I Don't, He Does

I’m about to hit the sack after an extremely long Disciple-Now weekend at Germantown Baptist. But before I pass out I just thought I should mention some things that were going through my head today after all our events were over.God showed me for the umpteenth time today that everything I do has nothing to do with me and cannot be accomplished when I trust them to myself alone. He is the only good thing in me that produces the work that comes from my hands.

It’s now Sunday night and last night I worked until 5 o’clock in the morning on a video that was scheduled to play in the final rally on Sunday morning. To make a long story short, I didn’t put the time I should have into the project earlier in the week and therefore I had to make up for that at the very last minute by pulling an all-nighter.

So it’s probably safe to say that me losing a night of sleep was my own fault and my habit of procrastination has once again gotten the best of me. But I will say in my defense that if you take into mind what I’m about to say, working on my intended schedule might not have helped anyway.

What I learned so clearly today as I looked back on all the projects that I produced over the weekend is that if I don’t seek God and understand that only my best work can be inspired and created by Him, then I will fail every time. I racked my brain for days on how to best communicate the message of the video I was asked to produce(titled “Rescue Promo”).

But it wasn’t until I came to my wit’s end and said “ok God, I can’t do this, inspire me, use me to communicate your message” that things started coming together.

After that, it wasn’t too long before my creative juices were flowing again and information I got from some friends and our youth pastor began fitting together with the purpose of the piece. Finally after about 6 hours, a couple of Dr. Peppers and a bowl of ice cream I managed to squeeze out a product that I thought would suffice, all things considered. Though the final video wasn’t the great visual that I planned for in the beginning, God had plans to use it that surpassed my expectations.

Despite distorted audio, I had numerous people tell me that the video was awesome and that the room was practically silent during it’s showing because the students were so intrigued. The video I thought was merely something I threw together at the last minute turned out to be an impacting piece that conveyed it’s message just how God planned. And everyone loved it! Please don’t misunderstand this as boasting but please see it as me refracting the praise I received up to my Jesus who is the only reason it ended up so well.

The same goes for all the products that came out of the weekend. I loved being able to direct live video during the Chris Sligh/Meredith Andrews concerts. It’s not something I get to do all that often so I in no way consider myself an accomplished live video director. But as I went back and watched the DVD, I was so pleased with the result. My camera men(and lady) were phenomenal and they really showed their stuff this weekend. The musicians were right on, the sound was crisp and full, Chris was quite entertaining and Meredith was amazing at bringing a spirit of worship on Sunday morning. But as I watched, I couldn’t think of anything but the fact that God is so awesome and He is the Master Creator of everything we know and it’s the best experience in the world to be used by Him to produce His artwork.

I consider video and graphic production as my two favorite forms of worship and I am so blessed that God has granted me with gifts that make it a pleasure to give back to Him to exalt His name.

Ws

I have to say. Tonight I was quite proud of our President. I don’t listen to his speeches all that often. But tonight he did an interview with Bob Costas from Beijing and I was pleased with a lot of things he said.

Bob asked him several questions that had to do with America’s relationship with China. It was good to hear that his attitude as a whole is one of building bridges with the most populous country instead of causing unneeded hostility between us by pointing a finger and saying “now this is what you should be doing”. He mentioned that he has had several meetings with the President of China, HU Jintao, since being in office and that conversations concerning China’s views on human rights and religious freedom have come up quite frequently. But President Bush stressed the fact tonight that we will have our differences and that that should not prohibit us from carrying on a growing relationship and finding grounds that we can meet on together. I also liked what Bush said about how in one recent meeting, he admitted to the Chinese President that he attended church while there in China and that the government should consider registering the underground churches there and letting religion flourish. Bush also said in the interview that he’s learned that once religion takes hold within a society, it can’t be stopped.

Now, I’m not naive enough to believe that these conversations will lead to an overturn of communism in the east and that Christianity will sprout up like weeds among the communities there. But I am proud to have a president (for these last short months) that is vocal in representing our values to the great leaders of other countries and even more proud that he does it with a mature, non-demeaning attitude. I’m a strong proponent of a leadership model that doesn’t strive to constantly lift oneself above their followers, but instead lowers a helping hand to those that struggle or even worse, reject the path that’s being taken. I’ve been underneath many “leaders” in the past that constantly put others down and show no encouragement for me to do better. Unfortunately I have to be honest and say that those models have had an affect on my leadership skills and I find myself mimicking their poor attitudes frequently. This is something I pray God will change in me so that I will consciously follow after Christ’s method of leading people, which is one of love and encouragement yet disciplining and firm to those that don’t understand.

I thought it ironic that I ended up going on this little spiel about George W. after, just yesterday, pulling out some old school Michael W. in the car. Every once in a while I get in the mood for the middle aged pop artist that used to pretty much set the standard for Christian music. And even though I grew up as a pretty devoted fan, now I look back and regret the role that he(i’m sure unintentionally) played in segregating “Christian” music from the rest of the music world. I think I’m seeing that reversed now and I hope that it no longer has to be just another thing that divides us from culture and causes more harm in churches than it helps. I think music about and to Jesus is biblical, but I don’t need a label to put boundaries on what’s “Christian” and what’s not. And the less stones we give the world to throw at us(i.e. segregation of music styles) the better.

I’d love to keep going... I never do feel like i’ve finished an entry with everything I wanted to say. But due to your attention span and the fact that I have class in 7 hours, I’ll call it a wrap.

From Russia With Love

I began my annual marathon of Bond movies the other night. I’m a pretty big fan. In fact today I got really frustrated at the fact that no one has released an album with the original recordings of all the theme songs from the films. I had to go through iTunes and look up each song by name and artist and was disappointed to find that about 10 of them are not easily found anywhere on the internet. Have to admit, I’m pretty stoked about the new one that’s releasing in November, Quantum of Solace. With Casino Royale, James Bond was brought to a whole new level. The rugged, yet vulnerable agent is something that younger audiences want to see. He’s arrogant and blunt in his presentation and definitely doesn’t sugar coat anything. This quality is becoming much more prevalent in today’s heroes and role-models. I personally like this character evolution that’s taking place and believe that it’s a positive change from the traditional “man of steel” model that’s raised on a pedestal for all to gawk at. I’m not one of those crazed fans that praises people just for the fact that they’re famous. I would rather have the opportunity to sit down with Bono for 20 minutes over coffee than be given free front row seats to U2 for a year. I want to see what these influential icons are really made of and what they’ve been through in life that’s made them who they are. If I admire someone it’s because they have gained my respect by admitting their weaknesses and have proved to be stronger because of them.

This kind of model is very Christ-like. If Jesus thought that we should have a role model that’s perfect on the outside because that would give us something to strive for, then He would’ve come as a King on a throne with a golden robe and a fat crown on his head. That’s the king that the Jews wanted him to be and He will show those qualities in the end. But the model he gave for US to follow was his fleshly form while he was here on earth. Christ came as a peasant who swept saw dust during the day and made sure the hay in the pig sty was replenished. He was still perfect, but his example to us was one of humility and openness with those he came in contact with. Honesty produces community between people that builds each other up to become more like Christ’s example. Putting on a facade of being “less sinful than thou” only creates dissension and either causes others to feel less worthy than you, or produces disgust and hatred towards you. Neither of which allow room for Christian maturity.

Now, there’s always a flip side. The opposite of putting on a face would be to act freely about everything while using the excuse “I’m just being myself”. However, acting freely can easily be confused with acting sinfully. It would be very easy for me to allow my fleshly lusts and instincts to have an affect on my actions and that be ok with me because I’m trying to “not put on a face”. There must be a balance. One side is very strict and polished that says “don’t let them see your sin” and the other side says “it’s ok, just act like yourself (your depraved, sin-infested self)”. Both of these, in the end, prove to be wrong. There must be a balance of striving for excellence and Christ-likeness yet also being willing to let people see your struggles in an effort to build a bridge of community that will help you both mature in Christ.

This subject points back a lot to the whole “don’t make your brother stumble” commandment that Paul speaks of in Romans 14. Both extremes can cause failure in this area. The “covering up your sin” side causes others to either hate you or envy you, and the “letting sin determine your actions” side causes others to either misinterpret Christianity or build themselves up for being better than you. Either way is causing your brother to stumble. So this means that not only are you sinning(which both extremes usually think they aren’t), but you’re causing others to sin.

As I said earlier, I like the fact that this “tearing off the mask” philosophy is becoming more popular in today’s Super Heroes and role models. I think people are becoming more impressed with people that admit and grow from mistakes than they are with those that act like mistakes should be swept under the rug. We need to learn to acknowledge our flaws and use them in our journey to become more like Christ.

“what you meant for evil, God meant for good in order to bring about this present result”

- Gen. 50:20