Thursday, May 10, 2007


i am sitting here looking out the window. the world outside has so much to be intrigued by, yet so many things that are dangerous. the same world that offers green grass to lie down in and chirping birds and new discoveries also offers dark allies and danger and people looking to hurt us and cause us grief. in the same way, relationships and making ourselves vulnerable to others is a mixed bag. it can bring us so much joy or so much pain to let someone into our lives. so as i sit here and think about the way i view the world outside, i am compelled to write about fear and the way it completely paralyzes us at times.

i am afraid. i am afraid no one will like me. i am afraid my joke won't be laughed at. i am afraid you will reject me. i am afraid that if you accept me, then i will have some sort of responsibility to you. i am afraid to be alone. i am afraid to be with someone. i am afraid God doesn't like the things i do. i am afraid i will have to keep doing the things God does like me to do. i am afraid of commitment. i am afraid to let go. i am afraid i haven't done enough. i am afraid i can't do any more. i am afraid to disagree. i am afraid to step out. i am afraid to stand still. i am afraid to dance. i am afraid of darkness. i am afraid to fit into your box. i am afraid to think outside the box. i am afraid i'll miss the punch line. i am afraid to swim. i am afraid fear will cripple me. yet i am still afraid to move. because i am afraid you will think i am worthless, but i am afraid you are wrong.

we spend so much of our lives being afraid of what people think. it is crippling. i even saw it in myself with the way i performed my music. when i sang, i was so scared to mess up that i looked like i was going to soil myself on stage. i wasn't afraid of being in front of people. i was afraid of making myself a target for their critique. i used to not have that much fun before concerts because i would work myself into a frenzy, worrying about how i would perform. i would throw up before almost every show. now i let go of it, and i love to perform for people. i love to be on that stage and show people how God has blessed me with a good voice, with a sense of humor and with a gift to write and perform music. in the same way, i have gifts to offer to people around me through my relationship with them, but sometimes my fear of what they will say about me makes me so scared. i used to be this outgoing, bubbly, funny guy, but something changed that made me so hypersensitive to being rejected that i would rather just sit and think alone. well, maybe it's time for me to change the way i interact in this venue, too. maybe it is time i let go of that fear and put myself out there. maybe it's time being afraid becomes a thing of the past.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

freedom- it's more than a george michael song

sorry it's been so long since i have posted. i have been thinking about this blog for a long time and wondering exactly how i was going to phrase everything, but i am sick of waiting, so you get the unpolished version of my thoughts.

i feel like i need to say this before i launch. there are really two things that very much disturb me about some church people.

#1. i dislike it beyond words when people choose to take the body that Christ intended to be unified, and divide it over pretty insignificant arguments and issues. (i won't go into it too much, i just don't understand how people cannot get over the fact that churches worship differently and think about women's roles differently and maybe have buildings that don't look the same. we are serving the same God. isn't that enough? or are we serving the idol that bears our church's name in the front lawn? is it going to "compromise our doctrine" to go help someone of another denomination serve the poor? yeah, i bet God would really be ticked about people joining forces to serve Him. sorry, i will stop now.)

#2. i do not like it when people think that they have studied the bible so much and are so tight with God that they are exempted from a life of faithful service. (you may have met these people before. you may have pieces of this in you. it seems their knowledge is their reflection of God, not their lives. this bugs me to no end. if one has read the bible and studied and can perfectly spout out an exegesis of a text and write scholarly papers on it, but not live it (or even worse, thinks he or she is entitled to not have to live it), what does that say to non-believers? that would be like me studying a cookbook, knowing all the recipes and ingredients, burning everything i cook, but then opening a restaurant and being surprised that nobody comes to eat my food. that would be like a guy with no arms and legs trying to teach a rock climbing course. that would be as ridiculous as a man walking up to mirror, seeing his reflection, and then forgetting what it looks like as soon as he walks away. i don't get it. there is a great deal of arrogance in doing certain things (drinking in public, saying inappropriate things, making sacrilegious jokes) because you "know" it's ok with God (cause there is nothing in scripture condemning it, right?) and people should just deal with it. that is the opposite of maturity. that is the opposite of what paul calls us to in his discussion on meat offered to idols....ok i am going to quit before i go into a sermon and have to start singing "i am mine no more.")

all of this is coming out because i am trying to figure out what it means to be a spiritually mature person. all my life i have been told i am a leader. i've been told i have such an influence over people and i am such an encouragement. i have gotten compliments on my prayers and the sincerity i bring when i lead worship. all of this is great. i am humbled that God can use me to encourage and help other people. i am glad to be a listening ear to people and to minister to the people that surround me. such accolades would lead me to believe that i am a spiritually mature person, but it still feels like there is something missing. it feels as though there is more i can do. now, i know there is ALWAYS more we can do to serve God. i am not getting down myself or my work, just saying what i feel. i must confess that if i had offered the aforementioned sermon and invitation, i would come forward. i am starting to think that what i despise the most in others is what i see glimpses of in myself and what i don't want to become. does that make sense? you know how "person a" will say they can't stand "person b," and then "person c" says "that's because you are just alike." that is what i think is going on here. i have judgment in my heart and i don't want to let it fester. i have these crazy thoughts sometimes that maybe because i am on a church payroll i don't have to try as hard to get rid of the things that i struggle with, as if God owes me a few vices to help me cope. illogical i know, but welcome to my brain. so, that entire rant could easily be flipped to me, because i know those things i see in myself and others are not things i see reflected in the person of Jesus Christ.

so, when i think even more about what may be keeping me from feeling like everything is kosher, i start to think (again) about how discipline plays into this whole matter of maturity. when i was going without meat, i felt great. it felt like i was accomplishing something. i had sacrificed something on my own for God, and kept to it without anyone having to keep me in check. i say this not to be a braggart, but just to point out how satisfying it feels to discipline ourselves. during that time, i could have cheated. no one would have known. i could have hidden turkeys in my desk at work and pretended to be meditating while i ate them. (a few candles make anything look spiritual, and depending on the scent could add a nice flavor if used for rotisserie cooking....i'd imagine....) i could have hollowed out the hard boiled eggs and filled them with various delicatessen meats, but i didn't (although now that i think about it....nevermind). i had discipline and decided not to abuse the freedom i had.

freedom and discipline are interesting things to think about. honestly, we can choose to do whatever we want. God has made us "free moral agents," right? want to rob a bank? the cash is yours for the taking. want to swear all the time? why the cuss word not? have a desire to speak to your friends in a demeaning way? go for it, idiot. we can ultimately do whatever we choose to do. but i am starting to see more and more that spiritual maturity comes by choosing to exercise discipline instead of our freedoms. instead of choosing to be divisive and hurtful in our church, we can choose to be understanding and loving. instead of hurting people with our words, we can choose to build up and edify each other. instead of playing games with people, we can choose honesty and respect. instead of expecting people to "get over it" if they don't like what we are doing, we can choose to alter our actions for the sake of not offending people.

so, this is what i am challenging myself with. i am going to pledge to God and myself to choose discipline over freedom. i will choose to study scripture even though i know the story. i will choose to pray even though God already knows what i am thinking. I will choose to tithe even though God doesn’t need my money. i will choose to speak words filled with love and purity even if what i want to say will get a laugh. i will choose to turn to God for strength despite having the ability to rely on myself. i will choose to turn from private sins even though they may not directly affect anyone but me. i will choose to follow God's voice and not my own. i will choose to allow Him to increase even though it means i must decrease. i will choose service over self-service. i will choose the Cross over the crowd. i will choose to let God sit on the throne instead of me. i will choose to dance with God instead of being a wallflower. i will choose to die, and as a result, i will choose to live.