Thursday, February 28, 2013

And!?!


In recent days, I've felt fairly overwhelmed with anxiety and stress. In a nutshell, I just wanna be married already (#sixweeksleft) and know where Lyssah and I will be living post-honeymoon. I'm sure many of us have been there before in one form or another.

But during this time, I've also been thinking about the Coke Zero 'And' commercials and how spiritual twists can be derived from secular advertising.  And the more I've connected effective marketing strategy to personal application, the more I've been able to gather important revelations from them.

For instance, last week, I'm talking to God in my quiet time...doin' the whole Philippians 4:6-7 and James 4:2 thing...and then, out of nowhere,  the following dialogue breaks out...

"God, I'm worried about this not working out."

God says, "And!?!"

Then I say, "I'm also nervous about not experiencing immediate breakthrough in this area of my life."

God, again, says, "And!?!"

"But God, this other dream of mine...it could have happened sooner...oh, and on a side note, if only I had been more mature in my early 20's...people would like me better".

God, in tender yet firm grace, ushers out one last "AND!?!"

And finally, I cave into the magnificence of proclaiming Proverbs 19:21-23 (ESV):

"Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand. The fear of the Lord leads to life, and whoever has it rests satisfied; he will not be visited by harm."

Way to play the trump card, God. Even when life is 33 degrees with a cold rain, your truth is refreshing like a spring breeze.

And...that's a wrap. :)

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Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Sing for [His] Absolution

For years, I have shared an appreciation for progressive, electronic rock, particularly groups with unique blends mixed among multiple sounds and genres. Thus, it should be no surprise why Muse is one of my favorite bands of all-time, especially after hearing them open for U2 in Atlanta in 2009.

Flashing back to the concert's opening sequence, Muse pulled out a familiar hit – the cleanup song from their 2003 album, entitled, “Sing for Absolution”. As their classic echoes resonated through the stadium, lyrical beats began to stir a place of conviction: What kind of fabricated absolution has our culture defaulted to if we sincerely believe “our wrongs remain unrectified…our souls unexhumed?”

The more I pondered, the more questions poured in. What does real absolution look like and why do we live as if we lack a resolution for it? As if self-affliction is essential to change? As if setting relational limitations is sufficient enough to cover inadequacy?

Since then, I have repeatedly cross-examined this line of inquiry and have discovered how a) absolution is not only whole-hearted forgiveness - a release from shame and consequence, but also a blessing enriched by the releasing of greater purity and innonence back into the person and b) the irony of human emotion lies in its ability to rationalize the irrational and to replace silo for strong tower in the face of adversity. Unfortunately, such contrariety manifests itself the form of customized contrition.

Granted, to be human is to desire growth, and to be alive is to change, while valuing the process. Yet, in the vulnerable aftermath of imperfection, we can be so quick to limit our ceiling of maturation. For instance, when the past knocks, and life is nothing but a heartrending reality check, soulish solemnity can tow emotion past the point of godly sorrow, masking perfect grace behind a cry for what we already have.


Apart from holy reference, what makes us feel stronger in the moment leaves us weaker in the long run. And while it’s perfectly understandable to expedite change and capitalize on urgency during times of confrontation, emotional gravity can amplify both situation and struggle. Yet, the path to pathos is not what Paul encouraged the Corinthians to do concerning devout absolution. Instead, he promoted the fine qualities of recalibration: earnestness, zeal and indignation against sin. He urged the believer to merge justice with justification by pursuing everything necessary to make things right (2 Corinthians 7:11 – NLT). In this way, we proclaim the truth of our blamelessness.

But when the quicksands of grief find us, we hastily resort to guilt-laden gluttons, primed by the tendency to put the razor to the very place Christ took the nails. And even if the physical temptations elude, for many, the desire to mentally cut becomes very real. So as one absorbs a cold, hard truth or an emphatic mistreatment, flesh numbs the spirit, deceiving it to believe self-induced pain will accelerate change and purify pain. Ultimately, we buy into Oscar Wilde’s perspective by thinking "there is a luxury in self-reproach. [And by blaming] ourselves, we feel that no one else has a right to blame us.”
However, the voice of truth tells a different story: God-fearing absolution eradicates the need for self-protection and detainment and liberates us from confiding in any source apart from God. When we encounter emotional extremes and are in desperate need of a distraction, we don’t have to bleed to gain favor. We don’t have to chastise to inherit approval from loved ones or accusers. For where God is, there is freedom and unlimited forgiveness. And where Christ dwells, there is a move of His love that can be experienced when we surrender the knife and the DVR of our minds. Why not welcome divine absolution into your life, by placing confident trust in the Lord, remembering the greatness He has for you? Why not pray patient endurance to conquer the shadows of complacent hopelessness? Why not access the promise by believing and receiving it, as faithful ones, whose souls will be saved (Hebrews 10:35-39 NLT)?

Don’t accept self-punishment as an answer. For to self-punish is to hate oneself, and "hatred is the coward's revenge for being intimiated" (Hosea Ballou). Instead, embrace a new resolution by singing for [His] absolution…