It Shall Be No Longer Mine…part 2

I know, I know, part 2 is a bit of a stretch. It’s been a year. More than a year. In that time, though, that’s what God’s been teaching me. So there you go.

The month of March was awful. Awful is an understatement. It was a month in my life that I’ll never forget and hope never to relive. It was the kind of month that makes one start comparing oneself to Job. March was a month that included a murder & a Japanese earthquake/tsunami and ended with almost being carjacked. Granted, those first things didn’t happen to me directly, but they happened to dear friends who I admire, love & pray for. The carjacking, though, that was me. You know it’s been a rough month when a guy’s trying to forcibly remove you from your vehicle, and the thoughts that run through your head are “I so don’t have time for this” and “my friends and family can NOT deal with this right now.”

So…Job. I really started thinking a lot about Job. What I thought is how ridiculous it is to compare ourselves to Job. I mean, really?!?! His entire livelihood, family, & health were destroyed and his friends and remaining loved ones advised him to curse God & die. As bad my March was, as apocalyptic and dark as it seemed at times, it didn’t come close to Job status.

That, though, isn’t why the comparison is ridiculous. That comes at the very beginning: Job 1:1, “In the land of Uz there lived a man whose name was Job. This man was blameless and upright; he feared God and shunned evil.” Blameless, upright, feared God & shunned evil. God reiterates that (verbatim) when he describes Job in 1:8, “Then the LORD said to Satan, ‘Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil.'” Oh that God would describe me in such a way! Blameless, upright, feared God & shunned evil. On my very best days, I’m 2 out of 4.

April, thus far, has been pretty fantastic. As opposite of March as possible. It’s been filled with family, friends, laughter, baseball, great food…I even won 2 tickets to Jazz Fest in a twitter picture contest. Life is good, but it was good in March. It was just hard. God is good, but He has been good since before time began and will continue to be good.

There are going to be times when life is hard…seemingly, impossibly hard. There won’t always be reasons for us to understand. If we’re going to compare ourselves to Job, though, we need to at least take away the lessons he learned. God spends chapters 40 & 41 calling Job out for whining about not understanding it all. In the end, Job’s response in 42:2-3 is this: “I know that you can do all things; no purpose of yours can be thwarted.  You asked, ‘Who is this that obscures my plans without knowledge?’ Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know.”

This life that I’m living? It’s not mine. Good or inexplicably horrible, it’s not mine. It’s God’s…and He is good, and He is God, and His overarching plan for the world is more wonderful than I can understand. I get to be a part of that. My new prayer is that in life’s “Job” moments (and they’re going to come), I’ll have Job-like faith.

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It Shall Be No Longer Mine

Overheard at Verge (a Missional Community conference in Austin)…

“The cross, by it’s very nature, is outside anyone’s comfort zone.” – Francis Chan

“It’s not about learning what we don’t know, but living out what we do know.” – Jon Ferguson

“Learning takes place when programming is subjected to questioning.”- Alan Hirsch

“if we don’t disciple, the culture sure will.” – Hirsch

“We don’t just need to use our gifts, we need to be equipping people to use their gifts.” – Ed Stetzer

“When we do for others what God has called them to do, we hurt eachother and hinder the church.” – Stetzer

“If people know you’re for them, not against them, they’ll start to believe your God is for them, not against them.” – John Burke

“If we aim at ministry, we’ll never hit mission, but if we aim at ministry, missions happens naturally.” – Hirsch

“Our lives must find their place in some greater story, or they’ll find their place in some lessor story.” – Caesar Kalinowski

You should also watch this:  The Big Red Tractor from Jacob Lewis on Vimeo.

I’m still processing everything I heard, and I know some of it’ll require action. I guess we should all stay tuned to figure out exactly what that means.

I Still Feel Your Touch In My Dreams

I miss Travis.

He’s not an ex-boyfriend, or ex-friend, or “the one that got away,” or anything like that.

Travis is the guy who cut my hair in college.

Travis doesn’t look like your average beautician. He looks like a guy no one’s dad wants them to date, aka the kind of guy I’m most attracted to. He’s a tattooed musician. What’s not to love, right?

That’s not why I miss Travis. Travis has magic hands. MAGIC HANDS. He gives these head massages that erase all bad thoughts and feelings, ease all pain and alleviate all headaches. Having one’s hair shampooed is one of the most relaxing things in the universe, but Travis took it to another level. His fingers could work on the back of the head and the base of the neck while simultaneously using his thumbs to massage the temple. Bliss. Euphoric bliss.

I got my hair cut yesterday and it looks really cute. The girl who did it did good work and I’ll visit her again, but sitting in the shampoo chair with her fingers tangled in my hair I had the same thought I’ve had almost every time I’ve gotten my haircut since I left Shawnee, OK: I miss Travis…and his magic hands.

Bullfrogs & Butterflies, Both Been Born Again

On the ride home from nun practice tonight (another story for another day – I’ll attempt to post a video should there be one), I listened to a radio interview with Randal Keynes. Keynes is the great-great-grandson of Charles Darwin and the author of a book about Darwin entitled “Creation.”

“Creation” has also been made into a film that opens in select theatres this week. It’s a film I feel most Christians will never see, and that makes me sad. To begin with, it stars Paul Bettany, who’s amazing, but more than that, the story told in the film (as I was able to glean it from the radio interview) is one that most Christians need to hear, and with which most non-Christians will identify.

Keynes says Darwin didn’t see his evolutionary theory as something in conflict with Christianity (something many of my Christian friends also hold true). Keynes also says that it wasn’t “Origin of the Species,” but the inexplicable death of Darwin’s young daughter that drove Darwin away from his belief in God. He says that Darwin’s loss of faith was something that was a constant struggle in his life and his marriage because his wife was devout in her faith.

Many Christians respond to evolutionary theory like Darwin was a heretic who maliciously threw his theories in the face of faith. I think it behooves us to ponder that he struggled with it, agonized over it. It benefits us to reflect that he was a man who was hurt and broken and felt betrayed and abandoned by a God to whom he’d once dedicated his life.

We all know people like that. I’d venture to say we’ve all felt like that at one time or another. Doubt and struggle can be so much a part of faith. I know personally, it’s my doubts that help me solidify my faith and grow in my beliefs. Gandhi once said, “Faith… must be enforced by reason…. When faith becomes blind it dies.” I think that’s true. Blind faith is a shallow faith. It’s the faith that’s tested, proved, that becomes deeper, stronger. Mark 9:24 is a great verse. In a moment of desperation, loss, confusion, none of the above, all of the above, a man responds to Christ by saying “I believe – help my unbelief.” Jesus, as is His way, is faithful to follow through.

I’ll be going to see “Creation.” I hope my friends who don’t go see it do so because they’re sure of what they believe, not because they’re sure what they’re against. I hope that the Christian community recognizes that there’s more to the story than the creation/evolution debate. I hope we find ways that this film, like so many before it can be redeemed and used for God’s glory. I hope. I hope. I hope.

Sometimes I Get Bored, Even Though I Know I’m Blessed

Yes, I know I’m bad at this.

Since my last blog I….

1 ) Saw Monsters of Folk in concert.

2 ) Had a Sesame Street themed birthday party complete with bounce house and ball pit.

3 ) Turned 30.

4 ) Bought footie pajamas. (I’m wearing them now.)

5 ) Celebrated Christmas with my family. It snowed. It was strange.

6 ) Celebrated New Year’s with my friends.

7 ) Played entirely too much Band Hero.

8 ) Made an A in my Internet Evangelism course.

9 ) Started my current course: Postmodern Theology, Film and Youth Culture.

10 ) Started shopping for a new place to live.

Tomorrow I’m shopping for tacky prom dresses and possibly teaching friends the dance from Thriller.

You are now completely caught up on the last 2 months of my life. Ok, so not completely, but the good news is, I’m back.

Throw Its Cover Down On Me Again

It’s long been said that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery (no one knows who said it, don’t ask). I’m not entirely sure that that’s true, but I do know that in music it’s at least usually entertaining.

Lately my musical bent has shifted to covers. Maybe it’s the attention cover music is getting thanks to Fox’s new hit Glee. (BTW – the version of “Dancing With Myself” from last week’s episode is worth a listen.)  A good cover isn’t just so-and-so’s rendition of a song, but a version that both pays homage to and/or reinvents the original. Cover songs need to be well-known in their original version, but a spectacular cover will make one forget (at least momentarily) the original all together. There’s a difference between covering a song and just recording a song. The movies “Across the Universe” and “I Am Sam” offered up some fabulous Beatles covers, but the fact that everyone seems to be recording “Hallelujah” in the 00’s doesn’t mean they’re covering the Leonard Cohen original (except possibly Jeff Buckley). See the difference?

I’m compiling a playlist of sensational covers. My favorites on the list so far are: Bob Schneider’s “If I Only Had a Brain,” The Fray’s “Heartless,” Tyler Hilton’s “Missing You” and Gavin DeGraw’s “Let’s Get It On.” I’m realizing that for every great song covered (like Queen Latifah’s “California Dreamin'”), there’s an equally schmaltzy and horrific cover on the market. (Mandy Moore’s “Mona Lisas and Madhatters” is just wrong.)

The list is ever-growing, but I definitely need more suggestions. What are your favorite covers?

I Could Say Bella, Bella, Even Say Wunderbar

fred_and_ginger_i8huMy friend Jesselyn is getting married.

She’s having a theme wedding, which I LOVE. Ordinarily, I’m not a fan of theme weddings. They can be extraordinarily contrived, and if not done well, people remember the theme rather than the bride and groom. If people leave the ceremony talking about all the groomsmen being storm troopers or knights of the round table rather than talking about the happy couple – what’s the point? It’s made the whole thing a spectacle rather than spectacular.

When done well, though, theme weddings can be fantastic. That’s the thing about them: they’re either a huge success or a humongous failure. There’s no in between.

Jesselyn’s wedding doesn’t happen until February, but I can already tell you that this theme wedding will be great. Jess is one of those few fun and meticulous people who can make a theme seem effortless. Her theme is 1940’s Glamour, and chances are once the initial ooohs and ahhhs settle down, people will forget about the theme and just feel like they’re at the most elegant and glamorous wedding of 2010.

I’m really excited about this wedding because (a) I love Jesselyn & weddings are a good time (Jess’ will be quite the party), (b) I’ll be singing (which I love) and (c) it’s formal and I get to dress up! Whoo hooo!! So now, decisions have to be made – do I go Vivian Leigh, Rita Hayworth, Lana Turner, Veronica Lake, Lauren Bacall, Ava Gardner, Ginger Rogers, Ingrid Bergman, Betty Grable…? I’d add Katherine Hepburn, but that whole uber-svelte menswear look just isn’t one I can sport. It’s not a costume wedding, but you have to admit, those women have been iconic since their post-war heydays. Right now I’m leaning toward Veronica Lake or Rita Hayworth, though the sultry Lauren Bacall smirk and voice is a hard one to pass up. It’ll probably end up as an amalgam of the three. After all, there really are no limits (I asked Jess just to make sure) on bombshell potential…other than that I refuse to believe blondes have more fun.