Saturday, July 29, 2006

Bring in the Noise?

"Flee from the world, be silent, and pray always."
The key to salvation for 5th century Desert Monks

In Philippians, Paul writes that we are to work out our salvation with fear and trembling (2:12), knowing that it is under the power of God in which we are able to do it (2:13). The truth here remains: We are to work out our salvation. As Christians, devotees to the Anointed One, our lives do not come to a culmination on that day when Christ entered hearts. Instead, it is the beginning of life, the beginning of salvation. We are saved; we are born again; we are being brought up on milk first; we are now children of God.

Yet we must still grow for the walk has just begun. This is the working out of our salvation. So when the Desert Fathers asked the Lord, "What must we do for salvation?" The response was to flee from this world, be silent, and to pray always. Solitude. Silence. Prayer.

This is the anti-movement of Christian life today. We are so busy with activities and groups and "ministry" that we rarely have time for God, just good one-on-one time with God. If there is no solitude there can be no silence. Maybe that is why we do not seek solitude--we are afraid of the silence.

To me, silence seems to be the toughest to achieve in a world where words are always spoken, horns constantly beeping, music continually playing, and commercials are annoyingly blarring. The noise is not only heard, but seen, making our eyes dart at the latest fashion, the newest technology, the fanciest color schemes--seeking to gain and keep our attention, if only for a brief moment.

Christianity seems to take this position. Churches have schedules for their services with smooth transitions, leaving no room for neither "awkward" silences nor reflective silence. From the welcome, to the music (called worship), to the video, back to the music, to the giving (where music is playing), to the preaching, to the goodbye (where music will play)--all are done smoothly and with enough noise to keep our short attention spans from wandering off to something other than our tiny gathering.

If it isn't the church service, it is the weekly schedule of work, appointments, bible studies, ministry opportunities that consistently draw us into the noise. All good things on their own and with the right perspective, but what has been enstilled in the American mentality, thus the Christian worldview that derives from it, is, "If you are not busy with something, you are not doing anything significant with your life." We are taught that if we don't burry ourselves within the noise, we will not be contributing to society.

This is our culture, American and Christian. We have become so accoustomed to the noise that if, for a brief moment complete silence surrounds us, we instantly grow uncomfortable, shifty even. We manage to fill the "void" with the noise of our minds: "What do I have to do today?" "There are so many bills I have to pay." "I wonder if we'll talk, and if we do, what do I say?" Words, songs, worries, concerns, joys, the future, the past--even writing--anything to keep silence from haunting us.

The problem is silence reminds us too much of death. No voices, no people, no responsibilities lead us to feel no importance, no significance, no meaning and if we don't feel any of these we would find it hard to live. Might as well be dead, right? Both silence and death bring us into areas where we are fully uncomfortable because the essence of each is completely unknown to us. Yet as Christians we should know better. For as death to ourselves takes us to eternal life with Christ, should not silence in the world take us to a deeper communion with God?

In both there is nothing of importance or significance or meaning--except for God Himself.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

A While

It has been quite some time since I last wrote in here. I am not exactly sure why either. We lost Internet so the freedom to write in here was lost for a while. And there is a point where one gets to when there is so much to write and share that nothing gets written or shared at all. I will briefly go into what has gone over the past month or so.

The last update was from the near beginning of Summer Project. Well that is over...haha. It was an amazing times with a lot of growth and inside jokes. If I get (or take) the time I will have to try and share some of those jokes, especially the story behind the wonderful "drink of industry" known as Sqwincher. I had a great time with the students, especially my three guys. I really think God used the relationships in that group to teach us about His love and grace. The Project really left me with a desire to grow more compassionate toward both Christians and those who do not know Christ. I am daily reminded about God's grace on my life, how I am a sinner, once was dead, but because of His great mercy and love with which He loved me, I was saved and brought into this relationship with Him. I am a child of His kingdom through the blood of Christ and live eternally with Him. And this is all by His immense grace! How crazy is that??? The Bible says that in Christ "we have received redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace, which He lavished on us" (Ephesians 1:7).
I must be drawn to compassion if I am ever to be effective in ministry. This is my prayer.

And now, after the Project experience, I am traveling. It has been some great times with friends, family, and partners in this ministry. I have had the time to reflect on the Project and think more about what ministry will look like at UF. I am getting excited. I hope that those of you who read this will keep praying (or begin praying) for hearts to change and grow at that school. It isn't about getting them involved in Campus Crusade; it is about them coming into God's kingdom and experiencing true love. Pray that God will use us in this, His ministry.

I hope to share more of my travels in the future.

By His Grace.