Friday, November 30, 2012

Exit Stage Right

I grew up in a small church that had my mom as the drama director. Essentially what this means is I was the go-to choice for the lead character. I'm not sure that this was the best decision. I was young, impressionable, and the hard life of show biz was just too much for my innocently naive soul.

And by show-biz I mean an on-looking congregation of about 50 people. But growing up around doing things in front of groups of people is probably what makes it a bit easier to give presentations, performances, etc in front of even larger crowds. And I'm thankful for that.

Since this is the season where churches take groups of kids and make them memorize songs, plays, and such, I'd like you to take a moment, try to ignore the "aww" factor and terrible singing, and look at where the children are looking when they're up there. I'm sure you've noticed this, but almost all the kids are usually looking at their director, who is usually sitting in the first row mouthing the words in such an overly expressive manner that you'd think she was stretching her face.

They're all looking at her for direction, and if I can take it a step further, I'll even say that those kids are performing solely for their director. Their eyes are on no one else, and save for a few attention-seeking glory-hogs, everyone is performing their part because they were told to by their leader.

As we get older, the appeal of being recognized by bunches of people or wanting to be elevated above the common folk gets to be very strong - especially if you've got some talent that puts you in such arenas. You're mind is poisoned by seeking the praise of people and you are distracted from your ultimate goal of glorifying the One who allowed you to have the talent that you so preciously guard.

But as a kid, all you know is your leader. Your relationship to them is the only thing that matters. Everybody else might as well not exist because you've got your eyes tunnel-visioned onto the one who is leading you with every overly-enunciated word.

I think that this is one of the reasons that God tells us that if we don't "become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven." (Matt. 18)

The way I see it, I want every word I say to be a mirror image of the one I see being mouthed by my Creator. And I'm not just talking about being on stage. Every move we make should be taken as a result of the organized cue of our Director. Whether we're performing our solo or exiting stage right; whether we're the main character that receives flowers after the production or the never-seen orchestra member passionately blowing on his trombone, we are called to be led.
"My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me." (John 10)
So my question to you today is are you going to look to your Director for your cue, or are you going to follow your own cue, embarrassing yourself, and destroying the production?

Exit stage right.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

A Part of God

A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of going to a Romanian men's chorus event. Essentially, the whole event was predicated on the idea that men who had spent the weekend fellowshipping with each other would then spend that Sunday worshipping God together in a chorus setting.

It was cool beans.

You know how sometimes you hear a phrase used all the time, and then, all at once, the full meaning of the phrase slaps you in the facehole? That happened at said weekend. The pastor, who was speaking in between songs, said something which I had heard over and over, probably hundreds of times growing up. And this time, it really made a splash on my conscious thought.

In English, whenever we pray, we just say we're going to pray. Or some people might say they're going to talk to God. That's cool and stuff - even accurate. But in Romanian, there's a certain phrase that portrays something a little more.

"Hai sa avem partasie cu Domnul."

Roughly, this means, "Let's have fellowship with the Lord." Except, that one word "partasie" actually calls to mind a little more. If you look at the word, it implies having a part of something. So, in other words, what you're actually saying is, "Let's have a part of the Lord."

Now that is what I want my prayer life to look like.

It's not just some arbitrary one-way conversation with some distant God. It is the active participation in a reciprocating relationship. It is the joining together of two things. When I have partasie with God, I literally get a part of Him in that moment. And I think that this is something we've all been called to.

I believe a lot of us have resigned ourselves to a boring prayer life and a fairly monotone walk with the Lord. We don't get flashes of lighting, so we dejectedly accept candle-flames. Now, look, I'm no holy roller. I'm not telling you to go out in search of the next big thing when it comes to prayer. I'm asking you to go out in search of the same thing that God has always offered: his Holy Spirit. In Luke 11, God tells us that the Holy Spirit is something he freely gives to those who ask. It is this Holy Spirit that will carry us along in a vibrant relationship with Christ.

I dunno about you, but I'm ready to have some partasie.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

You are not Awesome.

You may enjoy saving babies from car accidents on the weekends. You may love sacrificing all of your time and money for the poor. You may even wish you had more than two kidneys, JUST so you could give them to people who need it.

The point is, no matter how magnanimous and wonderful you may be (or think you are), you will probably never measure up to John the Baptist. Sorry, it's a cold world, I know.

Not only did this guy prophecy the coming of the Lord Jesus, but John himself was prophesied about in the Old Testament. (Malachi 3 & 4) He spent years in the desert, preparing his body, soul, and spirit to become the man that would pave the entrance of the Messiah. This task included living off of locusts and honey. I don't know about you, but that's not exactly The Ritz. John made it his mission to make sure that the incarnate Son of the Living God was properly welcomed on the physical shores of this earth, like a man welcoming the President of the United States into his home for the evening. But better.

My point is that, if we were using a grading system here, John would be varsity, while the rest of us are struggling to make it past try-outs for the rec team. And yet, when the Scriptures came to speak of his death, they told the tale and then moved on.

What I mean is, there was no long, drawn-out literary ceremony to commemorate the man who could trounce Mother Teresa. And not only that, but his death was humiliating! To give you the Cliff Notes version of the story, John essentially got killed because a teenage girl performed a lap dance for a king that pleased him so much that the king said that he would give her anything she wanted. Her response? The head of John the Baptist.

So let's recap a bit here: not only did John get a really skimpy eulogy, but his final breaths were handed out to him by the words of a teenaged girl. He didn't exactly get the VIP status for his funeral, if you know what I mean.

My point in saying all this is that we're not the point of the story here. If there was anyone who deserved the legacy of a king, it was John the Baptist. But yet, when his story ended, the world moved on. For those of you not following me yet: when you die, the world will move on.

Or, as Count Von Zinzendorf put it, "Preach the gospel, die, and be forgotten."

I don't care how much amazing stuff you've done. It doesn't matter to me that everyone you know thinks of you as the greatest guy ever. You could do things that go on to change the very course of this world, and when you're dead and gone, people keep on going. The one thing that doesn't stop?

God's glory.

Because, as God planned it out, His Glory is found in the exact same place as our perfect joy. The two are the same: the only place you will find true joy is in bringing God glory, and bringing God glory is brought about by our joy in Him. As John Piper put it more eloquently than I'll ever be able to, "He [God] is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him."

My encouragement to you today? Stop focusing on yourself - it's going to end in your life sucking. Focus on Christ, and let him be the object of your desires. That is where true joy is found.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Traffic Report

Two things that I've always wanted to avoid on Kingdom Eyes:

1: Posts with pictures of the sandwhich I ate for lunch.
2: Posts which simply contain a teen-girl emotional vomit.

I've always made it a point to not use this website as an opportunity to bore you with every fluctuation in feelings that I have. I've seen too many young people reduce the potential of the blogosphere to an online diary - Princess Diary style. But at the same time, I believe that there is an appropriate time for everything. And in this case, I feel it necessary to inform you a little of what's going on with my life.

To put it simply: I've never really been through anything like I've been going through in the past few months. In my first two years of college, I flew by my classes. I didn't study that much, and I got great grades. And then *POW!* - here comes nursing school. In a word: I've never done any school-work this difficult. I'm not even sure if I've ever done anything so difficult in any area. It's as if every part of me is being stretched, and every part of every day is filled with thinking about the next test, the next evaluation, the next assignment. This is coupled with the fact that I have gone much closer than I'd like to not passing some tests - a worry that led me to wonder if I could even pass my current classes.

However, this newly required work-load has put a strain on pretty much every other area of my life: family, friendships, and sleep. The most notable of these strains is my walk with God. I've tried so hard to stay involved with the ministries that I'm involved with. I know that God has big plans, and I want to be a part of it.

But probably the most detrimental thing that this new lifestyle has done is take away my time with the Lord. And by that, I mean a daily time of spending some time with God alone, allowing myself to be wrapped in His presence. I don't see how someone could grow in their walk with God without this time, and I've definitely seen the negative effects in my life: sin has become more vicious, my strength against temptation has grown weaker. I've fallen many times, and I am trying to ask Christ for the strength to claw my way out of my sinful ways and murder this beast called the flesh.

And by His grace alone, He has begun to show me how to use a shotgun.

One of the effects of the way my life is going now is that I've had much difficulty being regularly active here on Kingdom Eyes, with many posts ending up being a few days late. This is compounded with the fact that I continually fail at meeting the standards of holiness that God has set up for me. I do not take this lightly, and I desire that everything which I write on this website comes out of God's inspiration and redemption. That I might not write something that is the contradiction of the way I live. That means taking time and wrestling with God on everything I write. Even this post has been a struggle both mentally and spiritually.

So what does this all mean?

Well, for starters, a friend once told me about something called Walking Pneumonia: essentially, this means living with a crippling sickness and trying to function normally at the same time. Basically, it doesn't work. I need some bedrest. Now, this doesn't mean that I won't be posting every week, but that I'll be postponing the RMP's for a while, until I can get somewhat more of a grasp on life right now. And if I'm late on a post once in a while, I pray that you'd understand.

Whenever I listen to my local Christian radio station in the morning, there's always a traffic report. In that report, if there was a major accident, they'll ask the listeners to pray for the people involved. Yes and amen. But usually, my prayers for those people involved are not as urgent as if it that situation were to happen to my own friend. So, I ask you, if you are a friend of mine, pray fervently for me right now. I believe in a God who inhabits the praises of His people and responds to the prayers of the righteous.

So please. Pray.