Friday, September 2, 2011

A citizen of some other place...

I realized the other day that I've been writing this blog for a while now and I've never explained the origin of the title.

A lot of you probably know (and if you don't, shame on you) that my favorite band is Thrice.

They're a post-hardcore/experimental/alternative rock group from California. Their lead, Dustin Kensrue is going to be the worship leader at Mars Hill Church - Orange County. However, they aren't exactly a "Christian" band as not all of the members are.

The thing I like most about their music is the lyrics that Dustin writes. He delves deep into faith and often takes a different perspective on certain things. For example, he's written a song called The Weight of Glory about the woman caught in adultery told from one of the Pharisee's point of view. He also wrote a song called Like Moths to Flame about Peter's denial of Jesus told from Peter's point of view. His ability to jump inside the minds of these people and write and sing the emotions they experienced is incredible.

So, the title of this blog, as you might have guessed, comes from one of Thrice's songs named In Exile.

The first verse of the song, Dustin sings:

I am an exile, a sojourner; A citizen of some other place.

And I thought, what better title? One of the biggest struggles I've faced in my faith is learning how to live a life surrounded by so much that is pushing me away from Christ. A lot of people like the phrase "in the world, but not of it" and while that somewhat describes it, I think there's more to it than that.

I've struggled with the idea of where my citizenship lies, where my true home is, where I really live. The thing I love so much about this song, is Dustin is almost singing my thoughts and questions.

As I set out on this grand adventure of writing a blog, I thought, what better title than one that describes who I really am. I hope that in writing this, you've learned a little bit more about who I am, about what I struggle with, and in turn, maybe... just maybe, you've overcome some struggles in your path.

I plan on writing this blog for a while, but it's fun to stop and reflect on where things all started.

As the chorus goes:
My heart is filled with songs of forever -
Of a city that endures, where all is made new.
I know I don't belong here; I'll never
Call this place my home, I'm just passing through.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Shh... listen.

I had the wonderful privilege of being a program tech at the DC Metro Region's Committee/Leader Weekend at Rockbridge Alum Springs (what I like to call the DCMRCLW@RAS) last weekend.

As a program tech, I essentially made sure the slideshows were ready, the music was cued and loud, and the lights were on (or off) when needed.

The major bonus here is that I got to sit and listen to each talk the keynote speaker gave. Susan D. Hill was the speaker for the weekend and she spoke primarily about her experiences with hearing God's voice and how she'd learned to listen.

Pause the story for a second... I've been sporadically praying for the past couple months (maybe years) to learn how to hear the voice of God better. Odd, wouldn't you think? No, how about God.

Resume the story... As I sat in the tech booth and listened, I came face to face with the reality that God does speak to people. I'm not sure where I got the idea, but I assumed that nowadays he just didn't want to... or didn't need to... or something. I assumed that maybe God was just tired of talking after yelling at the Israelites for a few hundred years. It's funny how I'm so wrong sometimes.

Susan told story after story after story about how God had spoken to her through circumstances, through dreams, through conversations, through his word. In countless ways, God had reached out to her and captured her attention. He had spoken to her.

I think sometimes it's easy for me to write things off as false, untrue, or impossible when I haven't seen first hand. I'm so bound by my own experience that it's really hard for me to accept things in faith. I've read a lot of the Bible. I've read countless examples of God speaking to people. In fact, Friday before I left for Rockbridge, I read Exodus 34:6-7 in which God is meeting Moses FACE TO FACE and proclaiming truths about who the Lord is and what his character is like.

I read all these things and yet I still can't believe that God speaks to people. I sit in the tech booth at Rockbridge and listen to someone talk about times the Lord has reached out to them and spoken and I doubt. I think how weird this person is. I think of how strange they are... how bizarre this is. Scripture is overflowing with examples of the Lord speaking to people and yet when I have an opportunity to hear a person speak first hand, I don't accept it.

Thanks be to God that I was able to come to this weekend. I left a firm believer that God still speaks to people. I don't think I have it down just yet. I still struggle. I'm still learning how to listen. I don't expect to get it overnight.

Sunday morning as we were eating breakfast. One of the men at my table shared an experience he'd had hearing the voice of God just the day before. During the night session, he was drifting off to sleep during the speaker's message. During his short sleep, he had a dream his friend Mark was serenading him and as he approached him, he yelled, "WAKE UP!" He jolted awake, embarrassed that he'd fallen asleep. As he sat there listening, his favorite number, 1337, popped into his head and for some reason, he decided that he needed to look at the verse Mark 13:37.

(Here comes the crazy part.)

Mark 13:37 reads: "And what I say to you I say to all: Stay awake."

Whoa. Now, if that isn't God speaking to him, I don't know what is.

God still speaks to people. I'm convinced he does. I don't think he's ever stopped speaking... I think we've stopped listening. I know I have. I am so distracted by my phone, Facebook, emails, Twitter, my new job, friends, my dog, EVERYTHING! I think the key is learning how to tune your ears, eyes, and heart to seeing, hearing, and perceiving God. He's everywhere--I just need to pay attention.

I just need to stay awake.

P.S. Susan D. Hill has a book called Closer Than Your Skin. I haven't read it yet, but I'm very excited to. If you're interested, check it out.