Friday, April 22, 2011

Book Review: "The Chasm" by Randy Alcorn

The small book has been sitting on my desk for a while, but I have failed to pick it up.  In the midst of a rather hectic week -- filled with Holy Week activities and work responsibilities -- I finally decided to pick up Randy Alcorn's The Chasm to have a time of leisure reading in the evenings.  It would have been impossible to find a better work to read while celebrating our Saviour's passion.  I have been tremendously blessed by the book and will definitely return to it again in the near future!

The Chasm is reminiscent of Pilgrim's Progress in my mind.  As the reader follows traveler along the Red Road, we become aware of the impact sins -- both public and private -- have had upon his life as well as others in his world.  Spiritual warfare and deception are shown with such powerful language that the reader quickly begins to think of the presence of such activity over his head at that very moment. 

As the work progresses, our sinfulness is clearly blamed for the divide between man and God.  In one of the most beautifully conceived allegories I have ever read, Alcorn examines our role in the suffering of the crucified Christ and the incredible love and provision demonstrated by Jesus' willing sacrifice at the cross.  Although I quickly became aware of the direction the story would move, I found myself engrossed in the details and crying because of the undeserved suffering of my Saviour for me.

I finished the book last night and have already passed it on to a friend.  My hope is to see a class developed in my local congregation using The Chasm as a jumping off point.  Of all the books I have read so far this year, this work has made the greatest impact upon me.  I pray that the story will not soon be forgotten as I continue my personal journey along the Red Road.

*I received this book for free from Waterbrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Knowing When It's Time to Make a Change

On Sunday evening, I watched "Masterclass" on Oprah's OWN network.  I rarely watch Oprah and will mark Sunday's late night viewing to insomnia, but I must admit that many of the things Oprah shared in her personal story sparked my thoughts and have stayed with me throughout the week.  The most powerful of these concepts has been the fact that she always knew when it was time to make a change.  I'm finding myself in the same boat.

In Oprah's story, she said that she consistently knew it was time to make a change when she found that her current situation no longer challenged her and she saw no room for further growth.  That is such a powerful statement to me!  Why would anyone ever choose to remain in a stagnet situation and cease to grow?  Personally, I love learning too much to stay put if I am not finding new challenges.  However, the challenges cannot simply be presented in an effort to keep me content in the situation;  the challenges must help me reach my ultimate goal.

It's no secret that I am ready for change.  I long for the day that I am able to stand on my own feet financially and pursue new challenges without the stress of balancing so many diverse jobs.  Still, I don't want to run into a new situation just to escape my present frustration.  This was probably the greatest revelation I came to on Sunday night.

As Oprah shared her story, she said that it was not until she was willing to surrender her plans to a Higher Power that opportunities began to come her way.  As I thought and prayed about this statement, I found myself surrendering my will and timetable to my Heavenly Father.  I know that His purpose is to give me hope and a future (Jeremiah 29:11), so I am choosing to relax and trust Him.  In His time, for His glory....

Friday, April 1, 2011

Looking for an Outlet

Last night, I got to sit around and just have a quiet conversation for the first time in a very long time.  It was quite overdue.  The conversation began with the typical discussion of my involvement in music and church.  Following a mild lull, I was asked what else I enjoyed doing.  When I had to pause and admit that I couldn't come up with much else I felt rather disturbed.  Is my life truly consumed with only my work and nothing else?  What do I do in order to find relaxation?

When pressed, I can come up with standard answers -- I read, watch television and go to the movies when I have a chance -- but the truth is that they don't really relax me.  Generally my reading is in preparation for a lecture or performance.  I rarely have the opportunity to take 3 hours away to go to a movie theater and I watch television when I'm crawling in bed late at night.  Don't misunderstand -- I love the fact that I am busy in my career and love the multi-faceted aspects of my musical life -- but I also know that I have to have some down time to renew myself.

So today, I finished up my last rehearsal of the week and set out for an evening of relaxation.  Rather than stressing out over trying to come up with a plan, I went with the tried and true technique of going to the Paradiso and saw "Lincoln Lawyer."  The movie was not what I was anticipating it would be from the trailers, but I really had a fun time with it.  Then I went to have dinner at Ciao Bella.  The chicken piccata was perfect -- light and savory.  Now I'm sitting at home and have put all the papers, application packets, and practicing aside for the night and plan to just catch my breath. 

What do you do when you need to recharge from a busy time?  What's your favorite outlet to plug into?  Share your tips......I may just steal a few of them and give them a try myself.