Sunday, July 31, 2011

I Believe

It is time to sing.  It is time to write.  I have heard the words, and they have struck me motionless.  So vast in talent.  Perhaps you are a stone on the top of a hill, miles of sloping ground ready for action.  You are on the cusp of something wonderful.  Once started, there will be no stopping.  Your speed will grow, the power behind you will be crushing.  All you need is a push.
Yet, people simply look at you and pass you by, content with your perch atop the hill.  They are captivated by  how magnificent it would be to watch you, and an nearly insatiable urge burns in them to release you.  But they too are afraid.  Pushing you would surely change not only you, but whatever was in your path.  Being perched so high, perhaps hundreds, if not thousands of other rocks might also become dislodged.  That thought too intensifies the burn.  The desire to see it fulfilled.  They put their hand on you, start push, and then stop.  They back away with trembling hands.  Too unknown, too dangerous would it be.  What if you simply break apart?  What if the glory of your task is never realized.  It is one thing to push a rock near the bottom of the hill, but the top?  Too much is at stake, so they leave.
Well I am not afraid.  The burning in my chest is too great.
Most people try to push, and are simply too weak.  They cannot but nudge you at best.  They can give you no reason to move.  Their hands are unknown, and untrusted.
This is me pushing.  I want to see what happens when you start to roll.  I want to see it.  It burns within me.  Perhaps I am too weak, my hands too untrusted, and out of place.  I don't know.  I just know I want to see you move.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Music Musings

My new job has me on the internet more than I'd like.  One of the few things that has been great about it, is that when I take my breaks, I peruse for new music, one of my favorite things to do.  Several thoughts have come to me today.

One is that I find that playing guitar has actually, and ironically, stifled my music creativity.  A guitar string broke about two weeks ago, and in that time of no guitar, music has flowed through me like it used to.  I think it is because, at least for me, playing is a very focused endeavor.  It narrows my world of music down.  Without that narrowing, music has started to play again in my head.  Usually it is a symphony, that seems to be my brains default.  Sometimes it will vary though.  Just an interesting thought, I thought.  Ha.

It amazes me what sticks to us.  We find such joy in details, things not intended to be powerful are often the most powerful.  I was listening to a song just while earlier, and was moved by the strangest thing... the breaths the singer was taking.  So often, in overly produced recordings, they will cut that out, along with the shrill of fingers sliding along the strings.  I love both.  When I heard those breaths, I just thought about how real the singer was.  They are alive, and that simple fact moves me.  

In my search for music, I have had a growing tug in my heart, an excitement, the kind I get when I feel excited about seeing God move.  The tug was that there is such a need for good music that directly talks about God.  I don't want to say Christian music, not to be contrarian.  Simply, what is often not considered to be Christian stirs my heart more to loving God than what is called Christian.  There is so much room for it, and so much of a hunger.  I am thirsty for music that speaks about God that is beyond the narrow formula that is considered Christian.  The major key is not the only key.  The drums don't always have to be so bright.  Vocals don't have to shine.  Not everything has to glisten like a fake smile.  We can show the dirt, the grit.  We can be creative, even a bit, dare I say, abstract at times, simply to explore the world of sound God has given us.  There is a void.  I am excited to see who finally fills it.

God forgive me for this heart that struggles.  I need you, and bad.  You are it.  You are all I have.  Be with those whom I love.  Guide them, keep them, love them.  Withhold no blessing, pleasant or not, from being given to them.  Whatever happens Lord, never be passive with them.  May the Holy Spirit prick our hearts and minds, Father.  May He stir our affections, that we might actually love others, not just in deed, but actually in our hearts.  Your will be done, Father.  In your Son Jesus' name.  Amen.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Someone posted Matthew 26:41 today as their status, and it rally spoke to me anew.  It says that we should watch and pray that we would not enter into temptation.  That the spirit is indeed willing, but that the flesh is weak.

Perhaps it is that there are so many nuances that you just are going to forget some things.  They are present in your brain for a while, and they shrink until you do something that reminds you.  The truth smacks you in heart.  Lately, in battles, I have been all too quick to forget that there is an enemy.  Sometimes, I just focus on me, fighting my flesh alone and my desire.  What am I doing is not focusing on the battle that is being waged.  I am not realizing it.  This might not sound big, but it is.  It is huge, because, if there is just us, then we are battling our desires.  With Satan, then we are battling against someone else's desires too.  Satan wants us with him, miserable and condemned.  So, we can always know that what he sends our way is not FOR us!  So often I will wonder why I so badly crave something I know to be evil when I didn't just a day earlier.  A bout of arrogance will kick in, or lust, or pride, and the lies start coming, "These things will make you happy.  Succumb to them."  They won't.  The truth will set you free, and the truth is that what God wants for us is best.  Half of the things I crave in a day I hate.  My spirit groans for redemption.  I have experienced pieces of this in my life, and there is no comparison.  Nothing is brighter.  God has used people to move me and show me things I never saw before.  I can never turn back, or, if I did, I would now be committing an even greater crime than before.  I have felt His presence.  Through a Lens I have seen so much.  For those moments, when God's and my heart were most aligned, I was never happier, more fulfilled, more true, more real.  This memory haunts me, and for the best.

Today I was listening to Tim Keller speak about absolutism.  Part of the sermon was about people's misunderstandings of freedom.  For one, freedom plays off freedom. For example, when you love someone, there is a freedom to be intimate, and to reveal your heart in a new way, but in turn you give up much other freedom.  You limit yourself to that person.  We have all chosen to be a part of society that has taken away our freedom to murder in order that we might enjoy the freedom that comes from the piece of mind of not fearing being murdered.  You cannot be totally free in the way that people make it sound you can.  Even God is not free totally.  He cannot go against Himself.  He cannot lie.  He is holy.

Well, those are just some thoughts.  I don't know what value they have.  I hope my heart is heard in all of it.  Sometimes I worry I am just sounding like a talking head.  Perhaps I talk too much.  It is just my desire to do something, to help, but perhaps I am missing the mark.  May it never be.  I hope you can hear my heart in it.

I was listening to this song earlier today.  Actually, I was listening to a remix of the song, one of the few that I enjoy.  Usually remixes are not good.  I have had it replaying in my mind.  It isn't where my heart is now, but conjured up some very powerful memories from a winter a few years ago when I was up in Colorado with my family.  One of the loneliest times in my life.  So thankful for those moments though.  They bring out the change that has come to pass and make me ever thankful and hopeful for the future.  

Kings of Convenience
"The Weight of My Words"

The original:

The remix:

There are very many things 
I would like to say to you, 
But i've lost my way 
And I've lost my words. 
There are very many places 
I would like to go 
But I can't find the key 
To open my door. 
The weight of my words- 
You can't feel it anymore. 
The weight of my words- 
You can't feel it anymore. 

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

One of Life's Many Paradoxes

So many lessons lately.  In the book, When I Don't Desire God, Piper draws a distinction I had never noticed before.  It is that we often take  a piece of something, and attribute, and we equate that attribute with the whole. 

For example, in the book, he talks about how love brings us pleasure.  However, love is not pleasure, and pleasure is not love.  Love can bring about pleasure, but you can find pleasure in many things apart from love.  

What often happens is that we fall in love, and become fixated on the pleasure aspect, instead of the love.  when we do this, we lose sight of love and end up somewhere else.  The irony is that we lose the pleasure of love in the process.  

Yet, if we pursue loving God, loving someone, even through the moments when it there is no pleasure in it, we will ultimately experience pleasure greater than we could have ever thought possible in the beginning.  It is one of many life's paradoxes.  

I am starting a new "thing".  I am going to start a lyric of the day whenever I post.  I am going to select a partial lyric from a song.  It is something I have been doing lately, reading lyrics, and have found great enjoyment in it that I would like to share.
Here is the first go at my:

Lyric of the day:

It's such, it's such a perfect day.  
It's such a perfect day.
Now the sky could be blue
I don't mind
Without you it's a waste of time
Could be blue 
I don't mind
Without you it's a waste of sun
Could be blue
Could be gray
Without you I'll just slide away
The sky could be blue
I don't mind
Without you it's a waste of time

Monday, July 25, 2011

Fighting the Lie

After a week at the ranch, I am back in Dallas.  Up to this point, the plan has been to have the book completely polished before trying to have it published.  Yet, on my way home yesterday, I changed my mind.  Most books that get published are not finished when submitted.  Often, only a few chapters are.  Perhaps I have simply been scared.  I don't know.  But, it is time to try to get it published.  I have been given a contact at a Christian Literary Agency through a friend.  So, I went to go research what needs to be done.  During my research, I was moved by two things.  One is that I felt so hopeful.  For one, I have a contact, something they require.  On the other hand, Satan has been diligent in reminding me of my professional frustration.  Thus far, God has chosen to humble me, and to teach me to lean on Him.  I have not been established in a profession.  I applied to over a hundred film jobs in Austin after graduation, and never got a single call of interest, just silence.  So, out of need, I got my videography job at Labatt, which I was a huge blessing, but was also a miserable experience.  We pulled up everything to move to Ireland in hopes of being a part of the ministry there.  We were not a fit with the organization.  A year was spent jobless upon return.  I applied twice to and was rejected by InterVarsity.  My photography business has been a huge disappointment.  All of these things happened for a reason.  The battle I now face is to keep on, to not let Satan use those events to make me believe something that isn't true... a.)that God wants what is bad for me, and b.) that no matter how hard I try, I will never be rewarded or established in a profession.

I confess that I am battling self pity.  Good news is that God as been faithful to reveal the lie, and reveal my struggle, that I might fight it openly.

So, here is my request.  Please pray that I might continue on with courage, that I would overcome my fear, and not only act with faith on the outside, but have it be realized on the inside as well.  Pray that I would indeed be established in work, that I would find something that provides a living while also providing purpose.  Pray that God would guide my mind and my hand in creating the manuscript for this Agent.  Pray that his heart would already be moved and be molded to accept my book, that he would see its value and pick me up as an author for publishing.  Pray that my understanding of God's will would be true.  I don't want to believe falsely that God is a genie, or that submission to Him will dissolve my struggle.  Yet, on the other hand, I don't want to believe the lie that my life is only meant for frustration and pain, that God is only interested in me suffering.  This is a very real lie to my heart after ten plus years of depression.  

Lord, you are mighty.  You are wonderful.  You are holy.  You are wonderful.  May your will be carried out all across the Earth.  Father, give your saints the ability to defend and clarify your love in the face of the shooting in Oslo.   May your name not be smeared.  May the truth be known.  No one who is yours would do such a thing.  Give clarity to the minds of those who wonder.  Feed those who are hungry father.  Clothe the naked.  Stir the hearts of us who have to share what we have.  Give us eyes to see our wealth, and a burden for those who are not.  Speak through your people.  Let us not as individuals or as a group be weak.  May those who love you be bold in love, not hardening their hearts under the guise of guarding.  May we see the distinction and live in opposite of it.  Be with my friends and family Lord.  Show them favor in your eyes, for I love them.  Never let go of them.  Bring about whatever means is necessary, pleasant or painful to keep them and myself running to you.  May we enjoy your creation in its proper context, always pointing back to You.  You are why we live.  I pray all of this is the name of your son, Jesus Christ, amen.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Some Great Things, All To The Glory of God.

There are some really interesting things going on my world right now.  I have been begging God for some means to change in my life job wise.

The choices made have been risky ones.  I have chosen to go the risky path, and try to pursue the things that I most want to do, in the face of great failure or great success.  In my heart, I have believed that I am to simply be faithful with what I am given.  I have talents, and I burn to use them for God's glory.

When I say burn, I mean, my heart never ceases to ache for it.  My day begins and ends with this wonderful burden upon my heart, ever thankful that it is there.  It is much like pining away for a long lost love or friend.  That pain, that ache screams your loyalties and affections louder than any momentary jubilation.

Over the course of these last few days at the ranch, it looks as if some really fun and inspiringly fresh things are about to kick off in our lives.  Chelsea and I are planning on producing a documentary about some of the largest deer in the world.  We are planning to travel across the country to the different ranches that have these deer, and film the journey. It will be a crazy time of planning and filming, but it has a lot of potential to be a financial blessing, and it should be an incredible experience to boot.

I am about to start my final rewrite of Light Blue before taking measures to get it published. There are some really massive decisions to be made here.  Most of the book is spot on, but there are always ways to make things the best they can be.  I have been in fervent prayer that the Holy Spirit would move upon the hearts of those people that would publish my book.

In the end, I am excited about what is ahead.  Simply, this constant yearning in my heart for God just keeps groaning and begging that I might be a part of His glory here on Earth.

So, this is my prayer.  My prayer is that God would grant us wisdom and discernment in every single facet of this new project we have taken up, that we would be wise in our business, doing everything to glory and edification of God.  May  the Holy Spirit already be preparing a way for Light Blue to be published, and indeed successful.  May the hearts of those who are to see and believe in the book, and me as a writer, be moved to see and believe.  May my mind and heart be guided as I write, that the decisions made would be the ones that God would have me make.  I pray that God would move, in your heart and mine, that He would make us people who never cease to marvel and push others to marvel.  Also, if it be His will, that we would be instruments for others to marvel, that we would be honored to have such a joy.  May we follow and preach and teach and love no matter who listens or likes what we have to say.  May we push on toward the prize each day with an unwavering courage and a thankful heart that does not complain.  May we see the face of God in all of His creation, especially the love and tenderness and joy of the fellowship of friends and family.  Lastly, may we never hold anything this world has to offer, not even our own health, or the health of our loved ones, above the Lord our God.  To God be ALL glory and honor, AMEN.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Fighting for God's Glory

It is my firm belief that it is the fight for God's love and glory itself that is the most important thing we can give in this life.  We think of the result, but that really has little to do with us.  In the end, God will take our passion, our sacrifice, our effort, and do whatever He wills.  It may be His will that I never get published, or that I never get to use my talents as much as I'd like for Him, but it will be because He wills it so, not because of my heart.  He has already renewed that, and I yearn for Him.  It is those whose hearts yearn for Him that keep me going.  I would like to say it would be the same without them, that I could just see God and act the same, but I can't.  I have tried time and again, only to find that it is Him who has made me to be inspired by other humans.  In this I find a new peace.  God really does have it under control.  Whatever happens, it will be His will.   Find rest in that, and keep on pushing, no matter what.  Keep on fighting.  I am here fighting too.

I will be begging and pleading that God will allow you and I to be used by Him, that we would get to see His power and might poured out in using the broken vessels that we are for something good in this world.  May we stir others hearts toward Him.  Amen.

Some drawings.

I have been drawing a lot lately.  This is a piece I drew up for the new website that i want to put together to minister to people struggling through depression.  The name of the site is going to be The Abyssic, as in, pertaining to all things of the abyss.  The abyss is a very common metaphor I employed instead of depression, as I felt it more accurate.  I put a lot of heart and thought into this one, and a lot of time as well.  I drew the map by hand, and then took a picture of the drawing so that I could color it in photoshop.  I did that with this one below as well.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Peace in the End

One of the biggest changes in how I see the world now is in that I now know that there is a limit to how much peace and comfort to expect in this life.  Where as I used to feel that perhaps utopia was attainable, I now see otherwise.  Not that misery is needed.  Certainly not.  There will surely be miserable times, but all in all life is abundant.  It isn't even that the edge comes from my own personal little circle.  The edge of life comes form the fact that I love the people of this world.  God has stirred my affections, and with that affection comes a dichotomy of joy and sorrow.  Joy, in that I now can genuinely rejoice with those who rejoice, but I now also mourn with those who mourn.  The work is never done.  There is always more to be done in this life, more to fight for, more to sacrifice.  Even if I can get my little circle of friends and family all safe, well, and happy, I have to act as if they are all I care about in order to believe everything is a hundred percent okay.  My heart is burdened for the people of this world.  I spend my days begging God to mold me into something that can be of use, as I am not needed, but simply desire to be a part.  I beg Him that I could be an instrument for sharing His love, that I might point others toward the truth.  It is a wonderful burden, born from love, but it is never ceasing.  There is no point at which I will ever be able to be free of it for more than just a few moments.  This life is fleeting, and I am not under any impression that what I have materially has any lasting value.  Even my health is guaranteed to fail.  So, there is a wondrous sense of abandon that comes when you don't buy into the lie that having a house, or money, or even safety is what this life is about.  All are to be considered loss in the face of what is to come.  

May that ever be our hearts direction.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The Depression Demon

I don't want to make it sound as if this is the most common thought in the Christian world, I simply want to address it.  During my struggle, I never ran into this, as I only told about twenty people about it.  But, I have heard stories through others, and I have heard it through passing comments on depression in general.  One of the thoughts I have seen expressed quite a bit with church going folk, is that depression is akin to demon possession.  Preachers have spoken about trying to heal depression in a manner that sounds, not like Jesus healing a leper, but more like Him casting out the Legion of demons into the pigs.

On one hand, I understand the confusion.  Depression affects how we feel, and people consider feelings to be spiritual.  So, if your feelings are what are being affected then problem must be spiritual, and not physical.  So, go grab the holy water and a crucifix.

This is only a half formed thought though.  Fully formed, we see several things very clearly.

One: Emotions, while spiritual in essence, are tied to our physical bodies.  Food, exercise, medicine, illness, they all are physical things that deeply affect our emotions.  This makes sense, as we are spiritual beings, but our spirit is tied to a physical body.  Is it not?  I am not everywhere at all times.  My spirit is confined to this body, and what happens to this body can affect my spirit.

Two: We don't treat other mood affecting struggles as demonic.  Are women demon possessed once a month?  Should we try to heal them of their periods?  Seriously.  Once a month, females go through a drastic emotional shift that is basically a mild form of depression.  Same goes with menopause.  Every woman that lives long enough goes through it.  Is that demonic, or is it hormonal?  Now, I am not saying that there is no spiritual battle going on.  Satan surely uses such things to his advantage, and will lie to us in our pain, but they are not in and of themselves necessarily demonic.

So, let us treat those who are depressed with the truth that we know, that there is surely a heavy spiritual battle going on.  But, let us not be fooled into thinking depression is something it is not.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Looking at the stats of my blog, there is a telling truth.  One, very few people read it.   (shrugs and smiles)  But, every time I wrote about depression, the numbers jump.  So, I am praying hard about getting a blog or web site going to minister to the depressed.  The point of the site would be about how to make much of God in the midst of depression.  I have already spoken to several people about contributing to the site, as I don't want it to be about me.  I really want it to be a place where those suffering with this particular battle can come, cry out, feel safe, and be encouraged to keep breathing, keep searching for God, and learn to glorifying through their suffering, and encourage hope for redemption and healing from this dreadful struggle. I am just trying to pray about what to call it.  

Also, I am looking to begin some scripture memorization.  Any suggesitons?

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Love Applied

The Holy Spirit moved upon my heart today, and showed me another way that love is defined Biblically.  I was thinking about how often we I hear love spoken of as this free-floating thing that, if applied, can do know wrong. 
Yet, with any scrutiny at all, we see that our love is complex.  It isn’t unified.  Our loves compete, and we have to make choices everyday about which love is greater.  Our love for ourselves, and our own comfort is constantly at war with our love for others.  Someone’s love for drugs can have detrimental effects on their love for their family.  Our love for county can cause us to override our general love for our neighbor, and result in war.  The love of anything more than God is idolatry. 
It is a simple concept, but one I have not fully realized until now.  That is that God doesn’t just say that love is great.  He says that, but when asked about what the greatest commandment is, He doesn’t just say fill your heart with love like some Disney character or member of the Beatles.  No, He sets up the hierarchy for love up for you to see.  “Love the Lord your God with all your soul, all your heart, and all your might” then follows up with, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” 
In summary, the main thing that is clear is that love, in and of its self, is not wholly good.  It is only good when applied correctly.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Steak Trees, and the Hierarchy of Animal Cuteness

So I am feeling a bit more literary today, writing two posts in one day, but I feel like it.  I am going to break from my usual focus on theology, and just share a random thought. 

People today are particularly odd about animals.  I think this is because nearly everybody lives in cities, so people's limited encounters with animals and the outdoors has warped some very basic concepts.  When I used to work at Labatt, I remember just laughing as I listened to some of my coworkers talk about how they couldn't think about the fact that meat came from an animal.  I could just see this scenario in my mind, where this older gentleman is walking down this gorgeous, perfectly lined orchard of trees.  He steps up his ladder that stretched up toward the massive green crown, and he grabs a T-Bone hanging from the tree's branches.  He gives an approving look, telling us that the meat is ripe.  He plucks the meat off the tree, and tosses it into the back of his old 55 Chevy truck.

Being a part of family that has hunting as such a big part of it, I have been absolutely blown away by the level of hypocrisy that has become so Vogue as of late.  My first encounter came in High School, when a fellow student, upon hearing that I hunted deer, got so enraged, he threatened to kill me.  Just let that sink in for a second before I mention that he was wearing leather shoes and a leather belt.  That is the only time I have been threatened for hunting, but it is far from the last time I have been called evil by people who wear leather, have leather couches, eat hamburgers, wear products tested on animals, and more.  When I ask hard questions in return, there is no reasoning.  It just is. 

The biggest reason I have found that people will become so enraged over deer hunting, is because people have this underlying hierarchy of animals, the cuter they are, the more important their life is.  Kill a deer, and you are monster.  Kill a stupid cow, and that's just life.  Fish suffer from have no whites in their eyes.  i think if they did, they would have more sympathizers.  Birds are pretty, but still enough different from us that we are pretty cool with the billions of chickens and turkeys we have killed on our behalf each year.  Insects don't even get a thought.  I bet PETA exterminates without a thought. 

In the end, it is a frustrating thing, being someone who takes part in something so basic, so normal to life, save for the last fifty or so years.  It reminds me of how influenced we are by peer pressure.  We struggle so much with presentism (the idea of judging all other times with the assumption that the present is correct).  Oh well.  I really do not foresee a change on the subject.  It is just one of those funny little thoughts.

Pleasure and Pain

I think that one of the most confusing things about pleasure and pain is our desire to tie them with moral goodness and evil.  Many times I have spoken about how good things can bring about pain, and evil things can bring about good.  They are not equivalent, for the time being.  See, that phrase, for the time being, is what makes it confusing.  In the end, when all is said in done, when all things are made right, pain will be gone.  Why, because ultimately pain is not good.  And ultimately, pleasure is, that is why it won't exist in hell.  But, under the fall, pain and pleasure are not necessarily attached to good and evil.  Good can be brought about by pain, and evil can be brought about by pleasure.  We all know this all too well.
Anyhow, just another thought.