March 10, 2011

Stressful Idols

While I never thought badly of our modern habit of calling things "idols" which are not in fact wooden statues, lately I wondered if the Bible ever used the word to describe devotion to money, comfort, or something else that can take over our focus from God. I am always made much more comfortable with a concept or practice once I am able to find it in scripture. As a side note, the Bible never actually says you must pray with your eyes closed! Not that it's wrong in any way (it does help eliminate distractions) but know that you've got options. Obviously, that's a pretty minor point.

My answer about the use of the concept of idols came in Colossians 3:5-6:
5 Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. 6 Because of these, the wrath of God is coming.
Paul is specifying greed here, and greed is an especially appropriate one to call an idol. The love of money is warned against several times in Paul's writings (1 Timothy 6:10, "a root of all kinds of evil," Hebrews 13:5 also). While the others are not specifically called idols, I think the concept can be applied.

That said, I recently had a very beneficial growing experience regarding idols. I was the sound designer for a show going up on the big stage in the theater building; and the nature of the show made it very sound-heavy. Thusly, I had a lot of work to do. Given my predisposition to be very deadline-focused and care a lot about doing things correctly, I started to stress out fairly often either about about the project in particular or how busy I was in general.

I started to react to this in a good way, though I couldn't at that point articulate exactly what I was doing. Whenever I would feel stressed (as in actively worrying, tightening up, et cetera) I would stop what I was doing and pray or read scripture or something along those lines. Once I did this by deciding to attend a weekly prayer gathering sponsored by our InterVarsity chapter; I had been planning on missing it to get work done, but began to stress out, so I went. It finally boiled down when I articulated it to a friend: when I find myself worrying, it means I have taken my focus off of God and am not believing his Gospel and the truth about my life and his promises. So, whenever I stress out it is a sign to stop and get re-focused on the right things.

I was able to put this into great usage over the next few weeks. When the first night of technical rehearsal hit, there were a lot of things that went wrong on my end that involved me running up and down two flights of stairs repeatedly over an hour to fix things. Through this, even though things were going pretty badly, I never got truly stressed. Even though I was out of breath, I had a tight hold on God's perspective and promises for my life. It was a really amazing thing.

I'm hoping to keep this habit up. Now I'm choosing not to stress over planning my Appalachian Trail hike, which has much higher stakes for me than the sound designing did. I'm thanking God that he taught me that lesson and that by his grace it's sticking; it certainly has made me much more effective to do well in his Name.

March 8, 2011

I'm Sorry, but... There's Another Blog In My Life

I have another blog now. Not instead of this one, but for different purposes.

As many of you know, I am (God willing) hiking the Appalachian Trail in it's entirety. There's been a recent change of plans, and instead of hiking North-South starting in late June I will be hiking South-North starting May 12th.

About a year after I got the idea to hike the trail, I decided I wanted to use this feat to raise money for a worthy cause that would help out those less fortunate them I am. To document both the fundraising experience and the hike preparation experience (as well as the hike experience, eventually) I have started a blog called 2181 Miles for Water.

As it is also serving the purpose of advertising for the charity, I won't be intentionally spiritual in that blog... but sometimes you just can't keep God out of the story.

March 7, 2011


This happened nearly a year ago.

I had just heard a message on Jacob's wrestling match with God, and how God gave him a new name and a limp. His new name, Israel, means "he struggles with God." I was going through some difficult things at the time, and in a time of prayer afterward I asked God to give me a new name... whatever that means today.

A few days later, a friend and I were discussing how we deal with our relationships with women. I am by no means a Master of Communications With Females (as soon as you start to consider yourself one you crash and burn), but I find that I have some good things I can impart to my fellow men on the subject. After hearing about how I have dealt with some situations in the past, he was impressed with my ability to reason through these situations and handle myself confidently. I think my biggest advantage is that I know how to be friends with women.

"Courage. That's your new name. I'm gonna call you Courage," my friend said. My friend who hadn't been at the talk a few days before; besides, no one had heard my prayer. Except God.

I believe God is conscious of everything that happens in my life, and thus I don't believe that I should disregard things that seem like chance as meaningless. On the other hand, one shouldn't over-spiritualize things (like seeing Jesus's image in a piece of toast or having all green lights on the way to work and taking it as a sign to do something).

That said, I think God did the name thing intentionally. It doesn't indicate a paradigm shift in the direction of my life or anything on that scale, but it is something I treasure and am encouraged by.

March 2, 2011

Jars of Dan Clayltine

I found this blog post on the website of Jar of Clay's frontman, Dan Haseltine. It's funny that I only now found his blog and I will definitely be exploring it more in the days to come, as well as starting to post again here! Theater commitments kept me busy until recently, but I'm free of them now.

Anywho, here are some of Dan's thoughts on the "prophetic voice" in worship. It's worth a read.