Wednesday, June 25, 2008

The Vision

...as cast by Pete Greig, of the 24-7 Prayer movement. This is a pretty intense read, but worthily so. We all need this kind of passion. And what he says, I cannot deny to be truth. It's the most legit thing I've read in a long time. It sets my heart ablaze at the thought of it.

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So this guy comes up to me and says "What's the vision? What's the big idea?" I open my mouth and words come out like this…

The vision?

The vision is JESUS – obsessively, dangerously, undeniably Jesus.

The vision is an army of young people.

You see bones? I see an army. And they are FREE from materialism.

They laugh at 9-5 little prisons.

They could eat caviar on Monday and crusts on Tuesday.

They wouldn't even notice.

They know the meaning of the Matrix, the way the west was won.

They are mobile like the wind, they belong to the nations. They need no passport.

People write their addresses in pencil and wonder at their strange existence.

They are free yet they are slaves of the hurting and dirty and dying.

What is the vision ?

The vision is holiness that hurts the eyes. It makes children laugh and adults angry.

It gave up the game of minimum integrity long ago to reach for the stars.

It scorns the good and strains for the best. It is dangerously pure.


Light flickers from every secret motive, every private conversation.

It loves people away from their suicide leaps, their Satan games.

This is an army that will lay down its life for the cause.

A million times a day its soldiers

choose to loose

that they might one day win

the great 'Well done' of faithful sons and daughters.

Such heroes are as radical on Monday morning as Sunday night. They don't need fame from names. Instead they grin quietly upwards and hear the crowds chanting again and again: "COME ON!"

And this is the sound of the underground

The whisper of history in the making

Foundations shaking

Revolutionaries dreaming once again

Mystery is scheming in whispers

Conspiracy is breathing…

This is the sound of the underground

And the army is discipl(in)ed.

Young people who beat their bodies into submission.

Every soldier would take a bullet for his comrade at arms. The tattoo on their back boasts "for me to live is Christ and to die is gain."

Sacrifice fuels the fire of victory in their upward eyes. Winners. Martyrs. Who can stop them ?

Can hormones hold them back?

Can failure succeed? Can fear scare them or death kill them ?

And the generation prays

like a dying man

with groans beyond talking,

with warrior cries, sulphuric tears and

with great barrow loads of laughter!

Waiting. Watching: 24 – 7 – 365.

Whatever it takes they will give: Breaking the rules. Shaking mediocrity from its cosy little hide. Laying down their rights and their precious little wrongs, laughing at labels, fasting essentials. The advertisers cannot mould them. Hollywood cannot hold them. Peer-pressure is powerless to shake their resolve at late night parties before the cockerel cries.

They are incredibly cool, dangerously attractive inside.

On the outside? They hardly care. They wear clothes like costumes to communicate and celebrate but never to hide.

Would they surrender their image or their popularity?

They would lay down their very lives - swap seats with the man on death row - guilty as hell. A throne for an electric chair.

With blood and sweat and many tears, with sleepless nights and fruitless days,

they pray as if it all depends on God and live as if it all depends on them.

Their DNA chooses JESUS. (He breathes out, they breathe in.)

Their subconscious sings. They had a blood transfusion with Jesus.

Their words make demons scream in shopping centres.

Don't you hear them coming?

Herald the weirdo's! Summon the losers and the freaks. Here come the frightened and forgotten with fire in their eyes. They walk tall and trees applaud, skyscrapers bow, mountains are dwarfed by these children of another dimension. Their prayers summon the hounds of heaven and invoke the ancient dream of Eden.

And this vision will be. It will come to pass; it will come easily; it will come soon.

How do I know? Because this is the longing of creation itself, the groaning of the Spirit, the very dream of God. My tomorrow is his today. My distant hope is his 3D. And my feeble, whispered, faithless prayer invokes a thunderous, resounding, bone-shaking great 'Amen!' from countless angels, from hero's of the faith, from Christ himself. And he is the original dreamer, the ultimate winner.

Guaranteed.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Let them dance.

Just in case you need something (and hundreds of someones, for that matter) to make your day, I strongly encourage you to watch this:


Where the Hell is Matt? (2008) from Matthew Harding on Vimeo.

[HT: Josh]

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

It's not about me.

I keep up regularly with my "blogroll folks" and today Los wrote about something today that struck a chord with me. He talked about how sometimes, even if it's rare, we use others to yield a desirable feeling in ourselves. Gratification. Validation. Fulfillment. Even encouragement. He put it in context of being a worship leader, and I found it refreshingly honest coming from a guy who leads a lot of folks in worship at his church in Atlanta.

Most people don't realize just how much time I have spent on stage in my life. This (somewhat) quiet writer/photographer/journalist/shy musician has been on stage more times than she can count. It seems ironic, since I hate being in the spotlight. But at the same time, I'm pretty content to hide behind a keyboard, blend in with the band, add to the sound and support the worship leader. Either that or I'm playing and singing for Jesus in a room with one or two friends/perfect strangers in it during the wee hours of the morning. I have played on worship teams since I was 13, with only a few short seasons where I was not involved at (just attending) a local gathering because of work or school or both.

In light of all that, here is what I wrote in response to his post:

Thank you for this, Los. Lately, I have been playing a lot with our worship team (I play keys/synth) and a lot of times I hear our worship leader, other band members, people from the congregation say things like, “Wow. You did so well!” or “That was beautiful.” For a little bit this past Sunday, I had to stand up there and work it out (internally) that it’s NOT about me. My tight-knit group of friends here has a saying…a mantra, if you will: “Just Jesus. Nothing else.”

I need to remind myself that I’m not trying to be something to them. I’m not trying to be anything, actually. Just an instrument and a willing heart to help others get to the place where they meet with God. And whether or not they connect, it’s between them and God. Not me and them. Ever.

How often we lose sight of this very thing. Not just in church or worship bands, but in our daily lives and interactions with strangers, coworkers, acquaintances and loved ones alike. The solution to all this?

He must increase. We must decrease.

Friday, June 13, 2008

20 Days...

Photobucket

And counting.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Verge

It seems as though I am on the verge of something.

For a season, I was perplexed by the circumstances surrounding me. Compassion turned into a battle with bitterness and questions with no clear answers. A job I love slowly became a position where I struggled to keep a steady pace and feel as though I were challenging myself to grow. The joy of family surrounding me in a colorful variety of names, faces, personalities and walks of life was somehow replaced with a fear that I would, eventually, be let down once again. People come. People go. And I end up being the last one trying to keep the bond alive.

Brick by brick, the wall started to rise. It blocked out even the light of the One whose love is as close to me as breath is to life. I got restless. Discontent. I felt like there was something more I should be doing. Somewhere else I should be going. Someone else I should be getting to know. Something else. Anything else. It was as if everything on my inside, both good and bad, wanted out. Badly.

I kept in the back of my mind the realization that such struggles plague people my age. We are an often wandering and wonderfully diverse generation of twentysomethings. I hated the fact that disillusionment often comes hand in hand with risk, challenge, adventure and new seasons. I felt like there had to be a balance in the whole thing.

Something—or more so, someone—to hold me in place, even if I was physically drifting around the country and struggling to feel at home in the place where I paid rent. Amidst the walls where I hung my own artwork. Sitting on the futon that had been host to many sessions of writing, deep conversations, cups of tea, tears shed and laughter released. Running my fingers along my trusty Kurzweil that had helped translate my deepest emotions into notes, melodies and lyrics.

My heart hurts often. That, I have come to realize, is not an entirely bad thing. And as I write this, I must confess that the season I speak of is not entirely passed. So much of it remains in me, but piece by piece, God has pulled it out of me and set it on the table. He stands next to me, His arm wrapped tightly around my shoulders. I can almost see His eyes—full of wisdom, compassion, kindness, correction, guidance. In this moment, He is my Father. My defender. My constant. That will never change, of course. But I will, inevitably.

Isn’t that the beauty of grace? Its foundation is in a God who has always been and always will be.

I AM WHO I AM, He thundered to Moses through the burning bush.

He remains. He abides. He lives. He dwells. Not off in some unreachable universe, but with us. It seems like such a simple statement: Emmanuel, God with us. But the significance is earth shattering. Heart wrenching. Mind blowing. Insurmountable by our limited human intellect. But nonetheless, it brings us to life—body, mind and spirit. And in the midst of my restlessness and distraction, He keeps reminding me that He is right here.

Watching. Dwelling. Breathing. Inspiring. Creating. Moving. He is changing me. Changing him. Changing her. Changing us. Until we finally realize that community, in its truest form, is when we are unified with Christ. Only then can we be truly unified with one another. This Kingdom, this life that pursues His calling, cannot be quenched by a mere season of disillusionment. It keeps going on regardless of my painful, shameful failures. Because He is perfect. He is good. He is loving. He is God.

He is here.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Fight [or From the Storm, part 3]

The night was still, but I was not. My heart was anything but quiet. Emotions ebbed and flowed inside me. I was having quite the conversation with God as I drove home.

You see, there is something about driving that brings out the deepest parts of me. No music. No distractions. Just the road. It was somewhere around 81st and Sheridan that I pulled up to a stoplight. An SUV was in the lane to my left, and a man’s voice pierced through the darkness.

“Hey baby,” he said.

I shuddered and stared straight ahead. If looks could kill, and I had chosen to look at him, he’d be a goner. I silently willed the light to turn green. As I pulled away, the emotions finally overwhelmed me. Being catcalled was the last straw in a battle I had been fighting inside myself, perhaps for longer than I wanted to admit. I wouldn't have appreciated it in any circumstance, but it pushed me over the edge.

I hit my fist against the steering wheel hard, the horn honking ever so slightly in protest. It all just seemed so wrong. Tears were streaming down my face.

And then, gently and firmly, He spoke to me.

What are you going to fight for, Rachel?

I paused only for a moment.

You and me, God! I'll fight for the right things. Purity, diligence, consistency, holiness. Our relationship. You and me.

And I realized, in that moment, that I had lost my fight somewhere along the road behind me. Or maybe I just lost my will to fight. But it came back, as overwhelmingly as the emotions that swelled inside my chest and the back of my throat. What an epic combination it was…

A few days later, I found myself standing on stage, playing keyboard with the worship band at my church. I was singing along, caught up in the presence of God that invaded into our midst. It was a holy moment.

You are my defender.

We sang it over and over again.

He is a God that will be heard. A God that not only hears us, but knows us. He is a mighty warrior. A God that not only defends us, but teaches us to fight as well. Yet again, the moment was marked with rolling thunder and rain pounding on the sheet metal roof of the church. The storm yielded the kind of wind that snapped trees at the trunk and scattered branches across the streets. But we were kept safe, in God's house...even in the midst of the storm and the flickering lights. If you ask me, I am deeply grateful to be on the winning side of the war.

So tell me…what will you fight for?