Monday, June 27, 2005

RIVALRY REFLECTIONS

This last week I spoke at a camp for about 300 high school students in Northern California on the subject of the spiritual warfare titled "Rivalry- the fight for our lives." It was an awesome experience. It was life changing for myself as well as many new and old friends. Here's some of my Rivalry Reflections as I look back on the past 10 days.

POWER STRUGGLE: this week was an electric purgatory. My computer power cord died, my printer died, two DVD players died, and on Wednesday night someone crashed on the road to the camp and took out the power to the entire retreat center. Evidently my electronic world was possessed by the demon of voltage nightmares. Personally, it was a fight to stay focused on the spiritual aspects of the Rivalry and not this material world that jacks with me. Every time though, God answered with meeting the need. He provided new DVD players, a new power cord, my parents "happened to have" a brand new printer in the box just waiting for me to take the very day we left, and the emergency generators for the camp provided all the power we needed to run chapel without a glitch. Through all this, as I wondered and feared and got distracted by the unwanted and unexpected- I was reminded how dependent I can be on juice to power the stuff I use for ministry and yet how the real power is not in the stuff of "wires" at all. I need to keep my dependence in the right place and on the right person. It's easy to get tangled up in the cords of worry and the stuff of this world. Jesus never prayed for electricity to light a room or for a computer not to crash. How trivial and stupid this stuff can be and how easy it is for it to creep it's sorry electronic self into the focus of my life. Even as I write this Blog, I'm reminded that technology can be used for God or as a distraction from Him. I pray it's the former for me. That is a daily fight however. The Rivalry between physical and spiritual stuff is real for me.

AUDIENCE: I spent a lot of time trying to silence the voice of the enemy in my life this week. He kept trying to get my eyes off God and onto men and women. Worry about pleasing people he would say, "for if they don't like you, God isn't using you." I quoted Galatians 1:10 to myself about a thousand times this week. Tuesday night before I taught I spent over an hour in my room telling thoughts of inadequacy to flee and through tears reminded my heart that pleasing God- not men was my goal. I really struggle to keep my focus on God, no matter what others say or think about me. I want to live for an Audience of One- but that's easier said than done. The Rivalry between pleasing God and pleasing people is real for me still.

MORNINGS: I was struck this week by how God spoke to me in the mornings. I got up every morning at between 4:30 and 5 A.M. to re-look over that day's messages. I'm not a early morning riser normally. Late nights-yes. Early mornings- not so much. Plus, I was up past midnight every night- which meant that I was running on 4ish hours of sleep. But, every morning- the routine was the same. Hit the alarm. Jump in the shower. Grab a cup of coffee, a blanket, and my G4 laptop and head for the porch of our cabin to sit in the brisk pre-dawn air and listen to the quiet flow of small stream just 15 feet away while I prayed over and tweaked and re-wrote the messages for the day. I was surprised by how much I liked starting my day so early and so specifically thinking about God. After camp I went away with my wife to Pelican Bay in Watsonville for a night and a day away to celebrate our 11 year anniversary. While there and taking in the awesome view of the ocean and the sound of waves crashing on the quiet sea shore, I began reading "Life Together" by Bonhoeffer. The second chapter is all about how God has throughout history in the Bible and in the present day spoken to people who exercised the discipline of seeking God in the morning. I've normally bucked that statement as mere traditions of men cuz God is not bound to a clock. But, it kinda proved true and enjoyable for me this week. So, here goes, I'm going to try and rise early (maybe not 4 AM :) ) and discipline my body to get up with the sunrise. Now I guess I need to also discipline myself to go to bed earlier. Notice this post is long past midnight. Guess I have my work cut out for me- that's the Rivalry of personal disciplines.

RETHINKING: It was great to see 12 students rethinking life as they know it and deciding to stop running from God and begin running to him. 12 students committed their lives to Jesus Christ and got on God's side of this spiritual rivalry for the first time. Literally hundreds of others made significant life change decisions this week in how they are going to rethink living for Jesus and stop letting Satan have his way with them. I was blessed by seeing and hearing their boldness as they shared their desire to quit drugs, break off bad dating relationships, forgive Dads, and stop hiding in shame they felt due to sin in their lives- and so much more. In the process, I was reminded too that God calls each of us, myself included, to rethink the way I'm living daily- not just at camps and retreats. I think it's a moment by moment, minute by minute, hour by hour commitment to not confuse what "is" with what "could and should" be. I want to live a life of change. I pray that this week has changed me. I know it has. I also hope it's but one small adjustment in what is sure to be a life of changes as God molds me into the man he desires me to be. Through several significant conversations this week I also drove the stake down deeper into the soil of my heart and soul that I don't want to be a "legalistic list maker". I don't want to be so sure of so much that I start making stuff that is circumstantial and temporary into something more black and white than it is. When the Bible makes something black and white- I intend to keep it that clear. I don't want to be wishy washy when God is not. I also don't want to be dogmatic when God has left room for the Holy Spirit to speak to individuals differently. When it's grey, I want to keep rethinkin' and rethinkin' what that looks like today and how I can love and live with people whose convictions lie in a different shade of grey than my own. So goes the Rivalry over my mind.

3 comments:

peter 5:20 PM  

i dont have a lot to say...

thanks for the friendship, and the love.

it was a truly amazing week, thanks for letting God use you.

I love you, bro.

bradonthemic 10:25 AM  

hey brian-

i'm at your parents and just got caught up with your blog. i'm sorry we've been missing each other on sundays. summer's can be brutal schedule-wise, eh? we'll hook back up soon after we get back.

i really enjoy reading your reflections. you do an amazing job or retrospect on your life. i wonder how many people (myself included) ever stop to analyze their life that closely. i'll just keep learning from you, learning the hard way, and i should be set! ;)

talk to you soon!

your only TRUE bro, :)
brad

MsE 2:52 PM  

Enjoyed... So sad I missed it, you know how it is, life calls. Miss you. Love.

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San Diego, CA
Husband. Dad. Jesus Follower. Friend. Learner. Athlete. Soccer coach. Reader. Builder. Dreamer. Pastor. Communicator. Knucklehead.

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