29 March 2006

Good News!


Jason Morant . Open
Releases on May 30

Listen to two new tracks here.

To preorder the CD, go here, and while you're there,
be sure and pick up his City of Two Rivers EP.

26 March 2006

More on profanity...

I originally posted on the subject of profanity back in December. I just read an extremely insightful article and wanted to revisit the subject. I recently had a similar discussion with a friend. And another friend happens to be blogging on the subject of language here. There are no right or wrong answers here, as every thing is so personal and situational. Context is so important.

I personally don't consider it okay for me to swear for the shock value or to get a laugh among my Christian friends. I still do this and always feel so convicted afterwards. Maybe I'll learn someday?

I'm also not a big fan of swearing out of laziness, or for a lack of greater creativity (i.e. most rap music out there today). I once heard it said that vocabulary is the autobiography of the mind. I'd say that if you can't write lyrics (or just carry a normal conversation) without using language that is mostly either degrading or profane, then you should read more books or something and learn how to better express yourself creatively.

On the otherhand, I think that chosen wisely, such language is powerful in expressing oneself, as long as you're able to use such language without letting anger control and totally consume you. There's no doubt that swearing is a language of our emotions. Here again, context and intent are so important, as I can use strong language in the context of expressing myself without intending to offend or degrade another person.

Oh...and when we're talking about a non-Christian (especially in street and urban settings), it's no holds barred. In other words, if you can't take the heat, get out the kitchen and let someone else love that person. Do you really need to blacken Christianity's eye one more time by throwing out "holier-than-thou" lines of conviction? "Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven." (Do ya like how I'm waxing King James on that!?!?)

End of the day -- its just one more thing to think about as you walk that line between things of God and things of this Earth, trying desperately to find that ever-illusive balance in life.

Link to article: Cussing Christians

And thought-provoking comment that followed:
I once heard a preacher using the word "sh*t" in a talk about poverty and he said the problem was that more people would be offended by the fact he swore than by the fact that millions of people are suffering and dieing because of poverty!

25 March 2006

Silversun Pickups


Okay...I missed the boat on this one back in '05, but that's no reason not to go ahead and bring one of the top 5 songs of the previous year to your attention. This is pure indie goodness!


The Song: Kissing Families
[Go here to download it now!]

The Album: Pikul

22 March 2006

The Rest


Today is an important day...

My prayer is for a long rest.

20 March 2006

Toward Balance

Over the past couple of months, I’ve been having a lot of conversations about the institutional church, house church (or simple church), and everything in between. I’ve been discussing social justice, church building projects, grace, the darkness of my own heart, simplicity, hearing God speak, discerning whether what you’re hearing is actually God (and not someone or something else), church leadership, and my role in all of the above. All of these efforts in some feeble human attempt to discern what pure Christianity looks like.

At different times during this process, I’ve felt personally convicted on certain issues. At other times, I’ve truly sensed the presence and peace of God. Still, at other times, I have demeaned the practices of certain Christians, more so out of an egocentric “I’m-practicing-my-spirituality-more-authentically-than-you” attitude and less out of love and gentle correction of my brothers and sisters.

I carried all of this into yesterday, Sunday, March 19, 2006, which happened to be Commitment Sunday for my church body – a day when we would corporately have the opportunity to make 3-year financial commitments to Christ for the construction of some additional classroom spaces on our existing church building, and a gym and coffee house structure on a separate parcel of land that is owned by the church. Even though I had been involved in the leadership of the campaign, I had no idea what to expect. Little did I know that for nearly six months, God had been preparing me for that very day.

It was an amazing day for me. An amazing day of worship. An amazing day of spending time in the presence of God. An amazing day of God revealing himself to me. An amazing day at the Lord’s table. An amazing day of communion with fellow believers. It was a day of refinement for me. A day of renewal. A day of growth. I literally wept for the last 20 minutes of the service (which covered the majority of the congregation walking commitment cards forward to lay at the foot of the cross, a number of songs and communion). And just when I finally thought I had pulled myself together, the same woman who had earlier “saved” me by sliding me a tissue, turned to me before she left and said: “It was an honor to worship beside you today.” I wanted to tell her it had nothing to do with me, but Christ working through me, but I couldn’t speak, as my emotions had taken my voice hostage.

He totally wrecked me yesterday. Totally schooled me. I truly believe we are all called to experience God at deep and intimate levels, but what He asked me yesterday was: “Who are you to say how someone should go about doing this?” and "Who are you to say that one way is purer than another?" I was in the throngs of a traditional institutional evangelical church and God was definitely present. And what he revealed to me was that, regardless of setting or number of people, the only barrier to Him showing up was myself and all the crap I bring with me every time I come before Him.

And don’t get me wrong...I’m not saying that hard and honest discussions aren’t necessary to move the body of Christ forward. They are. I’m simply saying that I’m done making generalizations about Christians or institutional bodies of them (i.e. churches). I believe God has carved out a place for all forms of gatherings. Nor am I saying that the institutional church is flawless. For an institution is only as good as its members and leaders, all of whom are sinners. At the end of the day, I have to trust that God is fully and totally in control of his Church and, in fact, is the only one who knows what is actually going on. I’ve thought, at different times, that I’ve had it all figured out, but in actuality, I had no idea! Above all, we are called to be a community in unison with each other. Accepting our differences as personal preferences of no eternal value and looking to the love of Jesus as our sole unifying factor seems to be a large part of what this is all about. That’s what I believe the Lord asked me to do yesterday. That’s what I’m ready to do today.

I’m trying to let go of my ego. Trying to find my Father. Reaching toward balance. Outside of His ever-loving presence, all three are meaningless pursuits. Selah.

19 March 2006

Gut Check

Aristides, a second-century apologist for the Christian faith, wrote this to the Roman emperor Hadrian about believers in his day:

"They love one another. They never fail to help widows; they save orphans from those who would hurt them. If they have something, they give freely to the man who has nothing; if they see a stranger, they take him home, and are happy, as though he were a real brother. They don't consider themselves brothers in the usual sense, but brothers instead through the Spirit, in God."

That's nice. Unfortunately, it doesn't sound a whole lot like my life.

How about yours?

15 March 2006

Ahhhhhhhhhhh


I prayed for the woman in the car in front of me this morning based solely on the message I got from her bumper. No...it wasn't because she had one of those Darwin fish with legs eating the Christian fish. Rather, it was because she had a bumper sticker that read:

Dear God,
Why do you allow so much violence in the public schools?
-Concerned Student

Dear Concerned Student,
I'm not allowed in the public schools.
-God

First, to even suggest that violence in schools is somehow tied to God's absence therefrom is absurd. It essentially presupposes that God sits in Heaven and plays games -- protecting the christian schools, while letting bedlam run free in the public schools. Further, to suggest that God is not present in public schools is even more absurd. These same Christians will quote all kinds of "God is everywhere" verses to help another Christian through a trial, but totally blow it out the door to make some clever evangelistic statment to the "corrupt sinners" of this World. Lord, save us all.

Second, we need to be so careful about speaking for God at anytime, but especially these days after the whole GodSpeaks.com billboard campaign. He gave us the Spirit-breathed Word of Life centuries ago. Why do we now feel the need to prostitute His sacred message with flippant doses of "holier-than-thou" contempt? Did Jesus love sinners or did he scorn them?

09 March 2006

Hanging by a string...

Lightbulb = My Heart

Question: Why do I do this to myself?

Answer: Because I still look to earthly things to satisfy my desires, when my heart cries only for my Abba Father.

02 March 2006

Speechless


I have no words
Joy is yours
Spread to all who know
Eyes that pierce darkness
Smile that casts light
Demeanor that draws all in

A precious little life
Full of beauty
Innocently unware of pain
All needs provided
All love equally shared
Dreams abound

01 March 2006

The Waiting...


The waiting is the hardest part
Every day you see one more card
You take it on faith, you take it to the heart
The waiting is the hardest part

It's not like Tom Petty is the most amazing lyricist ever, but he pretty much captured my exact feelings at the moment with this chorus. And it's not like this concept is "news" to anyone, but its where I'm at nonetheless. Reconciling the trust that comes from my faith and the raw emotion that screams from my heart is what makes it so hard.