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Wednesday, February 23, 2011

poignant words from Henri Nouwen...and longing for eternity

Let these words soak into your soul, all you who are thirsty and longing, loving and aching, hoping and mourning, believing and doubting...

"Our life is a short time in expectation, a time in which sadness and joy kiss each other at every moment. There is a quality of sadness that pervades all the moments of our life. It seems that there is no such thing as a clear-cut pure joy, but that even in the most happy moments of our existence we sense a tinge of sadness. In every satisfaction, there is an awareness of limitations. In every success, there is the fear of jealousy. Behind every smile, there is a tear. In every embrace, there is loneliness. In every friendship, distance. And, in all forms of light, there is the knowledge of surrounding darkness....But this intimate experience in which every bit of life is touched with a bit of death can point us beyond the limits of our existence. It can do so by making us look forward in expectation to the day when our hearts will be filled with perfect joy, a joy no one shall take away from us." -Henri J. M. Nouwen

I can't get enough of Nouwen's beautiful words...they describe the human heart with intense and real reflection. If you haven't picked up any of his books before, find a bookstore this weekend and get your hands on one. You won't regret it!

Some days I long for heaven, and my chest seems to pound with a beat that does not fit with the tune here...the melody is playing elsewhere in a far-off land...a land with a King who is pure light and whose glory is unfading. There is something I yearn for that nothing in this gorgeous earth can satisfy...that something is the glory of eternity, and trying to see it is like trying to look through the fog in an autumn morning field where you have not been before...you just know there is something beyond that awaits, but you cannot put your finger on it, or even try to comprehend its existence. My mortal body with all its imperfections and silly aches just knows that one day all things will be made new, and there will be this wedding feast, this dance, this song, this consumation of all eternal joy...and my heart almost skips a beat trying to imagine this incredible reality!

So we long, we wait, we hope, we expect, we doubt, we believe, we press on, we hold on, we walk, we imagine, we live in the light of grace until that day we are ushered into His glorious presence...

and in the meantime? There are wars, and rumors of wars. There are earthquakes and orphans. There are tides flooding and widows mourning. There are conflicts and abuses. There are corruptions and masks. There are lies and blows that we do not want to deal with...but we have to deal with them. We are left with few options, but let's face it: We can try to ignore and shut out our world. We can embrace our world. Or we can somehow paradoxically live in the world, but be not of the world. Option number three is the one Jesus calls us to choose...

The other day I was recording a song I wrote called "Between the Lines" and as I sang this one part of a verse, my mind raced to scenes of Egypt, Tunisia, Libya, Sudan, Uganda, Nepal, China and elsewhere...and even here in the United States...yes, even here. To give a little background, the song is about leaving a legacy in this life, as we live in the light of eternity. Our lives are short, fragile, and unpredictable. Every day we have the choice to love, to live fully, to give ourselves up because Christ gave himself for us...I believe we who are in Christ are called as the Ecclesia to leave fingerprints of joy and radical love everywhere we go, on every person we meet and touch. The song is a reminder- a call to wake up, for we know not when our final hour may be. And when we are gone, what will they say? What will people remember? My prayer is that it is not my name that will be remembered, but it will be the holy, marvelous, saving Name of Jesus Christ that will be engraved on human hearts after I am gone...May my brief moment here on earth leave a legacy that doesn't just touch our planet, but has eternal ramification on lives. I want to celebrate at that wedding feast with all the beautiful faces and hearts that I embraced on earth. I want not one to be missing. I cry prayerfully for every soul to know the saving power of Jesus Christ...that you, my friend, might know the victory and eternal weight of glory that awaits!

Back to the song...there's a line that goes "We walk forlorn just hoping for something more...no longer just for here and now the city streets are full of crowds expectant of a landmark royal scene. We watch and wait and push and shove, we make some names for ourselves that come to no meaning in the end..." Nations are in turmoil, they are in uprising...you can see it on TV every day you turn on the news, or read it in the papers...the mobs are growing... they really are! And yet, there is nothing new under the sun. Mobs have always been and forever will continue...until that day. That marvelous day when peace shall inhabit the hearts of all men, and we will be free in the presence of our Maker, our King, our One and only Hope. The unrest of this world, the calamities of our hearts will find rest and be calm in Him. Jesus- we long for Jesus. Even when we do not admit it, there is only One who can answer our lonely cries at night, only One who can make sense of the chaotic rush of the mornings, only One who can bind in Mercy our troubled, broken pasts. The lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world. The Word who became flesh and dwelt among us. The resurrected King of glory.

Can you feel the beat? Is your heart pounding? Ohh, how I ache and cry for that day! And as I wait, I pray that each and every day here will be filled with beautiful, simple offerings given to Christ. Little touches of love that I might I reach out to my fellow journeyers on this unpredictable road. I want to offer my life as a living sacrifice, because there is a far-surpassing glory that awaits in comparison to the light and momentary afflictions of this conflicting world. When the books are opened and when they are read- the accounts of our lives for all of eternity to see- may the stories be filled with glimmers of love and sacrifice. May it be that our hands have reached out to those in need with the grace of Jesus. Between the lines of the paragraphs in those books, may there be a mysterious love that binds all the pages together by the Triune God.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

The Attic...Sweet Liberty

I was blessed to sing @ The Attic Coffeehouse this weekend in Hagerstown, MD. I met some awesome people there & reconnected with dear friends! Thanks to the guys at the Attic for posting this video. Hope you enjoy "Sweet Liberty"...a sneak preview before the song is on my next album :)

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Baby PALA, oh what a miracle!

A few weeks back I was talking with a dear friend of mine who is a teen mom. She has a bright smile and hope for her little baby. She has a heart filled with love, even in the midst of challenges, trials, and pain. I see life in her eyes, and I see beauty in the life of her sweet little girl.
She called me aside after an evening of fellowship and shared with me something I will never forget. This is a testimony about God's glory and greatness. It is still hard for me to fully comprehend the great picture of what she told me that night. She has a friend who had an abortion when she was very young, 13 or 14 years old. This friend was pregnant again and had her mind set on abortion, the only rational choice she thought she had (women are highly at risk for abortion after already having one). My friend pleaded with her to keep her baby. Then she showed her the Unborn Music Video. This young girl wept and wept and made a choice that day to keep her baby girl. To protect her privacy, I will call her baby "Pala," which is the Hebrew word for miracle, wonders, extraordinary, marvelous (Genesis 18:14 "Is anything too hard for the Lord?"). Little Pala is 4 months old today. A beautiful, miraculous life!
Is her life going to be easy? Most likely not. Like all our lives, there will be challenges, pain, hardships...Was this the easy choice? Not at all. Yet, who are we to choose who deserves to live and who deserves to die, and how in the world could troubling circumstances dictate those decisions? Where have the hearts of this generation turned? If you are going through a hardship, or if you had a childhood that was filled with physical or emotional pain, does that lessen the value of your life? Were you meant to have life taken away from you, just because it has been hard? No, every life is intrinsically valuable and filled with worth, because we are created and formed in the image of the Holy God. It is sad that we, as a society, pressure a woman into denying her child life, if her own life seems to have struggles. A child will never be born into a perfect situation or perfect world. Who has lived a life without struggle? When has it been convenient for a woman to carry a baby for nine months inside of her? Since the dawn of time, there has never been a perfectly planned pregnancy, labor, & circumstance in which to raise a child. We have fed this generation of girls and women a lie- and now so many are paying the price with pain and scars inside that only Jesus can heal.
Baby Pala is alive today because a young mom made the sacrificial, incredible choice of LIFE. May God be glorified in Pala's life, and may she thrive and live abundantly and know the eternal love of her Heavenly Father always. I praise you Jesus, because you used this piece of art, this simple music video, to touch one heart and save one life. Only YOU could do this, Lord. You take our offerings and use them beyond what we imagine, for Your kingdom and Your glory! Thank you for treasuring life more than any of us. You know the worth of life better than we could ever understand. Thank you for creating us and using us for Your story, Father. We are Your children and because of that we are blessed beyond measure.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Uganda Highlight Video!

Thanks to Jessie Ferraro, awesome friend & video editor, the video footage from last October's Compassion trip to Uganda is finally up! I hope this video offers you a glimpse into the beautiful country of Uganda and all that God is doing there among His people. In a land of poverty, filled with a history of war and sadness, there is great joy and hope. There is a contagious faith that is sweeping through the land, and Jesus Christ is bringing glory to His church, especially through the lives of the children. Please keep Uganda in your prayers. The Ugandan people taught me so much and touched my heart in a way in which I will be forever changed!