Thursday, June 29, 2006

the god-makers

lately this beggar's world has been full of all manner of calamity and wonder. these are days of faith, my friends. i honestly haven't been at 'leisure' to further attend to the discipline of blogging. however, just in case there is anyone who still checks this site for something fresh, i have decided to post something that i came across today when doing some major 'housecleaning.'

it is from a small denominational magazine that i used to write for back at the turn of the millenium...

i remember reading once on someone's blog that it could be rather interesting to repost the 23rd entry on our blogs a year later or whatever in order to note how far from then the now has taken us. well, the article below was published in october, 2000- nearly six years ago- and though my voice has changed a bit, i still hold to the same things (call this redundancy or consistency?)

maybe sometime soon i'll be able to actually put into words all that has been going on at this point in my journey. until then, however, know that life is good and God sustains me, your friend, through all things great and small...

All who make idols are nothing, and the things they treasure are worthless... Who shapes a god and casts an idol which can profit him nothing? He and his kind will be put to shame; craftsmen are nothing but men." -Isaiah 44.9-11

every now and then the word of God gives me a shot right in the chops.

it's really easy to justify involvement in a rather subtle form of idolatry simply by adhering to the maxim: "Give your best to God."

please make no mistake here- i will always maintain that if we are not giving our best to the Father then we are falling short of what he has called us to do for his kingdom. to withhold anything from his will is to be a gripper rather than a releaser.

as a worship leader i work hard to develop what God has entrusted to me. i drill and practice myself to blisters. i listen to maxwell tapes, attend worship conferences, subscribe to leadership magazine, even read the latest yancey title... but sometimes i think that we can carry too much of the burden of worship upon ourselves as leaders. without careful internal scrutiny, we can become too important to the kingdom in our own eyes, and this results in spiritual confusion- maybe not immediately, but inevitably.

the people in the seats become too reliant upon us to rejuvenate them; we become too responsible for the quickening of their spiritual pulse. eventually people end up worshipping the worship.

the danger within any worship context usually arises when people lose track of why they are there. it is this way because of the basic human propensity to become preoccupied with ourselves rather than God.

as spiritual navel-gazers, we allow ourselves to be the centre of our worship, rather than exalting Christ. worship becomes experiencial, rather than sacrificial. we draw energy and joy not from singing the name above all names, but from knowing that when we are singing his name we have his attention.

'all who make idols are nothing...'

personally, i cannot stand the idea of being eternally inconsequential. like a little child, i just want my God to be pleased with the present i made for him myself. i want to grow closer to him with my every offering. in offering it to him, i long for his acceptance of my gift. i want him to be proud of me and i want him to use what i made for him because then i feel less like a spiritual freeloader.

however, if my creative energies are directed towards somehow validating myself by my worship expression then i am wasting both the time and the gifts that have been entrusted to me. Christ's death already established my worth in his sight.

'who shapes a god or casts an idol which can profit him nothing?'

webster says an idol is 'an image of a god, constructed of wood, stone, etc. and worshiped as if it were the god it represents.' one of the things that we seek to do with our words or our music is to paint a picture of God's glory- to somehow make the mind-bending attributes of God understandable for normal, linear, rather blunt-minded creatures like ourselves.

no matter how big or beautifully ornamented the box, God will not fit into it.

furthermore, we must not tuck even a tiny portion of his glory into our own back pockets for our own personal use later. there was a worship leader in heaven who did this long ago and to a certain extent he still works daily at stealing the worship from Almighty God. if the people begin to worship the art as if it were the God it represents, then we are creative heretics in search of company, working away on something that not only profits us nothing, but ultimately costs us everything.

'craftsmen are nothing but men.'

unless God intervenes and transforms our efforts into something that brings him glory, our worship is only temporal. only when God is glorified will anything we do last beyond that final day when we stand, longing to hear him say

"well done, my faithful one, enter into the kingdom...
they're playing our song!"

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Wednesday, June 14, 2006

two sticks in the mud

june carter wrote
everybody wants to go to heaven but nobody wants to die

as to why many christians want to go to heaven but they don't want to die ... i think it is because

a) they're not really sure if they're actually going to heaven because they haven't figured out the whole 'grace' thing and are still trying to be good enough to earn their way in, but are insecure as to their ability to do so (what with integrity lapses, moral failures and just basic self-centredness) in the time provided.


b) they kinda like it here and are having trouble embracing the idea that being eternally in the presence of the creator of the universe would be any fun because there would be no one for them to judge or pity.

once a person shakes off these two sticks in the mud, he or she is usually up for the trip.

a friend of mine and fellow marathon runner fell unconscious the other day while jogging. no warning, no clue. running along she feels something a bit buzzy and next thing you know she's being awakened from her slumber in the middle of the road where she has created a warm pool of vomit to sleep in. weird.

afterwards as i met with her in the hospital, she said "you know, it doesn't surprise me at all that right now, with so many exciting things going on, i'd have to deal with a surprise like this. but you know what's killing me? just laying here doing nothing. if i would have died- well that would have been a good day: go for a jog, meet Jesus. but this laying here wondering what's going on and what happens next..."

wondering what's going on and what happens next.

basic existential anxiety. it began when we took the bet and took the bite. everything since then has been about trying to be 'like God' with disappointing results. sad thing is that we were like God anyway- we were made in his image- still are. apparently that has never been enough for any of us because we just don't get it.

bob dylan wrote
something is happening and you don't know what it is... do you mr jones?

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Friday, June 09, 2006

dog face

Dogs of war and men of hate
With no cause, we don't discriminate
Discovery is to be disowned
Our currency is flesh and bone
Hell opened up and put on sale
Gather 'round and haggle
For hard cash, we will lie and deceive
Even our masters don't know the webs we weave

One world, it's a battleground
One world, and we will smash it down
One world ... One world

Invisible transfers, long distance calls,
Hollow laughter in marble halls
Steps have been taken, a silent uproar
Has unleashed the dogs of war
You can't stop what has begun
Signed, sealed, they deliver oblivion
We all have a dark side, to say the least
And dealing in death is the nature of the beast

One world, it's a battleground
One world, and we will smash it down
One world ... One world

The dogs of war don't negotiate
The dogs of war won't capitulate,
They will take and you will give,
And you must die so that they may live
You can knock at any door,
But wherever you go, you know they've been there before
Well winners can lose and things can get strained
But whatever you change, you know the dogs remain.

One world, it's a battleground
One world, and we will smash it down
One world ... One world
(david glimour of pink floyd, circa 1985)

i have recently come to the conclusion that i am a dog of war...
and have always been.

if you were to name any context from life, it would only take me a second to name my other self, my known adversary, my goldstein, my snowball, the ying for my yang. in every phase of my life and in every relational context i can identify one- always just one- on whom i blame my pain, for whom i have only disdain, in whom i am perpetually disappointed and against whom i wage an ongoing and unwinnable war.

having one extreme opposition- a bizarro around which all other relationships fall into place as positive- has allowed me, in seeing the worst in the one to see the best in all others. it appears as though, for me, balance and stability have always existed in the stalemate.

the structure holds together well until one of the dogs lets go of his end of the bone. suddenly there is a hole and, in granting forgiveness, i find myself bereft of both convenient villain and comfortable balance.

the challenge is to be on guard, lest i create from my existing relationships a brand new adversary in order to bring my world back into balance and release me from the change that is imminent.

this is why i commit war crimes in perpetuity. it's circle maintenance.

to break the cycle? i must be of greater things, that my actions and relationships would be of positive eternal consequence. if i cannot break my adversarial nature, then i must choose for myself an adversary who is ultimately as stubborn as i am. my chosen villain must be the personification of all negativity. with him and him alone must i contend.

not to presume to be able to wage war against him on any power i might call my own, but to, by God's power, wrestle not against flesh and blood but against principalities, powers, against forces of darkness in this world, against self-serving wickedness in the spiritual realm that is enacted here, using regular people as instruments of torture upon their own countrymen.

after all, every action has an equal and opposite reaction
(sir isaac newton)

*note: the photo above was taken by an american soldier last year in the war against iraq- however, it is important to note that this is NOT an american tactic. in this kind of war, it is typical to wire a dead animal up with explosives that are set off by remote control- the person with the remote just has to push a button. when you have a bomb in your belly, anyone is a potential victim- it just depends on when your buttons get pushed and who is nearby when it happens .

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