My Own Worst Enemy (or, Why I Need A Robot)

Sometimes I think I could do a lot more with this life if it weren’t for the fact that I was the one living it.

Confused yet?

What I mean is that I get in my own way a lot. I want to live this life of meaning and purpose and love and grace, and be this amazing worship leader and servant and fiancé and friend. I want to live a life bigger than myself, a life that glorifies God in every action and thought, but I try to do it on my own...

...and it's impossible to consistently live for God, without God.

But it wouldn't be so impossible if I HAD A ROBOT!

See, I've come to the realization that most of my screw-ups are due to my own emotional crap. So if I had a robot, that was programmed to do the things I know are right, without the constraints of emotions or insecurities, I'd be much more successful.

I always hate the parts of movies where the constraints of humanity cause people to screw something up, whether it be physical, mental, or emotional shortcomings. So, my robot would have:

1. A 1000 horsepower, solar powered engine.
2. A brain with a direct connection to Google.
3. The ability to play any and every instrument, and to sing on key and switch to that cool autotune sound.
4. No feelings, just encouraging words programmed into it, including the capability for light, comforting taps on the shoulder.

Of course, many things could go wrong with Robot Richard. For one, it could use too much strength in one of those comforting taps, shattering collarbones instead of mending hearts. Also, the Google brain, with that strength and no emotional constraints, could very likely take over the world.

Then again, perhaps Robot Richard wouldn't be a bad dictator.

Now, perhaps instead of wishing I had a Robot Richard, I should instead get closer to God, and enjoy all of the amazing emotions that come with friendship and relationship and romance and accomplishment. Perhaps I should embrace the opportunity to comfort people with my own hands and lead people in worship with my own voice. Maybe God's given me these privileges for a reason...

But I still think Robot Richard would be awesome.

Indie Bliss is Sufjan Stevens

There is something positively magical about great indie music. It feels organic, unadultered by the hit makers and unencumbered by contracts and expectations. Now, I know this isn't always true, that Sufjan Stevens' Asthmatic Kitty label is probably just as much a slave to their eclectic image as other labels are to their bread and butter, but still... the beauty of a great song by a great songwriter with a band of friends is something to behold.

I love how music can put the soul at ease one minute, and push a restless spirit to action the next. Third Format tonight was awesome, and the songs were amazing examples of driving, inspiring music. That has it's time and place.

But for now... take a rest with me, and enjoy some of Sufjan Stevens' best work.

Love Who I Love

Do you have those friends who treat their dogs like people?

I've noticed something pretty interesting over the past few weeks. Friends of mine have had pictures of their pets in different situations on facebook, and people have responded directly to the pets. Now, the first think I think when I see something like this is something along the lines of DOGS CAN'T READ!!!

Except, perhaps, for Border Collies. I hear they are smarter than two year olds.

But I started thinking about what those people were thinking. And when you starting thinking about what people are thinking, it gets you thinking that maybe your thinking isn't so, well, thoughtful.

When you love something, the best thing a friend can do is express a supportive love toward that something. That supportive love is one that doesn't compete with, but compliments, the original love. This applies to everything from pets and favorite bands, to family and romantic relationships. I love my sister, and when my friends and family are looking out for her while I am 2 states away, I feel loved. I love my girlfriend, and when someone does something to make her happy, it makes me happy. But I had to learn that there is a difference between complimentary and competing affections, especially in my romantic relationship. Jealousy comes from not understanding that difference, and I am having to mature out of being the jealous type. When there is that complimentary love, and when I recognize it as such, the person expressing that love becomes a friend of mine, even if I've never met them, because they've loved who I love.

I think this is what God asks us to do with other people. If we love God, and God loves people, we should also love people. However, we shouldn't love them with a selfish love that competes with God for their affections. I mean, how silly would it be for us to try and get someone else's dog to like us instead of it's owner? The love we have for people should be one that compliments and supports the love God has for them, one that points them to the original love.

So this is why we treat our friend's pets and children so well. We love who they love, because we love them.

When you love who I love, you love me.

When you love who God loves... you get the picture.

Web Presence

I spent the morning working on my "web presence" (i.e. LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Blogger). I have been influenced by Seth Godin's Blog for a while now, having been shown it when I first arrived at Central. The more and more I read his work, the more I feel I need to do more on the web.

So here is my question to everyone who still reads this on blogger or in my notes... what would you suggest I should do to have more of a "web presence"? Does the word "web presence" remind you of a ghost spider? Does the picture I used really creep you out?

By the way, that picture is an actual ghost spider. Did you know they existed? I didn't.

I Grew Up On The Street! (Nostalgia Alert!)

The Sesame Street, that is!

One of my responsibilities in Third Format is to find the "Random Clip of the Month" and post it on the blog. In my searching for the best of the best, some videos make me quite happy, but don't quite make the cut. It made me incredibly happy to see these clips, with talented and relevant musicians and actors teaching kids how to count and spell. Since you won't be seeing them on the Third Format blog anytime soon, I thought I'd show them to you here :). I grew up watching Sesame Street, and I'm not ashamed to say it still fills me with the warm fuzzies whenever I see it!

Show me what I'm looking for.

My favorite children's books is The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein. It is a simple, sad, beautiful story about a tree who loved a little boy. The tree was always happy giving the little boy what he wanted, but sad when the little boy went away. The boy (who grows up throughout the story) is always looking for something else from the tree... money, shelter, escape, rest. Ultimately, the tree is happy when the boy (who is now an old man) finds rest sitting on what is now... a stump.

I wonder if sometimes we treat God like that tree.

I've noticed that, as I've grown up, I've wanted different things from God. When I first became a Christian it was simply a pleasure to feel God near, to worship Him and do whatever I could to serve. I just wanted to spend my entire life bringing a smile to His face, and didn't think about many other things.

It seems that as we "grow up", we begin to believe that we can live our life on our own, or perhaps simply get by with a little help from God. We ask Him for a job, or a car, or some money or love or stability. We ask Him, and when He helps us we may or may not thank Him as we run off to our important, busy lives. We look for satisfaction in the things He can give, when the only true satisfaction lies in the giver.

I imagine how the boy in the story could have enjoyed the company and advice of the tree when he was looking to make his living. I wonder how much the tree would have loved to hear about the pretty girl he met the other day, or the awesome boating adventures he had that past week. I wonder how much love the boy was missing out on... if maybe he could have found rest and peace a lot sooner.

Now, in writing this, I was at first tempted to chastise the belittling of God in such a way, wondering how I could possibly think of the Omnipotent Creator as a humble friend and provider longing for our company. Instead, I am amazed at the beauty of His humility. Philippians 2 says that Christ did indeed humble himself in that way, loving us enough to long for our company. This fills my heart with regret, at all of the times I've put Him off and let Him down.

When my girlfriend wants to spend time with me, it is one of the most amazing feelings. I feel so loved when she tells me she misses me, when she expressed her desire to see me and tries to find some way to spend time with me despite our busy schedules. To think that God humbles himself to this kind of love for us is... unimaginable. amazing. beautiful.

So maybe I shouldn't treat God like the boy treated the tree. Maybe instead of telling God what I want and asking Him how He can help my purposes, I can just be happy to be with Him. Maybe I can let Him show me what I'm looking for.

Will You be in the air tonight?

Sometimes it feels like God is far away.

It almost feels wrong to say that, since I work for a church and am a worship leader, but above all of that I am a follower of Christ and a believer in honesty. All of that to say, sometimes I feel like I am reaching and reaching and grabbing nothing but air.

Even with this blog post, I felt like I should write something, but all I could think of is this one thing...

God is in the air.

As I stared at the majesty of His pyrotechnics lighting up the sky, through my smudged windshield, I felt something... but I just couldn't put it to words. I tried, but it felt like I was just grasping at air, trying to find something to hold on to. All I could think of, the only words that came out, were those five words...

God is in the air.

I think we worry a lot. We worry when we don't have the right words or the right response. We worry that we won't make our point, that we will be responsible for the results of our negligence as we lose the struggle to stay focused, as we stare off into the distance, into the... air.

God is in the air.

We look, and we seek, and we search, and these are all different words for the same thing, but we try all three anyway. Even now, in trying to make this point that is only now becoming coherent in my mind, I feel like I should be finding the perfect picture to draw your attention to...

To what? There is no place where God is not. There is no dark corner hidden from Him, not even in our hearts or minds. Where am I going to draw your attention, as if I knew a place with more God than another place? I can draw you to pictures of what He's done, but that pales in comparison to WHO HE IS... and who He is can't simply be pointed at, in some concrete location like the QuikTrip a few blocks down

I am just coming to this realization, that it is my job to lead you into the presence of A GOD WHO IS EVERYWHERE. It isn't a matter of location, but cognition. With minds set on Christ, we become cognizant of God's omnipresent nature, and we stop looking for Him, and start worshipping Him where we stand.

Because God is in the air.

I'm not sure what that means yet, but I like it.