Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Song of the Redeemed

I've been experimenting with some audio editing recently, and figured that I would attempt a decent recording of one of my songs that I wrote last spring. Enjoy!

Song of the Redeemed by benwulpi

Tuesday, October 18, 2011


The other day I was listening to Spotify radio, and the song "Healer" by Hillsong United came on. I'm actually a fan of this song, mostly because of the journey it has taken me on since I first heard it. The song was written and performed by a man named Mike Gugleilmucci, who had recently been diagnosed with cancer. He sang this song that hailed the Lord as the ultimate Healer with such passion and abandonment, that it was really inspiring. To see this man potentially dying of cancer, singing his heart out in a song of trust and praise to his God in the midst of these circumstances, was truly something holy. Check out the video below and see for yourself:

But as it turns out, the whole circumstance was a lie. Gugleilmucci had lied to everyone (including his own family) about having terminal cancer in order to cover up his addiction to pornography (don't ask me how that works).

It's easy to feel duped, and feel like this guy betrayed all of us who got so much inspiration from his story. I find myself wondering, If the inspiration was founded upon a lie, can any of it be true? Can God still use this lie to speak into people's lives? 

The answer to those questions is, of course, yes. The Lord quickly reminds me that I am not much different. My sins may not be as public or controversial as this guy's, but they are sins that keep me from the Lord nonetheless. But how many times have I seen the Lord work through me, despite me? How many times have I seen the Lord use me for His Kingdom, even when I was caught in sin?

And this is the miracle of the Kingdom of God--that somehow, the Lord uses broken and sinful people for His Kingdom's sake. That the pure and unadulterated holiness of the Lord can be seen in wicked, unclean people. I'm reminded of Isaiah crying out "Woe is me! For I am a man of unclean lips...and my eyes have seen the King, the LORD Almighty!" And then the angel touches the coal to his lips and cleanses him, in order that he might be sent out.

We are an unclean people made clean for the sake of the Lord's work. Truly the Lord IS the great Healer, the One who takes our brokenness and ugliness and turns it into something beautiful, for His sake. And truly we can praise Him for this, lifting up our voices along with all the other sinners and saints that are called the Bride of Christ.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

A God made Weak

Not every wise man has known foolishness.
Not every strong man has known weakness.
Not every rich man has known poverty.
But He,
the all-wise,
the all-powerful,
the all wealthy—
He has known weakness.
He has known poverty and shame.
And he has known a foolishness that shames the wisdom of this world.
For though He was rich, for our sake He became poor,
That by His poverty we might become rich.
(2 Corinthians 8:9)

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

On Desperate Prayer

‘When I write that my own situation [during my illness] in those months of pain and decision can be described as prayer, I do not only recall that during that time I sometimes read the Psalms and they became my psalms, or that, as I have also mentioned, I occasionally cried “Jesus” and that name was my prayer, but I mean that I also at times would shout “Fuck!” and that was no obscenity, but a most earnest prayerful utterance.’
—William Stringfellow, A Second Birthday, 108-9.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Ecce Homo

“Behold the man!” shouts Pilate to the crowds gathered round. He emerges before the mob, barely able to walk after being scourged, beaten, and spit upon, a crown of thorns thrust into his scalp and a purple robe thrown upon his shoulders in mockery. He stands before the crowd, bruised and bloody, and his silence is pathetic. The crowd lifts up their voices in unison at the sight of the man, crying “Crucify him!” Behold this man, a king of the Jews, standing before his people in shame, mocked by the very people he has come to save.

Behold the man, as a heavy cross is forced on his shoulders, the weight of our sin to bear.  He stumbles and falls several times under the load, his strength dried up through the beating and scourging. Behold him as he climbs to the place of the Skull, the hill that waits to receive his offering of blood and water. Behold the man, the Messiah who has come to save the world, but cannot even save himself.

Behold the man, lifted high upon the cross at the top of that hill. As he slowly suffocates under the weight of his own body hanging from nails, he hears the shouts of derision coming from the soldiers below him and the criminals beside him. Behold him upon the cross, who is mockingly identified as “The King of the Jews” by the sign above him, as he slowly and painfully enters the darkness of death.

And behold the man, as he cries out with a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?”, quoting the ancient psalm of suffering as he takes the suffering of all of the world upon himself. And behold, as he breathes his last, and darkness covers over the land, and the curtain of the temple is torn in two. As the centurion standing guard beheld this, he proclaimed “Truly this man was the son of God!”

Yes, behold the man, the Son of God, the sacrificial Lamb who was slain for the sins of the world, who with the giving up of his spirit proclaims to us that, now and forever, “It is finished.”

Come and behold the Man, the King of kings and the Lord of lords, the One by which all the heavens and the earth were made, the manifestation of the fullness of God Almighty, as He is crucified for our sins. Behold him, as the work he has done is for the salvation of the world. Behold him, as your sins are laid upon him, and you are washed white as snow.

Behold. This is your salvation. 

Friday, April 8, 2011

On Counting the Cost

To take his yoke upon us means that we are content
That he appoint us our place and our work,
And that he himself be our reward.

Christ has many services to be done:
Some are easy, others are difficult;
Some bring honor, others bring reproach;
Some are suitable to our natural inclinations and material interests,
Others are contrary to both.
In some ways we may please Christ and please ourselves;
In other we cannot please Christ except by denying ourselves.
Yet the power to do all things is given us in Christ, who strengthens us.

Therefore let us make this covenant with God our own,
Trusting in the eternal promises and relying on divine grace.

--John Wesley, Methodist Covenant Service

Friday, March 18, 2011

An Incarnated Thirst

"O come to the Fountain all you who are thirsty." (Isaiah 55:1)

"We must begin with the beginning: you. As a human being, a spirit-in-the-flesh, you are a thirst (noun, not an adjective). Every single choice you make all day long is proof that you seek, you desire, you want, you lack. Nothing is ever enough. You always want more of delightful experiences, and when the same experiences begin to wear thin and bore you, you seek new ones as well as heightened intensities of the old. You are engaged in an endless whirl. Always you seek, desire, want, lack. Furthermore, you may have noticed that even after the most thrilling experiences (a success, a vacation, a party, a date, a dance), when you are quiet and alone, you perceive deep down a small voice saying, "Is this all there is?" Nothing is enough: not praise, not success, not youth, not love. You are a thirst in the flesh, an incarnated thirst. You yearn for endless beauty and joy, endless love and delight, endless security and happiness--and an immortality in which to enjoy it all. You cannot help being an incarnated thirst. Nor can I. We were born that way and we will die that way. We may differ in how we seek to slake our thirst. Some go up blind alleys. Others go to the Fountain. But all seek."
--Thomas Dubay, "...And You Are Christ's": The Charism of Virginity and the Celibate Life


Monday, March 14, 2011

On Fasting

Not a totally irrelephant picture.


Not a sensation I'm used to feeling. I'm used to being able to access food whenever I want to--to satisfy the craving within minutes, and feel contentment again. Food has never been a resource for which I've been wanting. And it's never something that I've not enjoyed. I love food, and I really enjoy eating. I do believe that delicious food is one of God's gifts to man, and the fact that we can find pleasure through our taste buds, while at the same time fulfilling this basic human need, is no accident.

So why do we fast? Why would God ask us (and expect us![Mark 2:20]) to intentionally go without food? Fasting is a religious practice that dates back way before Jesus' time, and has always been expected as a discipline for people who follow the Lord. This is something that I have never really understood, my tradition being one that didn't really emphasize this spiritual discipline, but also because I tended to be actively against it, for reasons stated above and for the fact that it seems to be earning our favor in God's eyes through our works, showing God how good and holy we are.

But what I've learned (so far) in fasting is that it can be a real blessing on our lives, for multiple reasons and benefits. Here are a few of them that I can think of:

1) To highlight our weakness - By intentionally causing our bodies to suffer, we can come to a greater realization of our dependence on the Lord, to know in our weakness that truly we are dust, and to dust we shall return. To know the limitations of our own flesh in light of the great power of the Lord by His Spirit is a profound thing, and one that teaches us and shapes our worldview more and more to be dependent on the Lord. When we highlight our weakness, it's easier to see God's strength, and we may more easily pray with John, "He must increase, but I must decrease" (John 3:30).

2) To seek the Lord - In this special season of Lent that is set aside to seek the Lord, fasting is a regular practice. Fasting is something that is put in place to remove obstacles that might otherwise hinder us from seeking the Lord. And when we seek the Lord while we are surrounded by our own weakness, it opens up a lot more opportunity for His strength to shine through, and sharpens our focus on Him. Think about a time when you were underwater for too long, whether someone was holding you under or you were stuck. When you start to feel the pressure on your lungs, desperate for air, your heart starts to beat faster and your mind begins to panic, and all your focus and energies are driving you toward one thing--air. Your entire body and mind, focused on one goal, will do anything it can to give itself air. It's kind of like that in fasting. When we suffer, our energies can be focused, and our senses heightened, and we use that to our advantage in seeking the Lord.

3) To gain mastery over our flesh - It's funny how exercising some self-control can make you realize how out-of-control your life sometimes is. When I fast from food, I realize just how unnecessary my constant snacking between meals is, and how superfluous is the amount of food I eat at dinner to what my body actually needs.  When I fast from media, I realize just how much time I spend on Facebook, or how much time I use up to watch movies, reminding me that my time is not my own. Through this fasting, I realize just how much these things tend to dominate my life, how much my life is directed by giving in to every little desire and whim, like a horse being led about by its bridle. And through fasting, I slowly get better at directing myself, of choosing to use my time and my body for the things of God, rather than for the desires of my flesh. Yes, I still fall and give in, and probably still will for a very long time. I'm stuck with this tent of flesh for the rest of my life, and my sinful nature will continue to hound me until the Lord takes me. But I want to give my life over in obedience to the Lord, rather than my flesh. I choose to make the energies of my life directed towards what the Lord will have me do. And this choice requires some training in overcoming the natural inclinations of my flesh. Fasting is a big part of our training for this, and it helps us to gain control over our flesh and settle the chaos of giving in to every desire.

4) Learning to die to self - "If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul?" (Matthew 16:24-26). The more we die to our old selves, the more we allow the new creation that has been proclaimed by Christ through His resurrection to transform us. All of these points really come down to this. We are a new creation, and we are not to be bound by the desires of our old, flesh-driven lives.

These are still things I'm learning and trying to put into practice. Oftentimes I fail. I'm actually really bad at all this, but I'm learning. And I think I'm getting better at it. And I'm realizing that it can only be done with the Lord's help. We ask Him to purify us, so that we can present a our lives as an offering to Him, pure and undefiled. Not that He won't accept any other offering other than one that is totally pure (if so, He wouldn't receive much, at least not from me). But the Lord calls us to live lives that are holy and set apart for Him. This holiness is our offering, a thank offering in response to His great work in our lives. By striving for holy lives, we may, like Christ, be a "fragrant offering and sacrifice to God" (Eph. 5:2). Amen, may it be so Lord.

Friday, March 4, 2011

On Kingdom Ecumenism

Check out this great post by Halden on what real ecumenism means. I loved it, and I think he's spot on in pointing out our common misconceptions about what ecumenism is and what it should be. Living ecumenically is not about compromising our beliefs in order to not step on anyone's toes, but it's about living in the Spirit and living with radical acceptance of each other, knowing that that which binds us is so much greater than that which divides us.

I've been blessed to experience this kind of ecumenism this year in Ann Arbor. I've absolutely loved fellowshipping with my Orthodox and Catholic brothers and sisters. Before this year, I never even knew anyone who was Catholic or Orthodox, and now I can say that I have good friends (but even more so, brothers and sisters) who fit into those categories. And I've written about this before, but I think it's worth mentioning again, that this is something beautiful. This is our glimpse of the Kingdom of God breaking into this world. And it is only possible by the working of the living God through the Holy Spirit, who alone brings unity.  Unity is something I'm very passionate about, and am blessed to be participating in a community that really strives for it in a real way.

Check out the lyrics from this classic Christian hymn, Blessed Be the Tie that Binds:

Blest be the tie that binds
Our hearts in Christian love;
The fellowship of kindred minds
Is like to that above.

Before our Father’s throne
We pour our ardent prayers;
Our fears, our hopes, our aims are one
Our comforts and our cares.

We share each other’s woes,
Our mutual burdens bear;
And often for each other flows
The sympathizing tear.

When we asunder part,
It gives us inward pain;
But we shall still be joined in heart,
And hope to meet again.

This glorious hope revives
Our courage by the way;
While each in expectation lives,
And longs to see the day.

From sorrow, toil and pain,
And sin, we shall be free,
And perfect love and friendship reign
Through all eternity.

Through all eternity we will dwell with the Lord in unity. We have the incredible opportunity to begin this now. Let's go for it. 

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

A Kingdom that Cannot Be Shaken

"See that you do not refuse the one who is speaking; for if they did not escape when they refused the one who warned them on earth, how much less will we escape if we reject the one who warns from heaven! At that time his voice shook the earth; but now he has promised, 'Yet once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heaven.' This phrase, 'Yet once more,' indicates the removal of what is shaken--that is, created things--so that what cannot be shaken may remain. Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us give thanks, by which we offer to God an acceptable worship with reverence and awe; for indeed our God is a consuming fire."
Hebrews 12:25-29

We who know the salvation of Jesus Christ have inherited His Kingdom. This Kingdom is in clear contrast, and often in direct opposition to, the "kingdoms" of this world. We have received this inheritance now, but still await its full coming. It dwells among and within us now, but it is coming as an unshakable force that will shake up all the things of this earth and reveal their weaknesses, and revealing the uncompromising truth that "the old has gone, and the new has come." In this, we find the truth that God is making all things new. This Kingdom is near, it is here, and it is coming soon.

And as those who await the coming of the Kingdom, we have the choice every day to live within it. To choose to live in the Kingdom that is unshakable, rather than in the kingdoms of this world that are so easily shaken, daily passing away. We must choose to live firmly rooted and founded in this Kingdom, which is a more solid foundation than anything else we will find, rather than trying to set our foundations on the things of this world which are passing away.

Are you rooted in the things of this world? Are you investing yourself in the things of this world? Or are you investing in the Kingdom of God?

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Songwriting and Blessings

One real blessing that I've been able to experience this year has been in songwriting. I made it one of my (many) goals at the beginning of the year that I wanted to start trying to write songs. So far I've written five this year. Each time the process seems to be a bit different. Sometimes it takes about 45 minutes before a full song is produced. Other times I get a solid beginning and then wait a few days to come back to it. Mostly I've just been experimenting with different ways to write and worship through song. It's been a great blessing to my prayer life to worship through the creativity that the Lord has blessed me with.

One example is a song I wrote a couple months ago called Psalm 85. With this one, it began mostly as simply an experiment in songwriting for me. I found a riff that I really liked, and decided to make it into a song. So I just opened up to the Psalms and found number 85 and started working with it. So lyrically, it wasn't so much inspired, but I figured that since it's Scripture, it's already inspired, so...there you go. But it's turned out to be one of my favorites of what I've written so far. Sorry the quality is pretty crappy, but check it out:

 Psalm 85 (Restore Us Again) by benwulpi

Feel free to check out my other works at my SoundCloud page. I'd love to hear people's thoughts on them. Hopefully some of them will get used in corporate worship someday soon.

For the praise of His glory,


Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Citizens of Heaven

"For Christians are not distinguished from the rest of humanity by country, language, or custom. For nowhere do they live in cities of their own, nor do they speak some unusual dialect, nor do they practice an eccentric way of life. This teaching of theirs has not been discovered by the thought and reflection of ingenious people, nor do they promote any human doctrine, as some do. 
"But while they live in both Greek and barbarian cities, as each one's lot was cast, and follow the local customs in dress and food and other aspects of life, at the same time they demonstrate the remarkable and admittedly unusual character of their own citizenship. They live in their own countries, but only as non-residents; they participate in everything as citizens, and endure everything as foreigners. Every foreign country is their fatherland, and ever fatherland is foreign.
"They marry like everyone else, and have children, but they do not expose their offspring. They share their food but not their wives. They are in the flesh, but they do not live according to the flesh. They live on earth, but their citizenship is in heaven. They obey the established laws; indeed in their private lives they transcend the laws. They love everyone, and by everyone they are persecuted." 
Selection from The Letter of Diognetus (2nd century A.D.)

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Don't Waste Your Inheritance

I do not cease to give thanks for you as I remember you in my prayers. I pray that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation as you come to know Him, so that, with the eyes of your heart enlightened, you may know what is the hope to which He has called you, what are the riches of His glorious inheritance among the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of His power for us who believe, according to the working of His great power. 
Ephesians 1:16-19

If you truly knew the hope to which you have been called,
you would not despair.
You would not lose your cool over menial issues.
You would not be content with living a mundane life.

If you truly knew the glorious inheritance you have been given,
you would not squander it on the things of this world.
You would not waste your time on video games or Facebook or blogs.
You would not be satisfied with using this inheritance
for anything less than the glory of the One who gave it to you.

If you truly knew the Love that was the driving force behind all of this,
you would not look in the mirror and be disappointed in what you see.
You would not hate your fellow man who has been shown this same Love.
You would not waste another moment not telling everyone around you of this Love.

May your heart be enlightened, may you be given a spirit of wisdom and revelation, in order that you might not squander your great inheritance.

Friday, December 31, 2010

On Martyrdom

"Even though there may be no occasion for persecution, peace has its own martyrdom. For even if we do not actually place our necks beneath the steel, we inwardly slay our carnal desires with the sword of the Spirit."
-Gregory the Great

Martyrdom is both a daily act of all believers, and a final act that many of us will commit as a witness to the power of the Gospel for the glory of God. Martyrdom, which comes from the Greek word for "witness," requires that we daily pick up our cross in order to follow Christ (Luke 9:23, Mark 8:34, Matthew 10:38-39). It requires daily laying our life down before the Lord, choosing to love and serve Him more than we love and serve our own interests. 

Martyrdom is an act of witness. In the book of Acts, Stephen, the first disciple killed for the Gospel, is called a witness to Jesus. Martyrdom is a witness to the world that the love of Christ is greater than the love of one's own life. Maybe many of us will not get the chance to be a witness in death, but how can we be a witness to God's love through our daily lives? If, for you, the love of Christ is greater than the love of your own life, than this will be reflected in how you spend your time, how you interact with other people, and how you put the priorities of Jesus above your own. We are actually laying our own lives down for the sake of Him who is our life (Colossians 3:4). 

Martyrdom is an act of warfare. In Revelation 12:11, it is said that the martyrs have conquered Satan "by the blood of the Lamb and the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death." And it was Jesus who was the initial conquer, winning the victory by the shedding of His blood. Martyrdom in our daily lives includes the resisting of temptation, putting aside sinful or distracting pleasures, and facing our fears. This is why 1 Peter 4:1 says, "Since therefore Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves with the same way of thinking, for whoever has suffered in the flesh has finished with sin." In this daily fight against sin and Satan, the laying down of our lives before the Lord is our main weapon to fight the powers of evil. It can be pretty counterintuitive, but in this great war against our enemy the Devil, we find victory by surrendering ourselves to the One who has already claimed victory. 

Martyrdom is an act of love. John 15:13 says "Greater love has no man than this, that he lay down his life for his friends." Not much more needs to be said than that. 

In Luke's account of the teaching, Jesus says that we must daily pick up our cross and follow after Him. Daily we must be willing to lay down our lives, allowing the Spirit to crucify the sinful nature within us, in order that we may be daily raised to new life in Christ. But please don't attempt to rely fully on the Spirit to do all this for you. It's going to require work on your part. And it's not going to be easy, or pleasant, much like physical martyrdom. But this is the life that Jesus has called us to--daily. What areas of your life do you need to lay down and bring to the cross to be crucified? 

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Magnanimity and Pride

Yesterday’s meditation at the Servants of the Word Christmas retreat was on magnanimity. While that’s an interesting word to say, it’s even more of an interesting concept to ponder. The idea is summed up in the phrase “Expecting great things from God; Attempting great things for God.” Magnanimity is defined in the meditation as such: “The virtue that aspires to do great things that bring great glory. It is the virtue that aims at things that are great in and of themselves.”

Magnanimity is not about vain glory seeking, but about seeking glory for the Lord and for His people. “Magnanimity makes a man deem himself worthy of great things in consideration of the gifts he holds from God.” It involves recognition of our high calling, which is a gift from God (1 Cor. 2:12). Inherent in a spirit of magnanimity is an eschewing of mediocrity, as well as an opposition to presumption, ambition, vainglory, and faint-heartedness.

It is the tension between magnanimity for God’s glory and for my own glory that I struggle with. Oftentimes I find myself wrestling with my motives prior to an action, whether I’m doing it for the sake of the glory of the Lord, or if I’m doing it for my own glory, my own recognition and honor and respect from other people. And oftentimes my struggles and back-and-forth in my mind only leads me to inaction—I’ll end up doing nothing.

If I am to truly attempt great things for the Lord, I cannot let these struggles keep me from action. There are things that I want to do, that I’m pretty sure will bring glory to God and benefit His people, but there is a sneaking suspicion that I’m only doing it for my own selfish glory, so I don’t end up doing it. It’s as if a fear of my own pride is paralyzing me. Although I think my intention in guarding against my pride is good, there comes a point where I need to just do something, and let the Lord sort out my motives in my heart later. After all, the glory of the Lord lasts forever, while my pride is passing away as the grass of the field, and my heart is being redeemed day by day, and one Day will be completely made new and holy, praise be to God.

“The glory of God is a human fully alive,” said Iranaeus, the 2nd century Church father. Truly living, living magnanimously, doing great things for the Lord, requires getting up off our behinds and moving forward without fear. For if Jesus Christ has truly redeemed us, and is redeeming us day by day, then sin, and the fear of sin, is far outweighed by the great things we can do for the Lord.

Are you expecting great things from the Lord? Are you attempting great things for the Lord? What is keeping you from this?