Seeing orange when all we want is red (another Lawson inspired post)

11201811_10153658453707813_6482443562922202457_nIf you don’t know who Lawson is, you must not read my blogs very often. I talk about my youngest nephew quite a bit, not only because he is one hilarious and cool kid but also because, when I visit him, I always leave having learned something.

On one of my recent visits, Lawson was showing me some of his newest Ninja Turtle gear. He’s a big fan. His favorite is Raphael, the red-masked ninja turtle with attitude…let’s just say it fits well that the stubborn, strong-willed turtle is his favorite. While we were going through the inventory of his Ninja Turtle swag, he pulled out his Raphael mask and wanted me to help him put it on his face so he could pretend. I was more than happy to help and play Ninja Turtles with him but every time I tried to put the mask on him and tie it, he resisted.

The problem, as it turned out, was that the mask was double sided. The part of the mask facing out was red like Raphael wore, but the part facing in towards Lawson, was orange like Michelangelo wore. Every time I went to put the mask on him, all he could see was orange. In his mind, I was making him be Michelangelo when he wanted to be Raphael.

There have been many times in my life where I had an idea of who I wanted to be and what it would take for me to be that person. In my pursuit of this, I would plan my path and do anything I could to stick to it. The issue here is that sometimes, dare I say oftentimes, the path doesn’t follow the plan. Situations arise, circumstances change, paths need to be rerouted and plans just fall apart. Sometimes the person we think we are “supposed” to be changes entirely.

Like Lawson, I failed to see the “red” because I couldn’t stop focusing on the “orange”. I became so focused on the destination that I forgot about the journey. I needed a change of perspective. I tried showing Lawson that there were two sides to the mask and when I put the orange facing toward him then the red was on the outside making him Raphael. He couldn’t grasp it because each time I went to try again, he saw the orange and would get upset. He couldn’t, nor wouldn’t, change his perspective.

There are times we become some fixated on how we want things to work out that we don’t see things from God’s perspective. There are times we become some fixated on getting our own agenda out there, that we fail to see things from other’s perspectives. After a good while of disagreeing, Lawson eventually grasped the concept of what I was trying to tell him. He got to be Raphael when he opened up to a new perspective.

Imagine the things you could do by opening your eyes and your mind to God’s perspective over your own. Imagine the person you could be and the glory you could bring to God by viewing life through the lens of another’s perspective. Imagine what we could accomplish together if we stopped seeing orange when all we want is red.

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Midweek Music 09.23.15

“Greater” | MercyMe

There’s a lot wrong with this world. Like everything. See, I’m a bit of what John Piper terms a “Christian Hedonist”. I really do believe that there is no good in this world except that which Christ brings into it. I believe that my base desire is not to do good of my own nature but to serve Christ and glorify Him thereby giving me the most satisfaction and joy in life.

Because of this, I don’t have to be defined by who or what I am. I am defined by my relationship with Christ and what he makes me in spite of my own failings. I’m going to fail at things. I’m going to be disappointed and I’m going to disappoint. I’m going to shame and be shamed. I’m going to experience and cause pain. You are too. It’s our nature.

We are broken humans. I’m thankful for a God who is greater than me. I’m thankful for a God who, through redeeming love, grace, and mercy; makes me greater than that of which I am capable by myself.


 

 

I’ve created a playlist on Spotify featuring all the songs from Midweek Music, feel free to follow it along with the posts.

Midweek Music 09.09.15

“You Are My Vision” | Rend Collective

I’m a fan of traditional and contemporary worship. Why? Ultimately, I’m a “fan” of any type of worship service that allows a person to actively focus on truly worshiping God. If a Charles Wesley hymn edifies your relationship with God and allows you to express your adoration for Him, sing it. If the latest Hillsong worship song does that for you, sing it. If not singing at all, but sitting back and feeling immersed in the music and experiencing God’s presence is how you worship, do it.

I like it when “old” meets “new”. That’s one reason I like this song. Another reason I like it is the subtle change in lyrics.

“Be thou my vision…”

You are my vision…”

Rather than making a request, we make a firm declaration. You are my vision. You are my wisdom. You are my battle-shield. You are High King of Heaven.


 

I’ve created a playlist on Spotify featuring all the songs from Midweek Music, feel free to follow it along with the posts.

Midweek Music 09.03.15

“Come to the River” | Ronnie Freeman

It has been some kind of week. One of those weeks where every aspect of your life is invaded by stress and you feel like there is no escape. That kind of week.

I heard this song for the first time about 11 years ago. Ronnie was the worship leader for a time at the church in which I grew up. He left when I was still young to pursue a solo career and after a few years of success, he returned to the church for a homecoming concert at which he performed this song. It became one of those songs that I just fall into. I can listen to it over and over and it never grows old and always encourages me.

I’m doing this song on Sunday for communion, something I planned weeks ago.  I didn’t know when I planned it into worship that I would be having the week I’m having, I just felt led to put it on this Sunday. Being able to practice this song and listen to it over the last week has been a great source of comfort and rest for me. It’s in those moments where something falls into place, something I felt led by God to do in the first place, that bring me the greatest comfort. The idea that maybe, just maybe, God knew I was going to need this song this week. That maybe someone in the congregation needs to hear this song, this week. That maybe someone reading this right now needs to hear this song, this week. Rest in God and be comforted by His incredible peace.


I’ve created a playlist on Spotify featuring all the songs from Midweek Music, feel free to follow it along with the posts.

Midweek Music 08.26.15

“Nothing is Impossible” | Planetshakers

My Midweek Music posts are by far and away my least read blog posts. When it’s later on Wednesday and I haven’t written one yet, I sometimes think, “I’ll just skip it, who cares?” Last week, I shared “Your Love is Strong” by Jon Foreman for Midweek Music. I received a really nice message from someone who said that song was what they needed to hear. They were having a hard time with someone in their life and needed to hear the redeeming message that Christ loves us despite ourselves. So here I am, late Wednesday afternoon sharing another song with you that means something to me right now, even if only 10 people read it.

We’re doing “Nothing is Impossible” in worship this weekend. I almost took it off the set list. If you know me at all, you know that there is nothing theological that makes my stomach turn quite like “Prosperity Gospel” teachings. It goes against everything I believe Christ is about. I almost took this song off because I was afraid “nothing is impossible” would be misconstrued as “nothing is improbable”. I became pretty wrapped up in what it might be for some people that I wasn’t seeing what it was to me, why I chose the song in the first place.

If we are to call ourselves Christians, we must believe that Christ truly can do all things. Nothing is impossible. Sure, there are lots of things that are improbable but maybe it would behoove our message to not focus on what it is that Christ isn’t likely to do and stick to the message of what is possible through faith in him. We’re doing the song in worship this Sunday and I look forward to declaring to people that through Christ, blind eyes are opened, strongholds are broken, nothing is impossible.


I’ve created a playlist on Spotify featuring all the songs from Midweek Music, feel free to follow it along with the posts.

Midweek Music 08.19.15

“Your Love Is Strong” | Jon Foreman

Some days, it’s hard to love. I’m called to love those with whom I agree and disagree. Some days, it’s harder to love. It’s a part of my broken nature to not want to love, but that doesn’t make it okay. I’m not called to love out of convenience. I’m not called to love out of agreement. I’m called to love because I am loved.

I find myself encouraged by Christ loving me despite myself. There’s not a day goes by that I don’t disappoint yet he still loves me. That’s how strong His love is for us. I’m encouraged by that love…even on the hard days.


I’ve created a playlist on Spotify featuring all the songs from Midweek Music, feel free to follow it along with the posts.

Unwanted? Perfect.

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“Unwanted”…that’s the word that stands out to me from this screenshot. That is the word that breaks me and makes me want to cry out. The unadulterated selfishness is daunting.

“Your life, your essence, your very existence…the mere thought of you is not worth me sacrificing my dreams because you are unwanted.” That’s what this comment is saying about a child…a human being.

I want answers for substandard education. I want improvements made to a broken healthcare system. I want opportunities for people to break out of their socioeconomic bindings. I want to feed the hungry, clothe the poor, shelter the homeless…but when did any of these become more important than someone’s most basic right to simply have a life in the first place?

“My college dreams are worth more than your life.” How can you put a measurable value on life? I can put a monetary value on a college education, healthcare, food, clothing, and shelter among other superficial things. But how is it even feasible for someone to place a monetary value on the life of a human being? I couldn’t even begin to care if any aborted baby ever cured aids or cancer. Why is that even an argument? The value of your life will never be determined by the remarkable things society thinks you have or have not done. There is value to be had in having a life.

“Perfect”. Not only is this total devaluation of life condoned, it’s celebrated. That’s not daunting, it’s disturbing. How can anyone think that there is anything perfect about an argument that would place going to college on a higher level than the life of a child.

I’m broken by this. It saddens me to new depths to see this screenshot circulating on social media. In the time it took me to write this short post, babies were aborted. Lives were ended…and there is nothing “perfect” about that.

Midweek Music 08.12.15

“Christ is Enough” | Hillsong Worship

We all “need” something from time to time. A new car, new clothes, certain foods, different job, more money, better social status, etc… I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been guilty of “needing” something that, in actuality, I didn’t.

We play a game with God. “Give me (insert item) and I’ll do better about (insert spiritual attribute)”. We treat our relationship with Christ like a points-based reward system. I’m just curious when Christ stopped being good enough. When did his unjustified love and grace towards us stop being more than what we deserve.

It’s hard to live the words of this song. It’s hard living in a material world and not being a material girl (or guy) to reference a song with a different mindset. It’s hard but it’s worth it. Letting Christ be more than enough, let alone enough, is so worth it. Commit yourself to Christ, be encouraged by his unmitigated grace, and follow the direction toward which he is leading you. Let Christ be enough.


I’ve created a playlist on Spotify featuring all the songs from Midweek Music, feel free to follow it along with the posts.

Jehovah Jireh

Throughout scripture, many descriptive names are ascribed to God in order to portray the active role he plays in our (his creation’s) lives. One such name is “Jehovah Jireh” or “the Lord will provide”. It’s taken from Genesis 22 and the story of Abraham being told by God to sacrifice his son, Isaac. At the last minute, after proving himself faithful, God stops Abraham and provides for him a ram to sacrifice instead. It was a test for Abraham to prove his faith and obedience. In response, Abraham names that location “Jehovah Jireh” to acknowledge God’s faithfulness in providing.

Over the weekend, I found out about a couple friends who are in need of jobs. Someone had been talking to them about “Jehovah Jireh”. This type of theology makes me shudder. God is faithful and God is just but I see the “Jehovah Jireh” theology, such as this one, taking firm roots in Evangelical America. The idea that your want is in actuality a need and that God is a magical genie waiting to grant your wishes if only you ask enough and/or are “good” enough.

That is not the Gospel of Christ. That is dangerous thinking. That is prosperity gospel.

I believe that God loves you and because He loves you, He wants to be in relationship with you. The problem is we live in a first-world society which seems set on the mentality that being in relationship with God means material blessings. It gets worse when we equate the amount of our material blessings to how much we love God and God loves us. What does this theology say to third-world missionaries? To starving children? To our atheistic neighbors?

I believe that God plays an active role in our daily lives. I believe He loves and cares for us. I also believe the opportunity to use my passion for leading worship as a career and the fact that I have money in my bank account is not because God loves me more than a friend who is serving as a missionary in Africa. He doesn’t love me more than the starving and homeless people my friend works with on a daily basis. He doesn’t love me less than Joel Osteen and his $50 million estimated worth.

God will provide. It just might not be in the way you expect.

Midweek Music 08.05.15

“By Our Love” Christy Nockels

This song has been stuck in my head for quite some time now. With the recent political climate, both in the last few months and beyond, Christians have become known for what they are against and what they dislike.

It’s easy to be on the defense. It’s easy to sit back and wait for someone to say anything you don’t like and then make sure everyone knows you don’t like it. But imagine a world where Christians proactively worked towards being on the offensive side of love.

What if Christians, instead of being known for what we don’t like, were known for showing love and kindness. What if Christians were known for feeding the hungry, helping the poor and the homeless, healing the sick. What is Christians were known by their love.

 

I’ve created a playlist on Spotify featuring all the songs from Midweek Music, feel free to follow it along with the posts.