Moving

7 02 2013

To all my readers:

I’ve moved! From now on, I will not be posting anymore articles on this site. I now have my own, http://thesoundofmadness.weebly.com/

Eventually, I’m going to get my own domain name bought, and make this thing truly official! Over the next couple days I’ll be moving the ‘Best Of’ blogs off of here onto the new site before starting to write new material.

I’m glad you’ve followed me thus far, and hope you continue to follow me in this new chapter of a wonderful journey





How Long To The Silver Lining?

18 01 2013

Last night, I watched Silver Linings Playbook. Let’s just say, I was not in any way prepared for what I was about to watch. If you intend on watching this movie, let me warn you, it covers what happens when people who go through extreme circumstances and have an extreme response, try to recover. It’s really gut-wrenching, and hits close to home for a guy like me.

It’s really gotten me thinking. Especially in church, we have this perception that when something goes really bad, because we’re Christians, we’re supposed to just respond in the best way. Cry at a funeral, say ‘I’ll miss you in heaven, Daddy, but I know you’re in a better place,’ close the casket, buy an asinine memorial picture talking about building a staircase of memories and bringing them back home again, and move on.

I’m sorry, but that is the biggest load of crap ever. I can’t tell you the things I did, the things I thought, after Mom passed away 9 years ago. This is too public of a forum for that. But when things collapse and crush you, you can’t just cry once, smile, and move on. It doesn’t work like that. I know too many people who are still trying to move on from extreme circumstances for that to ever be true.

Sadly, the same attitude has filtered into so many aspects of a believers life, like turning from sin. Again, we expect people to just repent, turn, and never go back to Egypt in spite of everything the Bible says to the contrary. Its insane. My favorite baseball player, Jason Hamilton, who is a Christian, has a past of serious alcohol abuse. When he had a relapse this summer, he was jumped on. They even went so far as to say he has character issues that might scare teams away from signing him. Guess what? Wars aren’t easily won, and are often long, vicious, and bloody.

I often wonder how people would respond if I told them how I’m really doing, how much I really struggle still, 8 months after Dad’s passing. How many would tell me I need to move on, get over it, or the ever popular ‘look to Jesus to be everything.’ What do you do when you’ve tried that, and you believe that, and  it just doesn’t go away? If it’s still a hard struggle to face the next day, and the next, and the next, and it just gets so damn hard to pretend you’re actually happy and enjoying life all the time? (Yeah, this is the stuff I think about before I fall asleep)

It’s kind of funny. We expect such an immediate response, an instant return to ‘normal’ when things fall apart. Even the Bible says it won’t be until heaven that every tear is wiped from eyes, that we will be completely healed. It’s like in Lord of the Rings, when Frodo says ‘some scars go to deep.’ Some scars do. There is no way of going back to ‘the way things were.’  It’s just not gonna happen. And guess what, it isn’t promised anywhere that things will go back to ‘normal.’

You know, that was probably the best part of Silver Linings Playbook. It’s not instant recovery. It’s not an easily achieved, perfect, happy ending. And the things you do in response may just haunt you and follow you for life, which I can easily relate to. It lets you know there has been a lot of suffering for a long time before things get to a ‘new normal,’ and calm down, to a point. It just doesn’t happen overnight. It’s not instant by any means. And there is a lot of pain and struggle and suffering to get there. But it will come, eventually.

That much is promised me. I know it to be true, because Jesus promised it. I just might have to wait to die is all. But I will wait, and struggle, and suffer, and experience pain, and keep going, because this is a long haul, and I know it. But the end will make it worth it. Whether that end actually starts to begin in this life or not, it will end. A silver lining is coming, but my best silver lining will come when this life ends. And that makes me happy





Poetry: Various 1

13 01 2013

I’ve started writing poetry again. It’s been awhile most of I wrote over the summer was dark and desperate to say the least. But this is different, and so I share it with you, readers. I hope its enjoyable

 

Her Wild Call

She is shrinking,

Shrinking back.

Her battlements are

Scaled, thrown down.

Her citadels are falling, but

Oh! The fight they put

Up, refusing to be conquered.

 

She is not an enemy

Of old, to be trampled

Down and cast aside.

Dominion, yes, dominion

Over her, gentle but

Firm. More like a husband

Then a conqueror of might.

 

Who? Who will answer

Her loudest, latest call?

To the soul! To the soul

She cries; beckons, pleads,

Plants the yearning, calling

Softly, whispering even,

Gently. ‘Come and take me on.’

 

Who will answer this latest call?

Who will dare her darkened woods,

Rain soaked vales, and cloud

Encircled heads? Who will

Rise, fall down, and keep

On going up. No matter what is

Thrown against you on the way?

 

Trial. Trial of earth and air and

Fire and blood. Will you fade?

Will you wither? Or will you

Conquer? Overcome. Continue

On, when clouds and wind and

Rain would seek to overthrow you?

No! You will overcome!

 

Every step now is heavy, a

Never ending struggle.

Her might is seemingly without

An end. But you will triumph. You

Must not fade and fail. Onward,

Son! Till you stand atop her towers,

Her battlements, yours, hard fought and won!





La Lluita

17 12 2012

2911                                                            (For those who don’t know, La Lluita is Catalan for The Struggle. Moving on)

My dear readers,

How I wish I could write to you of happy times and blissful thoughts. Of joy and blessings and sunshine and rainbows. But I don’t believe in lying, and putting on a front is both a bad and dangerous thing.

My how these days are filled with struggle. Like the fog and gloom that has covered Kansas City for the past 2 days, the struggles of the day just seem to hover around and not lift.

It’s the holidays. A joyous time of giving and togetherness. And I am happy and excited for Christmas this year, it should be a blast. But it is also a hard time. As much as joy causes my heart at times to soar, memories fall and stifle me like a heavy blanket. Uncomfortable and ever present.

There is no ‘home’ to go back to for the Holidays. My family is scattered to the wind, and I don’t know how long it will be until I see them again. Months, years? I do not know. It’s hard to find the time and money to go to South Dakota, Indiana, and Pennsylvania in the same year.

I walk on wounds that seldom prove to slow me down/I laugh this constant pain away so you can’t tell/But there it lies under the smiles, it drains me mile after mile/But seldom proves to slow me down~Rise Against-Hairline Fracture

Strange how the lyrics from a Chicago Punk band can so perfectly encapsulate the last 7 months for me. The common understanding of my behavior is that I’m oddball and slightly off the wall. I’m really just trying to survive to a point. Hiding. Suppressing. Nobody likes a killjoy.

And now, new struggles have been added. I’m working hard to get a raise at the start of the New Year that will allow me to move out on my own. So I can have my own place to go back to. Where I live. Alone. That thought scares me. I don’t want to be myself. I know me. And that’s worrisome. I don’t know how long I can do that before I crack completely. It’s a terrible conundrum. I need to get on my own, but I don’t want or need to be alone. And there is no light at the end of the tunnel there. For the first time in a long time, I’m slightly afraid of the darkness ahead of me.

Even though God has been drawing me more tightly to Himself and growing my faith, it has opened new doors of struggle for me. Just this morning I was reading in Luke, and it says ‘out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks.’ And I’ve been wondering all day, does what I say really reflect what’s in my heart? No, it doesn’t. It’s a struggle to remember grace. That its not on me anymore. It’s so hard, especially in winter. All the sins of my past haunt me in the shadows of the night, and I spend many nights in trembling and prayer.

This is why I cling so tightly to the promise of the Kingdom to come. Why I desire to be with Jesus more then I desire to be here. There are still a couple things I want to do. Get married, raise Godly children, but I’ve come to the point where if I died now, it would be more then alright. Jesus is better. He is gain.

And yet, there are moments like last night. It’s been a roller coaster these past couple years. But I believe it is changing. 2011, I was surviving. 2012 has been enduring and establishing. I look towards 2013 with great hope. I cannot help but feel that it will be a year of growth and thriving. How I hope it is so. The darkness will lift and pass. The struggle will not go away, but will not always stay so prevalent. Good things come to those who wait. And I will wait.

Oh, my God! He will not delay, my refuge and strength, always! I will not fear, His promise is true. My God will come through, always. Always~Kristian Stanfill~Always

 

 





Thankful

6 12 2012

Image

This picture may seem detached from the title, ‘Thankful,’ but it’s not. You know why? Because I’m thankful for this picture of different colored inks and water and the beauty it displays. It’s incredible looking! Yet, to often, I don’t thank God for the little things.

I want that to change. Its seems like anytime the question ‘what are you thankful to God for?’ everyone wants to one up each other in quasi-spiritualness. Now, I’m not saying don’t be thankful for Jesus, or the Cross, or election or sanctification or salvation, but when did it become less spiritual to be thankful for little, everyday things? Like cake.

See, I approach thankfulness from a very different perspective then most. At least, I think I do. We’ll find out, won’t we?

It’s different because of two things that have happened to me. First being the Word. Genesis 1:31 says ‘And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was good…’ God made everything good. This is crucial for what I’m about to say. If God made everything good, why shouldn’t we be thankful for everything he’s made? Like soccer.

Second, I was at a prayer meeting once, and when it came time for giving thanks, my pastor, Dave, said ‘lets give thanks for the everyday things.’ You know how liberating it was to give thanks for the regular and the everyday, rather then trying to outdo everyone else in the room? I still remember the one guy thanking God for cherry pie, and thinking ‘this is awesome. This is what full thankfulness is about.’

I hate how thankfulness has been turned into another ‘who can be the most spiritual’ contest. Kind of like what we’ve done with prayer, but that’s another subject. It’s time to start being thankful again for all the good things God has made. Like vanilla ice cream and kayaks and good beer and cool cloud formations. There is nothing less spiritual about being thankful for the little things. And being thankful for even the little things will change everything.

It’s awesome to be able to worship the same God who saved you as the same the God who loves you enough to give you a something like a cheeseburger, medium well, with lots of mustard. You seem, if he wanted, God could have only made bread and water for us and been done. Yet he loves us enough to give us thousands of options. And we’re just talking food here! God has given us tremendous variety for life when he didn’t have to, and we should be thankful for that!

We are as much in danger of taking the blessings of life for granted as we are the great works of Christ. To lose grasp on either is a huge blow to us spiritually. But a lot of have never really taken the time to try and grasp the blessings of the little things. Its high time we do so. Be grateful for the little things. And praise God for them. He was delighted to give them, and we should praise him that.

A couple of little things I’m thankful for: Boulevard Beer, Pumpkin Pie with whipped cream, cats, string lights, punk music, soccer, put put golf, coffee.

Go ahead, be thankful. And remember Rule 32. Enjoy the little things





My Problem With Christmas

2 12 2012

I get told I’m a Grinch on a regular basis. People are really surprised by how much I oppose anything Christmas before December 1. Especially since so many people get so excited about it…as soon as November starts.

It’s not that I don’t love lights, and the music, and the movies. I do, I really do. The giving of gifts and the food are great. But they distract me from what I love. Jesus.

Christmas is a time specifically for celebrating Jesus. Where we celebrate his birth, and by extension, his fulfilling of all the promises of his coming, and his eventual death and resurrection that are his proof that he will keep his promise that he will return one day and bring the Kingdom with him.

But my heart gets distracted. How easily I turn away from him! I look at the lights, and hear the music, and watch the movies, and I get the ‘Christmas Spirit.’ But I don’t want the Christmas Spirit. I want Jesus! And sense my sinful nature constantly wants to turn away from looking at Jesus, this time of year is rough. It’s all too easy to turn away and look at everything else and only passingly remember that, ‘oh yeah, it’s about Jesus’ when we pray at Christmas dinner.

I want more then that! I want to wake up praising him for coming to die for this worthless sad sack of humanity, and fall asleep praising him for his true promises, looking forward to the coming Kingdom.

My longing is to have a Christ centered Christmas. To have a celebration of him above all other things. To truly celebrate him as pre-eminent. And I hope that flows into my life throughout the rest of the year.

More and more I’m seeing how God is worthy. He’s showing me how great his promises are. And I long more eagerly for the coming Kingdom. After all, that’s what Christmas is really about. Christ was born as a man, yet fully God, to die on the cross to pay the penalty for sin, was raised from the dead as the conqueror of sin and death, and is coming back to establish the Kingdom and restore all things. That’s what I’m striving to look at the Christmas. And if I come across as ‘anti-Christmas,’ so be it





Seasons: Of Songs and Life

20 11 2012

I love where the idea for this blog came from. A good conversation over coffee and breakfast at the Roasterie, going over songs with my cousin Ben and how to connect them with scripture for Sunday service. 

We started talking about our favorite worship songs. His is All I Have Is Christ. I told him that used to be mine until he introduced me to Bless the Lord (10,000 Reasons) a month or so ago. He asked if that was because I felt it really fit into the current season of my life. I laughed and said, ‘The past 10 years of my life have been a season.’

This turned our conversation in an interesting direction. Seasons in the life of a believer. See, there’s a great myth in the church. That is, seasons of life are short and God only wants to make you happy! This last statement is true, just not in the way its talked about in light of the above statement, but this blog is not meant to address that. For a very detailed account of how God really does want you to be happy, read Desiring God by Piper.

But here’s the thing. Where in the Bible does it say things will be easy and your seasons short? Uh, nowhere! Where does it say life will be apple pies and kittens and cotton candy clouds? Nowhere! It does say if you’re really a believer that you’ll be hated, and that present suffering is nothing compared to coming glory. Kind of a stark contrast that, the Word of God versus the word of the preacher.

Here was the case study we used as we talked about seasons for the believer: Joshua and Caleb. You want to talk about a season of waiting and suffering, look at these guys. I’ll just recap their story, but you can read the whole thing in Numbers, chapters 13 and 14.

Moses sends 12 spies into Canaan to check out the land and see how it looks, to find out if Israel can take them or not. 10 come back, whining of giants and castles, while Caleb and Joshua come bag with massive grapes off the vine, and say they’re ready to be KO’d. But the people listen to the other spies and despair, infuriating God. The same God who’s delivered them Egypt, split the Red Sea, made water come out of a rock, and feeds them with quail every day while making it rain bread. 

Needless to say, God gets angry. And he tells the people, you’re gonna wander for 40 years, and every single one of you who despaired and complained is gonna die in the desert and never see Canaan. Only Joshua and Caleb will. 

Think about that. Joshua and Caleb have friends and family who are going to die before they get to the Promised Land! They have to wait for them to die before they can go in. They have to wait to enter themselves…for 40 years! I feel like I’ve been around, and I’m only 21. 40 years! 40 years of waiting to enter the Promised Land, 40 years of waiting for loved ones and friends to die so you can inherit the promise. That’s a long, rough time for two guys who, mind you, were faithful to God when everyone else wasn’t. 

Sometimes, that’s what happens. Your faithful, and you still suffer, you still have to wait. And sometimes it lasts a long time. I’ve been waiting years for certain things to happen in my life. Get my own place, get a good job, meet a Godly woman, have a place to call home. I finally got the good job, but you know how long I waited and looked for and struggled to get it? 3 years. You know how long I’ve been trying to get my own place? 4 years. Sometimes you wait a lot longer then you want or even anticipate, but that’s the way it works. 

Joshua and Caleb waited. And it worked out for them in the end. They got what they were promised. It took a long time, but they got it. So when it looks like the season isn’t gonna end, remember the two most important promises for a believer. Jesus has saved you and nothing can change that, and you’ll be with him, whether he calls you home, or comes back for his bride

 








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