September 25, 2009

Hit Or Miss

I got up this morning, made my weekly errand run . . . in the car, I put my ipod on shuffle and proceeded to skip every song that played for more than 2 seconds.

At the gym, I find myself yawning while on cardio machines. The songs on my workout playlist that used to make me run until my lungs lost elasticity now bore me.

I eat the same thing for breakfast most mornings . . . and end up hating it.

All of this has got me thinking . . . routines are not always such a good thing. Especially when we so easily grow tired of the same stuff over and over, get bored, ADD, etc.

I don't think that we were made for the ordinary, the predictable, the day-in, day-out. At least I don't want to live that way.

Maybe that's why throughout the Psalms we repeatedly see: "Sing to the Lord a new song," (33:3, 96:1, 98:1, 144:9, 149:1)

It's not sing, "the same old song", "the song you sang yesterday - the song we sing everyday", "that one song, you know, the one that goes like this," . . . it's a new song.

Maybe God is calling us to break free from the routines that bind and bore - not only in the way we worship Him, but in all areas of life.

Yet, we are so easily content to stay comfortable and live in our set ways . . . how can we overcome this?

September 21, 2009

Livin' On A Prayer

On the day the Lord gave the Armorites over to Israel, Joshua said to the Lord in the presence of Israel:

"O sun, stand still over Gibeon,
O moon, over the Valley of Aijalon."

So the sun stood still,
and the moon stopped,
till the nation avenged itself on its enemies . . .

The sun stopped in the middle of the sky and delayed going down about a full day. There has never been a day like it before or since, a day when the Lord listened to a man. Surely the Lord was fighting for Israel!
-Joshua 10: 12-14

I can't help but feel astonished/overwhelmed by this passage.

First of all, this happens right after the hailstone episode . . . God has already done astonishing things for Joshua and Israel in their battle. I mean, more than could have been expected, imagined or asked for (at least in my mind)!

And now Joshua is really stepping the line with his prayer. He doesn't meekly ask or suggest, it sounds like he is commanding that the planets and stars freeze in their tracks.

I mean, where did he even get the idea to ask for this? He was pretty creative . . . and daring.

And God honors this audacious request. It actually happens . . . Joshua gets the light of the sun and moon for almost another day.

I don't think I really have words to capture how I feel about this event. I just picture the scene in my head, and my jaw drops. God surprises me and really blows my mind - a lot.

Could I, in Joshua's shoes, have done the same thing? Do I have the same confidence or boldness when I come before God with my struggles and requests?

Better yet - do I expect great things from God? Or are my prayers simply mediocre, small, meek, limited? Are we praying halfheartedly? Do we doubt that He is able? Do we really trust and believe that He will do more than we can ask for or imagine?

Are we limiting His power by praying too small? What parts of our lives are we holding onto, not surrendering to Him in prayer?

How can we pray like Joshua? What does that even look like?

Maybe it's healing for the obliterated spirit. Maybe it's the skeptic gaining the ability to trust. Maybe it's the atheist seeking their Creator. Maybe it's employment in this economy. Maybe it's turning a city upside-down. Maybe it's having our eyes opened for the first time.

September 19, 2009

Call To Arms

So Joshua marched up from Gilgal with his entire army, including all the best fighting men. The Lord said to Joshua, "Do not be afraid of them; I have given them into your hand. Not one of them will be able to withstand you."

. . .

As they fled before Israel on the road down from Beth Horon to Azekah, the Lord hurled large hailstones down on them from the sky, and more of them died from the hailstones than were killed by the swords of the Israelites.

-Joshua 10:7-8, 11

The Bible might look innocent sitting on my kitchen table, but it tends to be a little more action-packed than I give it credit.

To me, this scene is like something out of Transformers or X-men . . . can you see Israel in an all-night march to ambush their enemy? Can you see Joshua's face as he leads them into battle, putting all his efforts into trusting his Lord, unsuspecting of what's coming next?

I bet Joshua thought it was all up to him and his army to win the fight.

If I was in Joshua's shoes, my eyes would have lit up with the hailstones. I would have stopped dead in my tracks - in shock, surprise and awe. What an awesome reminder that God is fighting for us . . . and that it's ultimately God's war, not ours. Did you see in vs. 11 that more of the enemy died as a result of God's hand than Israel's?

God calls us into action and enables us to do so . . . but sometimes we think that it's all up to us. That we have to pull ourselves through the week, our struggles, burdens . . . . that we are fighting alone, trudging though this mess that we call life.

But you know what? Sometimes we need to see hailstones. Sometimes we need a reminder that the creator of the universe is calling the shots, that He cares more about us than we realize, and that He is fighting for us.

What areas of your life do you need to see God's hand in? Where do you need to see hailstones? Are we limiting His power by believing that we're in this alone, and trying to fight by ourselves?

[Disclaimer: I have no original thoughts . . . J.D. preached an awesome sermon on this a few months ago - you should check it out.]

September 17, 2009

holla back/guest blog

Yesterday, posted a guest blog by Jamie Tworkowski, founder of To Write Love On Her Arms (which is an amazing organization - check them out at Reading their mission statement helped inspire me to get started on the music outreach that's beginning at Summit. I have copied & pasted his blog here because he has positive, challenging (even missionally-minded) things to say and I support him and his work.


If someone gave you a microphone and a stage, what would you say and what would you sing? Whether the crowd was 10 people or 10,000, what would you make with the moment?

I was going to write a letter to the frontmen--the folks who sing in bands. I was going to say that there should be a system or some classes where they would be reminded that music is a very special thing; something not unlike a miracle, rich with history and the potential to move people and change lives. They would learn about urgency and honesty, the value of a moment and a song's unique ability to cause people to feel, to remind them that they're alive and that life is worth living.

And it crossed my mind to say those things because lately, it seems like there's been moments when everyone is forgetting. I'm bored with watching guys play to thousands of people and it feels like everyone says the same thing in saying nothing: "How you motherf****s doing?" is followed by a request for the world's largest circle pit. Congratulations. You are the fourth band in a row to say the exact same thing.

Are you kidding me? You beat the odds by making it and they hand you this electronic thing that makes your voice louder and that's the best you could come up with? That's what you wanted to tell the world? The stage is sacred. It's above the ground so that people can see the magic when it happens; so that people can see something bigger than the sum of its parts; something louder than the same dumb joke, brighter than the latest neon trend. Tell us your story. Show us your heart. Remind us of our own. Point to something. In the silence between songs, point to something that matters, some question or problem that steals your sleep at night. Invite us to be part of the solution.

But maybe the lessons are not just for the guys with microphones. Maybe this stuff applies to all of us. It's been said that all the world's a stage and that maybe we all have some kind of influence and opportunities to say real things and move people. The stage in front of the crowd is this obvious place where it happens, but maybe it's true that we each have our songs to sing and venues to play. We each get a few people who listen and a few people to listen to. We each have our jobs and our schools and all the places where life happens. We live in a world filled with needs and opportunities. Every person has a story. There's plenty of room for meaning, depth and change. Don't buy the lie that says there's only room for jokes and it's cooler not to care about anything. The bar has been set way too low. There's room for magic and inspiration. There's room to live a better story.

The show starts now. alt

Jamie Tworkowski is the founder of To Write Love On Her Arms, a non-profit movement dedicated to presenting hope and finding help for people struggling with depression, addiction, self-injury and suicide. Since 2006, TWLOHA has responded to 100,000 messages from over 100 countries. They've also given $500,000 directly to treatment and recovery. Tworkowski will be speaking at universities across America this fall. Visit for more info.


On a side note, TWLOHA is starting chapters at universities across the country - you can find out more information on their facebook page. If I was still in college, I would jump on that opportunity. How cool would it to see a chapter started at UNCW or one of the campuses here at RDU?

September 13, 2009

I'm So Sick

All I truly know
Is isolation, self-damnation . . .
"Rabbits Are Roadkill On Route 37" - AFI

I'm so sick,
Infected with where I live
Let me live without this,
Empty bliss, selfishness
"I'm So Sick" - Flyleaf

Everybody knows about teenage angst, wizard angst, several other kinds of angst, but I am here to talk about something I'd call YP angst.

YP = Young Professional = single, out of undergrad and in your 20's.

We are young, without spouses or family. If we are employed, we haven't been at our job long enough to be truly committed.

Nothing is tying us down . . . which can open the door for loneliness and isolation.

I feel like I'm floating in the wind, without a home. It's amazing how you can feel completely and utterly alone in a crowded room.

Did I mention how awkwardness pervades this season of life?

I am so thankful for the community and friends God has given me. However, friends and roommates cannot have the same commitment and intimacy as a spouse and family.

If I wanted to drive to California tomorrow, no one would have to know. I could leave this area at any time. Would it even matter?

Satan knows me better than I give him credit for. He knows my weaknesses, and how easily I believe him when he tells me that I am alone, unloved and worthless.


On a more positive note, I would highly recommend having a roommate if you don't already. Talking to mine helped my emo cloud lift a little bit earlier today.

I do love the freedom and flexibility of being single. I do want to be part of a church plant, so being single opens doors that might not exist if I was married or had kids. However, there's no denying that I get in a funk about it from time to time.

September 12, 2009

Head Like A Hole

I first heard this song about 3 years ago . . . mainly because AFI did a cover of it. (who's surprised?) Anyway . . . I thought that it sounded good, but once I listened to the lyrics I wasn't sure how I felt about it. It goes like this:

god money, I'll do anything for you.
god money, just tell me what you want me to.
god money, nail me up against the wall.
god money don't want everything, he want it all.

No you can't take it,
No you can't take it,
No you can't take that away from me.

Head like a hole.
Black as your soul.
I'd rather die than give you control.

Bow down before the one you serve,
You're going to get what you deserve.

god money's not looking for the cure.
god money's not concerned with the sick among the pure.
god money, lets go dancing on the backs of the bruised.
god money's not one to choose.

"Head Like A Hole" - Nine Inch Nails

However, I appreciate it now. What is this song saying? It would seem that NIN is exposing the love of money for the false god that it is . . . idol, functional savior, if you will. Money and all the posessions of the world appear so enticing and glamorous . . . but will ultimately bring about destruction. I mean, does a loving god go "dancing on the backs of the bruised,"?

It would seem that this song could actually hold some Biblical truths. (don't throw things at me yet . . .) Solomon, Jesus and Paul were preaching this very thing thousands of years before NIN even existed . . .

Whoever trusts in his riches will fall . . .
- Proverbs 11:28

Whoever loves money never has money enough;
whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with his income.
This too is meaningless.
-Ecclesiastes 5:10

People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.
- 1 Timothy 6:9-10

"No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money."
- Matthew 6:24

"For, as I have often told you before and now say again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ.Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame."
-Philippians 3:18-19

It's funny to me how a lot of the time, secular artists, or people who want nothing to do with God have the same pain against society/our worldview that God does.

Across The Night

You know . . . the Old Testament is pretty cool. I thought it was scary at first, but the more I read it, the more I learn about God's character (especially His redemption and patience) and how he consistently used people who are just as messed up as I am. Word.

. . . and good thing I like it, because it's kind of big and I'm going to be in the midst of it for a while (I'm trying to read the entire Bible . . . which may take anywhere between 5 and 90 years).

So Joshua is this dude who takes over when Moses dies, leading Israel into the land that God promised them 40+ years earlier. The first thing that God tells Joshua is to be strong and courageous, He'll never leave or forsake him, and that he'll succeed as long as he stays within God's will (Joshua 1:6-9).

In Joshua 3, the Israelites are on one side of the Jordan River, in Shittim . . . and they need to get to a place called Gilgal. I'm looking at a map, and really the only way to get there is to cross the Jordan, unless you want to trek waaayyyy down and loop around the Dead Sea. I'm pretty sure they didn't have bridges back then.

So what does God do? He tells them to cross the river while it's at flood stage.

He tells Joshua:

"Today I will begin to exalt you in the eyes of all Israel, so they may know that I am with you as I was with Moses. Tell the priests who carry the ark of the covenant: 'When you reach the edge of the Jordan's waters, go and stand in the river.'" (3:7-9)

And sure enough:

Now the Jordan is at flood stage all during harvest. Yet as soon as the priests who carried the ark reached the Jordan and their feet touched the water's edge, the water from upstream stopped flowing. It piled up in a heap a great distance away . . . So the people crossed over opposite Jericho. The priests who carried the ark of the covenant of the Lord stood firm on dry ground in the middle of the Jordan, while all Israel passed by until the whole nation had completed the crossing on dry ground. (v. 15-17)

I wonder what went through their heads when they first heard what they were supposed to do. I wonder if Joshua lost any sleep over it, wondering how the Israelites would take it when he told them the news. I mean, these are the same people who, after seeing God deliver them across the Red Sea and obliterate the Egyptians, started whining about being stuck in the desert.

But you know, God didn't need the priests to get their toes wet. He could've teleported them across the Jordan if He wanted - He created the earth and physics, so He can do whatever He wants with it. But He told them to take that first step, to stand in the Jordan . . . just like He told Moses to put his hand over the water before He parted the Red Sea (Exodus 14:16).

God is going to work in our lives and through us. But sometimes it requires a bit of trust, obedience, and for us to get our toes wet.

We can't just sit at home and pray for hours, expecting God's blessings to be brought to our doorstep by the pizza delivery boy.

He wants the best for us, but it requires a little bit of action on our part . . . that first step into the water. Sure, it's scary - but if we were 100% certain, where would faith and trust come in? Would that really display God's glory?
Blog Design by Caked Designs