24 May 2007

Music says .... Part I: Promises

I'm starting up a mini series about the things we can learn from music. I know there's a lot of music out there that seems to have absolutely no purpose other than to disgust, shock, horrify or repulse its audience. Flawed as music is (being performed by flawed human beings), I honestly do think we can learn from it.

Music has a lot to say about promises. Def Leppard and Aerosmith talk about ‘late-night’ promises that were made spur-of-the-moment and were forgotten by the morning. Stereotypically speaking, the entire premise of country music is regretting broken promises. Frequently, we’ll promise something that we’re sure we can deliver, only to wake up ten minutes after it’s too late to take our words back, realizing that not only is there no way we can deliver what we promised, we had no right to promise anything like that in the first place.

A good example of promising more than we can deliver is in our relationships. When we’re caught in a fast and furious relationship with some guy or girl we really like, it’s so, so easy – too easy – to promise that we’ll be their friend forever, or, if our relationship is more advanced (or we are more foolish) that we’ll love them forever, and we’ll be there for them whenever we need them.The simple problem with promising such extravagant rewards to any human being is that we’re completely incapable of keeping our word. When we say we’ll be their friend forever, we don’t take into account that we don’t know everything about them. We don’t know their flaws. As we get to know them better, we may find that we can’t stand them as people. In which case we simply iron over our words, hope they’ve forgotten them, and say our goodbyes. Love is more complicated (isn’t it always??). Put plainly, we have no right to swear our undying (!) love to anyone in any situation outside of marriage. If we swear our love to the first person who comes along, *knowing* that person is who God made for us, we are not only foolish, but we’re flirting with fire...so to speak. The people you swear to love usually do not forget such oaths, wish as we might they would.

That’s the waking-up-ten-minutes-after-it’s-too-late part. Speaking from personal experience, I am never aware of my mistakes until after I’ve done with them. I don’t realize my foolishness until after I’ve spoken. I don’t realize my temper until after I’ve shouted. And I certainly don’t realize my pride until after I’ve patted myself on the back. While I’ve never professed undying love to any person (and don’t plan to for quite some time), if the past and other people are any indication, I’m just as likely to rush ahead and spout my feelings before I recognize that saying how I feel is a form of selfishness...the desire to see my emotions reciprocated precisely in the other person.And then, there's the truth element. I find myself listening to music that promises the world. But I realize that I won't always be there. There's no way I can be (it's humanly impossible - think time-space continuum). I can't promise to love anyone forever except in the formal, God-honoring form of marriage vows. So there's no reason to rush ahead and promise things I don't know if I can deliver. My word is my word, and I mean to keep it. Proverbs 15:4b tells us that an upright man is one who "keeps his oath even when it hurts." We can set standards for ourselves before we're ever tempted to promise something rash so that keeping our word is an infrequent occurence.

Honestly, making rash promises is a form of selfishness. If we don't think through our own words, we most likely will end up paying for them. Even if we don't, someone else does. Speaking after you think and promising according to God's standards - not our flighty feelings or boastful beliefs - is just one more example of maturity. Hebrews 5:14 tells us true maturity is being able to tell the difference between good and evil, and getting that skill by constant usage. Let's learn our lesson from Def Leppard & Aerosmith (probably one of the only lessons we WANT to learn from them!) and watch what we promise.

15 May 2007

Aaah! I’m so sick of my own writing! It all starts out really well...nice-sounding...well-organized...but it becomes vapid and boring after awhile. Argh. I think I’d better major in art or something besides writing.....

Anyway, yup, I'm working on a term paper right now. Any advice for surviving said paper would be greatly appreciated.



10 May 2007

Free will, prayer, and the future!

This is a part of a debate/conversation I'm having right now with some friends of mine. We're all being raised in Christian families, but our opinions do diverge on certain issues: For example, the effect of human prayer on changing the future. Here's what I said.
Human free will as pertains to the future

I firmly believe that humans have free will. However, I don't concede that God doesn't know the future. It's odd to say that God does some things half-way...that he either knows the future in part, or he knows it all the way and can't change it. That's a false dilemma, because if the past is any indication, God doesn't do things half-heartedly. Is God limited in any of his abilities? Not from what we can see, though we are certainly limited in our knowledge of him. How could he be? We don't know of a single thing that God cannot do, other than sin. Can he not predict our actions? There's simply no way that so many people could predict so accurately Jesus' birthplace, career, punishment, death, and ressurrection by simply using human intuition. If God didn't know the future, he wouldn't have been able to tell these people about Jesus. Didn't he create us? If he created us, he ought to know all our quirks. If he knows all our quirks, he ought to know what our free will is going dictate we do. It follows that he can use the Holy Spirit to actually change the course of action we take when we follow our free will. Thus we have free will, but he has the ultimate plan, and uses our free will to accomplish his plan.


I think God listens to what we have to say. How he'll reply to it (yes or no) depends on what he knows we need...but I believe he will reply to it. We can pray about the future but whether or not God will change it as a result of those prayers is probably something no one will know until they get to heaven. I'm not convinced it's possible to know FOR SURE if God changes things because of our prayers in any way short of divine revelation...which doesn't occur a lot these days.

That's a brief outline of what I think of prayer, etc. I tend to be almost fatalistic when I pray for something: I ask that God's will be done, and (depending on the circumstance) that he work through me. It's complicated....I'm up for debate, though! :)

03 May 2007

Sometimes you do what you're sure is right, and then you're miserable. Why does it work that way?