November 30, 2010

Winter Snow

Winter is my favorite season. I have always wanted someone to use winter in a positive way in a song, instead of using it as a symbol of negative times (though I understand the association).

Then I found Audrey Assad, who on her first CD has songs about two of my three favorite things aside from my Saviour... one of them being snow. When you combine snow, the Lord, and musical and lyrical talent this it what you get:

November 24, 2010

A Long Journey

C.S. Lewis's dedication in at the beginning of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (spacing of phrases for effect by me):

My dear Lucy,

I wrote this story for you, but when I began it I had not realized that girls grow quicker than books. As a result you are already too old for fairy tales, and by the time it is printed and bound you will be older still.

But some day you will be old enough to start reading fairy tales again.

You can then take it down from some upper shelf, dust it, and tell me what you think of it. I shall probably be too deaf to hear, and too old to understand a word you say, but I shall still be

your affectionate Godfather,
C.S. Lewis

I have always loved fantastical adventure stories. The Chronicles of Narnia, The Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, His Dark Materials, and The Dark is Rising are all book-spanning epics that I've enjoyed and re-enjoyed at some point in my life (I'm reading Narnia again this week). One of the things I love about these books is how the stories and characters develop over time and through experiences, and when you reach the end everything is packed with meaning obtained from what has happened.

What I want to talk about though, is the sense of adventure. There is something large at stake in all these stories. There are struggles, fights, deaths, adventures, victories, injuries, healings, prophecies, promises, friendships, and all sorts of very significant and thusly emotional happenings. I get caught up in the drama and significance of it all.

Something that I feel most people share with me when it comes to enjoy works of epic fantasy is the worlds they happen in are not "ordinary" like our own. There's a sense of freedom from the constraints of our particular society that we often believe limit the possibilities of adventure.

There was some point in the last two years where I had a subtle revelation that has developed more and more clearly since. As I got serious about my walk with God, life began to get much more meaningful. There was much more significance to each of my actions and words than there had been before, and as I realized this I thought of my favorite stories. Everyone in them lives in a world that is not ours, or is at least drawn into others that are not. The assumption of a lack of significance is one that I made for a long time; while I still very much enjoy the stories I do not look down on my own journey and fight that I am living out. Christ has made sure that my life is anything but insignificant, and I would do well to remember this on a regular basis.

I am a son of the Most High God, who created this world. I am a co-heir with his Son, Jesus Christ.
That same Jesus Christ gave his life for me, in a way that was less like throwing himself in front of a bus and more like standing in front of firing squad that I very much deserved.

I am more than a conqueror through Christ. Not in the sense that Alexander or Napolean was, but in terms of fighting for the Kingdom of God. Since I am more than Alexander or Napolean, if I heed the call of God in my life I will have a significant eternal effect on the state of things; Alexander and Napolean only had temporal ones.

I am literally fighting "against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms" (Ephesians 6:12).

Every true Christian is in the same situation. If we are to take the Word of God seriously, then we must consider the true significance of who we are. We must take into account the weight and importance of what we do. Somewhere in the Lone Islands, or in Lyra's Oxford, or in the Shire, the fairy tales are not of magic and talking animals...

They are about a boy passive about his holy inheritance until he was awakened by the Spirit of the King, and his Brothers and Sisters fought and grew alongside him as he learned about his King. They are about a boy who falls seven times and seeks to get up seven times, a boy who seeks to wield the Sword of the Spirit with ever great skill, a boy who hates nothing more than the suffering of others. They are about a boy who fights against enemies who attack his family, his friends, and himself.

The stories are about a boy who does not always remember who he is, even though he was told to do so from a young age. They are about a boy who through his own weakness is shown the awesome power of his Father.

Much of the story before the end is still unwritten, but the end is known even by the boy. That gives him hope for the future, because he knows that however dark things get, however fierce and fatal the battle, however alone he feels, his King Most High has won and is bringing him home.

If you see this boy forgetting who he is, remind him. He will appreciate it.

November 20, 2010

Humility is not Fun

This semester I've been praying for Jesus to humble me. He has and is continuing to do so.

Earlier this semester God opened my eyes to some things I had given up on, some areas in my life I had become complacent. He showed me that I'm still depraved. I've responded to that by rising up again against my "Philistines" that I have to keep fighting over and over again.

The roughest lesson, though, has been in the past several days. I've been sick for four days now, and it has made me quite cranky and short-tempered. If you couldn't tell, it's because you couldn't hear what was going on in my head and missed the times I actually got miffed.

Being sick has also been an obstacle to my "running the race," to use the 1 Corinthians 9 metaphor. I've let myself become apathetic and distracted by my sickness, using rest (which you need when you're sick, don't get me wrong) as an excuse not to run after God. The result is that not only am I physically uncomfortable, I'm also spiritually lacking. And boy, do I feel it.

This sickness has also provided a great reality check. I've been leading small groups of friends in worship sessions, singing and playing my guitar. We had one of these sessions planned recently, and I talked to my friend Chris about a change in plans because I was sick. His response was frank and very true: "Don't cancel it. It's great to have you singing to lead worship, but ultimately it's about God and not you." He phrased it gently, but I reacted negatively to the truth that was in what he said. That's when I realized that worship leading had already started to go to my head. I foresee more humility in my future.

I've learned that if you ask God to humble you, he's not just going to magically put a feeling in your heart. With me at least, he has put me in situations where my human nature and rough edges are set very clearly before me. I can either let this discourage me more or pray for strength and fight against my flesh. One of the reasons I like having this blog is because now I'm accountable to each of my readers to do the right thing. Humility is not fun, but it's good.

To be honest, I'm still in this slump I've mentioned. I'm exhausted, but before I went to bed I wanted to see about jump-starting my comeback by confessing this to anyone with an internet connection. Perhaps "jump-starting" isn't the right phrase... I think writing about this situation honestly is a sign that I want to make the right choice. By this point, I've seen the blessing of obedience consistently enough that I know walking in obedience and swallowing my pride is not only the right thing to do, but it feels much better than wallowing in self-pity and letting my wounded pride fester.

November 14, 2010

Keeps My Heart Intact

Before I do Milk and Meat [Part Two], I want to share my heart a bit with anyone who's reading.

I have shied away from writing about my personal experiences a bit in the past year or so, due to the fact that there are people in my life and God often uses them to teach me things. Most times, I refrain from writing about something that would better be left unpublicized.

I've neglected, though, to write about the things that God's doing in my life that can go public; and, for the purposes of this blog (e.g. to glorify God) they should!

Soon, I'll be posting about the small group I'm assistant-leading and my relationships with the guys there; I'll write about the Ecumenical Retreat I had the honor of planning with many others, and how amazing the implementation of it really was; how God has blessed me with great personal growth through my relationship with my dad; my journey as a songwriter who wants to be humble, go big for the Kingdom, and write lyrics from God; my witnessing experiences, which I am hope in increase in number and magnitude; my lessons learned as I approach my post-undergrad future, whatever it holds; lessons and blessing received from being a Compassion International sponsor for a tall Indian kid name Mumoorthi Mani; and the ways my mind is blown as I read the scriptures and the works of Lewis, Bonhoeffer, Piper, and Alcorn among many others.

The point is: there's quite a lot going on with me, in really good ways because I have a really good God. I want to share this more readily. I'll definitely continue to post my thoughts on scripture, but be on the lookout for more about my walk with my Saviour who really keeps my heart intact... which is a big job to take on.