Monday, December 29, 2008

Now. Not Yet.

"There is deliverance to use that beautiful old word, and Christians are people who through such now-and-then, here-and-there visions as they've had through Christ, have been delivered just enough to know that there's more where that came from, and whose experience of the little deliverance that has already happened inside themselves and whose faith in the deliverance still to happen is what sees them through the night." 
-Frederick Buechner; A Room Called Remember 

Free but not yet. Arrived but not there. 

The Bible is a book whose authenticity is questioned by big and small thinkers alike, but one thing that convinces me of its truth more than any apologetic is the realism I find between its covers, its true to life stories. Obviously, there are larger than life tales of giants, water walks, heralding angels, and fire from heaven. However, it is rare that there are "happily-ever-after" stories in the Bible, but it is marked by characters who are left with some sort of struggle often times immediately after an encounter with redemption. 

The lame man walks only to be questioned about working on the Sabbath. 

Elijah calls down fire on the alter and witnesses the end of the drought only to run for his life from the evil queen. 

David is rewarded a wife for his valiant efforts and victories only to have her ridicule him for his worship style. 

Thomas' doubt is relieved and joy restored by touching the wounds in Jesus' hands and side only to watch Him vanish into the clouds. 

Victory and pain, will there ever be a day where the one stands independent of the other? 

I appreciate the image of the Israelites standing on the edge of the sea with the Egyptians pressing down on them. They had been in slavery and bondage for years, and after praying for a savior for who knows how long they finally had Moses leading them to freedom. However, freedom came at a cost. Moses wasn't able to throw down a miracle or two in order to convince Pharoah of Yahweh's sovereignty, rather it took ten plagues. After each plague, I imagine the Israelites thought to themselves,
"Surely, he will let us go now," only to be met by Pharaoh's disappointing arrogance. But long story short... They are set free. 

Fast forward. 

They stand on the edge of the Red Sea with Pharaoh pressing in wondering why they were ever set free to begin with. If you haven't heard the story before, or you have never watched Charleton Heston part the waters, I'll go ahead and spoil the ending for you. The Israelites miraculously walk over on dry ground while the unfortunate Egyptians get buried in a watery grave. 

Immediately at the conclusion of this story there is this lovely moment where the people of God dance and sing, celebrating their new found freedom, but the next morning, they start a long hard journey across the barren wilderness. It is then that they begin their journey to freedom. They are completely free of the Egyptians but not from the wilderness. They have arrived to a place outside their slavery, but they are not at the promise land. 

I more often than not feel like a man who has arrived at a place of freedom, but I am simultaneously so very far from it.

Sin no longer has a hold on me. I am the chief of all sinners. 
Death has lost its sting. I mourn those I have lost. 
Fear will no longer torment me. The night can seem so dark. 

I have truly experienced the freedom of Christ in my life where I am no longer identified by my weaknesses. I have experienced the joy of knowing and hearing from Him. I have seen myself defeat my earthly awful desires because of a strength that is in me and is beyond me. However, I am still aware of the dark places that are in me, the twisted, wounded places. 

I believe that we who are touched by the grace of Christ are indeed free, but we are not completely free. We have arrived, but we are not there. God has drowned our sins, but we have a wilderness to fight through. Let us celebrate for we are fully free. Let us focus, because we have a journey ahead of us. 

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Holding Hair

Two drunks stumbled back to their house. They're friendship centered around their ability to consume, and, together, they would plan their drunken escapes. The city hated these two and their belligerent ways, for the bars in this town best accommodated to those filing in with their collard shirts and lovely faces--the ones who drank with a mischievous mission. These two, however, drank because it was all they knew to do. As it were, they were not "enhancements to the party," so to speak. Rather, those who saw them were forced into the realization, "If I let this drink run, I will be trampled like these helpless souls." It is in us all to avoid the warnings of who we are becoming.
One night, like so many before it, the pair bought two bottles of "2 Buck Chuck" and downed them while the night was still young. After a few trips to replenish the stock, Drunk Number One stumbled onto the dew covered yard. He laid in the grass while his eyes rolled from side to side. The longer he lay there, the dew seeped through his flannel shirt and he began to retch.
The vomit covered his chest, and he began to panic, as he could no longer breathe.
In an instant, his drunken friend was there, who rolled him over and lifted his torso off the ground allowing his legs to lay limply in the grass. Drunk Number Two pulled his friend's greasy hair from clinging to his face.
And there they were. One drunk puking into the grass while another held him in a moment void of glory thus saving his life.

This, my friends, is how love is shown. Rather than letting those who deserve to wallow in their filth as a result of their own decision, we mercifully pull them out of it, all the while capable of the exact same filth. True love props up the sinner and holds those sick with themselves, for we may need someone to hold us in a matter of moments.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Album Update #2

We have finished mixing the album, and it is now with Jim Rivers for mastering. I'm stoked about this. 

The album will be titled: "Coal Road Sunset" 

Last week, I had some pictures taken by Sarah Shute, and I got to see some proofs this evening which look very good. 

Now we are in the CD Release planning phase. We have some really exciting things brewing for the show. There will be some incredible special guests and songwriters from Knoxville who, hopefully, will be collaborating on this effort, and the venue we are aiming for is great! I'll give you more details on that later. 

For those who are interested, here is the track list for the album:

1. No Mechanic
2. Coal Road Sunset
3. I Named that Cloud After You
4. Make it Real
5. I'm Always Losing You
6. Wine at Weddings
7. Heroine of 1973
8. Pass the Time
9. Of the Current Circumstance and Boundaries
10. Them Stones Will Quiet Down *featuring Jill Andrews from The Everybodyfields

Friday, December 12, 2008


I'm at home now. 
Or I'm at the house now. 
Well, I guess this house is becoming my home. I mean, I love it. I love the people in it. Its the constant familiar in my day to day existence. So, yes...I'm at home. 

I'm alone at home. 
I suppose Matt is asleep in the next room, and Pervis is sleeping downstairs. The other boys are out somewhere.
But I'm not keeping company with anyone else, and I find myself sitting at my desk staring blankly at the screen. Its cold in here and my empty Taco Bell bag states it plainly that I ate dinner without sharing how my day went with someone across from me. So, yes...I'm alone. 

I'm scared of the aloneness.
I mean, I kinda live in "the ghetto" and someone could break in or whatever, but that never scares me. The other night I took a nap on the couch with the door wide open. I bike home in the middle of the night. Its not my surroundings that scare me. 
But when I'm sitting here in my room with no one else to hear me--no one else to enter into my story--I feel stuck. There's nowhere to go. There's no one to call. I could watch a movie, but which one? I just sit here alone with... with me. Its when I'm alone with me that I have to think about who I am and what I am daily bringing to the table. What have I done today? Did I really say that? Did I really do that? Did I really let that enter my mind? Oh God?! who am I? Does anyone know that I am here? Does anyone remember me right now at this moment?

So yes... I'm scared of the aloneness. 

I try very hard to never use this site as an opportunity for whining. No one wants to read that. But I believe this deep fear of loneliness that turns my home into a fearful trap, is the root of my sin. I won't say it is the root of your sin, but maybe?
At night, after working late, as I walk across Market Square to the parking garage with my hood pulled over my head and my breath leading the way, I can feel my feet tugged in a hundred directions. My hand compulsively reaches for my phone, but no one is out and about for me to call. Its too late. There are bands playing in the different venues, but I know none of them. Still, maybe I should pop in and check them out. 
Really? Why the delay to go home? 

We hate facing ourselves. I hate facing myself. That is the delay.

Enter sin. 

It comes up behind me as I walk to my car, and it wraps its tender arms around me. As I stand looking at my deserted house, It bursts into the living room like a playful sibling. It smiles at me, and it is that smile which says it all.
"Hello, brother. I've missed you." 
Sin and I embrace, immediately sharing old stories that make us laugh until we cry. 
"Oh, I missed you, brother!" I say, "You couldn't have come at a better time." 
We sit together like two old pals, and now I have someone to eat dinner with. To keep company with. Now, I'm not alone. 

Until I awake, and I realize that my house is colder and the taco bell bag has been sitting in my room for far too long. I look around and see the remnants of my week, and I realize that I have still been alone. Sin was never keeping me company. It was merely covering my eyes with the facade that I was not alone.

We must learn to be alone--to live in this lonely moment. We must learn to be silent and enjoy it but not as "martyrs" who cry out, "No one loves me! Where are my friends?" We must learn--I must learn--to be alone, simply. That is when sin no longer approaches me as an old friend, but as the snake it is. Then, I can think clearly enough to crush it. 

To suffer through the loneliness and make it to the other side--this is what it means to remain sane.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Beyond Mere Belief

Last Sunday I was given the opportunity to teach (some people call this preaching, but I'm not allowed to use that word at Crossings). 
We have been working through the book of Genesis and specifically the character of Abraham. This message was very challenging for me, and came from somewhere deep in me. Faith is a hard thing for me to wrap my mind around. Feel free to take a listen by following the link.