Posted by: musingsofthemund | August 6, 2014

Motivation: Why Did I Start What I am Doing?

I read an interesting blog entry by Shawn Smucker today. He posed this question at end, “Why did you start what you are doing?” Thinking about the motivations in my life that have propelled me to where I am has really gotten the wheels in my head turning. I don’t usually comment on blogs but this one compelled me to break out of the silent creeping I usually do in the blogosphere and comment. But the more I thought, the more I wanted to say and I didn’t necessarily want to be the guy that writes a novel in the comments. So instead, you get to read a more broad scope of my thoughts here.

For a long time now, I’ve struggled with my job situation. Really, all things considered, it’s a pretty decent job. The wages aren’t terrible and the benefits are pretty good. The work isn’t all that terribly difficult. And yet, I’ve lived in a great deal of frustration. I’m not happy. I think I try to make excuses for that unhappiness. One of my biggest excuses/complaints is that I feel like I have no career mobility here, no way of moving up, no way of getting to a promotion. Of course the other side of that coin is that I bear some responsibility based on some past actions and a lack of ambition and motivation to gain skills to help me move forward. More importantly though, I think these frustrations serve to mask the true issue, which can be revealed by asking myself, “Would I be happier in this job if I were promoted?” The answer to that question is no, not really.

So I sit here pondering Shawn’s question. Why did I start what I am doing? The truth is, I took the job I have now because it was a job. It was an opportunity when I didn’t know what else to do. I graduated with a degree in theatre. I learned valuable skills in that, but it’s not exactly the kind of degree that’s going to open a ton doors for you. Especially when you’re an introvert like me. (Side note: I’ve always found it amusing how much people instantly assume about you when they find out your degree is in theatre. ‘Oh, you do theatre, you must be an outgoing extroverted powerhouse!’ Nope, not so much…) I had one job prospect that I’d gotten through a whole 3-interview process for and didn’t get it, I tried a stint at Aflac where I had a mini-nervous breakdown because it was glorified cold calling and door-to-door sales, I even tried an internship at church that I didn’t really feel I did a super good job with. But then, the company my father worked at had just been acquired by another company and they were looking for a front desk person. My father asked if I was interested, and, seeing as how I had no other real prospects at the time, I said yes.

I think scenarios like this are sometimes a sort of happy accident where you find yourself in a situation that you didn’t expect, but that turn out to be a dream come true. And there have been many blessings in my life because of this job for sure. I get to work with my dad and have an enhanced relationship with him as a result. I was able to pay for a large portion of my wedding and honeymoon largely because of bonuses I received. This job has been good to me.

Much of the time, though, I think it’s quite the opposite of the happy accident. You go in without a strong motivation and let the current carry you and see where it goes. Your motivation isn’t what’s carrying you forward, it’s simply the forward momentum of the current. That’s where I seem to be finding myself today.

The funny thing is growing up, I was afraid of ending up in a dead-end job, chained to a desk all day. Yet, here I am in exactly that position. And it’s very difficult to motivate myself to try to change things because I honestly don’t know what I should do instead. I worry that there isn’t a job out there that would fulfill me or make me happy at least some of the time. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not naive enough to think there would be a perfect job out there that would offer total happiness and fulfillment. I’m pretty sure every job has its moments where you want to strangle someone.

My thoughts end here for the moment, unresolved, because that mirrors the place I find myself right now. Stay tuned, there may be an update later this week with more thoughts from me about motivation in general. We’ll see.

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Posted by: musingsofthemund | November 13, 2012

Engaged! Part IV

…and now for the exciting conclusion of the engagement of Holli and Edmund! Did she say yes or no? I’m sitting on the edge of my seat!!!

Alright, so back to the proposal. So we had the place to ourselves and I decided it was time. Now I finally started getting a little nervous. I set up the camera and tripod under the guise of taking picures of us some more and tried to covertly turn on the video recording. Then I kind of dilly dallied for a bit trying to work up the courage to do this thing. After a few minutes I pulled a heart shaped bowl that Holli had given me at Valentine’s day and set it on the ground between us and started playing with my phone, which had the music track on it for my song (I wanted to have learned how to play it myself, but I am nowhere near good enough to play much of anything on there so that wasn’t an option. Thankfully, Cliff put a track together on Garage Band on his iPad.). After some more stalling, I finally hit the play button and set the phone in the bowl. (I used the bowl as an amplifier). Before I even hit the first chorus, I was starting to get really emotional. I flubbed the words a couple of times and barely got through the song, but I did. The song naturally lead into the proposal with the last few lines being

now all that’s left

a simple question dear

I’m on my knee

it’s the one you want to hear

so as I sung that, I got on my knee and pulled out the ring box. The song finished and I professed my love to Holli, opened the box, and asked Holli the question she’d been waiting to hear. She said yes and we embraced. I was laugh-crying, mostly to keep myself from sobbing, being totally overwhelmed by emotion and even Holli was pretty emotional. All in all, it was pretty beautiful.

Holli had said she was nervous about the whole kissing thing so rather than waiting and telling her I was going to kiss her and allowing a lot of anxiety to happen, I decided to just go for it and awkwardly kissed her. It was very awkward. In the best possible way. We laughed and hugged some more. We tried kissing several more times and she kept laughing because we were so bad at it. Holli tried calling our friend Kim to tell her about our engagement (she was the last to find out about our being in a relationship when that all went down and so we told her we’d tell her first about our engagement when that happened) but we got her voicemail. So we left a message and then Holli called to tell Katelyn. That conversation didn’t get too far before the call dropped though. We took more pictures of us hugging and of the ring, and even a few kissy shots and then we packed up (about an hour after the proposal) and went back to my car. I still kind of wanted to try to make it to West Fork, but it was already getting dark so we decided to at least drive up that far to see the leaves and decide whether to stop and go in or not when we got closer. I called my parents and D to tell them the good news while we were driving.

We got to West Fork and then promptly turned around, having decided that it probably wasn’t worth the 9 dollars we’d have to pay to get in when we’d only end up staying for thirty minutes or so. We continued to enjoy the beautiful leaves (which for some reason looked cooler on the way back) and the scent of the forest coming in through my rolled down windows. We decided to stop in downtown Sedona for a little while to make a few more phone calls to people and to just hang out for a bit. After parking, we found a table outside to sit at and Holli called her parents and then her sister. I called Greg and then tried calling my brother but he was busy and didn’t pick up. There was a little coffee shop (well it was more of a little booth, really) right by where we were hanging out and since it was getting chilly, I wanted to see if they had any hot cocoa. They did, so I got some for both Holli and myself. It was pretty gourmet and delicious, made with steamed milk. No lame powdery mix here! After that we crossed the street and went to Earthbound Trading Company, one of my favorite places in Sedona to look around in. It’s kind of a random sort of place and it always makes me think of hippies. Holli found a human heart jello mold and when we discovered it was only 3 bucks I told her I’d get it for her and I did. After that, we decided to make our way back home, stopping at both her parents’ house and mine on the way. We could stop talking about how happy and excited we were about the way the day had gone on the drive. The drive went quickly and we went to Holli’s parents’ house (since it was on the way to my parents’) and showed off the ring for a little bit and told them a bit about how the day went. After that we went to see my mom and dad (and D too!) and show them the ring as well. They oohed and ahhed over it and welcomed Holli to the family. From there we stopped at Carl’s Jr. to grab some dinner and went home to relax (and catch up on Fringe!) after an exciting, eventful day.

Posted by: musingsofthemund | November 6, 2012

Engaged! Part III

Part 3 of the exciting adventure of Hollimund’s engagement!

We parked the car there in one of like two spots left in the dirt parking lot, I paid for parking, and we got on the trail. We hiked about a quarter of a mile or so and go to the point of the trail where we could continue on on the baldwin loop or go off a little bit and find our way to Oak Creek. We opted for the latter and when we got there, there were quite a few people around. This spot is pretty much (at least in my opinion) the most beautiful spot on (or by) the trail and I’d say one of the most picturesque locations in Sedona. Oak Creek flowed by and around some flat slabs of rock that stuck up just a little bit out of the creek in a few spots such that there was water on both sides. In the distance was Cathedral Rock. Seriously. One of the most gorgeous places I’ve ever seen. There were children playing in the water, and a bunch of people meditating in the middle of it all, but Holli and I made our way to the end of a kind of peninsula in the middle of the creek where we hugged and enjoyed the view for a bit. I set up my tripod and we took a few pictures. It was pretty warm, so we eventually moved to a shadier spot for a little bit to sit down and just rest and enjoy the beauty for a bit. We eventually decided to go on hiking for a while and then work our way back there later to have our picnic lunch there. So we got back to the Baldwin loop for a little while and after reaching another fork, opted to go on the Cathedral Rock trail for a little while instead of continuing on Baldwin. We hadn’t explored this trail before and thought it would be a fun little adventure. As it turned out we got to see some of the best leaves we had seen all day on that trail (they hadn’t all completely started changing yet althought there were lots of light greens/yellows throughout) and it ended up running alongside oak creek. After lots of pictures and hiking for a bit, we turned back. When we were approaching the spot to go to our spot by the creek again, Holli decided she needed to go to the bathroom. There was one at the trailhead, but that was a quarter mile out of the way. I wasn’t going to tell her no, though, so we hiked back over there, she went, and then we went back to our spot. There were much fewer people when we got there then than there were earlier so that was nice. It was also more shady. We went to our spot on the peninsula and sat down to eat our lunch. While we were eating, this guy who had brought his dogs made his way onto the rocks about 50 feet away from us and both of the dogs came over to say hello to us at various points (probably because we had food). The little chihuahua puked a little bit by Holli and it sounded just like her dad’s dog, a super fat boston terrier named Prince charming. It was amusing. So we finished eating and as we did, I noticed that the area had emptied. We were the only ones there. When I saw that, I realized that this was probably providence and that I should do the proposal here and now.

One thing I forgot to mention. I had known since long before I’d even met Holli that I wanted to write a song as part of my proposal. I can write lyrics and come up with a tune in my head, but actually coming up with the music and figuring out how to play it was another story. So inspiration finally hit me about a month before this and I had the lyrics and melody figured out in my head. I knew I was going to need help with the music, so I turned to Cliff, our young adults worship leader to help me a couple of weeks before the proposal. It wasn’t a really complicated song, but I was still amazed at how quickly and perfectly he was able to help me get the music for the song out of my head and into real life. I haven’t had a lot of opportunities to collaborate with people with my music so for this to be happening was just incredible. I think I started getting a little emotional when he started playing it and I was just like “That’s it. That’s the song.” So that was super cool.

 

Posted by: musingsofthemund | October 30, 2012

Engaged! Part II

The continuing chronicle of the engagement of Hollimund…

Tuesday brought with it another exciting moment. I had purchased the ring a couple of weeks prior to this, however it was in the store being resized and I finally got the call to come in and pick it up. I was pretty excited as I went to the mall to go get it. I presented my claim ticket and they got it and gave it to me. Having the ring in hand, it made things feel more real. This was really happening! Thursday I eagerly waited for Holli to go to small group and receive her fourth letter. It was given to her in front of the group. That made me happy. She was still loving the letters. Those first four letters were based on a list I had written several years ago (before I knew Holli) of what was important to me in a future spouse. Holli managed to fit all of the must haves and only missed one of the nice-to-haves. I picked three must-haves for each letter and pasted them there and then wrote, thanking her for being those things and reflecting on the goodness of God to give me a woman like her. Friday night I went to school to pick her up. We were going to her best friend Katelyn’s graduation but we had some time so we went to her parents’ house where she found the fifth letter. This one was a little different. It was one I had written in 2010 while I was doing a week-long media fast. One of the activities the Lord had given me to do during that time was to write a letter to my future spouse detailing how I would never need, want, or love her more than I would God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. It was just the kind of thing Holli wanted to hear and she appreciated it. Given that that was the fifth and final letter, she had all the pieces to the clue puzzle.

 

HAI

RLE

SSV

ICT

ORY

 

HAIRLESS VICTORY

She puzzled over it trying to figure it out and I eventually started helping her until she got it. It was a simple synonym substitution (well, maybe not so simple). Hairless=bald victory=win baldwin. The name of the trail we had hiked in February in Sedona. I played dumb still, insinuating that I still wasn’t sure what we’d be doing the next day, although assuring her that we were doing something. After she figured that out, we went to my place for a bit so I could get ready and she could make a card for Katelyn’s graduation. While there I grabbed some tic tacs and popped a bunch in my mouth and then I offered her some. One of the decisions we had made early on in our relationship was not to kiss until we were engaged, so it was clear that I was toying with her a bit. She got a little annoyed and freaked out a bit until she got out of me that I wasn’t proposing that night. My misdirection tactics were still proving fun and effective. I guess I should stop and say that my motivation in the misdirection was one of fun, to give us a good/fun story about not just the proposal itself, but the time leading up to it. So we went to the graduation and had a good time. Finally, we had gotten to the big day. She had a pretty good idea that we were going to Sedona so I decided to drop the subterfuge for the most part. We went to Chik Fil-a for breakfast first, a tradition of ours before we go on road trips and then were on our way. I made us listen to snow patrol cd I had recently gotten before putting on our road trip staple: Gungor. Holli had just bought the new live CD so we put that one on. After enjoying a nice drive up, we got to Oak Creek Village (Village? town? I don’t really remember what it’s called). I pulled into the parking lot of a gas station near a wendys and a subway and I told her we were going into subway to grab some sandwiches. I told her we weren’t eating them then, though, but that we’d save them for later since we were still full from breakfast. After we did that, I got back on the road and started going back the way we came, joking “well, that was a good trip!” Actually, I just had to go a little past the turn off to the road leading the Baldwin trail to get to subway. I turned onto the road and her suspicions were confirmed. Now, at this point, I had had several ideas of how/when to propose in mind. While I had initially decided on doing it at a special place just off the baldwin trail, I had also toyed with doing it at west fork, or even waiting til we got home just for the sake of continuing the misdirection and to keep her from totally figuring it out. I didn’t actually decide for sure to do it there until a few minutes before I did it, but more on that in a little bit.

Posted by: musingsofthemund | October 23, 2012

Engaged! Part I

Are you all ready for another tetrology??? Enjoy a four part account of how my engagement with the beautiful, amazing Holli Charnstrom came to be!

So technically, the genesis of my engagement proposal came back in February. We had visted a new trail in Sedona on my birthday that turned out to be a place that Holli had seen in pictures and had always wanted to go to. When she told me that, I knew that I’d be bringing her back here to put a ring on her finger eventually. But I’m getting a bit ahead of myself. So we had talked about getting engaged sometime during the fall, and I knew that I wanted to at least try somewhat to surprise Holli (even though I had a feeling she was going to be able to figure out most of the basic details) so I opted to start dropping hints about possibilities and play dumb, trying to throw some red herrings and suggestions I had no plans to actually follow. I wanted to keep her on her toes a little bit and I think it’s safe to say I succeeded. By the time it got closer, I definitely had her at least a little bit paranoid about when it could be happening.I had been doing thinking about the proposal I wanted to do for months and one of the things I wanted to do was get a series of letters to her in the week or couple of weeks leading up to my proposal. My original plan was to have several of her friends deliver letters to her at random times over that period of time, but I ended up hiding them for her to find instead, with the exception of one which I gave to her small group leader to deliver to her during her small group. I hid the first one by her bathroom sink when I dropped her off back at school two weeks before the proposal. She found it shortly after I left and seemed pretty pleased. I should probably note that I hid a bit of a puzzle/code/hint in these letters. Each letter had three randomly capitalized/bolded letters within the text. She was also intrigued by this and had suspicions that there might be more letters coming. She was not disappointed. I hid the second letter for her to find when we went on a date the following Friday (8 days before the proposal for those keeping track at home). I decided to recreate our first date (Macayos and then Bowling– I even wore the same outfit!) for the fun of it and also as part of my misdirection campaign. I hid the letter in her bowling ball bag. Yes, she has her own bowling ball which I find to be awesome and amusing. She was definitely wondering if the proposal was coming that night and her best friend “had a feeling” something was going to happen that night. I’m not gonna lie, that filled me with glee. There’s something fun about planning a surprise and knowing the details whilst watching the recipient try to figure them out. Much to my disappointment, we got through the date and she hadn’t discovered it yet. We went back to my place. I had thought that perhaps she had suspected that there was something in there so I asked if she was planning to bring the ball back to GCU or if I should bring it inside and she said to just bring it inside. She was making this a little bit difficult. I eventually not-so-subtly suggested she check inside the bag. I think she put her bowling shoes in there with the ball and I asked if she needed to air them out at all or something. She gave me a weird look and started catching on that there might be something in the bag and investigated. Success! Letter two was found! I hid the third letter in her backpack that Sunday while we were carrying things back from my car to her apartment. I believe she discovered it later that evening. As mentioned before, I had also given the fourth letter to her small group leader earlier that evening at The Exchange to be given to Holli at small group. Monday came and it was time to tackle one of the things I’d been putting off til then: Asking Holli’s parents for their blessing to ask her to marry me. So after work that night, I called her dad and at first I don’t think he recognized me (I don’t think we’d talked on the phone more than once or twice before) but I told him I’d like to come over and chat and so we set a time later that evening. I had to go for my workout and figured I would just run over to their house (since it was pretty close). I got there and sat on the couch opposite Holli’s mom and dad and we engaged in some small talk for a few minutes before I got to tell them why I was there. I asked for their blessing and received it. Her mom cried with joy. It was a beautiful moment. After that we talked about Holli, some of my plans for the future and other random stuff and I ran home, but not before setting the fifth and final letter on Holli’s pillow there.

Posted by: musingsofthemund | March 12, 2012

Worship is More than Just a Song

So one of the things I’ve spoken about in previous posts in this series is this idea of the disingenousness of worship in that it doesn’t always seem like a true reflection of people’s hearts and attitudes. (They sing about things they don’t necessarily mean in the moment or things they aren’t actually willing to do)

Now it certainly isn’t for me to judge anyone’s hearts in worship or in anything else for that matter. If anything, my observations are merely what I see in my own heart and attitude in/about worship from time to time and so I wonder if there are others who struggle with this.

So anyway, back to the matter at hand, the question seems to be this: Should our worship be a reflection of our heart and what we are doing in our lives? Ultimately, the conclusion I’ve been coming to is yes. And no.

On the one hand, I think it is possible to come to worship with authenticity if you are struggling to believe or live out what you are singing. I think declaring those truths even in the face of struggle is a means to building faith. In my mind I would see that as my own cry out to God, “I’m singing these things, I’m not doing a good job, help my unbelief!” It serves as a cry of dependence that I mentioned in the previous entry.

On the other hand, I think that if we come to it thinking we are better than we are, ignorant of our deficiency, that is when we (I) get into trouble. I think this happens in several ways, where sometimes we are actually unaware that it is even happening.

Most frequently I would say it comes in the form of thoughtless, autopilot worship. When we show up, recognize a bunch of songs that we’ve sung a million times, and sing through them without ever ones thinking about what we’re singing about. We don’t stop to think on what it is we’re singing or even try to understand whether we really mean what we’re singing, we just sing because we can.

The other frequent thing that comes to mind is that we get stuck in this mindset that worship is just about singing and praying and that it stops there. The problem is when we think it stops there, we end up only giving God a partial, incomplete worship. What concerns me most about this is that it seems to be symptomatic of a general apathy towards serving others. If part of worship is professing love and adoration for Jesus and for God almighty, then should be be demonstrating that love with our lives?

Jesus said “If you love me, you’ll obey what I command” in Jonh 14:15, he sums up the law and the prophets to two things, love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, strength and mind, and love your neighbor as yourself. When he describes the parable of the sheep and the goats, he says that they either served (or ignored) Jesus himself when they served or ignored someone around them in need. I see a lot of lazy, comfortable Christians, myself included, who often seem to have no inclination to go out and serve Jesus by serving the least of these. And if that’s the case and if we are either unable to or refusing to recognize this, do we really have any business professing our love for God in songs of worship, or declaring that where He goes we’ll go, whom He loves we’ll love? It seems to me like to do so often makes liars of us and I don’t think that kind of worship honors God, I think it insults Him.

As God has been revealing this to me in my own heart, He’s been filling me with a desire to live out my love, so that it’s not just something I sing about with words that turn out to be empty and my hope is that this will challenge you to examine yourself and your life and ask the question of how genuine your worship is (if you haven’t been already, I know I’m not the only one by any stretch of the imagination who has been undergoing this awakening). This isn’t to heap condemnation on myself or anyone else, my hope is for edification, conviction, and ultimately transformation, that I myself, and anyone else reading this might become more and more like Jesus. That’s the goal of this whole thing after all, isn’t it? I’ll leave you with a few verses here.

Romans 12:1 Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.

Psalm 51:16-17 For You do not delight in sacrifice, otherwise I would give it; You are not pleased with burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; A broken and a contrite heart, O God, You will not despise.

Posted by: musingsofthemund | March 8, 2012

Two Facets, One God

This is the second part in my series on worship. Not sure how far this will go, there may be one more edition, we’ll just have to see. I know I wrote about my feelings about worship being disingenuous at times, but I’ve been thinking and reflecting on things more and after meeting with Cliff earlier this week (to those who don’t know, he’s the new worship leader for the young adults ministry I’m involved in), and want to expand my thoughts on types of worship.

So it seems to me that there are two main sorts of worship music. There’s the reflective, introspective, cry out to God flavor and there is the Hallelujah, praise the lord, display of praise flavor.

They seem very different and they are, but I think they are two important, necessary facets of worshiping God. One says “God, you are great” and the other says, “God, I need you.” I don’t think one is better than the other, I think they’re both good.

God is most certainly worthy of all of our praise, scripture says that if we don’t praise Him, that rocks will cry out instead. Everything about God is good and praising Him in this way is great for reminding us of just how awesome and wonderful He is, how much greater and better He is than we are and ever could be. It humbles us and reminds us of who God is.

Not only is God worthy of our praise, however, He is worthy of our dependence. He is the God who loves us and wants to provide for us. I’ve been reading in Isaiah and one of the things that God was so upset at His people for was the fact that instead of turning to Him, they turned to other nations and to idols. God desires our dependence. Singing songs about needing Him, about desiring Him, crying out, these things are a demonstration of our need, a reminder to ourselves of our dependence on God, that He is the only one who can do these things.

One of the coolest things about worship, in my mind anyway, is the fact that God responds to it and to us in it. He doesn’t have to, but He does. He comes down and blesses us with His presence, with His comfort. He meets us where we are. I was discussing with Cliff tonight about how some songs don’t seem very “worshipful” that they embody this second kind of need/dependence based worship and how in spite of that, the Holy Spirit moves and does stuff in the midst of it. That’s all I need to see in order to validate it.

I love that God allows us multiple facets to come to Him and worship Him with. That He doesn’t want us to merely have a simple, 2-dimensional experience of worship in song but that He gives us variety, texture, and nuance. Just as in many other areas, I think He does this so we can’t just boil it down to a formula, so that we have to depend on Him and walk in faith, allowing Him to guide us on the path to where HE wants to lead us. Praise God for being such a faithful, loving shepard.

Posted by: musingsofthemund | March 5, 2012

Disingenuous

[I wrote this a week or two ago and things are changing for the better, but I still think this was worth sharing, so here it is. I hope and pray you’re blessed and challenged. Stay tuned for more posts on the subject of worship soon!]

I feel like I’ve been having a pretty difficult time connecting with God lately. It’s been rather frustrating to me. I try to pray or read scripture or worship and it largely feels like I’m just going through the motions, checking off the box or something. I think where I’ve noticed this most is in the area of worship. I just haven’t felt much in worship lately. I find myself distracted and having to work extra hard to even focus on/pay attention to what I’m singing, much less worship in a meaningful way…

Of course, interpreting worship through the lens of feeling has always been a little sketchy to me. As though my getting something out of it were the goal, which it isn’t. Or at least it shouldn’t be. The last thing worship is supposed to be about is ourselves, isn’t it? Don’t get me wrong, I think God blesses us by meeting us in worship, but I don’t think the goal of going to worship should be to achieve a certain feeling or to get something out of it ourselves. That should simply be a perk.

And yet, I’m trying to judge my worship on what I’m feeling. Go figure. Of course, this is only part of what I really want to talk about. In the midst of this drier sort of time, I’ve been contemplating the worship experience and I’m beginning to have some concerns.

First, and foremost, I believe God is worthy and deserving of our praise and thanksgiving. What I am about to say is in no way meant to undermine that basic truth. I just have this feeling sometimes that our worship is a little disingenuous. I think we sometimes miss the point and worse, I think we don’t always pay enough attention to what we are singing. Instead of just singing along to a catchy tune, shouldn’t we be aware of what we are saying? It seems to me that our worship ought to reflect our lives. Should we sing about things we aren’t living out?

For instance, there’s a Chris Tomlin song we sing at church sometimes, “I Will Follow”. We sing
“Where you go, I’ll go,
where you stay, I’ll stay
when you move, I’ll move
I will follow you
who you love, I’ll love,
how you serve, I’ll serve
if this life I lose, I will follow you
I will follow you”

It’s a pretty good song, catchy and fun to sing, but how many people are singing it truthfully? What if you’re at a stage or season in your life/walk where you really aren’t willing to go where He goes or serve who and how He serves? If you sing this, is it true worship? Or is it merely petty lip service?

I find myself straddling a fine line somewhere between the burden of a legalistic “you must do this to have and follow Christ” sort of attitude and a purposeless “I have grace and have been saved and therefore don’t need to do anything” attitude. I’m not sure that either is completely right, although I have a hard time viewing some of the things Jesus said without falling into the former. The truth is, I haven’t figured it all out yet, but I really have to question if we mean all the things we sing in worship. And if we understand that the point of worship isn’t singing songs so that we can experience some emotional God-high and feel good, but so we can tell God how awesome and good and wonderful He is.

That’s why I have a hard time sometimes with the notion of people “just not being able to get into worship”. ‘It’s just not my style,’ or ‘I just wasn’t feeling it’. Part of me wants to just pull people aside when they say things like this and say Hey! It’s not about you! Of course, in spite of my feeling that way about the subject, it doesn’t always change the feeling inside of me that yearns for that special sort of encounter-with-God-during-worship experience.

Go figure.

Posted by: musingsofthemund | January 14, 2012

My Current Dilemma

Some things that have been rolling around in my head.

Does knowing Jesus cause a change in your life? I’m not talking just about the way you think about things. Does knowing Jesus change the way you act, the way you behave? Now break it down a step further. Does knowing Jesus change the way you act toward yourself? Toward your family? Toward your friends? Toward a stranger? Toward your enemy? Toward the poor? Toward the rich?

If there is a deficiency of change in the way you act toward any of those groups, then I have to question if you really know Jesus, for what good is it to know about Jesus and to think differently because of Jesus if it doesn’t change the way you act toward those around you. Following Jesus isn’t supposed to be easy. His burden is light and His yoke is easy, but it doesn’t change the fact that He called us to come and die. To daily take up our crosses in the process of following Him. It isn’t an optional step.

So I ask again. How is your life different because of Jesus? Because if you’re only an intellectual Christian, growing in insight or knowledge, but not growing in action or deed, then is your faith worth anything?

It is taught that you cannot be saved by your works, that any effort you give to make yourself good enough for God by His standards will fall short. That is pretty irrefutable as it’s pretty clearly seen in scripture. But I also see a Jesus in scripture who says that the branch IN HIM that does not produce fruit will be cut off and thrown into the fire. I see a Jesus who tells a story about sheep and goats, a metaphor for those who are and aren’t going to heaven, and those who aren’t going are in that position because they didn’t serve their fellow man, and thus denied service to Jesus Himself. I see a Jesus who told a story about servants and their ability to manage talents (a monetary sum in that day), and the one who did nothing with what was entrusted to him while his master was gone had everything taken away and was thrown out to the place of weeping and gnashing of teeth.

We’re supposed to be saved by faith, not works, but at the same time faith without works is dead so which is it? It seems like both are a requirement. It seems like faith gets you in the door, but works keep you there. Faith without works is dead. If faith is dead, does that mean it’s not (or perhaps no longer) there? Seems to me that all that means that faith has to be more than a statement, it’s a deed. Demonstrated by acts and works. So many out there strive to make the gospel so accessible and easy and ignore the fact that there is a cost to receiving it. That you don’t have to do anything. But you have to have faith. And once there, you have to spend the rest of your life proving that you have faith, or so it seems to me. I don’t know how to reconcile the teaching of the all-sufficiency of Christ with what Christ Himself said about the kingdom of heaven. Jesus said many would come to Him, telling Him of what they did in His name and that His response would be to cast them out of His presence because He didn’t know them.

Honestly, I don’t understand this faith which I profess. It seems to me like you can’t earn your way into Heaven by works, but you can damn yourself with a lack of them. The only conclusion I can come to in this right now is that one: I don’t get it and two: I’m not doing it right.

Posted by: musingsofthemund | October 18, 2011

Hollimund Part IV – Yes

I decided to pull Mik aside after the Exchange and ask for advice. I felt I was too close to the situation personally to hear objectively (and it seemed that I was just hearing a jumble of things when I was praying) so, given how much I look up to Mik, I thought I’d ask what he thought. What he suggested was that we try having a relationship and take things very slowly and just see where God takes it.

Hallelujah! Exactly what I wanted to hear. I felt good about it and even felt some peace about it, but I wasn’t completely sure yet as I had a good feeling going into that conversation that Mik would probably give me advice like that, so I continued to pray about it, not wanting to have simply gone to someone to hear what I wanted to hear. That day I had renewed a commitment to spending daily time in scripture and seeking God and so the next day (Monday for all of y’all keeping track), I was reading in John and the words were coming to life. I imagined myself there, imagined John the Baptist speaking what I was reading. I moved onto the proverbs and it was like God was speaking to my soul, I moved to the psalms and the presence of God just continued getting bigger and bigger around me and I started singing to Him in praise and adoration and in the midst of that moment, in the midst of the joy and jubilation and the presence of God, I heard Him say this to me. “Pursue me as you pursue her.”

YEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS!!!!!!!!!

Needless to say that was a rather joyous moment. My favorite thing about it was the way in which God did it. In a pure display of faithfulness and grace to me, He did it in such a way, while I was completely enveloped in Him that there wasn’t any doubt, wasn’t anything to question about it. That was something I’d wrestled with previously when I had thought I’d been hearing Him, “Was that really you God? Is that really what you want?” Seriously, it was nice to hear that and not be worried about second-guessing it.

I was so overjoyed in that experience of the presence of God that I decided to share my joy with the Twitterverse in the following tweet:

Overwhelmed by the joyous, all-encompassing amazing incredible love of God.

As Holli follows my twitter account, this got her attention and texted me asking what was going on. Now for obvious reasons I didn’t want to get into the full extent of the experience over text, so I told her that I had just experienced a time of immense closeness with God and that it was really an amazing experience. And then I sent another text basically asking when we could get together to talk as there were things to talk about. We agreed to get together to talk the next night.

In hindsight, even setting up a time to talk over text may not have been the wisest choice. We both spent the next 24 hours freaking out, not knowing what the other was thinking. She was scared I was about to break things off, leading to her text responses being a bit more terse than usual, and I of course read into that that she must have known what was coming but didn’t feel the same thing and was dreading shooting me down or something.

These are the joys of imagination. 😛

So with much prayer and anticipation, I managed to get through that day and to the moment of truth, when she showed up at my door.

We exchanged pleasantries and then I shared that I thought it was time to start a relationship and explained why based on my conversation with Mik as well as my experience with God the night before.

Understandably, she was a little skeptical at first, after all, it was just days ago when we both were under the understanding that it wasn’t what God wanted. The conclusion we came to about why that was able to change was that due to the intense struggles and growth I was going through in the previous months, had I entered into a relationship with Holli at the initial point when I had wanted to, I would have been dragging a lot of junk and baggage in with me, and it was that kind of relationship that God did not want for us. In His infinite grace and mercy and wisdom, He was saving us from a trainwreck, preserving us so that we might be able to come together later and have a real shot at success. And so, here we are, nearly 5 months later, and still going strong.

I praise God for the incredible blessing that learning how to love Holli has been for me and I look forward to what’s to come, whatever that may be!

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