is not the cross, but the pleading of Christ in the Garden.  Sweating drops of blood, praying with great fear and trembling, physically exhausted, emotionally and spiritually distraught and His response… prayer.  Fervent, desperate, authentic, and utterly humble prayer. Cries, sobs and groaning for another way, a different route.  A last minute pleading for any other form of salvation… and the answer was no. 

Jesus’ fervent prayers resulted in fervent surrender– an obedient and willing availability to sacrifice self for the sake of God’s name and glory; to fulfill prophecy, to save a nation and to redeem creation itself. His surrender serves as an example of what our lives are meant to look like.  If what caused Him to pray ceaselessly, the salvation of souls, and thus prepared Him to willingly surrender Himself as a propitiation for all sin, then we must, we must, realize that if we are to look like Him we will need to surrender as He did. 

Oswald Chambers said it this way: “We have to realize that the identification of Jesus with sin means a radical change of all of our sympathies and interests.” If we are identified with Christ in the weight and gravity of sin, then our response must not be fear or even apathy, but action. Our motives, desires, priorities, relationships, time, etc must be revolutionized; we must be transformed by the renewal of our minds. Such renewal breads the final response…

Fervent worship. 

What other proper response can there be to Christ’s sacrifice for sin and provision of redemption than endless worship?  Were we not made, intended, and instilled with the desire to worship?  I would argue that, even for those who do not believe in God, all humans, every soul, desires to make ultimate something to which they can trust and hope is bigger and better than they are.  Every person wants to know that there is something more powerful than they are that is orchestrating and ordaining every breath that they take; to know that they have purpose and the ability to fulfill that purpose. 

For the believer, we know Whose we are; we know for what we were made.  And if we understand the need for surrender, so that the weight of sin that so easily entangles is loosed, we will unabashedly worship.  We know no other way of loving Christ.  

Two things must happen (in my humble estimation) for such fervency to come about: (1.) We must understand how desperately we need redemption, and (2.) We must catch even a glimpse of God’s glory to understand that He is the only giver of redemption. 

We must first understand and realize the depth of our depravity; the breadth of our sinful nature.  And we must be disconcerted and discomforted by it.  If we are not moved for change and transformation from the inside out, then we will not be compelled to pray as we ought.

Once we understand who we are without Christ’s intervention, we can then more completely surrender our old selves and accept who and what He has beckoned us to become– we will be called by a new name and clothed in robes of righteousness and garments of salvation as it says in Isaiah 61:10 “I delight greatly in the LORD; my soul rejoices in my God. For he has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of righteousness.”

Reality demands fervency.