Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Still Learning

I went to see Donald Miller and Derek Webb last Tuesday night in Birmingham, Alabama. Let me begin by saying that I got there at the end of arguably one of the longest and most frustrating days of my life. I talked myself in and out of going all day long. I knew I wanted/needed to go. It didn't take long for me to remember why once Derek Webb began singing.

Derek Webb is amazing. I have enjoyed his music since the early Caedmon's Call days. This is due largely to the fact that he is a lyrical genius. It is not because he is smarter than the rest of us, though...so, genius might not be the right word. It is the best I can think of to describe him right now. He writes what everyone else feels and is afraid to say. I dig that about him.

His music is sometimes comforting (love/lament songs like Just Don't Want Coffee and Somewhere North), but mostly challenging (Wedding Dress, Lover, etc.). I am captivated by his voice, his lyrics, and his heart. He is incredibly honest about the struggles of faith and learning to love as Christ loved. It is at once convicting and encouraging. Last Tuesday was no exception.

I went to see Derek Webb. Donald Miller was just a perk. He is equally as honest and raw, just with words instead of song. Both inspired and challenged me more in two hours than I have been in a while. I loved it and am still processing it. As I make sense of it, I will post more and more.

For now, let me just say I am struggling to love as Christ loved, too. The more I reflect on how much Christ loves me in spite of me, the more I am able to love others. Some days are better than others...

Monday, October 16, 2006

Drawing a Blank

I don't have much to say today, but I felt the need to post something to make my faithful few readers think. I am heading to B'ham tomorrow to see Donald Miller (Blue Like Jazz) and Derek Webb. I imagine I'll have something to say after hearing from these two phenomenal people. Until then, I'll just let Derek speak for me. If you can be both eloquent and raw, I believe Derek Webb to be both. This song is haunting me right now. If you want to hear it, it is on his album Mockingbird. The entire amazing album is available for FREE here. Enjoy and reflect...

rich young ruler

poverty is so hard to see
when it’s only on your tv and twenty miles across town
where we’re all living so good
that we moved out of Jesus’ neighborhood
where he’s hungry and not feeling so good
from going through our trash
he says, more than just your cash and coin
i want your time, i want your voice
i want the things you just can’t give me

so what must we do
here in the west we want to follow you
we speak the language and we keep all the rules
even a few we made up
come on and follow me
but sell your house, sell your suv
sell your stocks, sell your security
and give it to the poor
what is this, hey what’s the deal
i don’t sleep around and i don’t steal
i want the things you just can’t give me

because what you do to the least of these
my brother’s, you have done it to me
because i want the things you just can’t give me

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

...as ourselves

I have really been thinking about the commandment in the NT to "Love your neighbor as yourself" (Matthew 19:19). I posted a quote a few days ago (see below) that started me on this path. I love what it says. I am a person of prayer and have learned the truth of such a statement in my own life. There really is nothing that causes us to love another person more than interceding for or joining them in prayer. When we really pray for another person (friend or enemy) we learn to see them through a different lens. We learn what it means to really love our neighbor...or at least what it means to see them as such. This has been proven over and over in my life.

The other part of this commandment is something we often overlook. It clearly says, "Love your neighbor as yourself." It occurred to me that we focus a lot on the first part...loving our neighbor. We tend to skip right over the as yourself. That has to stop.

One of my favorite professors in seminary, Dr. Chuck Gutenson, called me on this very thing. I would always begin my questions or comments in class with "This might be stupid, but...". In the middle of class one day, he completely called me out. "Julie, you have to stop. You have got to get rid of this "preamble" of yours. Self depreciation is not a kingdom value."

"Self depreciation is not a kingdom value."

He was/is right. It is not of God for us to put ourselves down. That is like calling God a liar. We were created "in his image" (see Genesis 1:27). If we are going to love each other, we have to start with ourselves. The "as ourselves" is an important part of that commandment we know so well. Let's start living it now...

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Loving our Neighbor...

"Intercessory prayer might be defined as loving our neighbor on our knees." - Charles Brent

More thoughts on this in the next day or so...stay tuned!