I guess I had more to say… I’m not a pile of crap.

2/13/17

I thought the last post would be my last. Turns out that I have more to say. The last post was written in pain and anguish. This, however, is written in joy.

A dear friend who I had not seen in some time told me recently that they were bewildered as to when “this” happened to me. It sort of made me giggle. Leaving the “faith” and the church is one of the best things to happen to me. But, this is for that dear friend.

To those who are believers, this may be your final straw for me. If so, I understand. I’ll give you a few minutes to say your goodbyes and unsubscribe.

I’m much more comfortable in my skin now than I was at the time I wrote the last post. I was trying to sort of say goodbye, to reassure folk, to please people and help them to not worry about me. I felt that I was betraying them.

But the truth is, cognitive dissonance is more dangerous than virtually anything that I can think of. I believe that many of us walk around with it and we’ve just learned to live with it. We’ve learned to simply accept brazen contradiction. We’ve allowed ourselves to compartmentalize and do mental gymnastics to no end.

For years, I had been coping with cognitive dissonance. I was tortured inside with conflicting ideas, thoughts, whatever…

So, how did this happen to me?

Well, I started paying attention to the cognitive dissonance.

What does that mean?

Year by year over the last decade, I found myself searching for harmony in logic. I’ve always adored studying apologetics. As I studied, I would try to pay attention to what would “click” and what would not.

If we’re all honest, we know that there’s things we *all* believe that, were we to examine them, and apply even just a bit of the socratic method to, they’d fall apart. We like to assure ourselves of our surety, but, it’s somewhat desperate.

Year by year, I found myself dismissing more and more of the scriptures. I would pick and choose what made sense in light of science and reason. Less and less would hold weight. To me, I found the Bible to be more and more of a mess.

But there was a sort of turning point. You know that sort of moment when you say something out loud and realize that it really means something to you.

Well, one morning, I woke up early and stumbled upon an article about this mom realizing how unbalanced her son’s views of prominent women were. He had complained that *all* of their books had girls as the main character. So, she had him get all of the books out, and they counted which ones really did. It was only about 27 out of 100.

She was fascinated by this. She did research and found that it’s a big cultural problem. Our minds are conditioned to see women, even if given an equal time share, as taking up *too* much time.

I reposted this article on my facebook page. On the way to work, a friend commented that he read it, and said something along the lines of, “I think the woman is misguided. God made us that way because men are supposed to lead the way.”

I was disgusted inside by the sentiment. I realized right then and there that I had to pick one or the other. I asked this fellow, “So, let me ask you, if science tells you that your faith or religion is wrong, shouldn’t you do away with a misguided belief once science has explained what is *actually* going on?”

He said no. Faith is faith, and always trumps science…

I know, his case is extreme. There are many, many folk of faith who DO NOT feel this way. I get that. But, you know very well that there’s a problem there.

Some atheists (you knew I was going to say the word eventually, didn’t you) like to use the phrase, “we go one god further. “The point is that, no matter what your faith, you are an atheist in regards to thousands of gods who’ve come before yours.

It’s worth questioning it all.

It was little moments like what I listed above that simply got the ball rolling. Moving outside of the religious/church community that we were living in gave me the permission that I needed to start tugging on the yarn.

The more that I pulled, the more it all fell apart in piles of logic.

I found myself realizing just how convenient all of my “faith” was. It was my upbringing and culture (as it is yours). It was always tailored to suit my needs. It always conveniently helped my find my car keys. I think you get the point.

Stepping back, I realized just how much of the Bible I had cherry picked. I see in a ton of the Emergent Church. They’re making their own god. It used to bug me, but now I see that I did as well. I tailored my god to suit my needs.

Right now, our culture needs a social justice working Jesus who won’t banish the LGBT crowd, who will defend refugees and oppose injustice. But, oddly, that same Jesus is being used by Trump’s supporters to back up other actions as well. Hell, Bannon, mr. White Power himself claims to have a personal relationship with Jesus.

I found it odd how much we can all use this book to defend what we want it to be.

I started giving myself permission to listen to podcasts and videos from secular humanists, atheists and the like. I found their questions to be quite profound.

One that got me thinking the most was that, if the God of the Bible, or even of the Q’ran really wanted us to know him, and know him well, was this really the best he could do? I mean, really, this was bleak? A book that is endlessly contested. Translations upon translations. Denominations galore… I mean, if YOU wanted to communicate your existence to people, wouldn’t you do better?

It terrified me at first, and took great courage to muster up the bravery to say, “I would do better.” I would also have made the moral questions a whole lot more clear.

Wait a minute… am I more moral than the god I grew up worshipping?

When I realized that even my 9-year-old could easily improve on the unclarity and morality of what is supposedly the proof that a god exists, I had to rethink things.

I may be offending you, but it was an honest question. God isn’t supposed to be the author of confusion. But pew to pew and corner church to corner church, YOU GET A DIFFERENT PICTURE OF WHAT IS SUPPOSEDLY THE SAME GOD. That’s NOT clarity.

It all fell apart the more questions I asked. Even exploring the historicity of it all, the origins of the idea of hell, and the outright mythical nature of the entire book.

I could go on and on. But, for those who’ve known me for years, I wasn’t “faking” it. I was trying so hard to please god. I was desperate to make him happy and do his will. I pushed past my conscience so often. But I hated myself so much… I hated me with a vengeance, I had to keep pushing to be better and get better.

But in the crowd, all telling you to keep pushing, keep trying to be “holy” it’s very, very hard to hear your inner voice saying, “Stop it! I can’t think! I can’t see straight!”

It’s amazing what we can do and give our lives to when we work together, both for good and bad. We are powerful as a species. I mean, we are amazing. We can create such magic and wonder… or destruction, pressure and doubt.

There’s an old friend of mine… actually, I’m not entirely sure I can call him that. You see, he was part of the church group we lived in for 11 years. But, he believed some weird, wacky stuff. He didn’t toe the party line like I did. He wasn’t a people pleaser like me. I would set aside reason and critical thinking to get approval. And boy, when you stop doing that, people sure notice.

But this fellow, he was a friend to me. I was not to him, however. I looked down on him for his odd ideas. On the same note, though, I loved his kindness and sincerity. He would look at you and see through you.

One evening I was actually enjoying some time with him, having a glass or two of wine together. He said something that occurred to me the day I finally admitted out loud that I no longer believed in the god of the Bible. He said something along the lines of, “John, I think that the end of all of this is atheism.”

I was shocked. (this was about 10 years ago) “What are you talking about?”

He laughed and replied, “I think that the culmination of all of our struggles with religion, belief and all of this, is atheism. We’re going to realize that it’s us. It’s been US all along. We, together, make this.”

What a bold claim. And from what I can see, it’s true.

You see, this supposed god had answered my prayers since I was a kid. Now, I was taught as a young one, as well as an adult as recently as a few years ago, that there was nothing good in me. If it was good, it came from a god. If there was beauty that anyone saw in me, it was the creator, and not the creation.

The end thought, that I still feel in my very skin, (and I’m sorry to be crude) is that I’m a piece of shit, and god is what is lovely. Sure, people will tell you that god loves you and such, but, in the end, they’re still teaching this idea that he really can’t stand who you *actually* are day to do, you need a blood sacrifice for that… for the *father* to be able to look at you without revulsion.

Now, you may bristle at this. “Not my god… no, that’s not Jesus.” But it’s a seething undercurrent in ALL of the theistic religions. We’re messed up to the core, and we need this other thing to save us. We long to be saved from ourselves and it’s so, so relieving to put the pressure on something else, to hope in something other than our desperate, ever evolving selves.

But, from what I can tell, it’s us.

It’s me. All those times that I came around and did the right thing… it was me. All of those times that we got through, it was us. Because we are beautiful and wonderful.

We ARE what we make ourselves.

I’m going to therapy now. It’s helping. We’re talking about deep seeded beliefs about ourselves. One that came up for me, right away, was believing that I’m *always* ruining the world for everyone around me.

But I don’t ruin things. Frankly, I love to make the world more fun and beautiful for everyone around me.

Quite frankly, I’m learning to look in the mirror, and actually smile a bit.

So, yes, in regards to faith, I am an atheist… and it’s been a longer time coming than I think I even know. All that means is that I don’t see proof that there’s a god of any sort behind all of this.

This is not my belief… Atheism has no tenants. It has no belief system.

As far as belief systems… I’m re-learning those. The ideas of Secular Humanism are helping and make a whole lot of sense to me. I’m trying to be slow to adopt any beliefs. The only real one that I have is that I am precious. YOU are precious. We are precious.

We are precious because of the value we put on ourselves and others.

Life has more meaning to me now that it ever has. Ever. This just might be the only day that I have. Each day, I get to ask myself, “How will you spend this day? What will you do with these, quite possibly, your only moments with breath?”

So, when someone messages me, or tells me, “I still see god in you.” More than anything, I find this to be offensive. Not because of your intent, your intent I’m sure is good, but because we aren’t acknowledging what we’re actually saying there.

We’re saying that god, or “good” hasn’t left you. You’re not a godless shell. But I’m more me now than I’ve ever been. And I patently reject the idea that if it’s beautiful in me, then it is otherworldly. No, what you’re seeing in me, is me. It’s the me that you loved. It’s what you’ve always seen in me, and in many cases, I’m finding “me” to be more amplified than ever.

I am actually starting to like and enjoy being me.

I’m not crap, and neither are you.

____________________________

In regards to the questions of faith, I didn’t get into those on purpose. If you want to question yours, which I actually do recommend EVERYONE doing here and there, there are plenty of places to start.  I’m not going to create a blog about those things. This blog has always been about life and loving life. I’d like to keep it that way.

If you have questions, fire away… I may or may not answer. If you get nasty, I will simply delete your comment and move on with my life.

Recommended reading –
On The Historicity of Jesus – Richard Carrier

The End of Faith – Sam Harris

Anything by Matt Dillahunty

A Universe out of Nothing – Lawrence Krauss

Winnie The Pooh – Milne (just seeing if you’re still reading)

Advertisements

Final Post – A matter of conscience

What do you do when it just stops? What do you do when you just can’t muster any energy to have faith anymore… to believe in something that you’ve devoted your life to?

I haven’t written on this blog for some time, and I believe that it’s indicative of just what I was going through for the last couple of years. A lot of people write about this after they’ve figured it out, or really solidified what they are. I thought it could be nice to say goodbye to this blog, and begin a new chapter.

Up front, I’m not an atheist. This isn’t that announcement. Sometimes, because of my incessant guilt and shame obsession, I wish I were.

Sometimes I really doubt a lot. But, I talk to God… at least, I think I do.

I don’t even know that I’m an agnostic. I don’t quite know what it is that you might want to label what I believe. But that’s actually kinda the point, I’ve grown weary with worrying about beliefs, and stuck in a rut of not living. But, I talk to God, all day… at least I think I do.

Sometimes it’s hard to know. But am I saying that to just make people feel better about where I’m at? Maybe. That’s another big part of the point.

I’m writing this because I don’t want to tell the same story over and over. I don’t want to explain myself over and over. In reality, I don’t have to explain myself to anyone, but there are people who have invested many years in my life, and I’m attempting to explain my heart in order to honor them. They matter. They know who they are. (and if they’re taking the time to read this, thank you)

What is happening to me is difficult to explain to those who’ve poured love, help and concern into the last 11 years of my life. I have been hesitant for fear of disappointing them. I adore them. They helped me through some of the toughest years I ever experienced.

For decades, however, as long as I can remember, I’ve believed myself a monster. It wasn’t a constant thing, but more like one of those core memories that shape the constant things. If it were in Inside Out, I’d have a Monster-Demon-Possessed-Island. I didn’t think about it all the time, but you know, it’s back there.

Mom and dad would have their church friends rebuke the “demons” in me. They always wanted to fix me. And I found great comfort in the structure of the children’s home that I lived in as an 11-15 year old.

Looking back, it seems that after that I sort of went from authority structure to authority structure, finding people to please and make happy. I learned to survive that way. Adapt and become what they really want you to be… that was my motto. But I didn’t know that.

I am no victim. If I am, I do not know who by. It’s just me, it’s mine. It’s the path I’ve been walking.

All the time that I’ve been walking my path I kept looking off into the distance, hoping that one day I wouldn’t be a monster anymore. I was hoping that one day I wouldn’t be the piece of crud that I believed myself to be.

People pleasing, blending in to someone else’s agenda, became the prime way that I fought my own self-hatred. If I was making them happy and becoming a good me, then I could feel good.

Again, no one made me do this… I thought I had to in order to survive. It’s mine.

If I’m honest with myself, I know that over the last two years I’d been becoming increasingly skeptical of the stories in the Bible. I was having a very difficult time enjoying fellowship with my church. I simply could hardly relate to it anymore.

In June, we did a concert at that same Children’s home I lived in so long ago, and that day something just clicked inside my head. I was driving down the road, listening to our Dragons EP, (which, by the way, is all about this… though I didn’t know it when I wrote it) and I just started bawling.

I’ve been believing a whole lot of lies about myself. I’m a grown man and I don’t have to be afraid of being who I am.

That may sound stupid to some, but not to me. To me, it was the most liberating thing I’d ever experienced. EVER.

That weekend I knew that we would move out on our own.

If there’s anything my friends of faith and godlessness alike have taught me, it’s that you have to obey your conscience. If you can’t do it, then you just can’t do it.

I realized that my conscience was so messed up. I had to move out on my own. I had to figure it out and start over. I knew that I was pretending to be something that I wasn’t. I knew that this wasn’t a matter of disagreement, but of heart, and my heart simply wasn’t in it anymore. No one had hurt us and no one made us do it. I simply wasn’t there anymore.

But when I moved out, something happened that I simply didn’t expect.

Every passion for my “faith” or “religion” stopped. Every urge, every desire, every obligatory bit of drive was just done. I wanted to hide in a hermit hole and be alone… but no, I wanted to play with my kids. I wanted to just be done.

It was gone… just, not there. Suddenly I found myself panicking going, “What the heck do I even believe about anything?!?” I was terrified that I’d made a huge mistake.

This subsided when I saw the conversations growing between my daughters and I. When I saw myself making decisions based on what was good for our family and not what my guilt or shame was dictating.

So a month or so ago, I gave myself permission to be officially done, at least for now. I gave myself permission to say, “I am not a Christian.”

But I’m not done, and I know it.

I’ve tried learning about atheism, zen, whatever… I’ve talked to people who’ve left the faith. I’ve tried to bolster it. I’ve got nothing.

I get up each day and talk to “God.” I ask, “What are we doing today?”

And in some ways, I’m happier than I’ve been in a very long time.

My guilt and shame addictions are non-existent for the most part. That’s a big deal. A life-crippling, emotionally paralyzing big deal.

The self-hatred has no place in my home. I won’t allow it anymore.

I’m teaching my kids that it’s okay to question anything you don’t see evidence for. I’m teaching us to be kind and merciful to each other as well as our neighbors. I’m teaching them that they don’t have to be afraid to be themselves when they walk through the streets… that, in fact, the world needs more colorful little girls who are unabashedly themselves.

The world also needs more dads who have their dad bods and aren’t afraid to play with princesses.

I don’t know where I’ll land. Honestly, I’m not worried about it. My faith was so desperately tied up, twisted into and weaved into my people pleasing that I couldn’t, in any way, distinguish the two.

I can’t sort these out while still in the middle. Imagine trying to untangle a ball of twisted up twine from the center out. It won’t work. Instead you have to be on the outside of it all to sift through it.

So, we’re simply restarting many aspects of life. We’re going to move across the state and begin anew. We’re going to dance in the moment, right here and now. We’re going to keep asking questions because, well, anyone who knows us knows that this is what we do.

We’re going to play and live today.

Now, to some, this may sound like many things. Even the act of writing this was excruciating. For the most part lately, I just feel calm and peaceful, but when the voices of what I *think* others will think get going in my head, it brings on a stress that’s like no other… and then I get dishonest.

I can’t debate this, it’s simply my experience and where I’m at.

I can’t sit around and be talked into anything by some random blogger or facebook user that reads this. It’s simply not where I’m at.

I’m going to take some time to live. Some may think that this is a loss, that we’ve lost faith, or that we’re giving up.

I will argue this. I feel more alive than I can remember feeling in quite some time. I’m not hanging anything up. I felt a song calling me away, and I just had to follow it and see where it led. Now I can’t look back. Our hearts simply aren’t there anymore.

It’s hard to not fear disappointing, or even angering those who’ve invested in us. It’s hard to even work up the language to describe the experience or the thoughts.

But… declaring to my friends that my conscience wouldn’t allow me to work against them and pretend to be one of them was one of the hardest and best decisions that I’ve ever made. But I’m glad I did it, and I’m so crazy excited to see what’s next.

My wife and I, (and even our kids for the most part) believe that in our case, we simply need to start new to figure out what we even want, and who we even are.

How often do you have a chance to ask yourself, “Is this my life?” and if it’s not, how often do you get a chance to start all over.

I think it’s worth asking ourselves this question each and every day, and live life today, here and now, playing along with the music.

We’re going to take this time to celebrate our family and dig in to see who we are and what beauty is there. And hopefully, we’ll get chances celebrate everyone in our path.

Oh, to live… it’s the greatest adventure.

 

Of disciples and powers – or – Give to Caesar?

I’m going to take a risk at rambling here. I haven’t written on this site in over a year, I think. But this weighs heavy on my heart, and I want to get some thoughts out.

Christians debate round and around about politics, government and morality. It’s heartbreaking. It’s like the Accuser has us at one another’s throats to cut each other down and rip one another apart with our opinions and ideas.

First, let’s look at the calling of the church. We are the sons and daughters of God, the descendants of the “seed” mentioned in Hebrews. That seed being Christ, the seed of Abraham that was said to be a blessing to *all* the nations of the world.

We are meant to be a blessing to all of the nations.

Can we be a blessing if we’re busy cutting each other apart? Can we be any help if we’re at each others throats so much about how the world should be behaving that all they see is division, anger and hatred?

No, we cannot. And we will not should we choose to persist in our behavior.

We are behaving as those who do not believe in our King who intercedes for us before the throne of God. We are behaving as animals out for mere survival, thinking only of temporal nations and not the everlasting rule of the One True King that will never, ever end.

I think it is genuinely essential, crucial for us to look at the teachings of the early church, those who were mere generations after the apostles who walked and talked with our Lord and Messsiah. What did they have to say?

Origen quoted a prophecy of Isaiah:

Who among the believers does not know the words in Isaiah? “In the last days the mountain of the Lord shall be revealed, and the house of the Lord on the top of the mountains, and it shall be exalted above the hills. All nations shall come to it. Many people shall go and say, ‘Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob, and he will teach us his way, and we will walk in it.” For out of Zion shall go forth a law, and a word of the Lord from Jerusalem. He shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people. They shall beat their swords into ploughshares, and their spears into pruning-hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation; neither shall they learn war any more [Isa. 1:2-5]. (Letter from Origen to Africanus 15)

The nations are not, at this moment coming to the House of the God of Jacob because we are so divided against one another. We are of this or that affiliation. We are on the left. We are on the right. We are of our opinion.

The church is meant to be a beacon of hope, light and life. They will see our love for one another and be amazed and say, “Look! See how they love each other? Let’s go and ask them how we should live!”

And our humble reply is to obey the master.

But no, they are not coming to us. I believe that part of this is because we are beating down their doors to force them into submission to a master they do not have any interest in serving.

Paul, in 1 Thessalonians tells us to make it our ambition to lead a quiet life and work hard with our hands, that the outside world will see our work and glorify God. We don’t give them time to see us work hard and with love because we’re too busy NOT minding our own business and caring for the kingdom of God.

In 1 Corinthians Paul tells us in no uncertain terms that we are not to spend our time judging and assessing the world and their ways, but to focus instead on one another in the church. That we should watch out that we do not behave as the pagans, or those who are not following the King do. He says that we would have no one to speak to if we insist on judging the world. That’s not our domain. No, ours is the church, the Kingdom.

We are a transcendent nation meant to go beyond any borders, tribe, tongue or political affiliation. We are not of this world. We are citizens of the king who have BEEN RANSOMED FROM THE VERY SYSTEM WE INSIST ON BEING PART OF AND PROPPING UP.

I’m no socialist, communist or capitalist. Though my earthly citizenship is in the U.S., I have to acknowledge that my King, the Christ, Jesus, ransomed me with His very blood to rescue me from thinking like this earthly nation. And not just this nation, every nation. One of the many things he has ransomed us from is the idea that the nations could ever fix it all.

The scriptures make clear that the nations and powers are tools of God. God uses them for his wrath and to carry out justice. But Jesus never allowed his disciples to take up this task. In fact, when Peter drew his sword to stand up for Jesus (the way we so often do day to day, thinking we need to defend the author of all life) he was disarmed and only made more glorious work for Jesus to carry out in healing.

Jesus had to heal the man Peter saw as an enemy of God. Peter had good intentions, the same as so many of us, and Jesus disarmed him despite those good intentions.

Can you see this scenario in our daily lives? We see so many as a threat to God and his morality. We draw swords and work hard to control the powers of this world. But when we play by their rules, drawing the sword (whether by word or deed) we only wind up cutting off ears and making more work for the Father to do despite our actions.

As far as participating in violence goes, there’s not room here for me to list the many, many writings from the early church fathers regarding this. They are clear. For some meaty lists, Christian History for Everyman or go here for another list that is even longer.

In my opinion, there’s no disputing what they had to say. They were clear. Those in the first 3 centuries of what we call Christianity were forbidden to participate in the violence of the powers.

Personally, I would go even farther to simply look at the example of Jesus himself. He and the disciples stood, walked and talked in the midst of one of the most horrid, debased empires. The debauchery around them was intense. And yet, you don’t hear Jesus speaking out against the governing powers of Rome. Instead, he focused on those who were trying to follow his heavenly Father.

He even stood before the powers, innocent and blameless, and subverted them by submitting to death. He overthrew them by being still rather than overthrowing them with the very tactics that they used day in and out.

Our King rules with a power that submits and subverts, overthrowing with love, rather than force. There are no laws against the calling of Christ to love one another. The powers cannot stop us.

He taught us to pay our taxes without complaint.

Paul and Peter taught us to pray for our rulers, regardless their sin. It should be noted that they did this during the time of Nero, a disgusting man who would light Christians up as torches to light his garden. He enjoyed our torture. Yet Paul and Peter were still there telling us to submit, as our Lord did. To pray and beg God for mercy and grace on them.

Christ, Paul, Peter, John… they all stood before the horrid authorities over them knowing full well that God is our defender.

The martyrs throughout the centuries faced the beasts and executioners knowing full well that God is our defender.

We, however, live in fear of a nation falling apart in immorality.

God is still our defender. And fear IS NOT A FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT. 

The difference I see between us and the early church is that we have a government that seemingly asks and requires our participation. Rome did not do this. America, however, permits us to have a voice.

Therefore, we really should do what we can.

But, this does not mean that we should behave as though we are fighting for America. We are not, and it is imperative that we DO NOT.

The Kingdom of the Living God is the goal. His kingdom is eternal and will have no end.

The nations of this world will, without doubt, pass away and no trace of them remain in the scope of the rule of our King.

Don’t be afraid. Set your eyes on Christ, the king. He will defend. He does not need us to pick up swords, whether physical, emotional or the swords of our tongues. He needs us to live, love and move in Him and Him alone.

Do we hide our heads in the sand? No. Speak up as you are given right to for *actual* injustice. But do so in the Spirit of our King, not on the basis of opinion.

Our opinions and mindsets cannot be fueled by the talking heads of our age. We cannot allow the church to be shaped and molded and manipulated by Spirit of the age that keeps us fighting. The fighting and bickering is their culture, and not ours. 

We were never told that the world would know us because we fight, argue and scream louder. No, they will know us by our love. Our minds must be renewed to not get entangled with their logic that the cross has turned into foolishness.

Yes, the cross has turned their culture and political wars into foolishness.

We have to give ourselves over to this truth, the cross is foolishness to the wise of this world. Our minds must be given over to THE WAY of Christ to be renewed and saved from thinking about ruling the world the way the powers, people and cultures who war against one another.

There is no power that can go to war against the love presented in the Cross.

There is no power that can prevail against it.

If, however, we spend our time listening to the logic of the world rather than the teaching and instruction of our master, we will fall into the trap of compartmentalizing our faith. What we do is call ourselves Christians, but neglect to let the love and clear teaching of Jesus guide our actions, mindsets and even our voting.

Instead of weighing who to vote for or what causes is just against ideologies like Capitalism or Socialism, we should be weighing all things against the living, breathing WORD of God who walks and talks with his Church.

If we do not weigh all things this way, the cross, when presented, will look like nonsense. We will scoff at loving actions because they do not line up with our ideologies.

Make no mistake, the way of Christ, His love and self sacrifice *is* a threat to every power because, in the end, it will undermine all of them. But, if *all* submit to the Way, then the powers have nothing to do. The systems break down. The poor are cared for and the rich are generous.

Sure, the thought of those last few statements may make some bristle, but it *is* the picture painted by the scriptures, and it is the heart of God that all of his children live together, in harmony and generosity.

We are meant to be the salt of the earth. We are meant to be the Body of the Living Christ.

May we all ask ourselves, every morning and night, “Father, how is my mind overpowered by the culture around me? Teach me, loving Father to think like you think. Teach us to love as you love. Teach us to see what you see. Teach us, blessed King, teach us how to live.”

TOMORROWLAND, DESPAIR AND THE DISPOSABLE EARTH – OR – GIVING HOPE JUST ISN’T PROFITABLE

tomorrowland-trailer-analisi-75This is the sort of post that I used to post over here.

I saw this film with my kids the other night, and I absolutely loved it. There’s so many things about it to discuss… but, I wrote about it on my parenting/media blog.

Come over and take a look!

27 Seconds

How disheartened I was to find out that I had misquoted one of my favorite movies and solidified it on a recording.

I had this thought about a scene in Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium. It’s a wonderful scene where Molly is trying to show Mr. Magorium that he has much to live for. They’re in a clock shop, setting up all of the clocks in order to hear them all chime at one time.

You see, at this point in the film there’s a comment made about 37 seconds of time… I had always thought it was 27 seconds, so when I looked up the quote as I was writing a song, I googled 27 seconds, but apparently others have misquoted this as well… so I fed off of their misquote and immortalized it in my song… oh well, right?

Mr. Magorium: 37 seconds.
Molly Mahoney: Great. Well done. Now we wait.
Mr. Edward Magorium: No. We breathe. We pulse. We regenerate. Our hearts beat. Our minds create. Our souls ingest. 37 seconds, well used, is a lifetime.”

And it’s true. That moment always shook me. I’m an incessant worrier. I’m a worrying junkie. I have to get a fix. But one of the most oft ignored commands of Christ is to *not worry.* And yet, it’s the hardest one for me.

I believe that if I’m honest with myself, I love having the stress there as my excuse to have vices, as an excuse to escape and be selfish. Maybe that’s harsh, but I find it valid. There are valid reasons for stress, I’m not criticizing that, I’m merely saying that a lot of times we totally miss the beauty in front of us due to our worry and fretting.

We’re meant to be like Christ, to find him in every face, every moment… instead, we often seek comfort and pleasure, trying to escape our worry. We worry about finding ways to escape our worry.

So, I want to give you this song as a Christmas present. This is probably just about my favorite song I’ve ever gotten to bring to life… may you see the presents in front of you. May you see Christ in every moment, and find who to kneel down and wash. In my life, it’s often been my friends, kids; the people right there in front of me.

I used to pine for big ministries, but now, I see that my ministry is this minute. The small things that can give the world around us hope and life.

Merry Christmas.

In our weakness

Sometimes we need to outright declare, to tell the heavens that LIFE, LIFE with capital letters, will have its way. Life, the living breathing Word of God. The Logos. *THE* Truth with a capital T. It is going to set things right, and we get to join in. So, I wrote this song with a few friends in mind… some of them are embattled in the trenches of cancer and sickness. But they’re still crying out to the Father. They’re still clinging to the hope and truth that is, and always will be. _________________________

life takes over the sun in it cracks through the clouds to dry the sweat on our backs A breeze it blows to refresh and to revive we can’t keep this joy inside   Life takes over and the concrete breaks with flowers blooming that erase the hate of the daily life, and all its strife the mundane is swallowed by joy   life takes over bursting from the ground no death can keep the Father’s chosen down No bitter cold – nor getting old can keep us from singing these songs of old   We will sing Your praises in our weakness And we will sing Your praises in our strength   Life takes over hear the heavens sing They see through the lives of pain That the kingdom comes Hear their message as it echoes across the plains   life takes over bursting from the ground no death can keep the Father’s chosen down No bitter cold – nor getting old can keep us from singing these songs of old We will sing Your praises in our weakness And we will sing Your praises in our strength We will sing Your praises from our sick beds We will sing Your praises in our strength   We will sing Your praises in our weakness And we will sing Your praises in our strength

broken things

photo by Nichole Park Photography

photo by Nichole Park Photography, http://goo.gl/u7JJ90

I had a wonderful thing happen the other day, seriously, a heart-wrenching God-send.

I’m working on these songs, grappling with what I feel they’re saying to me. This may sound neurotic, but once I’ve gotten them out, it’s like a birth… they’re now their own separate thing and I have to honor whatever those emotions were trying to say.

In turn, the songs also have to honor what I’m trying to say. This is the first time I’ve genuinely had an overarching theme that is complete and concise. It makes me so glad. In the end, these songs are saying to me the things that I’ve been needing to hear. I’m getting a chance to write an album of songs that *I* want to listen to and spend time with God in.

Some of the songs get kicked out, because they’re not talking about what I’m wanting to convey… so they have to go, or wait for some other time before they get to exist.

Wednesday night I was driving to Memphis with my wife. She drove so I could write. (very kind of her) I wanted to listen to some of the songs that didn’t yet have lyrics. I pulled up one that I hadn’t messed with in a good 6 months, and to my surprise, I had already written lyrics.

I had completely forgotten. A while back, in a night of sadness I was praying and just trying to find the sorrowful feeling I was having inside… I had forgotten that there was a whole song that gushed out and I had recorded it really fast as a rough draft so that I wouldn’t forget it.

I cried. It really ministered to me the other day.

You see, we’re broken. We’re all broken. We all try to spend so much time pretending that we’re not but we are. The good news is that there’s a God who absolutely adores the broken things. He longs for our company… and in his presence, but by bit, he makes us whole.

Sometimes I’m amazed at the words that the Father will send us in our messes. He speaks so kindly, and his kindness certainly brings us to repentance.

____________________________

Broken Things

clear my mind – tell my soul to be still
So I can hear You whisper in the middle of my noise
Tell my waves to be still
be still

I just don’t get you sometimes
I see you sleeping in the boat when I’m terrified
Tell my waves to be still
be still

God of my anxiety
Lord of my rest
Author of my being
Messiah, saviour of all these broken things

We just don’t get it
We probably never will
Your perfection doesn’t make much sense to our minds
We argue about you all the time

We want to prove to you that we know what to do
But when we try we only prove that the opposite is true
We argue about it all the time

God of our anxiety
Lord of our rest
Author of our being
Messiah, saviour of all these broken things

Let us learn to let go of the ruins we call home