I have slowly recovered from finals, from moving to a new apartment and have begun my final year of school- I started my rotations and am working in the clinics here. It feels great to get this thing finally finished up!
This post only has a slight mention of music, guitar, gear and worship leading. If you want to skip to it, look for the red stars! 🙂
Well, during this time I have picked up one of my favorite books to review and regain my ‘spiritual health.’
See, early in my life I was attending undergrad at a Bible school and had been accepted to seminary. I just KNEW I was to be a minister. The problem with studying Greek, theology and Biblical criticisms is that you begin to only see the Bible as a book. Beliefs then turn to discussions, not ingrained truths and convictions. All whom I knew struggled with making these beliefs a reality as faith dimmed as their knowledge and learning progressed.
The problem is that any lengthy study makes ANY subject seem tedious and drab. Life needs to be breathed back into the subject.
The book that has pushed me through dark times, in faithless/wrestling with faith, and has served as renewal is simple in its thesis: Grace. Or (as I see it), your understanding of grace is what makes you, your beliefs and your theology. You can trace almost all denominations’ beliefs down to how grace is interpreted. And grace is a simple concept, yet a difficult one to live out.
The book is The Ragamuffin Gospel, by Brennan Manning. Here are a few of my favorite quotes that blew my coals back into a fire.
“Although truth is not always humility, humility is always truth: the blunt acknowledgment that I owe my life, being, and salvation to Another. This fundamental act lies at the core of our response to grace.”
“The trouble with our ideals is that if we live up to all of them, we become impossible to live with.”
–from the discussion of religious legalism, desire to be right, and all the different rules that men make for ourselves out of our understanding of grace. We cannot live up to our own ideals, and then completely turn off others when we push on them those ideals.
“The hookers and swindlers enter before us because they know they cannot save themselves, they cannot make themselves presentable or lovable. They risked everything on Jesus, and knowing they didn’t have it all together, were not too proud to accept the handout of amazing grace.”
–due to simple belief, overjoy, and the classic example of grace- those we look down upon will be sitting at the feast BEFORE us. Is that amazing, or does it sicken us that someone not deserving will be there in our ‘place’?
“In conversation, the disciple who is truly poor in spirit always leaves the other person with the feeling, “My life has been enriched by talking with you.” This is neither false modesty nor phony humility. His or her life has been enriched and graced. He is not all exhaust and no intake. She does not impose upon others. He listens well because he knows he has so much to learn from others. Her spiritual poverty enables her to enter a world of the other even when she cannot identify with that world (drugs, gay movement) [and continue ministry there]. The poor in spirit are the most nonjudgemental of people; they get along well with sinners.”
“Thomas Aquinas said that the splendor of a soul in grace is so seductive that i surpasses the beauty of all created things.”
–remember child-like faith?
Importance of what we do as musicians- whether in sacred forms or mainstream. Realize music touches people where they may never get from any other stimulus.
“Grace abounds in contemporary movies, books, novels, films and music. If God is not in the whirlwind, He may be in a Woody Allen film or a Bruce Springsteen concert. Most people understand imagery and symbol better than doctrine and dogma. Images touch hearts and awaken imaginations…. Troubadours have always been more important and influential than theologians and bishops.”
I think a call to excellence is in order. One of preparedness, of practiced skill, and songwriting. Lets not redo the same old choruses- lets create something new. Make an experience happen. Tell a story.
How many people remember the pastor’s last sermon, and yet those same people can recall “I liked that new song they did. Y’know, the one about the ‘Everlasting God’?”
Even realize that our Lord taught in stories so those listening could be entertained as they learned spiritual lessons.
Lets not flaunt our positions, our knowledge, our self-deemed spiritual loftiness.
Create something of excellence.