Today's dose of AWESOME!

Jon Foreman of Switchfoot and Sean Watkins of Nickel Creek are collaborating for a new project called Fiction Family. The first song is up on the website, along with a brief history of their collaboration. These are two of my favorite musicians of all time... which makes this qualify as today's dose of AWESOME!

(and more than makes up for the horrific sound my cord made last night at 3F)

Drunk on Freedom

I think this is what we are sometimes.

I am talking specifically about those of us who are Christian, although this could apply to anyone who has abused a newfound freedom, whether newly graduated, newly "legal" or newly single.

In the case of Christians, there comes a point in our Christian lives when we learn what it means to be saved by Grace, and not by what we do or what rules we follow. With this knowledge comes responsibility, since we are expected not to cause the "little ones" to stumble and not to boast in anything but Christ. We are expected to treat this freedom with humility and sensitivity to those around us, like a new driver is expected to drive safely or a drinker is expected to "enjoy _______ responsibly".

But too often we get drunk on our freedom, flying around the corners in our freedom vehicles, almost (or completely) oblivious to those crossing streets in front of us or in the car with us. We (by "we", I mean "I") deride others for daring to be on the street in front of us, or for being audacious enough to ask us to slow down just a bit. Eventually, so much evil happens because of our freedom, that people become convinced the whole deal is wrong. They become convinced that God couldn't mean what He said about freedom, because of all the horrible things that happen because of it. They want to take our keys, lock us up, ground us forever. And they aren't entirely wrong.

"Get wisdom, get understanding" -Proverbs 4:5

"The mouth of the righteous man utters wisdom, and His tongue speaks what is just" -Psalm 37:30

Now, I'm not claiming to be righteous, but I have been blessed with many men (and women) in my life whom I would consider righteous, and have obtained at least a little wisdom from them. This is what they have told me.

Consider others better than yourself (Phil. 2:3). Don't ever put your freedom before the good of those around you. If there is something you do that may cause another to stumble, don't wave it in their faces. Don't speak about it proudly among your friends, because you aren't supposed to speak of ANYTHING pridefully.

Instead, use discretion. If you are around friends who are of the same mind, who are able to drink without getting drunk and without stumbling spiritually, or able to dance without becoming immoral, then have fun! Know that not everyone is where you are in that, and live accordingly. Love them more than you love your freedom. That's what Jesus did, taking on the prison of full humanity (which is what it was, compared to being our Limitless God) and ultimately death, in order to reconcile us to Him.

Don't be given to legalism, but be righteous and speak wisdom. In this way, you can recommend that one doesn't drink, and that another does so in moderation and enjoyment, to the glory and honor of Christ.

Don't fall in with those who have sacrificed their freedom for a black-and-white Christianity. Following Christ is a full-color, 1080p HD experience, my friends. Savor every moment, and fall completely in love with Christ, instead of begrudgingly accepting a new law (because becoming a slave to a law will ultimately taint your view of God). He wants us to be sons and daughters of God, and He wants us to grow up strong, and He wants to rejoice in giving us new, beautiful freedoms and strong, timely advice and commands. He wants a love relationship, in every way, with all of our hearts, as we mature and become complete, not lacking anything.

Live by the spirit, and by grace. Live in love and truth. Live in humility, with a heart in tune to those around you. Don't drink if it will hurt others. Don't dance where it will cause others to stumble. Make the way easy for the young ones. They will face tougher times and deeper lessons soon enough. When the time comes to partake in drink, or dance, enjoy every moment, knowing that you are doing so to the glory of God.

Also, to the younger believers who may read this... don't be too prideful to admit that you are among the younger. There is no shame in being young, only in failing consistently to grow up. Be content with whatever your current limitations are, whether you still struggle with alcoholism or lust or whatever. Seek wisdom with humility, and work to become the type of Christian/person you would admire.

Let Go

We have these small, short, fragile things. They are damaged so easily, destroyed in the blink of an eye. They are crying out to be given away, but we hold on to them with all that we are.

These small, short, fragile things... they are our lives. Some are already half-spent, and some are just starting, but most likely none of them will outlast the century. One wrong step and we are broken. One decision, made in haste and desperation, and we are no more. One faulty machine, one missed check of our blind spot... you get the point.

These lives are only worth protecting when they are all we have, and for our lives to be all we have is a tragedy in and of itself. People reach the pinnacle of what these small, short, fragile things have to offer, and find nothing worthy of their efforts. We've conquered our habitats, but we've been living in cages. Something inside of us knows there is more.

So we are invited out of our cages, and told of great things that we can and must do with these uncaged lives. Everything inside of us tells us this is right. All that we are asked is to leave our cages behind, and be free...

...but this new world is big, and we've only heard stories of those who have traveled far from their cages. No one can understand why we would give up the awesome cages we've made for ourselves, for something so unsure. Soon we begin to look back, and we miss our cages, and eventually we venture back (we exchange the truth of God for a lie). Surely our cages weren't that horrible, and they were quite comfortable. We slip back into our cage, lock the door, and live safe and sheltered lives. Every once in a while, we venture away from our cage, but we reject and scoff at the idea of leaving our cages for good. Those who are telling us to leave our cages... they are simply crazy.

Still... there is something inside us that knows and longs for the freedom outside of our (now self-imposed) prisons. We try to ignore the voice inside of us, that piece of us that isn't satisfied with having the nicest cage, or a cage just like our friends' cages. We hold on so tightly to the bars of our prisons, fighting freedom tooth and nail...

We hold on so tightly, to so little. We celebrate the freedom we were offered, and reflect on our trips outside of our cages, and something inside of us won't keep quiet.

What is out there, beyond what we've always known…out there, where the only one we can trust is the one who offered us our freedom in the first place.

What is “Out There” is what we were made for.

"Out There" isn't a destination. It isn't a place we can go, or an hour we can "give", or anything else tangible and immediately achievable. “Out There” is a life given completely to Christ, guided completely by the Holy Spirit to heights and eternal significance that only the Blessed Creator could dream up. Jesus Christ is the one offering us freedom and purpose. Our souls cry out for the freedom of His salvation, and our spirits for His purpose and direction for our lives. We can try to ignore these cries, to stifle them with earthly success and a life of plenty, but those things are nothing more than temporary solutions to a permanent problem, band-aids on a bullet wound.

Normally, this sort of post ends in a question, to make you think. However, since this post is just as much to me as it is to you, I will disregard conventional wisdom and simply say this…

Give up this silly little life. Accept freedom. Accept purpose. Let God take your life and make it something amazing, something beautiful and new. It doesn’t matter how much of your life is already wasted (I say that because, no matter what you’ve done in your life, God could have done so much more), because God will take even those past mistakes and make them part of a new masterpiece. There is no point to staying in your cage if you have been given freedom. There is no point in rejecting freedom when it is offered.

Let go.

Choosing the Right Wine (John 2:10)

Jesus turned water into wine, and I think we've missed the point.

I've heard these verses used incessantly to prove that "drinking alcohol isn't sinful in moderation." I agree with that point, but I think worrying about what we are going to drink has blinded us to some important symbolism in Jesus' home brewery.

The key is in what the master of the feast told the bridegroom in verse 10.
"Everyone serves the good wine first, and when people have drunk freely, then the poor wine. But you have kept the good wine until now."
In the allegory of the church as the "bride" of Christ, the bridegroom would in fact be Christ (who was established in chapter 1 as God in flesh). Jesus called the wine at the last supper "the new covenant in my blood" that would be "poured out for many" in Matthew 26, Mark 14, and Luke 22. This is contrasting with the "old covenant" of Exodus 24, which was confirmed with the blood of young bulls sacrificed on an altar of 12 stone pillars representing the 12 tribes of Israel.

So following this line of thinking, this miracle is a symbolic precursor to the better wine of the new covenant, the blood of Christ.

I think, more importantly, that the miracle could represent the contrast between our lives before and after Christ. Before Christ, this world's pleasures are all we know, and what we drink freely of... not knowing that something so much better is awaiting us when we accept Christ, and join into the new covenant. There are so many stories of regret, from people who sought what this world offered, got near the top, and realized that their journey was in vain and the worldly success would never satisfy them. True satisfaction is only found in Christ.

Christ was communicating this to us as well... that His wine is so much better than what this world has to offer. We spend our time drinking 6 dollar bottles of this world's finest, from plastic bottles with twist-off caps. Christ is offering us something infinitely better than whatever may lay in the world's finest wine cellar, but we are content drinking grape juice gone bad.

So in the end, it's all about choosing the right wine... the Wine of the New Covenant, the redemption available to us through the blood of Jesus Christ. Enjoy your alcohol in moderation, but don't miss the point.

Love More Deeply

I spent the weekend in Mexico on a "Family Mission Trip", as pretty much the only single guy in the group of 200. We built houses for families in the town of Puerto Penasco, or "Rocky Point", off the coast of the Gulf of California.

My group built a house for a family of six, the Valenzuela family. The father, Jesus, was so grateful, and helped willingly in every aspect of the building. He didn't sleep much while we were there, since he worked nights and helped us during the day, but there was always a smile on his face. There were tears in his eyes when he thanked us for his house, a house that people in America would pass by without a second thought... 22x22, 4 rooms, unfinished on the inside (they have to pay taxes on finished houses), with walls made of tar paper, 2 coats of stucco, and chicken wire.

There were tears in our eyes, too... we had brought the family along with us, and they had eaten lunch and dinner with us the last two full days. We took them out to eat, then let them experience a night in our camp the next night. They were grateful and graceful in every situation, and their love for us and for each other was evident in every movement.

Serving others allows us to love more deeply, and I love that family from the bottom of my heart. I think their love ran so deeply because they didn't have an over-abundance of "stuff" to choke it out or stunt it's growth. I had a sense that their love ran more deeply than we could imagine.

I want to love more deeply. Maybe I need less stuff.

Blogging on Purpose

I've never been one to "blog on purpose". I never really tried to get lots of readers, although I did try to make friends and in the process got readers. I have two main blogs now, on xanga and blogspot. I also do the Myspace blog every once in a while, and the facebook note, and I have another blogspot where I rant on occasion, and I suppose this underscores my dilemma...

I don't know how to blog and advertise my blog and try to get readers to it. I just... I've never really been about that. My boss, however, has a blog that he is constantly referring to and trying to get people to. He is a young teaching pastor, so he has a reasoning behind it, a desire to connect with a younger and more connected generation. He can do more, the more readers he has, so he tries to get more readers. He is also an introvert, so he communicates through blog and email, even when only five feet and a door seperate us. Go figure.

I guess I am debating with this right now... whether or not to make this one of those "on purpose" blogs. I do enjoy the blogging platform, because it lets me communicate in a much more thoughtful manner than my usual rapid-fire banter. I know, in the past, that my posts have been helpful on my older xanga site to others.

That's where I'm at right now. What do you think? Blog on purpose?

Which part of socialism would you prefer? (a rant)

1. The part in which we use our military to place an ever-tightening grip on our country while our economy and standard of living plummet and the world turns against us.


2. The part in which the government attempts to help out a struggling working class and the working poor, at the expense of big business and the wealthy (who are only in trouble if they have plunged into huge debt that necessitates ridiculous income in order to make payments tomorrow for yesterday's and today's decadence).

Today I got a text, telling me to "help stop the spread of socialism by voting for McCain!" I thought this was rather retarded.

Quite frankly, both of this year's candidates had a bit of socialism in them... and for now I'd prefer the liberal open hand to the conservative iron fist.

As for abortion and gay marriage... abortions actually went down under Clinton and up under Bush, because poor males felt more inclined to stick around with their unplanned families when they could count on the government's help, which caused women to keep their children. Banning abortions wouldn't stop them, it would simply create a cruel and unregulated black market which would put the women in more danger... if you are endeavoring to stop abortions, treat the cause, not the symptom.

And for gay marriages... I think most of us aren't worried about whether they get insurance benefits and get to visit each other in hospitals. I think it is about our children, and not wanting to have schools teach them that having "two mommies" is normal. So why don't we reach a compromise, instead of being inhuman to homosexuals. We show a wrathful and vengeful face to the world when we create an "us against them" mentality and rhetoric. (To those of you who would answer "God hates homosexuals... it's in Romans", I would urge you to read the context of the verse, find your own sin in that list, and realize that the point of the book is God's grace through Christ and His love and redemption available for all people.)

To me, this compromise would give them rights and allow them to have civil unions, but not teach about those issues until the seventh grade or some other arbitrary time, so that parents could have time to broach the issue on their own terms rather than have an authority drop the two mommy bomb on a five year old. Gay people are going to be together, so we might as well allow them to be healthy and well fed so that we have more time to reach them with the Gospel!

But hey, I didn't vote, so don't act like anything I say matters. I was registered... but it was 15 hours away. Let the judging commence.

I actually had two or three people tell me they were disappointed in me for not voting... I almost felt like saying "Oh, I'm just kidding! I actually went around the polling station slapping babies, but I voted!"

Just some thoughts as I "Remember, remember, the fifth of November."

The funny thing is, I could argue against almost every single thing I typed here. We act like we are right all the time, but we're just trying our best just like everyone else.