Lord, Undo Me

[ worship,poetry,lifestyle and spiritual adventure ] – matt’s journal – Lord, save me.

Lord, save me from myself, my own self-absorbed thoughts, from my personal aspiration, from my personal hounds in the distance, from my need to please, from my quiet dissatisfaction, from my ever-intense loneliness, my primal fears of destruction, from my self-defeating actions, my darkness and my false diatribes, my lateral glances to idols, my past failures, regret, and self-guessing moments, my postmortems and predictable collapses. save me from all that is only me and never you.

The Above Quote came from Matt Tullos’ weblog. It speaks so true to my heart. I find myself crying out for God to save me from me, to undo me and let me stand, even if it is painful, before him. Below is the poem that I used tonight in worship. I think it has a similar theme

Lord Undo Me

   I don’t really worship these day
   I don’t really stand up to praise you with songs
   Or prayers or actions
   or with anything
   I am full of all the right moves
   I am full of all the right words
   I am full of all the right religion
   But it is all just illusion
   I am really
   Lonely
   Lost
   Calloused
   Jaded
   Cynical
   Too religious
   Too realistic
   and well really just to lazy
   to worship you anymore
   I have lost my first love
   I have lost the joy of your presence
   But most of all I have lost the fear of your glory
   
   Papa God I need to see you again
   Like Isaiah I want to stand in awe of your glory
   To fall down at your feet
   To come face to face with your
   Perfection,
   Radiance,
   Goodness,
   Holiness,
   Awesomeness

   I want to stand before you and see you for who you are
   and me for who I am
   I want to be undone
   
   I want to know me for who I really am
   I want to see the depths of my heart
   And know that you are the only way
   You are the only truth
   You are the only life
   I want to see me and understand
   What it really must have taken for you to
   Love me
   Care for me
   See me
   Speak to me
   Want me
   Communicate with me
   Die for me
   Die for me
   Die for me
   
   Lord, I want to stand in that place where all I can see is your glory
   And my sin
   Because in that place I can’t help but worship you.
   Lord let me come undone
   Undo my heart
   Lord, undo my heart
   break down these walls that I love so much
   No, wait don’t,
   I’m scared I don’t know if I can handle this
   don’t
   But I can’t live this way anymore
   I can’t stand here in this half-life
   this going through the motions life
   this not really alive life
   Father, I need you so come and in and do what you must
   Cut out the tumor on my heart
   Break down the walls that I love
   Lord let me come undone
   Undo my heart
   let me worship you again

Thursday, October 20, 2005 at 08:23 PM

These are rare days in the south—days filled with sunshine and cool breezes when the humidity is low and the air feels dry and pleasant and almost cozy. Most days in the south you have a choice between two extremes: raining and cold or humid and hot. Whatever the weather it always seems like the air is full of moisture, like a sponge that has been left in a bucket of water slowly soaking in the liquid, the air in the south feels heavy and southerners mop the sweat that won’t evaporate off their foreheads as they swim through it from air conditioned comfort to air conditioned comfort.

I guess it is days like that that make days like this feel almost like miracles—like gifts from God himself. Everywhere I have been today I have seen people feeling the air. Their movements are subtle, but telling. They turn their heads to the wind and the corners of the mouths turn up and their eyes close slightly as they drink in air that for a change isn’t full of water.

As I was pumping gas–doing my own personal rejoiceing in this God-gift day–a couple pulled up across the pump from me in a newish Trans-Am. I always snicker when I see these cars which to me scream redneck almost more than a mullet.

In this car was a couple maybe in their mid forties, but it was a hard to tell because life had been hard on them. They had the unmistakable look of trailer dwellers. His hair was long and unwashed and pulled tight in one long bunch behind his head. With the top covered in a maroon Bama hat that speaks redneck almost as much as the trans am. Her hair had been bleached too many times and spent too many years collecting smoke giving it a thin coated look.

As they pulled up I was captivated and for some reason I had a hard time trying not to stare. They never spoke as he pulled too far past the pump and had to back up and then pull forward again to find the right spot. He got out of the car and I saw that his sleeveless shirt had been only buttoned halfway up the front showing leathery skin and graying hair. Through the window I saw the tattoos on her also sleeve free arm. She had a list of names, drawn without much skill almost lining up and down her arm. I wondered if these were a collection of names from her past and if the long haired guy pumping gas was on the list, or if she had learned long before that the tattoos always outlast the relationship.

The man removed the gas cap and then tapped on the back on the Trans-Am. Still without words the woman reached across the car and pulled the handle beside the drivers seat and popped the rear hatch. Then again without words she got out of the car and headed inside.

I was trying my best not to look, but I was fascinated by this couple, and I must admit feeling a little superior to them. They were such a picture of life in the south. I couldn’t take my eyes away as I tried to describe the scene to myself in a myriad of ways and desperately longed for my computer.

It was then that two things happened. As I was trying to see the whole scene and catch every detail I looked at the shoes of the long haired man and noticed of course that he was wearing boots, but attached to his right leg was also a brace: screwed into the boot and strapped around his leg just below his knee. It looked like the kind of brace that kids who had polio wore in the 50’s. I don’t know why, but seeing that brace changed the whole scene for me. I suddenly felt bad for looking and even worse for feeling like I was better than him.

Then, in one of those moments that stand out so clearly in your life, the man: the redneck-trailer-living-bama-lovin-no-bathing-open-shirt-man turned slightly to face the wind and drew a deep breath of clean cool air. And in that moment I saw him not as a stereotype, not as the hard-living man I assumed him to be, but as a man who understands beauty, and as a child of God who was also enjoying this God-gift day.

Nothing much happened after that. The music didn’t come up big and I didn’t go over and shake his hand or anything. After a moment the woman returned and he said to her, “How much”

“20” she replied and got back into the car. He spent another minute at the pump, slowly clicking and releasing the handle to reach twenty dollars worth, and then he got back in the car and drove away.

The Journey Book Proposal

To continue with the writer proposal stuff, I finally finished a book proposal to group and I just emailed it about 5 minutes ago. Here is the synopsis.

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Too many times we try to present the church as a safe alternative for youth. Following God isn’t safe. To follow God we must go places that we have never been; we must choose adventures that are dangerous. As youth leaders we shouldn’t be trying to teach students to be safe, but rather we should be equipping them for God’s dangerous journey.

The Journey is a twelve week youth Bible study that walks students through the journey of God’s chosen people from Abraham to the Promise Land. Through interactive Bible study and experiential worship it challenges students to follow God on their own spiritual journey. The Journey is designed to show the struggles of God’s people as they tried to follow our Wild God who called them to do things that most people could never do. It uses the Bible stories to offer practical advice for today’s youth struggling with their own spiritual journey. The Journey isn’t about creating safe Christian teenagers; it is about opening their eyes to the wild life that God has to offer and showing them the first step on the path of God’s amazing journey.

The Journey Lesson Breakdown:

Week One: Abraham’s Call

Students will see that God calls us to follow him many times without revealing the destination. Students will be invited to follow God on His journey and will meditate on their choice to follow Him.

Week Two: Abraham’s Choice (Isaac)

Following God requires tough choices, sometimes choices that make no sense. Students will study how following God is like taking directions through a maze and will look at some tough choices in their own life about relationships and dreams.

Week Three: Joseph (God’s Big Picture)

Life rarely plays out the way we see it in our minds. This lesson helps students to take a “God’s big picture” perspective of their struggles. Students will work in groups to find the truth in this story and apply it to their lives.

Week Four: Facing Insecurities (The Burning Bush)

Most teenagers are crippled by insecurities. In this lesson students will deal with their insecurities head on. Through hands on activities they will ask God to help them let go of these excuses and choose God’s journey.

Week Five: The Exodus

Students will study the power God displayed as the Israelites left Egypt. They will create humorous dramas to illustrate the plagues and then look at how God’s demonstration of power can help them on their own journey.

Week Six: The Passover

This is a more serious look at the final plague. It takes a narrative look Passover night through the eyes of a firstborn son. Students will feel the relief of being spared and will be invited to have Jesus come and be the Passover sacrifice for their lives.

Week Seven: The Golden Calf

Students will be asked to look at what idols they have created in their own lives and examine how those idols are keeping them from God’s journey. They will be encouraged to stop chasing after these things and start following God.

Week Eight: You are God’s Tabernacle

Students will look at the Tabernacle and learn how it was God’s dwelling place on earth. They will then see how they are God’s dwelling place on earth and as such have the privilege of sharing Jesus with others.

Week Nine: The Tabernacle Worship

Students will experience the Tabernacle in a special night of worship. Worship stations will guide the students to what it means that God dwells with His people and their role in sharing God with others.

Week Ten: At the PromiseLand (Trusting God in the Face of Doubters)

Most people would rather carve out a life in the desert than trust God to lead them into the promise land. Students will look at the difference between desert living and promise land living and be invited to follow God.

Week Eleven: The Lord Provides even in the desert

Many students feel like God has abandoned them because of their past sins. This study takes a look at how God provides for His people even in their punishment and invites students to come to God for a clean slate through a prayer activity.

Week Twelve: Choose Life (Back at the promise land)

Week twelve looks at Moses’ final sermon to his people and how he encourages them to choose life. Students will be reminded of the journey that God has placed before them and of the alternative of following after other things. They will be asked like Moses asked his people to choose life.

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So here was what I was thinking. I need all of my loyal youth pastor readers to email group and ask for a curriculum about the journey of the children of Israel and how that relates to our own spiritual journey. Wouldn’t that be funny of they got my email and the email of like the 2 people who read this on the same day? It may actually turn them off from my proposal, but that would be good for you internet guys. If I can’t find a publisher I plan on putting it up here on Nailscars.com

10 Things everyone else knew about youth ministry that I had to learn myself

10. Play. Not just a little, not just to prove a point, just play, laugh, have fun. The abundant life Jesus promised starts now!

9. You have to be honest about your own struggles. (this life is a journey)

8. Creative teaching can only come after creative mentoring

7. Reach out to Senior adults early and they will be your biggest ally

6. If you trust student leaders you are going to get burned

5. If you don’t trust student leaders you are never going to grow

4. Consistency is important for growth

3. Nothing is more important to a student than friendships (not even God)

2. Students are desperate for positive adult relationships

1. All students are drawn to authentic worship

In the Rain

It’s August and I am outside in Lower Alabama and I am cold. For those of you who don’t take trips down here very often this might not sound weird, but August in Alabama is better known for its 100% humidity and above 90 heat than chilly afternoons. But we are catching some of the rain from Katrina and that rain has blocked out the sun and brought in a cool breeze and made it actually quite nice outside today. I am cold mainly because I had to walk through the pouring rain to get to the covered pavilion that I am using as a sanctuary from the storm.

I love sitting outside in the rain. If they made a waterproof laptop I think I would sit right outside under the falling water, but until that happens I am content to sit under this pavilion with rain falling all around. I had to get wet to get here, but that is part of fun. It seems like in life there are many times when you have to go through the rain to get to the shelter. Sometimes you have to walk through hard times to get to the next safe spot where God comes in and heals you and reminds you of the lessons that he taught you in the hard times and then shows you to the direction that he wants you to head, and normally that direction is back out into the rain.

Alright so I am getting melodramatic, but that is what rain does to me. I always like to think of a hard rain as worship. If you stand in it you are completely surrounded and engulfed in it. The same is true when you are under water, but you can still breathe in the rain. I want God’s presence to be as tangible as rain to me.

Alright, now I am really getting crazy. That’s enough for now.