"But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give a reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect." 1 Peter 3:15

Saturday, September 19, 2009

A Toast to Maturity

Summer is coming to an end. The days are getting shorter. The occasional leaf is shedding its green for a coat of yellow, with reds and oranges anxiously awaiting their turn. The air is getting warmer--huh? what!?! (...strange dyslexic Minnesota--reading our seasons backwards!). It is a time of new beginnings, and has always been a favorite time of year for me.

This warm air is filled with even more excitement then in years passed now that I am no longer a student. As Summer's end quickly approaches, I realize I have written nothing about what God has been doing in my life since I stepped from a stage, tassel bobbing and clinging to my beard, with an expensive piece of paper--the result of several years of studying (and falling asleep) in the library--held proudly in my hand. Soon after graduating, I had my 24th birthday. There are a few birthdays that are significant moments in a young persons life--16, when a crazy young person is allowed behind the wheel of several hundred pounds of fast moving metal, 18, when a crazy young person is allowed to choose our country's leaders, and 21, when a crazy young person is allowed to consume intoxicating beverages; but for me 24 hit with a wave of intensity that no birthday before has. Walls of panic and depression began to close in on me as I experienced a "crisis" (here's hoping its not mid life; I'd like to at least reach 50!). I began to recognize that I have been acting like...a crazy young person. Though I have technically been an adult for 6 years, there is very little to suggest that fact. "Man" is a title that should be earned. There are far to many 20-something, 30-something boys--and I am one of them. I am not a man, and seeing that scared and saddened my heart. Though I have held many leadership roles throughout my life, many of which have been in areas of ministry, I am beginning to see the depravity of my own spiritual maturity. I have pridefully viewed myself as a "mature Christian" when I am still living as a child in my faith. I have began to see that there is very little scripture stored in my heart, and lots of garbage taking residence. I had the wonderful opportunity to work at a bible camp this summer, something that most twenty-somethings don't get the opportunity to do, and God revealed a lot to me there. With the majority of my co-workers being under 20, I was impressed with their commitment to working hard, and serving God. They spurred me on in ways they may not realize, and I hope I did the same for them.

I believe that perhaps I have convinced many others (as I convinced myself) of a spiritual maturity in my life, but maturity spreads its roots deeply into integrity; it is not merely who I am in the public eye, but who I am when all alone that speaks of my maturity. God opened a door for me to meet with other Christian men on a weekly basis to talk about our hidden selves--the behind the door selves; the hidden boys that keep us from being open, honest, and Godly men. I am not there yet, but at least now I can say I'm trying.

This summer I told many embarrassing stories from my life to campers around the campfire with the hope of drawing analogies that teach. "Stupid moments from the life of Tyler--that teach." I will try once again.

Every September, Providence has a Welcome Banquet for all the students to usher in a new year. A few years back, as I sat dressed in my finest (a thrift shop suit) at a beautifully decorated table amidst some of my favorite people, in dim candle light with the murmuring of people visiting after a summer apart, my friend across from me said, "Tyler, we haven't visited for quite some time. We should have a nice, deep conversation." I responded by lifting my cup of tea, saying, "Yes we should," and then dumping the cup in my lap. Not on purpose. I missed my mouth. By about 4 inches. It was as if a piece of information was attempting to jump the synapses of my brain, but hadn't gone to the gym for awhile, and didn't have the strength to make the leap. It is hard to have a deep conversation with a girl when your table companions are laughing in your general direction and you have a cup of hot tea wetting your crotch.

Believe it or not; I think there is an analogy for spiritual maturity hidden in this story (I'll allow you to judge whether it be a good one or not). Like me in my three piece, thrift shop suit, we so often put on our best "spiritual" garb so that we can look the part for our brothers and sisters around us. Yet, though we hold God's word--the living water--in our hands, we rarely allow it to make a connection, drinking it down as we should. We all to easily get distracted from conversing with our creator and God, simply content with looking mature rather then being mature.

Yet, there is no need crying over spilt milk (or tea). The important thing is that we strive towards maturity. Like a bibbed child in a high chair, we can lift the living water to our mouths; we may spill, we may emphatically spit it out or miss the mark all together, but at least we are trying, digging in to the food of God's word. We are learning to find nourishment in him, learning to feed ourselves. We all have to go through one messy faced, spaghetti smeared, high chair photo (what parent hasn't taken one of those?) before we learn to eat like adults.

It is important that we examine our maturity. Where are we in our walk? Is it where we believe we are, or are we fooling ourselves? Are you drinking in the living water or are you just holding the cup. Drink up! Savor the beauty of of our Lord. Drink and be satisfied. Become a mature adult, and enjoy a nice, deep conversation.

...maybe put a napkin in your lap.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Bird, Bones, and Something New

Considering I haven't written anything on here in over five months, I feel I shall break silence. Often, I feel if I have nothing thoughtful or witty to say, then I have no point in writing. It simply wouldn't be worth reading. And I'll tell you flat out, this post won't be worth reading, but it sure will be worth listening to (I hope). After all, what better way to break the silence then with a few tunes. This is what I've been listening to lately.

First off, nothing super new being that his album came out in January; I have been listening to a whole lot of Andrew Bird lately. The guy is a veritable genius--I could swoon over his talent as a multi-instrumentalist, or his amazing voice, but what really gets me is his whistle. Yes. Whistle. You know, that crisp sound from puckered lips; that simple talent most of us learnt in elementry school, and save solely for those moments of thumb twiddling or remembering the Andy Griffith show theme song. Not Andrew. His whistling is done on stage in front of thousands of adoring fans. Yeah, he just learned how to whistle a whole lot better then the rest of us. You will just have to check him out for yourselves if you have not yet had the pleasure.

Secondly, Brand New is coming out with a new album Daisy on Sept. 22. I fell in love with these guys a couple of years ago with their album The Devil and God are Raging inside of Me. Knowing that Lead singer, Jesse Lacey grew up in the church, it is a fascinating listen. One of my favorite albums. You can hear searching and struggle in his lyrics, voice and tone. On the bands myspace page, you can currently hear several (if not all) of their new albums tracks. It didn't grab me the way Tbe Devil and God... did; I think it will have to grow on me a bit, but good none the less. I suggest listening to their last album before checking out Daisy if you are new to the band (oh, and just click on their highlighted name above to get to their myspace page).

Lastly, an act that I am extremely excited about is the pet project of one of my favorite actors, Ryan Gosling. The guy can sing. It is a very unique project being that both Ryan, and band mate Zach Shields didn't really play the instruments they used until approaching the project, and they committed to playing as few takes as possible before recording. Some would say sloppy and stupid, but I say it adds to the charm. Add to that a choir of children dressed in Halloween costumes singing on each track, and you have something incredibly unique and special. Not every one's cup of tea, but I love it. They are called Dead Man's Bones, and their debut releases October 6th.

One more treasure I've discovered is not a band but rather an online music store that is pretty great. The thing about lala that I love besides the fact that they are 100% legal, their prices are great, and that they have almost any band you can think of is that you can listen to nearly any album in its entirety one time through before deciding to buy it. I apologize to my Canadian friends; rumor has it that you cannot access this gift from lala in the great white north. I comfort you with the fact that you have CBC Radio 2 and 3, which, really, is a pretty amazing gift to a music lover's heart in its own right.