How to be Heard

This has been on my mind following a handful of recent choices our government and country have made. Crimes have been committed. People have gotten hurt. People are confused about what “getting hurt” actually means, and what “freedom” stands for, and words are cheap for their abundance. Furthermore, and slightly less contextually, the Bible is pretty clear that what comes out of our mouths comes from who we are at root- from our hearts. (Matt. 15:18) That is to say, if you are saying anything, anywhere – that speaks to who you are. We need to know how to do that right. So here’s the thing (or the simplified version of the thing): There are billions of people. There are billions of people talking. There are billions of people talking about things they know and/or believe, which amounts to, ultimately, so much NOISE, and so little communication. Everyone talks, and no one listens.

Listen.

Through Paul, God says, “Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up into love.” (Eph. 4:15)

I hear three commands in that phrase, “Speaking the truth in love,” which Paul says will allow us to grow into Christ… that we might build one another up in love. (Everyone’s crazy about love right now, right?? Peace, love, and donuts… or something like that.) Cautious extrapolation follows posthaste:

1) Speak the truth. This is a brief and to-the-point reminder that the Church is not called to be silent. In fact, I think the opposite is true. We’re a mouth for the only voice worth listening too. And HEY – it needs to be the Truth as well, you half-caf “not sure how I feel bout some of those Bible parts” Christians. You’re dancing in the mine fields, as the poet Andrew Peterson once said in an entirely different context.

2) Speak the truth in love. Dear blog reader, avoid bologna. Bologna is gross, it smells bad, its spelling is terribly deceptive, and among other things, it smells bad. (Yes, I said that twice. And it’s gross.) Why do I warn you about bologna? Because, to the degree that I can, across this iPad, this internet, and this anonymity- I love you. I’m not going to lie to you about bologna. Neither should you, to the people you love.

3) In love. Gosh, does this matter. To begin conversations or Facebook posts, “To all of you idiots who-” is to fail as a speaker, a representative of the Church, and certainly as an evangelist. Whups – the only audience that matters just left out the back. Throwing the truth in the faces of the unknowing is almost as good as throwing rocks, except with rocks, the scars might heal up in a couple weeks. God’s Word is brutal enough on its own.

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Describe. The Giveaway. :: N.D. Wilson’s Notes From The Tilt-a-Whirl

“Describe a place. (That’s not hard.) Then a thing. (Harder, but still doable.) But then you have to describe a person. A living person. In one paragraph.” – This blog.

Miguel Solis is a bundle of energy, muscle, and grins. Along with his older siblings – Smack-Matt and the Two Beans – he is related to us by a love of God that surpasses even his affinity for his Ecuadorian father’s salsa. (Another thing we have in common.) His love for Jesus and love for the people that look down to him prove he’s taller than his stature might suggest.

The challenge of the artist is to take a black, watery substance (essentially nothing,) and make life. To take words (essentially everything,) and make people. Or define them. Fun stuff. :-)

So I’ve got a challenge for you. Take one paragraph and, as best you can, stuff a person into it. In return, you could win N.D. Wilson’s Notes From The Tilt-a-Whirl Film. >> notesfromthetiltawhirl.com

An Idea Film. A Bookumentary.

A cinematic treatment of a worldview. A poet live in concert. A motion picture sermon. VH1 Storytellers meets Planet Earth. In this unusual but fascinating film sequence, best-selling author N.D. Wilson gives an emotional and intellectual tour of life in this world and the final chapter that is death. Everything before and after and in between is a series of miracles–some of which are encouraging, others disturbing and uncomfortable. (Description from the Notes From the Tilt-a-Whirl site.)

Enter by posting your paragraph in the comments below by July 28th, 2012, at midnight. On the 29th at noon, the winner will be revealed. And to prove how good your description is: Tell other artists. Share this image >>

or this link >>

http://wp.me/pQwnc-sS

or tweet it by clicking HERE. >> http://bit.ly/MEsHNA

Start now. One paragraph. 4 days. And a shot at a film that could change the way you think forever. Go.

Spinning is a Challenge :: Leave the Ride Behind

Photo Credit: WunderGround.com

The cosmos is spinning. This planet is spinning. I am spinning. Someone, somewhere, invented the Paratrooper. And God, without a hint of irony in His voice, says, “Look at me.”

The ride started out still. There was light, there was fine dining, and beautiful artwork. But the anxious girlfriend, goaded by a conniving fellow passenger, kicked the lever into full gear. The boyfriend played along. And then they got dizzy. And sick. And the art turned to angry streaks.

There are penalties for spinning.

On the pavement outside the ride, directly by the control panel, stood a lone figure. He fiddled with the controls, and kept the machine operating, oiled its hinges and tightened its bolts. He cleaned up after the pukers, if they’d let him. And all the while he spoke to those on the ride.

I can stop this. It will stop, and soon. Trust me. For now, enjoy the colors, and the terrified face of that kid in the hoodie, and the deep fried food. But always remember that the ride ends. You can stay on. But it will stop moving, and the lights will go out, and a darker crowd will join you. Be careful of your choice, child, and know that I am in control.

They heard the voice, but could not always see the face through the spinning wall. They caught glimpses, but never gazed in full. Some chose to listen. Most kept on screaming, and clutching to their friends and family, and the worn, padded bars that held them, temporarily, in their places.

When it stopped, those who had listened exited dizzily, but with smiles on their faces. They stumbled off the ride, through the gate, and away from the park entirely. They traveled with Him to a palace, where they danced and sang and feasted. They forgot the fearful many who stayed to cry and sit ever-still in the darkest place.

Have you chosen to leave the ride?

Until the next…

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Anger :: Righteous, Birds, and Otherwise

Photo Credit: http://allyourcomputerneeds.blogspot.com (No affiliation.)

Little green piglets hide beneath shelters of glass, wood, and stone. Fearful glances are made at the skies above, from hence fly vengeful fowl, looks of hatred glimpsed moments before touch down. Pig slaughter ensues…

Modern day entertainment. It’s 2012, people- kids are over little yellow wedges that eat white balls whilst being chased by specters of the undead. (For those of you that were born after that aren’t old yet, I’m talking Pacman. For the sake of irony… Google it.) It’s delightful stuff, really. But besides having a fantastic soundtrack, Angry Birds is centered on my theme for this entire post: Anger.

What makes you angry? What, when mentioned, causes you to grumble, frown, and maybe throw whatever you are holding at the closest living target? Is it the government? Your junkie car that fails half the time you use it, and half the time you don’t? Golf on television? For me, it’s books with cruddy endings. (Pay attention, all you authors out there: This bothers me.) Sure, maybe it was artful, but he still died. Maybe it was heart-rending, but how can you see that as a good thing? Stories are meant to end well.

But honestly, there are a lot of things you are probably angry about that you don’t need to be, and even shouldn’t be. Don’t get me wrong: There are things to be angry about. Like Satan. Man I don’t like that guy. Or starving children. Drugs. Murder. All of these are on my “Things to be angry about” list. But the sibling that’s poking me because he wants a sip of my pop, or the gentleman on his bike who frowns on my silly choice of transport (walking) takes the backseat. Or should. (I’m working on it.)

Sin. Sin is bad. (I’m nailing these fundamentals today.) And I hate sin with a passion. This is called “Righteous anger.” It’s what God had when the Israelites mouthed off one two many times, and when they worshiped giant man-made cow statues. (These people were waaaay off base.) It’s what happens when good looks at evil and says, “That is just nasty.” Righteous anger is, as the name implies, right.

Then their are those other things. Your friend who complains about things you didn’t even know were issues. The little spoiled kid you see at Target, pestering his mom for one more box of chocolate cereal because he reallyreallyreally wants the prize inside. Those annoying, bothersome, Oh, Ratzafratzin… moments. (Do you use Ratzafratzin? Am I the only one who does that?) But these aren’t things to get angry about- These are things you can change. A massive part of this is just setting a better example. If you can’t… you are probably bothering someone too.

Basically, and this is gonna’ sound weird, but I think you’ll get it: Get angry at the right things. Monitor in yourself what makes you mad, and change it, if necessary. Until the next…

What makes you angry?

Use Your Gifts :: Nun-Chuck Skills

Photo Credit: http://cousinkovalev.blogspot.com

What is the best thing about a gift? What is the first thing you think when you open that package? WOW… this is mine. I get to use this. Isn’t that a great feeling?! (Unless, my friend, you receive skinny-wimpy-socks. Then… you’re kind of just stuck.) (On the contrary, if you are the type [as I happen to be] to ask for socks, and you receive awesome woolen lumberjack socks… Wear those babies with pride.)

And, believe me or not, God has given us all gifts. And not skinny-wimpy-sock gifts, either; you got the real deal. I’m talking about both spiritual gifts, as well as Napolean Dynamite’s nun-chuck skills kind of gifts. (If you have those… You are blessed, friend.) There are things you can do like nobody else can. (See Dancing with Llamas.) These are gifts, not just coincidences. When God formed you, he stood up above and said, “Not only will he draw, he will have amazing nun-chuck skills.” (If that happens to be your… gift.)

But your gift comes with a requirement. You have to use it. At least, according to… well, God. Look at Romans 12:6-8.

6 Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; 7 if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; 8 the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.

I have felt called in this way recently. I have the gift of creative ability. But sometimes [/too often] I neglect it. (It is so much easier to write a quick, witty Facebook post then to sit down and work on my WIP. [Work in progress.] Nobody Facebook-likes a WIP.) But I’ve always said that my goal is to honor God through writing. So I am sitting down and digging into it like I haven’t in weeks.

A summary of everything I’m trying to say, then, would be this: You have the gift of hospitality? Have people over. Creative ability? Use it. Intercessor? Pray like crazy. Sing. Dance. Skate. Paint. Whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. Until the next…