Friday, April 24, 2009

With All Your Mind

"The LORD said, 'Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the LORD, for the LORD is about to pass by.'
Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind.
After the wind there was an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake.
After the earthquake came a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire.
And after the fire came a gentle whisper.
When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave. Then a voice said to him, "What are you doing here, Elijah?"
-1st Kings 11-13

When I was in Morocco, I was completely amazed at how clearly I heard God’s voice.

It’s no secret that New York City is a highly distracting place. In order for God to get my attention amidst all the socialization/ activities/ auditions/ shows/ bills/ relationships/jobs/ etc. He would have to use a great and powerful wind, an earthquake or a fire.

But in these verses, God didn’t speak to Elijah that way. He spoke to him in the “gentle whisper” after all of the natural phenomenon.

Jesus should not have to come to me yelling and screaming in order to get my attention. He expects me to get rid of all the distraction and confusion until there is nothing before me but Him. And then, I will hear Him.

But I'm starting to see that although New York City is full of distractions, some of the greatest ones are the ones in my mind.

At Bible Study the other night, we discussed this passage where Jesus is questioned as to which commandment is most important:

"The most important one," answered Jesus, "is this: .... Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ - Mark 12:29-30

It was the first time I realized that how poorly I love God with all of my mind. I had always thought that this verse was about loving God from an "intellectual" standpoint by studying Him and His precepts. But I am beginning to see that loving God with all of my mind means by getting my mind under control. If I fully love the Lord then my mind is not supposed to be a runaway train with all of my insecurities, fears, anxieties, worries. Those are things that shouldn't be there.

"We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ." - 2nd Corinthians 10:5

I'm sure that this will be a life long process of disciplining my mind with His help. But, I am thankful that I am starting to see that loving God with my mind is a choice that needs to be made. A choice to demolish arguments and pretensions that set themselves up against the knowledge of God.

If I am fearful, the knowledge of God is that my God is Loving, Consistent and Sovereign.
If I am anxious, the knowledge of God is that I can cast my cares on Him in prayer to be anxious for nothing.
If I am insecure, the knowledge of God is that I am fearfully and wonderfully made by His hand.
If I am doubtful, the knowledge of God is that He will help me with my unbelief.


Friday, April 17, 2009

Song of the Week

"So proud and excited that I by myself
Had reached such a lofty place.
I took the last step towards my ultimate goal
But clumsily fell on my face.
I opened my eyes only to find
I was back at the place I'd begun.
Helpless and broken, I strained and cried out,
“Surely the enemy has won.”

But I felt His peace that passes understanding,
Grace that is never ending,
Love that overflows my soul.

As I wallowed in self pity,
He came to sit with me there.
His presence alone was so rich and so deep
It chased away all my despair. I said,
‘Lord please forgive me for my prideful heart,
It sneaks in before I know.'
He said, ‘What prideful heart?'
He forgave and forgot
He said, ‘How I want you to know…

My peace that passes understanding,
Grace that is never ending,
Love that overflows my soul.' "

-"Testimony" by Sara Groves

Usually, I am not claiming His peace to keep me from worry or fear.

Or I am wrapped up in my own failures and imperfections and I'm not experiencing His grace.

Or I believe He is holding out on me and I am not experiencing His love.

Good thing when that happens I "clumsily fall on my face" so that I can stop relying on myself. And start relying on Him.

Happy Friday. And Happy Spring!

P.S. Photo by tanakawho from Flickr.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

But You Would Have None of It

“Dress down your pretty faith.
Give me something real…”

-"Awakening" by Sara Groves

On Monday, my Bible study group looked at the contrast between Palm Sunday (which was last Sunday) and Good Friday (tomorrow). As Jesus enters Jerusalem on a donkey the Sunday before His crucifixion, the crowds shout praises that show they acknowledge Jesus as the Messiah and from the lineage of David:

"Those who went ahead and those who followed shouted,
"Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!"
"Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David!"
"Hosanna in the highest!""
-Mark 11:9-10

And then, six days later, the same crowds shouted that they wanted Jesus to be crucified:

"What shall I do, then, with the one you call the king of the Jews?" Pilate asked them.
"Crucify him!" they shouted.
"Why? What crime has he committed?" asked Pilate.
But they shouted all the louder, "Crucify him!"
-Mark 15:9-12

Which got me thinking, in what ways in my life do I praise God with my mouth, acknowledge Him as my Savior and my Provider and then turn around and crucify Him with my behaviors and my actions?

Well, I was confronted again this week that I crucify Jesus with my actions by my incredible lack of trust. How appropriate that as we celebrate Holy Week, I am again coming to terms with the fact that I praise Jesus and acknowledge His Sovereignty with my mouth all the while playing out my fears, my anxieties and my worries in my mind. My words say “Hosanna in the highest!” and in my solitude, my thoughts are saying “Crucify Him”. My thoughts are saying that He is not Sovereign over my circumstances or He is not really good to me. My thoughts say He is holding out on me.

“This is what the Sovereign LORD, the Holy One of Israel, says:
"In repentance and rest is your salvation,
in quietness and trust is your strength,
but you would have none of it….

Yet the LORD longs to be gracious to you;
He rises to show you compassion.
For the LORD is a God of justice.
Blessed are all who wait for him!”
-Isaiah 30:15, 18

It hit my gut pretty solidly when I read that “in repentance and rest” is my Salvation “but you would have none of it” because that is exactly what is happening right now. The Lord longs to be gracious to me. But I will have none of it. The Lord longs for me to rest in His Sovereignty, His Consistency and His Love and I cling to my worries, my fears and my daymares.

I must find salvation in repentance of my fears and rest in His Goodness.
I must find strength in quietness of my mind and trust in His Sovereignty.
I must wait on the Lord for He longs to be gracious to me.

Hope you are having a good Holy Week.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Servanthood: Role vs. Identity

No more my God, I boast no more
Of all the duties I have done.
I quit the hopes I held before,
To trust the merits of Thy Son.
-"I Boast No More" by Caedmon's Call

Since I've been back from Morocco I have been supremely frustrated with all of the tasks that have to be accomplished that seem mundane/silly/useless. Sending out fliers to industry contacts about my latest show hardly seems as important as putting a roof on a clinic for a children's orphanage.

And so with this, I'm starting to realize that my perspective on service is really out of whack. My thoughts about service have been very much about what the world considers "worthy" service or "God's" service.

But something about seeing couples dedicate 20 years of their lives to move to the middle of nowhere and raise children that they could not adopt has, ironically, inspired me to be more invested in the industry that I am in. If I am in the arts in NYC right now for "a time and place such as this", then I should be doing it. I should be committed to that for the service of the Lord. Why does helping with Navigators (a Christian organization) feel like more Godly service than acting? Because the reward is more affirming to my ego. Ouch.

Peter (our team leader in Morocco) had us read the story about Jesus washing the disciples feet and then he asked us to consider:
*When is being a servant a role you put on for a while? And when is it your identity?
And then he pointed out this which, I will warn you, is painful:
"Most of the time we are frustrated/annoyed/vexed by a situation because we walked into it not to serve but to be served."

So how much less frustrated would I be if I walked into every situation just to serve? But who has the energy to serve all the time?! (Besides random crazy parents who committ twenty years of their lives to raise children in Morocco?)
I remember that because we were constantly serving and giving in Morocco in such physically exhausting ways, I constantly had to take time outs to go refill with the Lord. The amount of reliance on God when I was there was so much more than what I do here.

But why is that? If I can only serve for the Lord when I am being filled by the Lord, what makes me think that I can have an attitude of service in New York City without pressing into Him every moment of every day?
Probably arrogance.
Or foolishness.
Or an attitude that doesn't treat every assignment I get as something that must be done for my Lord.
An attitude that makes "being a servant a role I put on" instead of an identity.

Time for a change.
I'm sure it will be slow in coming.