Wednesday, December 16, 2009

O Holy Night

O Holy Night Lyrics

O Holy Night! The stars are brightly shining,
It is the night of the dear Savior's birth.
Long lay the world in sin and error pining.
Till He appeared and the Soul felt its worth.
A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices,
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.
Fall on your knees! Oh, hear the angel voices!
O night divine, the night when Christ was born;
O night, O Holy Night , O night divine!
O night, O Holy Night , O night divine!

Truly He taught us to love one another,
His law is love and His gospel is peace.
Chains he shall break, for the slave is our brother.
And in his name all oppression shall cease.
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we,
With all our hearts we praise His holy name.
Christ is the Lord! Then ever, ever praise we,
His power and glory ever more proclaim!
His power and glory ever more proclaim!

The line that really gets me in this song is the part about the soul feeling its worth. How awesome is it that our value is clearly seen by the sacrifice of God or better put the rescue of God. I feel like that whole first stanza does a great job of summing up life and the response to God.
Sometimes at look at the Church and where we are at and my heart falls. How far have we come from love, peace, freedom, thankfulness, forgiveness. I listen to preachers, congregates, media outlets all speaking from the voice of Christianity and it seems like all they want is more. And I don't mean more glory for God.
spend Less, give More, love All, Worship Fully

Monday, December 14, 2009

O come, O come, Emmanuel

O come, O come, Emmanuel
And ransom captive Israel
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Thou Rod of Jesse, free
Thine own from Satan's tyranny
From depths of Hell Thy people save
And give them victory o'er the grave
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Thou Day-Spring, come and cheer
Our spirits by Thine advent here
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night
And death's dark shadows put to flight.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

This originally grabbed my heart as I was studying Hebrew a few years ago. During that time I began to see, enjoy, love and come to embrace the foundations of Christianity found in The Old Testament. I started to see this New Testament faith through the eyes of the ancient Hebrew faith in a fresh new way, namely a fuller understanding of a Messiah. This song makes me at once stand in awe of the ancient advent we celebrate and long with all my being for the future advent to come. Just read it's robust lyrics. It begins with the hope of returning home from the exile then includes themes of freedom for the oppressed and ends with the rejoicing of light and truth. Its basically the summation of all the promises of the future reign of the King. It is the longing of advent put into words.

Monday, December 07, 2009

I heard the Bells on Christmas Day

This is the first of the song post. This song kills me with its gently reminder that in a dark world all is not lost. That is watching and there will come a time when all wil be made right.

I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day
Their old familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet the words repeat
Of peace on earth, good will to men.

I thought how, as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom
Had rolled along the unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good will to men.

And in despair I bowed my head:
"There is no peace on earth," I said,
"For hate is strong and mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good will to men."

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
"God is not dead, nor doth he sleep;
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail,
With peace on earth, good will to men."

Till, ringing singing, on its way,
The world revolved from night to day,
A voice, a chime, a chant sublime,
Of peace on earth, good will to men!

I get caught off guard.

During the holiday season I love listening to Christmas music like everyone else. I just turn it on and sing along. As I go about my day doing what ever it is I need to do I find myself singing along in the expectation of a white Christmas and the coming of Santa. I enjoy the childhood memories of Frosty and Rudolph with his glowing nose and dentist elf friend.
But some times I hear a song and it stops me dead in my tracks. Sometimes I hear a song so deep and profound that my heart is moved toward the truths it speaks of God and Jesus. And every once and a while I'm forced to wipe a tear from my eye as the truth of the advent season pierces my heart and for a moment I truly long for the return of the Messiah in a way that is missing from any other time of year. So over the next few weeks my goal is to share some of these songs with you.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

I'm so thankful

So I know that this post seems a but late being a week after thanksgiving but I was a little to busy enjoying the holiday to bother writing this. I love Thanksgiving. It might be one of the best holidays I can think of. Every year I'm around seems to bring a little more understanding of the thankfulness to me. Last year because I had the opportunity to be in a place where the idea of Thanksgiving was foreign, I had the chance to really look at it anew. How awesome is a day that is dedicated to enjoying all the good things in life? By that I mean family, food and fun. It a celebration of all the good things. I'm a firm believer in the necessity that ever culture needs a Thanksgiving. Its really hard to explain how truly great the day is when some one has no concept of it. My Czech friend Lucka has inspired me to think that we need to convert the poorly celebrated Velvet Revolution day aka Nov. 17 into just that type of day. What better way to celebrate the down fall of tyranny and oppression that by feasting and enjoying the company of those you love basically the years best party.

This year I was struck by two other thoughts that both have to do with the timing of Thanksgiving. The first is that its a Thursday, the middle of the week. it effectively renders Wednesday and Friday useless on thanksgiving week its like we end up with a five day weekend. How sweet is that in the middle of the work week in this very busy culture we have this holiday that is simple designed to step back take a breath and be thankful for life. Its the much needed time out we deserve to give ourselves. The second thought was how funny and ironic it is that Thanksgiving kicks of what is the busiest shopping time of the year. Thanksgiving a holiday the celebrates contentment a thanks for the things money can't by is followed by the supper indulgence of desire and materialism. Yeah that's you Black Friday and your 3am store openings. Its like we say I'm so thankful for everything I have my friends, my family and my life...NOW GIVE ME MORE STUFF!! (More about this to come with a Christmas themed post.) This weird ironic timing makes me laugh and cry but mainly I just eat leftovers and enjoy the coming Yuletide season. This truly is the best time of well second best, I do love me some Easter.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Love, Happiness and Approval

I've had a lot of time to listen to people talk about love lately, I'm not sure why...maybe just because its on my mind more lately. Anyway I'm going to ask my readers who happen to also be parents to weigh in on this because thats where most of the thoughts come from and are directly apply back to.
As I've been thinking about love specifically unconditional love. I often have a hard time wrapping my head around this thought. Can you really love some no matter what they do, in-spite of their actions? As I would turn these thoughts over and over in my head I thought about examples of this unconditional brand of love, of course the two examples I end up looking closely at are the Love of God and Parental love. (Neither of which I can fully grasp although I'm beyond grateful to receive them both.)As I thought more about this love and about how I interacted with them I realized that my hang up was not because of Love but what I associated with believed they were shown.I always associated love with two things, happiness and approval. I thought when you loved something then that thing always had to make you happy. To love something you had to approve of it.
Here are the problems with that. A) Love to be based on approval puts conditions on it. Approval is ultimate judgment when you approve than you pass a judgment that is favorable and disapproval is of course the opposite. B)What the heck is happiness. The more I look at it the more it becomes...fluff. Happiness is like the boy band crazy of the 90's attractive and powerful but ultimately...well lets just ask a where are they now question. If we allow happiness to determine love then we are left with "love" that is basically bubble gum good for a little bit but then its spit out and a new piece is inserted.
That brings us back to unconditional love. Its is something that is rooted in the giver. Something rooted in identity. I'm loved not because of my actions, thankfully, but because some one chooses to love me because of who I am to them. I seek to make happy and to find approval from those that love me. Its nice to have those things in order.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

The god of Peace aka Si vis pacem, para bellum

This summer I realized something. People want peace. This summer we talked about kings and expectations. One of the questions we asked was "If your country was being invaded by another nation what action would you want your king to take?" The over whelming response was some from of "peaceful" diplomacy ie non-violence. This...just didn't sit well inside me. I mean I'm all for diplomacy and peace but I'm also for protection and being defended, not that those things are opposite but some times it sure feels that way.
There is an old adage in Latin "Si vis pacem, para bellum" which means if want peace prepare for war. In our modern world it seems like we have removed all room for action for violence. These thoughts arose out of Eastern Europe a place with a history riddled with violence and protest, the resistance under the Nazis, the velvet revolution, secret police and public beatings. A place where no one wants to stand up. But it isn't just this place. Look at the Middle East, a bomb goes of on a public bus or rockets are shot into civilian housing and a government reacts with a swift counter strike and they're the bad guys because the terrorist hide in the midst of civilians.
We made this ideal that good man can't at times be a violent man or take a violent action. A good leader can't declare war, by today's standards, but if you look at History's greatest leaders Lincoln, Churchill, Alexander, Ceaser they were great because of how they handled war. Lincoln knew that sometimes you have destroy before you can rebuild. It seems like sometimes as Christians we are ashamed or embarrassed about God and the violent actions he takes. Think about how the Bible describes Jesus and how he returns and wins the final battle.Go ahead read Revelation and tell me Jesus is some non-violent hippie.
I'm glad that we have the God of peace and not the god of Peace. A king who wars over us and protects us. A God that isn't afraid to get his hands dirty for the ones he loves. And I'm not going to apologize for him.

Friday, July 17, 2009

the sound of silence

One of the things I've noticed about life in America is that it is loud. There is always something going into the ears. Even during our "quite times" we listen to music or pray out loud lest we be distracted by the new sounds of a quite room. Being here in Czech is different people are just quite; it reminds me of the time I spent on the Reservations in South Dakota. The don't feel the need to fill the silence with useless words or questions that they, that we, don't ultimately care about.
I've had many discussions about this with Americans. Especial as it relates to discussion groups. For us Americans there is this uneasiness with silence. Sometimes I swear it causes physical pain to some people. But if we can sit in that silence I tend to find there is a beauty. the words you share seem so much more than sounds.
Last night I was sitting with my friend under the stars. We sat in silence looking at the sky, the stars, the milky way. It was beautiful and many times I felt the silence and just as many times i thought what can i say to him that he himself doesn't already see and what would I say about the stars that would them justice... so we sat there and it was...

Sunday, June 14, 2009

I used to...

Some where along my life the past few years it seems I've lost all the answers. I'm sitting listening to some friends talk about all the loftier things in life. I used to think I had those things figured out. I used to think I knew what I was gonna do (change the world) and how I was gonna do it (insert well thought out plan), now I'm lost. Well lost seems harsh maybe more like waiting. Waiting and watching. Watching other blind people who have no more vision than I grope around in the dark thinking they can see.
I'm not sure whats worse the honesty of not having the answers, or the cynicism of laughing at those that don't know they are at the bottom too.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Back again

Here I sit in the restaurant of the hotel that I have spent many a meal in over the last few years. Its funny to be back here in Czech after just spending a few months back in the States. Heraclitus said "You can never step into the same river; for new waters are always flowing on to you."
Every time I come here it is different. There is a new challenge or new thought that God is showing me. The first time I was struggling with a bad break up. The second time I was dealing with the idea of being a missionary and following God. Trip number three I was learning how to let go and trust God for a home, for family, for friends. This time...I'm not sure but I can tell you that I'm dealing with questions of timing and whats next and think legitimately for the first time about serving in another country outside of Czech.
I'm living in the tension of not knowing the future but trusting a God who has a plan.
Pray that I pursue God and that in that pursuit it flows down into my team then into or camp teams then into our students.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

I'm living and dying with the choices I've made.

The Road Not Taken
by Robert Frost

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

This is my favorite poem. I revisit over and over each time taking something new from it. The very first time I read it I'll admit to making a common mistake and seeing it as inspiration to take the less traveled road. When I was fresh out of High School I read it and realized Frost was saying that it doesn't really matter what road you take its all in the journey because there is always the question of where the other road would lead. And now I read it and see something completely different.
I see choice. this is one of the most amazing things about America, about freedom in general, Choice. Whether it is McDonald's or Bugger King, Organic or Processed, Name brand or Generic we are bombarded with choices. Some good, some bad; some easy, some hard but we all must make them. I've come to realize that I'm not good at this. I want too much and when I make a decision I regret it...sometimes. Other times I'm ok until something new and better comes along. Usually this doesn't matter for instance what does it matter if I choose Cocoa Pebbles over Fruity Pebbles for breakfast(That's right I'm all about the good things)or what kind of creamer I get for my coffee. The answer Nothing, shocking I know. Yet sometimes especially in the gloriously transitional part of my life I find myself having to make huge choices. To mission or to youth pastor, which churches, which areas, do I give the homeless man money or turn my head, do I give my tithe or hoard my money or spend it on stupid things, if i donate it where to what cause?
I'm starting to understand that sometimes the choices we make reflect the person we are, choice is ultimately about freedom and freedom is ultimately about character. So what do my choices say about me?

Monday, April 20, 2009

the haze of inactivity

I've been meaning to write. No, really I have. Everyday I come here looking for a new post only to see that the guy who is supposed to be posting here isn't doing his job. What a jerk! oh wait...this is my blog...dang it. That explains so much. Well I best get writing. Now where to start....if I could only organize the storm of thoughts in my head. That's what happens to me. That's why I haven't written in so long. There isn't a lot going on. There are definitely things of note I'd be happy to share but all my good thoughts seem to be covered with this haze. I can see them I know where they are and that they're there but I can't focus in on them. I think when you are inactive its the discipline in the simple things that you miss the most.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

So its offical

This morning I received a phone call from Europe, more specifically Cesky Tesin, Czech Republic. The phone call was of absolute incoherent quality, I understood just a few sentences. What I did understand was that after a little deliberation and a apparently an arm wrestling match I have been officially accepted as a missionary with Josiah Venture. Now I begin the long process of raising support and all the other joys that comes with that. Now if I only knew where to begin...

Friday, February 20, 2009

Rejoice with Humanity

This past week I've had the pleasure of working at the radio-thon for Driscoll Children's Hospital. It was a great experience.
At times it was hard to hear stories and to meet the kids who lives have been impacted by children. 5 yr olds with Leukemia and babies rushed into the operating room and into ICU within minutes of birth, children who will never outside...hear their Mother's say I love you these things made me question every single thing I know about goodness and truth and love. The idea of innocents and God.

The answers where dark...hopeless...depressing...destroying...

but then there was light...there is always light. That seems to be how He works. Against the back drop of death and sickness and suffering there is joy, happiness, redemption. There is cancer remission and eradication. Children who statistically should never have normal function... walking, talking, writing and drawing. There was this boy, the first thing he heard was his Mother...she said I love you. He asked if that was music...we was a teenager.

Then what probably is the coolest thing happened. People cared. People gave. People who had nothing to with these children gave their money, their time, their love. They were moved. They didn't just feel compassion. They weren't just touched...they acted.It was amazing. It made me proud to be part of this race. I'm beginning to understand what it means to be Human, to be a Christian, to be an Image means to care, to move, to act.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

I'm a nerd.

As I was surfing the net I found this article. It got me thinking, wait I totally fit into this category...Why am I still single? I think more ladies should listen to this one.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

another milestone of ignorance

I have long asked myself How do you deal with Death? As someone who is trained for ministry and looking at becoming a pastor this has been a subject I've thought about a lot but I've never really had to face it. I've had people who I've known die but never some one close to me. Never someone like this. I know that in the death of Christ the sting of death is removed but that doesn't solve the pain that comes with death. Especially when it comes to those that aren't submitted to the Death of Christ. What do you say as you race down the road knowing that death awaits the destination. What do you say when the only sounds you hear are those accompanied by tears. How do you speak Christ into that situation when you can't speak yourself. And how do you comfort those when you aren't certain that the relief of Heaven awaits.
My Grandfather died today. I have the great honor of doing the service...little did I know that my first funeral would be my grandfather's...and that I'd be 24.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Spontanous Thought

Ignorant men don't know what good they hold in their hands until they've flung it away. – Sophocles (496 BC-406 BC)
This is my random quote of the day from my quote of the day application. I really like it. There have been many good quotes to come along from this little app; but this is by far my favorite so far. I like it because it rings very true in my life. I'm trying not to be the ignorant man throwing away the good things. As I continue to make big life decisions and make choices where one thing is picked over life in the states versus life in the Czech Republic I don't want to throw away good things by making poor hasty decisions. I don't want to fling away good relationships because of I'm not patent enough or trusting enough to pursue them. I don't want to give up good for convenience.
It doesn't just echo inside of me in terms of being the ignorant one but also in the one who picks up the discarded good. For those that now my romantic interest you can see how being the man who picks up the good can be important. Unfortunately when the good an ignorant guy has discard is a girl there tends to be a lot of hurt in her heart. I'm struggling with this. I'm struggling with allowing her space and time to heal, with how it is that our lives are going line up over the next few years and I'm struggling with feeling like I'd have to choose her over being a missionary. And I know that if she read this she'd be angry that I feel this way.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Look up?

During my whole time in the Czech Republic I had this struggle with God over hearing his voice about my future there. So during my last week I decided to go to a café and with my journal and reread all the things I had written since the first summer I went to the Czech Republic hoping that it would spark some communication. So I settled into my corner booth with my hot chocolate and journal and waited. The picture isn’t the exact thing I saw but it gives you some idea of the setting. I’ve written the things I heard as a script. (You may want to act this out. If so I suggest you find a good looking young man to play the part of Jerry to make the situation as close to real life as possible.)

Jerry: Dear God please speak to me.
(After some time of reading his Journal at a café Jerry hears this)
God: Look up.
Jerry: What?
God: Look up.
Jerry: What, God I don’t get it.
God: L-O-O-K U-P.
Jerry: Look up, why.
God: Jerry! Just LOOK UP!
Jerry: Ok, ok. (looks up from his journal)
God: What do you see?
Jerry: Czech people…?
God: What do I see?
Jerry: People how are dying…
God: What else?
Jerry: People who need love…
God: Exactly now what are you going to do about it?
Jerry: Love them…Die with them…
God: Good boy. What don’t you see?
Jerry: Me…?
God: Exactly! Stop looking at yourself; your needs, your problems, your struggles. Look at these people, love these people!