Thursday, February 10, 2011

A Love Offering

"Let me live that I may praise you, and may your laws sustain me."
Psalm 119:115

The funny thing about God is that he takes the complicated and makes them look simple. I consistently find that it's like Him to have layers for everything. How simple is this template for life, but when you think about the actual application of this statement, it's pretty deep. May my sole purpose in life be to praise God- that's everything I say, think, do, breath, make, eat, love, EVERYTHING that I am and want to be...may it all praise God. May the only thing that sustains me be His word- food, shelter, safety, companionship...may it all be sustained by God's law. Just how much that short sentence encompasses is mind boggling, yet it still feels very simple because in the end, that is the purpose of life. It's that simple- to live to praise God and have his law sustain you.
I want my life to be that. I want to live my life within this simplicity but allow the complexity of what it means to flourish in all parts of who I am. May I live solely to praise God and may His word be the only thing that sustains me.

God has been just blessing my life this past week. miracles upon miracles. 4 times this week I should have not been able to turn in late course work but it wasn't the case. In one instance I had a response paper I was suppose to turn in 24hrs in advanced and I never did. When my professor confronted me about it, I could have lied, he even set me up with some good excuses but i just told him the simple truth, "Professor, I just didn't do it...". My professor responded by offering to let me reschedule my response paper for another day...What??
God is good. God is SO good.

"I lift up my eyes to the hills- where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth"
Psalm 121:1&2

I really like finding verses from songs in the psalms. It's such a beautiful book and there's soo many prayers and praises in it. I've decided that Godly art comes in the form of the psalms. All the emotions that we go through- pain, sorrow, joy, awe, lament, etc. should be acknowledged because we live a world with all those emotions...they're real. But beyond all that, we should still remember that God is sovereign in all things.

I'm thinking of starting a project where have a photograph for all my favorite psalms. We'll see how it turns out, but I'll keep you posted on any photos I complete. If it does become a project, i'll call it The Art of Psalms

Speaking about art, I'm going to put up Sufjan Steven's You are the Blood again. I didn't completely get the song at first but recently I finally understood. If you don't know Sufjan, I highly encourage you to Google him. He is a fine example of an artist who is Christian admits a sea of Christian artists.

"You are electricity, you're light. You are Sound, itself, and you are flight"
The thing about art for Christ followers is that it becomes a form of worship. You are encountering God and making a beautiful offering for Him. You want to show your reverend, awe, and praise in your own creation. It kind of reminds me of the crowns the saints have in Revelations that they place at the feet of God in his presence. We do the same thing- your creation of something beautiful you give back to God and lay it at his feet. He deserves the best in all that you do.
Art is used as a way to express the place you encounter God. I think Sufjan encounters God in music, in sound- from the chaotic to the beautiful. After all, God created sound! He created all kinds of music, just look at nature. Listen to the birds of the air, the bees of the field, the swoosh of the sea. What a symphony!

"Pray for the peace of Jerusalem:
"May those who love you be secure.
May there be peace within your walls
and security within your citadels."
For the sake of my brothers and friends,
I will say, "Peace be within you."
Psalm 122:6-8

Peace be within you ^_^

Saturday, February 5, 2011

So that you would be lead to pray..

If you haven't been catching up on the news, some HUGE changes have been happening in the middle east recently- the one getting the most coverage being Egypt's Revolution. Egypt has had a president for the last 30 years who likes to stay in power and keep opposition down. He uses the Egyptian police as a force to do his dirty work against people who decide to speak up against the injustices within the Egyptian government. There have been countless of activists and journalists who have been arrested just because of their demands for dignity for their people.
Around last week Friday many Egyptians decided that enough was enough and stood up to an institution that uses big guns and fear to keep people in order. The government shut down the internet, shut down the phone services, called a curfew, etc. all to discourage the organizing of Egyptians on January 25th. It didn't work. The Egyptian people, all in one voice, demanded freedom from oppression. Change. This past Tuesday about two million people showed up to a march for a million in Cairo. They all were demanding for a new regime- one that was there to protect them, not to oppress them. And all sorts of people came, young, old, men, women, different parties, Muslims, and Christians.

However, as this week progressed, what was a peaceful protest became very violent. Here's an account that Mona Seif gives in the middle of the square many Egyptians are refusing to leave till president Mubarak steps down:

when I was listening to this clip, It was happening that day and I couldn't bear it. I couldn't help but think about what it must feel like to be in the middle of a open square with other unarmed individuals while your own government shoots automatic guns at you. How blessed are we? How blessed am I?? That I can march to my capitol and not get shot at? Of all the places God could have born me into- the middle of Congo's civil war, in the Gaza, in Burma, I was born in a situation where I am free from immediate oppression. I was born in a situation where I have power to stop oppression. Me and Mona Seif are living and breathing in the same time. While I sit in my comfy sofa, she sits somewhere in the cold outside not knowing who is being shot at, how many young ones are wounded or hurt. Of all the places I could be, God didn't put me right next to her- He put me here in front of a computer screen where I can chose to hear her story.
Whether I ignore it or not, the world still turns and people are still dying, people are still starving, people are still afraid of what may happen the next day.

I guess I'm writing this post because I'm trying to articulate what God has placed in my heart as a burden- not necessarily Egypt but the subject of oppression. I was talking to my roommate a few weeks ago and she was telling me about how she was explaining to someone that there are certain movies or documentaries she just cannot watch because it pains her so much to see women or families in those kinds of situations. That person told her she shouldn't write off those feelings, yea they may be sad to one person but if you feel that passionate or pained by it, maybe it's because God has called you to do something about it.
That was a sort of revelation for me. I once asked God why he gave me such a big heart, because I couldn't understand why it hurt so bad when I saw something like the Rwandan Genocide a friend losing their faith or even a movie like precious. The next day He answered, so that it would be lead to pray.

My heart turns inside out and upside down inside of me when I hear or see oppression. I cannot stand seeing evil things happening to people who have no power to do anything about it.

"Streams of tears flow from my eyes, for your law is not obeyed"
Psalm 119:136

But I think God is going to start teaching me what power prayer really has for us. I think right now that's the biggest gap I have. I know prayer has power, and I know God can move in our prayers but God just needs to reveal His truth to me.

"Then Peter said, 'Silver or gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk'"
Acts 3:6

There is power in our words- God has made it one of the most important actions we do. After all the bible says that our words can cut a person deeper than any sword. And if just our regular words can have so much power- how much more does prayer have.We are directly speaking to God and He listens to us. Even more, our prayers go up to Him in full force when we pray together. How amazing is that.

That must really mean that the power of our prayers are much more sweeter than that of silver or gold. It's more effective because God can and will allocate resources better than any man can.

To Egypt, I do not have silver or gold to give but I do have my prayers- which is more valuable than silver or gold, sweeter than milk and honey. I know that because God is an all good God. He is all powerful, he looks after the oppressed and in some way or the other will give them justice and peace. I wholeheartedly believe in that.

Tell me. What has God given you to twist your heart inside out and upside down?

Also, Will you pray for the people of Egypt with me? Doesn't matter what you pray- whether for protection, salvation, justice, peace...let's pray for them. It only takes a mustard seed of faith to move a mountain : )

Peace Be with You,