Tozer, Mullins, & Choices

A.W. Tozer. The Pursuit of God. Page 103.

…the world of fallen men does not honor God. Millions call themselves by His Name, it is true, and pay some token respect to Him, but a simple test will show how little He is really honored among them. Let the average man be put to the proof on the question of who is above, and his true position will be exposed. Let him be forced into making a choice between God and money, between God and men, between God and personal ambition, God and self, God and human love, and God will take second place every time. Those other things will be exalted above. However the man may protest, the proof is in the choices he makes day after day throughout his life.

Rich W. Mullins. My One Thing.

Every night and every day

You hold on tight or you drift away

And you’re left to live with the choices you make

Character doesn’t happen by chance; it is created by our choices.

 

 

Bellies to Fill

I have always loved Rich Mullins, but this song has really been on my heart the past few days.  A few superficial mentions:

  • Nice shorts, Rich. Seriously?
  • I love that 12-string.
  • Did you see that little boy at 2:14?
  • Who walks and plays guitar at the same time?
  • I love the Thai part at the beginning.

Less superficial mentions:

  • I want to go to Burkina Faso and meet Joseph.
  • He has really made my life richer in ways I cannot express.
  • Are you sponsoring a child through Compassion International?
  • The idea of missions both terrifies and stirs my heart. It always has.
  • “There’s many bellies to fill and many hearts to free.”

Desires & Purpose

So what do I desire? And how will I achieve it?

I’m thinking about this as of late. I don’t know the answers. We live in a world that says we should have everything we want, whenever we want it, and running over people is acceptable as long as it serves some purpose. Be assertive, the world says; know what you want, put your boots on, and go get it. But is that how a Christian should live? Is that how a follower of Christ should pursue her desires? I don’t think so.

Rich Mullins spoke of these issues:

The more we pursue what we think we want, the more it eludes us. Or, we get what we think we want, and we find out we didn’t really want it in the first place. Everything that we go after will disappoint us. I don’t think there’s a whole lot of advantage in being terrifically assertive. We do not find happiness by being assertive. The Scriptures don’t teach us to be assertive. The Scriptures teach us–and this is remarkable–the Scriptures teach us to be submissive.

Christ would have us serve. We may be here for a purpose, but we are not here to serve ourselves. It is so easy (for me!) to confuse the two. I get to thinking that this “purpose”–whatever it may be–is that “greater good” that justifies pursuit “by any means.” It’s not. For a follower of Christ, purpose can only come to fruition within the parameters of obedience to and fellowship with Christ our King. It is His purpose that calls to our hearts.

We know that He has a purpose for each one of our lives, but the moment we stop looking to Him to define that purpose, we have set up a throne for some other lord–some lesser lord–to reign in our hearts, our relationships, our actions, our choices, and even our ministries.

So know your desires. Know your heart. Make a plan. But never forget that the heart is deceitful above all things. Never forget that any purpose you pursue that pulls you away from your Savior is not worth the price of achieving.  If your desires and purpose is not God-inspired and God-fulfilled, then it will fade like the morning mist.

And please, help me to remember.

Have a blessed weekend, folks! And on a personal note, please keep my mother in your prayers this weekend; she is quite unwell. Next week, I promise we’ll do something fun (of course…I get to define “fun”…).

Pax Domini!

Sarah

What Are You Doing?

The short answer is: I don’t really know. I’m sort of making it up as I go along.

But there are a few things I’m working on lately:

  • The Legend of Ae: I’m slowly (S-L-O-W-L-Y) working through Legend, rewriting, revising, cutting, cutting, cutting, replotting, renaming, cutting, cutting. What tiresome, wonderful work. I love writing, even when it induces migraines.
  • The Prophecies of Wicket Lake: I am sifting through this piece that I began last year for NaNo, trying to work out the actual storyline before I invest too much more time into it. The nice part is that much of the world-building is already done (as it takes place in the same world as Legend). I am seeking perspective on this, as I’m not sure how to accomplish what I want to accomplish with this story.
  • Hebrew Parallelism: I am going through the Psalms (again, yes) and dissecting them to really wrap my mind around the different forms of Hebrew Parallelism. I’m really learning a lot through this exercise, and I just want to remind you that “studying” Scripture does not undermine the ability of God to speak to you through Scripture. If anything, it bolsters my ability to rightly perceive God’s voice. I am really, really enjoying this process in addition to my regular daily reading.
  • Theology of Music: There are those words again. I’m not even sure I know what to say about those words, except that I am digging. My hands are filthy with this topic. I have no idea why God keeps bringing me back to this.
  • Let Mercy Lead: After cleaning and restringing two of the guitars, I spent an evening working out the chords for this song by Rich Mullins. I confess, I have really enjoyed playing it.
  • Operation CLEAN DESK: Seriously. My desk is perpetually a mess, even when I’ve just cleaned it. It helps me, every couple of weeks, to put everything back in its place, to touch every project I’ve worked on, to remember where I put a pen or the three-hole punch, to re-file, to shred what needs shredding, to figure out which journal I’m supposed to be writing in at any given moment, etc. Seriously. I love my desk. Thank you, Carolyn, Desk Gifter.
  • Letters: I have been in gross avoidance of letter-writing. It’s just a funk I go through. Sometimes I write several letters at a time, and sometimes I struggle to write one. But one of my Writing Goals for 2010 was to write a particular letter to a former classmate, Anita. I need to do it. I’m doing it. This week. Someone ask me on Friday if I’ve written to Anita.

So that’s what I’m doing. Writing, writing, studying, digging, playing guitar, cleaning my desk, and writing.

How about you? What are you doing?

Which Hero?

One of the books on my nightstand right now is from the Christian Encounters Series by Thomas Nelson, a biography of St. Francis of Assisi. I am a slow reader to begin with, but every once in awhile, I find a book so challenging to me that it really takes a long time to work through it (ask Tozer–I took me about eight months to read The Knowledge of the Holy). This is one of them.

Quite frankly, I didn’t know much about St. Francis when I chose this book for the Booksneeze blogger book review program (which, if you’re not a part of, you need to be. Go on…I’ll wait while you sign up. What could be better than free books? Click the link.) I chose this book because St. Francis holds the remarkable distinction of being the hero of my hero. Big deal, right? Well, it is a big deal to me. I have few heroes–so few that I can count them on one hand. There just are not many people (dead or alive) who have risen to “hero” status for me. Maybe I’m hard to please. I like to think that I have exceptional standards. ;)

Nonetheless, St. Francis of Assisi was Rich Mullins’ hero. Rich, not nearly as well known as he should have been, penned some of Christian music’s greatest songs, to include “Sing Your Praise to the Lord”–made popular by Amy Grant–and “Awesome God”–yes, that chorus you sing in church. Rich was so much more than an amazing songwriter and musician, but this blog is not about what makes Rich my hero.

As I was reading yesterday about St. Francis’ choice to pursue poverty (an enormous choice; we are to understand that his father was a successful businessman–a business that St. Francis was to grow into), I remembered something I’d read several years ago in The World As I Remember It: Through the Eyes of a Ragamuffin, which collected posthumously several  of Rich’s previously published writings:

Before I got into this music business, I was determined to live a life of dire and grinding poverty. I remember my uncle saying, ‘Wow, you are so proud of being poor–what’s so great? You would do a lot better to be a little more industrious, a little more frugal. If you’re really concerned about the poor, becoming poor isn’t going to help them, it’s just going to ease your own conscience. If you’re really concerned about the poor, go out and make a fortune and spend it on them.’ (p. 140)

So who was right? Was St. Francis right in choosing to live a life of poverty, claiming that it would free us to know God more intimately? Or was Rich’s uncle right in saying that we would do better to give generously to alleviate poverty? Neither are easy options, to be sure, but is one more true or more right than the other?

And more importantly…if St. Francis was right, would anyone in America today have the guts to give it all up?

And even more importantly…would I?