Van Halen or Metal Shop?

 
I met up with a friend last night at a local pub around the corner. It was good to catch up. I haven’t hung out with him since we both lived in Wichita Falls over a year and a half ago. Conversation was running smoothly until four dudes in an 80’s cover band called Metal Shop got on stage and started channeling David Lee Roth.

“Might as well jump. JUMP!”

Actually, I might as well get my tab and head to the other half of the bar. I figured the scene of  forty something’s that had quickly accumulated would enjoy extreme decibel levels more than I would. Any other night maybe, but I was there to catch up with an old friend, not relive an era of cocaine and strippers. Even David Lee Roth couldn’t have gotten me into party mode.

As we were waiting for our checks, I started to realize how much this cover band actually sounded like Van Halen. If I was blind, I might have been convinced that this was the first stop on Van Halen’s comeback tour and that the second-hand inflection in David Lee Roth’s voice was the result of a few turbulent decades. The guitarists were playing their instruments as if they had written the chords and the drummer pounded away in an accurate symphony of beats. Subtract the oversized speakers and it wasn’t half bad.

Towards the end of their first song, I wondered if the dudes in this cover band ever wished that they had written and recorded the song on their own accord. I mean, they knew every chord, beat, and lyric to a song that was successful two decades ago, and they played it well. It seemed like the only thing that kept them from fame was the fact that it had been done before. If you put these guys in a time machine, knowing what they know now, I wonder if Van Halen would have ever been Van Halen. Maybe Van Halen would have been the new Metal Shop.

Somehow, I transferred that over to life. As I stared at some dude in a wig riff on an electric guitar, I realized that most of us live as if we are in cover bands. We do our best to imitate and follow a pattern of success. We learn the chords, lyrics, and beat to something that worked for somebody else, never truly identifying ourselves with something other than what we try to imitate. And all the while we think, “if only I had thought of this sooner, made this decision, or moved forward with something that hadn’t been done before I could have been an innovator”. That’s the difference between David Lee Roth and some guy who gets on stage and channels him at a medium sized pub in Dallas, Texas. I also suppose that’s the difference between allowing yourself to express your creativity even when you’re afraid you’ll fail and doing something that hasn’t failed simply because it’s been done before. The truth is that for every Van Halen there are a thousand Metal Shop’s. For every one person, there are a thousand imitators.

Be who you are called to be and embrace it.

The turning lane

As I was on my morning commute, I stopped at a green light. In most cases, I use this time to mess with the stereo, look at my work computer, or take another sip of coffee, but somehow I started to focus in on all the drivers that were turning in front of me. First to turn was a young caucasian male with a beard, a little too old for college, but too young for an established career. Next, was a middle aged caucasian lady who looked like she was either having a rough morning or isn’t a nice person. Third, was a more established caucasian male, who looked like a presidential candidate, professional and clean cut. Normally, I would have disassociated at this point, however, I soon saw a variety of people. After the middle aged professional was a hispanic guy that resembled Pedro from Napoleon Dynamite. Following him, was a middle aged Eastern Indian woman who was trailed by an Asian couple. Second to last was an African American lady and pulling up the rear was another middle aged caucasian male.

It was weird for a second to see so many lives pass in front of me. They each had different stories, backgrounds, childhoods, cultures, but they were all convereged into this one turning lane, heading in the same direction if only for a brief minute. Who knows where they each were headed, what their lives are like, or if they even live at all. To think that we’re occasionally a part of that group at sometime or another is fascinating. We’re alive, trying to make the best of our situations, all hoping that our best pursuits produce this thing we understand as happiness and fulfillment. Some people will make it there, some won’t. Others will die trying. But we’re all living, all headed towards the same direction, if only we weren’t too busy to truly think about that.

“So many people walk around with a meaningless life. They seem half-asleep, even when they’re busy doing things they think are important. This is because they’re chasing the wrong things. The way you get meaning into your life is to devote yourself to loving others, devote yourself to your community around you, and devote yourself to creating something that gives you purpose and meaning.” (43) –Tuesdays with Morrie

NYC Timelapse – God Never Changes

As you watch this video, ask yourself what truly matters. What thoughts, ideas, discussions have been repeated over time? What continues to be asked? What man made solutions continue to revolve and fail? What is absolute truth and how does that supersede all of what we think we believe to be true? Hopefully, this video will make you take a step back and realize that this world isn’t meant to be about us as individuals. There is a bigger purpose.


NYC – Mindrelic Timelapse from Mindrelic on Vimeo.

God Never Changes.

so your future is secure and eternal.

Whatever is good and perfect comes to us from God above, who created all heaven’s lights. Unlike them, He never changes or casts shifting shadows” (James 1:17).

God never changes. In fact, it is impossible for God to change. The influences that cause change in your life have no effect on God. He will never be stronger or weaker. His knowledge and wisdom will not increase or diminish. God does not compromise or change His values. And God does not have mood swings. Life and its uncertainties may shake you, but God-the Rock of Ages-does not move. If you cling to Him, His strength will sustain you.

God’s unchanging purpose gives you eternal significance. Psalm 33:11 states, “The Lord’s plans stand firm forever; His intentions can never be shaken.” God’s plan is unchangeable. It existed at the beginning of creation and remains the same today. And you are part of His plan! Paul explains, “We are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so that we can do the good things He planned for us long ago” (Ephesians 2:10).

God’s unchangeable ways assure you of unwavering guidance. Psalm 18:30 states, “As for God, His way is perfect. All the Lord’s promises prove true.” God’s principles for life never change. His guidelines, given in Scripture, produce fruitful lives when you follow them.

God’s unchanging Word equips you with timeless truth. Isaiah declared, “The grass withers, and the flowers fade, but the word of our God stands forever” (Isaiah 40:8). God’s words and commands are timeless.
God’s unchanging commitment guarantees everlasting security. If you have trusted in Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, you can be assured of eternal life. God is eternally committed to your redemption, your spiritual growth, and your eternal destiny. God’s commitment to you is as strong as He is eternally constant. The storms of life are continually changing, but God remains the same. He is consistent and reliable. He is your anchor. You can count on God because He never changes.

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever” (Hebrews 13:8).

Praise God for his brilliance and grace. 

Thankfulness.

Today has been mentally tough. There are days like this, when frustrations can take your mind to places you’re not sure you want it to go. Self-pity almost becomes an ally, until you realize that it’s simply the quick sand that will bury you in the end.

It’s cold outside. Very cold. Just before crawling into bed, I took a warm shower. It took a lot of stress off of my mind, but feelings of sadness were still present. I got under the sheets, warm, feeling satisfied from dinner, and I realized how lucky I am. Tonight, I’m crawling into a warm bed, after a warm shower, in a cold apartment (I try my best to save money). We have a God, a creator who listens and loves unconditionally, even when we do not. All of a sudden, tonight I’m truly grateful.

God writes on the tablet of our hearts. “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you and watch over you.” – Psalm 32:8. However, just like any other relationship, we have to choose to be a part of it. I long for the place where I fully understand this again.

I Am.

I am.

The shortest possible sentence has the most possible meanings. It’s eternal.

Our Creator described himself with those words.

How magnificent is that?

New Debate on Clinical Trials

What if the difference between living and dying was determined by the luck of the draw, for research? The following link tells the story of two cousins who shared a similar cancer diagnosis, but due to the randomness involved with the clinical trial, they endured two different treatment options. The problem is that one treatment was proven to be effective while the other one was not.

New Drugs Stir Debate on Basic Rules of Clinical Trials 
(click on the link above)

It hits close to home because I will soon become a part of a clinical trial. However, mine will not be centered around a controlled study. From my understanding, if this doesn’t work I’ll have the option to be a part of the next best trial. If that isn’t effective, there’s another one, and so on until I either have a bone marrow transplant or one of the trials work. There are other options, but I choose to remain positive.

Reading the above article just doesn’t make sense. Of course, I see both sides, but I can’t argue against the possibility to preserve life when you know one drug gives you the best chance to live. It infuriates me to think that my loved one would be written off as research when other options exist. And there’s nothing that can be done about it. It just has that nasty, unethical feeling all over it and it makes me sick.

Consider it pure joy

I was reading Oswald Chamber’s My Utmost For His Highest this morning and I stumbled across a passage found in the context of James 1:2-8. The specific verse was James 1:4 and said “Let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing”. It made me think of all the ways that I have been impatient and how that has impeded the progress of being made perfect and complete. I had to read the context.

2Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. 4Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. 5If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. 6But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. 7That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; 8he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does.

The NIV version translates patience as perseverance. So the testing of our faith develops patience. Yeah, sounds too difficult. And I’m sure most people just run away at this point. I did. I guess I overlooked the part where James says that perseverance must finish its work.

Patience must finish its work. Oswald Chambers wrote that God will bring us back in countless ways to the same point over and over again. And that he never tires of bringing us back to that one point until we learn the lesson, because His purpose is to produce the finished product. Through this process, God is trying to impress upon us the one thing that is not entirely right in our lives.

I feel that’s where the pure joy comes into play. I believe we spend our entire lives fighting against ourselves and others in many ways. We fight with our parents to be independent, we fight with our significant others to love us perfectly, we fight with ourselves against the innate desire to be entirely selfish. And it’s all in an effort to control the way we feel, fit in, or be accepted. But what if someone came along that guaranteed that you could be free of all of those things? Your only responsibility would be that you would have to make a conscious effort to give all of that control to one person in exchange for the promise of pure joy. It doesn’t mean that you’re going to get it all right, or that you won’t have to struggle with other circumstances in some way. It just means that you no longer have to focus on controlling aspects of your life that will neverbe in your control in the first place.What if all you had to focus on was the promise of being made perfect and complete through every trial and tribulation that you experienced instead of the constant worry associated with keeping yourself safe and emotionally in tact? Could we, as it says in Psalm 46:10 “be still, and know that I am God”?

The promise to be made perfect and complete, lacking nothing is on the table. And that’s where I will find my joy through all of the trials and hardships I will face, both currently and in the future. All we have to do, as James instructs, is believe.

That I’m being reshaped and constantly remade is where I find my patience and my joy.

Things That Will Never Be Solved

Ted.com is a website I found today, and I lost myself in a lot of the lectures. It’s pretty awesome how any video that catches your attention can be downloaded in mp3 or mpeg (video) format to your iTunes for future use.

Great idea.

Amidst my perusing, I found this video of Billy Graham speaking about technology, faith, and human shortcomings. Even though it was filmed in 1998, it is still relevant today.

Every generation in the history of man has had their technological advances. Diseases are cured, but diseases are also created. We live in a world where everyone knows someone who is affected by cancer, autism, muscular diseases, and so on. We might find cures for those things one day (I hope soon), but Billy Graham speaks on three things we’ll never find cures for:

1) Human Evil
2) Human Suffering
3) Death

I love listening to this man speak. I was lucky enough to get the chance to go to hear him in person a long time ago. With admiration and reverence, I always sit there and take in every word and story. I hope you find time to watch this. He makes even the most simple message powerful.