Philippians 4:8Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.
People fight about this, because they’d rather do what they want then what they know is right. I don’t understand why they would want to.
Turmoil exists. The camp has been compromised. The walls have been breached. And I am certain that there can be no hardship unable to be overcome. However, the overcoming of trouble is trouble in itself. When human beings cease to respect one another, there comes in the problems of anger or apathy. Anger is by default destructive. It builds barriers and separates brothers. It obliterates love, because humanity resorts to anger when it’s own sense of justice has been compromised, when their rights (to whatever they believe they have rights to) have been undermined. The pathetic selfishness of apathy is also dangerous mindset, because the ease of unconcern shuts up the heart of friendship. It also causes the cessation of love and the harboring of malicious thought. Romans 10 tells us that “Love must be sincere.” Sincerity cannot be bound up in the foundation of a shifting loyalty. A house divided will surely fall. Friends at odds will dissipate. This is the trouble I see. Jealousy, envy, self-justification. I do not care who’s right or who’s wrong. Just that love is the highest goal. We kid ourselves when we claim love and tear down the people closest to us, as well as when we let them destroy others with their bitterness.
I just paid the last installment of my tuition for college. I am finished. The sad part is that I could have bought a BMW with what I paid for an education. I feel like this is a conspiracy. That those with money are allowed to access knowledge, and that you need a certificate to prove that you accomplished something.
Last night I hung out with kids a few years younger than myself, and we had probably one of the best friendship oriented shows that I’ve been present at in a long time. It was free, with two bands, and a bunch of our friends. It was spectacular to see two distinct groups of people getting to know one another. We all watched the bands, we all made s’mores around the campfire, we all went to Waffle House and talked, laughed, and there was an ease about it. Yes, we all were aware that we were not fast friends, but we could be. I appreciated so much the non-existent social barriers. I’m not saying that everyone there last night was flawless. But no one was reserved to the point of indifference, egos were not forefront. We were all people, on a level plane, without bias or prejudice. It may be strange to say that I would rather have hung out there than in many churches I find myself at. But its true. We speak of community and fellowship, of inclusion and acceptance, but when I saw the kind of interaction that occurred last night, honest and real, I cannot help but note that too many times, community never happens in the church. It becomes a place of social bigotry. The people that aren’t already established as “valuable” to the elitist social class are often written off. They want the uber talented and beautiful, the ones full of assets and compliment, but in reality, the things they prize will change. I wish I could relay the events of last night with more emphasis. I wish I could draw a picture, or drag the kids I know that need to be immersed in an environment where self is not valued, because it keeps people from being a part of one anothers’ lives. Because they are missing out.
Struggling with 1st gear in a sports car because of an old, somewhat finicky clutch looks a lot like drunk driving. And by struggling I mean starting slow. Not spinning tires and popping it like I’ve no idea what I’m doing, but simply taking off a second or two after the car in front of me. I got pulled over last night because of 1st gear. I don’t drink, I have no intention of drinking. But evidently, drunk people can’t operate clutches well either. Oh, I was also chastised for not having a VA license. He actually told me he wasn’t going to give me a ticket for it. Can they even do that? But afterward, I was recounting this tale to my friend Bryce, who proceeded to send me a video of “Ridin’ Dirty” with the lyrics, so I could sing along.
Sometimes I believe that the things we deem inconsequential really become the things that show us how selfish we are. Whether it be through the dismissal of humanity, or the obsession over our own agendas, we are shown our own likeness in the reflection of our days.
I often find myself feeling displaced. Though I am aware that “refugee” is by no means the term most befitting for my circumstance, because I have not experienced the intense and horrible conditions that so many across the globe have felt. I will say I understand the concept of not belonging. While this is a popular concept among believers and general social circles, I am not necessarily speaking of “fitting in” or the need for persons (though I feel it often). Sometimes you just need home. With all the traveling I do in reference to my current occupation, I am not given the luxury of consistency. I am not allowed to consecutively place my person in a geographical location for long. No two days are the same. No certainty is placed on tomorrow, or even the next minute. I am often at the mercy of my surroundings, and this can be a source of great anxiety (which often leads to my turning into a backseat driver). I rely strictly on the single-most steadfast thing in my life, Who offers up fidelity and peace and consolation in Himself, though nothing is clear by my own eyes. Thrice has an album called “Beggars”, on this album is a track dubbed “In Exile”. Dustin Kensrue is by far a genius in relativity. This is what it says:
I am in exile, a sojourner A citizen of some other place All I’ve seen is just a glimmer in a shadowy mirror But I know, one day well see face to face
I am a nomad, a wanderer I have nowhere to lay my head down There’s no point in putting roots too deep when I’m moving on Not settling for this unsettling town
My heart is filled with songs of forever The city that endures when all is made new I know I don’t belong here, I’ll never Call this place my home, I’m just passing through
I am a pilgrim, a voyager I wont rest until my lips touch the shore Of the land that I’ve been longing for as long as I’ve lived Where they’ll be no penalties anymore
My heart is filled with songs of forever The city that endures when all is made new I know I don’t belong here, I’ll never Call this place my home, I’m just passing through
So, home may be a glimmer in a moment. Home may be a conversation concerning God, home may be the unattainable for whatever reason, because home is something that isn’t here, but its real, and will be tangible when we are reunited with the Maker of Home. So, for all my worries and unknowns, I am in process of giving them up. There is no point in blinding myself with the things I don’t know. Rather, I will look for what I long for and strive for what I seek in this place that is, at times, so vague and foreign to me.
I have read this before. Each time I read it I am reminded of two things. A.) Idolatry is extant in the hearts of men. It has not fled to the hills to ancient times. It is made in the hearts of our generation and comes out in the works of our hands. B.) It is worthless. I do not presume to have attained freedom from idolatry. I think that we are prone to the replacement of God with things that are physical, fleeting, and false (which brings so vividly into perspective my own life). There is a prevalent worship of creation over the Creator, which is shillouetted in in these words. They hold a mirror to my heart and show me the folly in it.
12 The blacksmith takes a tool and works with it in the coals; he shapes an idol with hammers, he forges it with the might of his arm. He gets hungry and loses his strength; he drinks no water and grows faint. 13 The carpenter measures with a line and makes an outline with a marker; he roughs it out with chisels and marks it with compasses. He shapes it in the form of man, of man in all his glory, that it may dwell in a shrine. 14 He cuts down cedars, or perhaps took a cypress or oak. He let it grow among the trees of the forest, or planted a pine, and the rain made it grow. 15 It is man’s fuel for burning; some of it he takes and warms himself, he kindles a fire and bakes bread. But he also fashions a god and worships it; he makes an idol and bows down to it. 16 Half of the wood he burns in the fire; over it he prepares his meal, he roasts his meat and eats his fill. He also warms himself and says, “Ah! I am warm; I see the fire.” 17 From the rest he makes a god, his idol; he bows down to it and worships. He prays to it and says, ”Save me; you are my god.” 18 They know nothing, they understand nothing; their eyes are plastered over so they cannot see, and their minds closed so they cannot understand. 19 No one stops to think, no one has the knowledge or understanding to say, “Half of it I used for fuel; I even baked bread over its coals, I roasted meat and I ate. Shall I make a detestable thing from what is left? Shall I bow down to a block of wood?” 20 He feeds on ashes, a deluded heart misleads him; he cannot save himself, or say, “Is not this thing in my right hand a lie?”
- Isaiah 44:12-20
I pray that I am not blinded by the things I see with my eyes, feel with my hands, make with my own fickle wishes.
If the evangelical Christian leadership thinks that “cool Christianity” is a sustainable path forward, they are severely mistaken. As a twentysomething, I can say with confidence that when it comes to church, we don’t want cool as much as we want real.
If we are interested in Christianity in any sort of serious way, it is not because it’s easy or trendy or popular. It’s because Jesus himself is appealing, and what he says rings true. It’s because the world we inhabit is utterly phony, ephemeral, narcissistic, image-obsessed and sex-drenched—and we want an alternative. It’s not because we want more of the same.
Up in the lines of people in the room. I relate to the people in front of me more than I do with the plethora of young-adults about me. I look at the words on the screens and sometimes I say them, sing them. All of a sudden, I am wracked with the desire to climb up on that stage and gain the respect of my peers. I was taken aback by this initially, because I am not partial to allowing myself to become an arrogant popularity contestant. But I realized that I am nothing to most of them. However, I know that I could effect them, if I had their respect. I could beg with them, plead with them to consider their hearts, to love. I might be able to convince some of them that double-mindedness also requires two faces, and God sees all that goes on in our hearts and minds and He is worth our every moment. He is worth all our days, our hours, our moments. But I can’t. Not now. Maybe one day. But not now.
I sold my car(this is almost a completely true statement). It was too easy until the guy called wanting his money back because he ran the wrong VIN in a carfax and pulled up some scrapped car in a junkyard in SC. It was only the twelfth time I thought I was going to vomit today. So today I learned my car has a ghost. The amputee car that donated its door to mine once upon a wreck is alive and well in the DMV records, and evidently, it came back to haunt me. I will miss that little white truck. I feel that it was the last remaining tie to my Southerness. I no longer have an accent. Just an understanding of many people I used to call neighbors. It was actually shocking to me that I was talking to people from Alabama a few weeks ago, and I couldn’t make out some of what they were saying. I feel displaced. People think I’m from Michigan. Oh well. Tomorrow when I hand the title over to the guy who purchased my vehicle (because the ghost car situation was resolved), I will have some sense of accomplishment in that I can pay off school, but also the knowledge that closure brings attention to beginning again.
This morning I found myself at a Sheetz in the middle of rural Virginia with two guys that I can call my friends. Both are brilliant and joyous to be around, each with their way of drawing up one’s spirits from the gloom of the drear clouds and bring to life conversation. Not with silly, frivolous topic, but with sustainable, heart-felt, real speech. Such thing is a gift between friends. It is a treasure that I have realized I long for. If I sound like I’m romanticizing this, I cannot express how much I love knowing people for who they are and what they believe. I love to peel back the surface and glimpse candor. So, yes, I will be romanticizing and speaking highly of transparency, of old friends, of meeting minds. I believe C.S. Lewis called this affection. The attachment of one’s cares to another with the fondness of shared experience and goodwill. Too often I find myself wishing for fifteen minutes of dialogue with those few persons that I can spend months away from, only to see them and realize that, though time and experiences have changed us, we are still the same. I look at moments like this knowingly, because there I have discovered a brotherly-love that is unparalleled. I wish everyone could know this friendship.
I used to listen to this band consistently, and while they have slipped into the recent past in my frequented discographies, I do not forget my appreciation of them. A few lines of this song crossed my mind last night, and I have found that I like it more than I remember.
Stabbing Art to Death Showbread
Shall we use needles or knives to realign your spine? the tissue degenerates so rapidly perhaps it proves it is the time to cover up your face and smile at me to see if I am out of sight, denying ventricle flow revel in your plight tonight, you’re such a wonderful person to know and my name will rest in utter disdain my resentment receives its wings for flight you deceitfully stroll on just the same into your holy light
With music destroyed, we’ll only create noise sweet dissonance is all that you’ll have left we’ll dance across its grave the art of singing empty praise with knives of hope and peace stab art to death
I’ve watched it on its drugs and I’ve seen the doctors shrug cerebellums withered up, the heart is black
No scalpel, pill or stitch, no religious sales pitch will ever bring the art that’s dying back and so we are the heirs, of this glowing lack of care our hearts in one discord we all cry out for blood and spit we clap, the amps are feeding back my heart is filled with the one to whom I shout
And glowing you speak in the friendliest tongue in sentiments of gold and oh the sweetest songs are sung and the sweetest lies are told so spread this virus and seek yourself you pursue it quite relentlessly when Sunday comes you’ll raise hands to sing what a glorious sight to see
Yet I see true art, I see her, and I see you and Father you inspire me to sing to you you inspire me to sing to you
Burn all the flags and the money, sacrifice and laugh
The light in your eyes reflects and I see myself and all I want to be for you I’ll give everything, just to linger on your lips and feel your fingertips, you are an angel
Art is not the world, art is in our heart
And so I am the prince of sounds that make ears ring my princess kiss me with your sweet lips and oh, my heart will sing if art is in yourself, or in a class at school if art is ego and selfishness, and at the mercy of primitive tools good-byes in screams and screeches and bury these knives in your heart no paintings or poems to let you live on we’ve seen the last of art as servants and lovers we wash your feet and cry out into the dark the noise, the beauty, the love you bring me stabs these knives right into art art is not the world, art is in our hearts
Last night, four friends and myself ventured out as the sun had only just disappeared behind the horizon to alight the other hemisphere. We cozily situated ourselves in the car and made short of a two hour drive to the coast, complete with gas station stops and some ideal craigslist business. I had never been to the Virginia coastline, but being the Atlantic Ocean, I figured it would not deviate too terribly far from my familiar North Carolina beaches. However, this was new. Not new in some drastically obtrusive manner. But in the presentation of the water meeting the ground, I was surprised.
We parked in a cluster of homes in northern parts of the city, finding a public beach access sign in the glow of the single street lamp. The boardwalk meandered off into the dunes and grass without the orange-ish rosy haze of those lights hanging in the humidity. We waded through the shifting sands, passing some kids who obviously couldn’t pitch a tent, or perhaps were too inebriated to do so. The beach was massive before us. A seemingly endless reach of greyish cream extending out into the invisible sea. The sky had swallowed up the edges of our perception and the only illumination came from the tourist-laden hotels miles down the sand. The hotels stood like temples to some financial exploitation. Looking to our left, there was the murky darkness of uninhabited waterfront. It was eerie, continuing down toward what we knew was water, but we could neither see it, nor hear it. The white foam of a breaker erupted into our vision. An abrupt drop-off of the beach brought up the tide and startled us. We could see no end to the water, fog had blurred the lines of the heavens and we stared into an indefinite sheet of black. I had never seen anything like this. The curls of the breakers were impenetrable, the frothy caps upon their heads the only telling factor about them. We speculated on the probability of dying in those gruesome and captivating waves, the immense power in their weight, and the fathoms that hold so many secrets. We stared at it, we ran to an from its hands as they collapsed on the shore, we listened to the repercussions of waves meeting themselves. Things we humans only shoddily mimic. The sea is an analogy to me. That we build houses on the outskirts of a great mystery, and it is most often not allowed to destroy us. “I’m starting to, believe the ocean’s much like you…” - Thrice.
1 O LORD, you have searched me and you know me. 2 You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar, 3 You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. 4 Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O LORD. 5 You hem me in—behind and before; you have laid your hand upon me. 6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain. 7 Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? 8 If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. 9 If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, 10 even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast. 11 If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,” 12 even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you. 13 For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. 14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.