The Countdown To BROKEN TEMPLE: 12 Days To Go Until The Latest Release From Kevin Max

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Kevin Max’s newest project, BROKEN TEMPLES, will officially be released on March 10. I’ll be counting down the remaining days to the release of the album on this page with a post each day exploring and celebrating some of his prior creative ventures.

TODAY: A clip from the dcTalk era that showcases some of his early poetry in combination with what I would have to classify as one of my personal favorite dcTalk songs, “The Hard Way.” Just as this post features a hybrid of Max’s creativity as a performer and a poet, “The Hardway” is a song that appealed to me at the time of its release specifically because of its articulate and meaningful portrayal of the dynamics of spiritual life: the grace and hope of God juxtaposed against the darkness and struggle of the world. Max’s body of work as a whole, with regard to the various vehicles he’s chosen to express himself through, but, also, in relation to the soul journey that he has continued to document honestly over the course of his career, continues to be a hybridization of pure light against the tangible backdrop of a dark world – a modern-day Caravaggio. He consistently keeps the conversation relevant for a segment of society that hears the call of the spirit, but, has been become jaded by the shortfalls of pop Christian culture. Despite the apparent odds, God can still work miracles through each of our own personal broken temples.

Read a bit about what I get out of the music and poetry of Kevin Max and check out the new project!

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Perspective: His vs. Ours

I’ve been reading through a year-long devotional written by Billy Graham on YouVersion and one notion that keeps showing up again and again in Graham’s commentary is the concept that our minds are finite while God is infinite. Our days are numbered, but, He is eternal. Our perspective and understanding of other people and events that happen all around us is limited, but, God is omniscient and, from His perspective, He sees and knows everything.

Too often in my life I’ve determined my position, in relation Jesus, in relation to my soul, and in relation to other people, based on my own personal perspective which, one moment, can be one way, but, a moment later, based on any of a number of variables out of my control, or even something as fickle as my mood,  can be completely different.

It wasn’t until I surrendered, after having everything in my life fall apart in a manner that I realized went far beyond anything I could ever repair, to the reality that my only hope begins in a God can that make sense of things that I can’t, that I truly found peace. But, to be able to surrender I had to exercise faith – a placement of trust in that which I can’t see. I had to trust that there is more to this world and this life than what I can see, hear, feel, taste, touch, and process with three pounds of gray matter in my skull.

Everybody has faith. The difference from one person to the next, though, is where each person places theirs. We either place our faith in our own understanding and ability to figure things out and make sense of the world around us or we place our faith in something bigger. For some, this might mean the ever-evolving knowledge of science in which the accepted scientific “truths” of today are turned upside down by the discoveries of tomorrow. For others, the trust that they place in something bigger might be in a form of religion or politics that places one race or group of people on a higher pedestal than another.

My faith is invested in the One who is Love (1John 4:8), the God of Jesus Christ who, while here in the flesh, taught, healed, served, and fed those in need and instructed his believers to, above all else, love God and to love others as themselves (Matthew 22:37-40). He did not come to judge and persecute. He didn’t come to mistreat those who didn’t understand or agree with Him. He came to love, serve, and save and He instructed His followers to do the same.

I am not the most articulate person when it comes to defending my faith by quoting scripture off the top of my head (I had to look up everything mentioned here for the proper scriptural references). I don’t think I posess the quick wit of a person who is apt to win a debate with somebody else they’re sitting across the table from, either. But, I realize and find comfort in the fact that I don’t have to be. My trust isn’t in my finite self, but, instead, is invested in He who is infinite.

“Father, although my finite mind cannot understand all the wonders of the Gospel, I thank You for the assurance of my salvation through Christ.”
-Billy Graham

“Whatever you think is love, whatever you think is peace, whatever you think is good, whatever you think is right, whatever you think He is, He is infinite.”
-Kevin Max

Other posts I’ve written related to the topic of God’s perspective vs. our own:

Randy Alcorn, Kevin Max, and Infinite Providence

In Our Lives: The Glorious Unfolding

Fear In The Face Of The Unknown

The View From The Valley

Here In This Moment, The Sun May Not Be Shining

A couple of great songs that celebrate God’s providence:

“Infinite” by Kevin Max – His new album, BROKEN TEMPLES, celebrates the fact that when we are broken, we are freed to find our peace in Him – the album is due 3/10 and available for pre-order through Pledge Music at http://www.pledgemusic.com/projects/kevinmax

“The Glorious Unfolding” by Steven Curtis Chapman – One of my favorite albums, now, specifically because so many of the lyrics on the album, including the title track, focus on this concept of faith in our God who can see so much more than we can.

The View From The Valley

Today I read the account of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead in the eleventh chapter of the gospel of John and gained a greater appreciation for the manner in which our schedule (as human beings with limited perspective) often fails to line up with God’s. Concerned and worried, Mary and Martha, friends of Jesus, sent word that their brother Lazarus was sick. But, when Jesus received the message, He responded in a manner that gave no sense of alarm or panic. Instead, He seemed to have a sense of peace with the situation, despite the fact that Lazarus and his sisters were close friends of his, saying instead, “This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it. (John 11:4). As verses five and six state, “Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. Yet when He heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was two more days.”
So, not only was He not alarmed or panicking, but, he didn’t even leave for Bethany until two days after he heard that Lazarus was sick. Having heard that He was finally coming, Martha went and met Jesus, who was still on his way, and declared, “Lord if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” But, upon arriving in Bethany, Jesus, sure as He was in what was yet to happen, was emotionally shaken by the mourning and grief evident in the friends and family of Lazarus. As John states in verse thirty-three, “When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come with her also weeping, He was deeply moved in His spirit and greatly troubled,” and it was then that Jesus asked them to take him to where Lazarus was buried and proceeded to raise him back to life.
I was struck by two main points while reading this passage this morning. First, we have a lot to gain if we can learn to trust God’s plan and His timing. We may not understand it all. It might make no sense. The dying loved one we’re praying for may not heal. The big job promotion we’re hoping for may not happen quick, or at all. But, sometimes it takes time for the growth that God knows we need to go through to happen.
But, I also learned that, while it is true that trusting Him during challenging times is, most certainly, critical, He is not unmoved by the trials that we face and the pain that we sometimes must endure in the midst of those trials. He is with us, more than ever, in the darkest moments. Whether we feel His presence or not, He knows that it is our choice to trust that He is there and that it is that choice we make, in faith, that provides the fertile soil out of which even stronger faith and the purest, eternal joy can be born, “for God’s glory.”

My Good Works

I can’t be sure if it is just the way my brain works or if it is the Holy Spirit trying to make a point, but, one thought that has been spiraling around in my brain for the past couple of days is that of giving credit where credit is due and how to give that credit because, if you know me personally, chances are that you are aware that I am not bashful when it comes to sharing the story of how my family and I have been blessed, so abundantly (if you’re not familiar, explore this thread of posts on my blog fo learn about it), since I had to pick myself up off the ground after caring for my Dad for sixteen months and then losing him to brain cancer in February of 2012. But, the truth is, I didn’t have to pick myself up off the ground. I couldn’t have. I was picked up. While reading the January 24th entry in the devotional written by the late Brennan Manning called Reflections For Ragamuffins this morning I was struck again, as I have been more than once lately, by the notion that I really and truly have nothing to brag about on my own. The day’s devotion starts with Manning noting the precious value of the direct advice Jesus gives as he speaks to those gathered, in what is commonly known as the sermon on the mount, about how they should view themselves and the world around them. But, Manning takes special interest in Matthew 5:3 when Christ said, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” As Manning explained:

To be poor in spirit means to cling to your impoverished humanity and to have nothing to brag about before God. Paul writes, “What do you have that you haven’t received; and if you have received it, why do you go about boasting as if you hadn’t received it?

If there is anything that you ever associate with me as being good, I can sincerely state that it has happened because of the grace of God – despite me. I have not and could not do anything worthwhile without Him, first, opening doors wide in front of me to walk through. On the other hand, if you ever see me failing, veering off course, or causing others frustration or pain, you can be sure that it is a result of me, in my ignorance, sewn to this human condition, having taken my eyes off of the only One who knows and freely gives real and abundant life to anyone who will accept it. But in the darkest period of my life when I hurt deeply, questioned everything, and had no answers, I hit the very bottom. And when I did it became coldly apparent to me that my only hope was in something I couldn’t see, hear, or even feel. But, because it – because He – was all I had, I held on desperately (in doing so, I trusted Him to hold me)  and the growth and change that has happened in my life and in my family in the three years since is difficult to adequately articulate with words. It most certainly wasn’t anything I accomplished. I was completely broken. But, thank God, “blessed are the poor in spirit.” Through Kevin Max I learned about The Hands & Feet Project and through the compassion of Hands & Feet Project director Mark Stuart, God’s grace blossomed and I will forever be grateful.

So, if you see me wearing a Hands & Feet Project or Haiti Made clothing item or posting a picture from Haiti or you hear me talking about a mission trip I went on, please know that I am simply and gratefully celebrating and trying to support the work that the Christ-focused organization does and the manner in which my life, and the lives of so many others have been blessed. There are long-term American missionary families that have completely uprooted from the U.S. and committed to serving full-time there and they have been serving those who Jesus referred to as “the least of these” for years. Why shouldn’t I tell others about their work and support them as it most certainly is God’s work (see James 1:27)?

Galatians 6:14

Galatians 6:14

Going Deeper

Featured Image -- 1767 Kevin Max‘s alternative approach was just the approach that I needed. His music, more often than not, knowingly leans away from that which would woo the center flow of this big river we’re all swimming in. But, not everybody is caught up in the surface flow of the main channel and the concessions that must be made to appeal to the largest demographic. Some prefer to go deeper.

There is something to be said for those who opt for the road less traveled and, yet, shine, “like a piece of gold from the mountainside…” Read my story here: Providence In The Shadow And A Pledge Of Allegiance To The Music And Poetry Of Kevin Max.

Providence (in spite of me)

I am a mountain that has seen the sun
Baking the escarpment broken open
By seismic shifts I had no defense for
Revealing light-less depths I’d never known

I’m a mountain that bore greenery from
Fertile hillside blessed by shaded rainfall
Balanced with ample sunlight to bring forth
Nature’s rich bounty spilling o’er the edge

From the west to the east and peak to ground
I rise up from valleys on every side
Equally akin to death’s deep shadow
As lush pastures of green by still waters

The breadth of my marked ascent is defined
Not by claiming to be a victim but
By recognizing the transparency
Through which He intended me to be

Identity revealed through my frailty
Humility through inability
Bore a mountain solid from within me
His blood covering every flaw you see

So let not my words cause you to stumble
Where I’ve been is not where I planned to be
But He who shaped each atom of the earth
Can mine precious gems from the abyss
To reflect His light for eternity