“Where are your accusers? Are there any left?”
“Then neither do I accuse you.”
I have the luxury that not too many time on my news feed do political things come up. However, the do come up. I can’t help but laugh at the slogan “not my president” like an individual needs a president, instead of that which it truly is, a country receives a president. I can’t help but notice the venom of not getting everything “my way”.
I’m surprised how many people have fallen in line with this. Surely there’s other ways to reasonably express the same thing. So much time spent on something so disliked. …and why? What difference will it make in the end?
What happened to be the change you want to see? Or is hate a hot seller right now? I wonder: How do we not become the thing we hate?
It’s not just about politics. It’s actual life and character that are at stake daily. I ask myself this questions not because of politics or news feed propaganda, but because I’ve come across (and walked away from) people who cannot be reasoned with. People who are destructive, manipulative, cunning & deceitful yet claiming to be innocent. The struggle was all too real. Too close to home. Too appalling. In the end, I got nothing. No one heard me. I was the trouble maker for pointing out the lies. In the end all I had was this questions: How do I not become what I hate?
In our lives, I believe we learn not just from good examples, but also from bad examples. Yet either way, we can find that this path markers can become more like our aim or goal. We focus on them too much and we never get to enjoy the path ahead of us. We can even get into messy situations or get lost.
If I focus too much on what I despise (for the sake of not being that) there’s a chance I could actually accumulate those same traits, that same path. I could find myself almost hypnotized by it. I don’t want that to happen.
I have to keep a balance. I have to remember that goal and not just the means or the markers. I have to remember I am not the things that I’ve been “shunned” for, and that those who would shun me, don’t know me. They’re unwilling to know me. I have to know who I am, not based upon the accusatory things that others say. I have know truth apart from opinion. …and that’s ridiculously hard. But If I don’t it’s consumingly destructive.
Sometime I get lost in destruction. I forget to move. I forget to cover up and protect the necessary core. I get worked over by those who don’t intend good for me, but wins for themselves. I am in the way. …to them.
These moments can’t define me. I am more than my weakness. I am greater than my strength. It’s something that takes training and self-diagnostics. It takes refocusing and breathing good air. I have to remember what is beautiful, and let that also be an inspiration. I cannot fill my head with what I despise, and then expect that I’ll become better than just that. I need to consider that there is beauty which is still waiting to unfold. I need to remember that I can be part of that (regardless of what others say I am). I need to protect that…delicately.
I need to remember that no matter who “won” that there’s a lot of work to do. Good work.
I am becoming something that I wasn’t before. I need to cultivate that into the good that I want to see. I need to keep my eyes on prize, and not dredge down into previous failings. I need to move forward, because there’s more than just me at stake.
I need to consider whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise… then these thing shall also obtain a place in my mind and my musings. I will not be overcome by imbalance and injustice. I will strive for beauty’s sake.
I have this sense, that what we see around us isn’t the world going crazy, in so much as it’s every person with a spirit crying out for a very similar thing. A Messiah.
It’s clear enough to see that most people perceive something wrong with the world or culture that we live in. Many people believe that by the hand of force they can make a difference. Others believe with the correct ruler or god or president, that this world will become more of what they imagine Utopia would be like. Some still believe if we follow the correct system, that will eventually work everything out in the end.
Whether we imagine we’re seeking justice, love, equality, truth, authentic, holistic, prosperity, or perfect …we’re looking for a way to make that happen. Usually with a leader of some sort to get us there. Someone who can see the problems and have a quick decisive way to bring order. Maybe even something that lifts up our own values.
The simplicity of this, doesn’t really sound like a world gone crazy to me. As matter of fact, the Bible might even explain this as birth pangs. A longing for something new to be birth, and to bring things into correction or fullness or redemption.
We call it “the restoration of all things”.
I see it everywhere.
Black Lives Matter, anti-Trump, pro-Trump, Isis, Jihadist, ect.
I find it really isn’t so different than these that took place while Jesus was on the Earth. Different names, yes. Different faces, I suppose. But the pushing, the waiting, the anxiousness and urgency -very much the same.
Sometimes (maybe often) we feel like God doesn’t work fast enough. Maybe that God doesn’t understand what it’ll like to have this trapped feeling of want something greater but not being able to affect change. Maybe God doesn’t understand time and history, because maybe he gets to live outside of time. Maybe God doesn’t care as much as we’d previously assumed, because nothing is worse than feeling stuck and watching glory & hope fade all around you.
Maybe God does understand this. Maybe the only reason we even feel this way is because God felt it first. Maybe the push and the urgency within us isn’t just about a sinking ship, but it’s our spirits feeling a deep wind of change. A kingdom that has come and is coming into fullness. A world that’s beyond even the concept of Utopia or “heaven” and is more real the the turmoil we wake up and face everyday.
Maybe our spirits are intuiting birth, newness, life, …and yet it feels like its just beyond us. But how could it be beyond us, if our spirits already feel it? Already thirst for it? And already pushing to come forth into this life?
I get this sense of we are creating our own hell, because we don’t understand how to make heaven. We are actively involved the destruction of something beautiful, because we want it to unfold in our timing. Our curiosity needs fed, and it won’t wait in line. If there’s something great to be found from the hand of God, let us have it now! …Or so we often feel this way. Many people feel similar. Many are willing to takeover and show God how it’s done.
But Jesus faced the same thing in his day. This isn’t new.
The words he spoke aren’t irrelevant or old or un-relatable. They may even be the sharpest light into our own times.
The more the media kindles the fire and promotes fear, the more absurd things become. The more extreme “good people” start to think. The more we create our own hell within the distractions that pull us way from what are spirits are saying. “This isn’t truth. This isn’t right. There has to be something better.” And that would be the most correct thing that could be said.
There something better. There is a culture that brings us into fullness. There is a Promised One who brings justice, who rewards the hard-worker, who empowers the forgotten & oppressed people, who sets the world in way that allows fullness, purpose, order, fulfillment can easily flow.
There is that Promised One, a Messiah who brings the restoration of all things. One who doesn’t have a particular bent of a particular cause, but has in mind the way to bring all things into the beauty of what they were created to be from the beginning.
We are not too far gone. We not even as far as we imagine. God isn’t unaware or inactive. Instead, I purpose that there is a fighting, a pressure, a contending because there is something new, beautiful, and fulfilling taking place, even at this time. Our spirits feel it. How we respond is up to us. But there’s only one Messiah who can bring us into the restoration of all things. There’s only one “peace on Earth” that is truly peace for all mankind. There’s only one Promised One who truly knows and understands justice. We must be careful, not to pick an idol.
The world, our spirits, and heaven itself awaits those who will hear the call and respond to a gracious, humble Messiah. Not that we may have riches and wealth for ourselves, but that we may be servants who bring the restoration of all things. Who bring children to the maturity of becoming heirs of the Father. Who brings servants up into being wise & faithful stewards. Who can see hurt and know it’s birth pangs of something beautiful coming forth, and who can midwife that birth in its proper time. Therein bringing mother, child, and even the father into joy and fullness.
We are the people of God, through Christ Jesus, and we believe the Holy Spirit testifies to Yeshua HaMashiach bring us into the restoration of all things.
(Yeshua HaMashiach is the Hebrew name of Christ Jesus. The one and the same.)
It never fails to astonish me how true it is, that words come to an end at some point. Yet once in a while, when that point has come, there’s still something in the artistry of a song (a soulful song) that can still portray that further thought, emotion, or searching. It’s beautiful. It’s impactful. It’s a wonderful recovery of beauty.
But we don’t always treat songs and words in this way. Often -too often- we make them into nonsense & nothingness. Too often we need only to fill the silence. Too often we make them to lie for us.
But a good song, or a good old acoustic guitar can’t lie.
When I was a teenager I love-love-loved music. I loved acoustic guitars. I love that imperfect squeak the make when the guitarist slides their hands down the fret board quickly. I loved the way the guitar seemed to tell on the person who was playing it. It was as if the guitar could say to me “this guy is only trying to impress girls” or “this guy doesn’t notice you standing there, but we have a song to wade through.” It was beautiful.
I always claimed that I’d fall in love with the guitar way before any ol guy, and it’s because music portray something utterly different than mere words alone. There is still honesty in music. There is still artistry in music. …Maybe not all music, but the fact that it’s still there in our age is a wondrous thing indeed.
However…the other day (such notorious words, aren’t they?) on my social media, I came across an article about why people don’t sing in church nowadays. Lipsync yes, sing no.
I knew I shouldn’t read the article. I knew I wouldn’t like it. I told myself not to click on it. I passed it three times, but ultimately… I gave in, I clicked, and I fumed.
Wouldn’t you know it? Not one of those reason listed on there was “They don’t believe you”. That wasn’t even a conceptual idea to those who commented in the article. Every one of the suggestions was more petty than the previous. It was astonishingly pale and pathetic and shallow beyond comprehension.
Let me make this clear:
Music is still alive. Sing is still belted out. When it comes from the soul, it is un-retainable. It will come out, wherever, however, whenever, as it pleases. Even when we don’t know the words, were into it. We feel it! We believe it. We are there.
Music hasn’t stopped reaching people.
There is yet to be every song written.
We haven’t even begun to get bored with sounds that come from ones core being.
Oh and…we ain’t done singing along yet. Believe me, if we don’t know the words, it won’t stop us. We can always hum.
So maybe…just maybe, it isn’t about the sound or style or loudness or harmonies. Because I’ve been to more than a few concerts, and none of which the crowd was silent or passively listening. No. Because when we hear our song, then we are compelled to belt it out. There’s no retaining the most honest feeling that one could feel.
Could it be that this is our problem? Honesty. Bare-soul music. Artistry with a reality behind it. Could be that the church system is so pop-culture that it’s turned itself solely to pop music and become the fluff that has cottoned the mouth and throats of its now listeners? Could be no one wants to waste more words on unrealities that we already suffer throughout the week? Could it be that we just don’t believe you any more?
Chant as long as you like, you worship music propagandist, but you’re just wasting breath. Turn up the speakers, get animated, fake happiness and a spirit of worship. I read it all from here. I can smell it from here. And believe me, I have checked my watch twenty times in last two lines, waiting for this nightmare lullaby to end. When this time is over, I’m going to get in my car, turn on my song, a belt out our lyrics.
If the “church” has no songs left to sing, then yeah…there’s always Dropkick Murphy. As profane as they are, I believe them. I feel it too. I’ve been there, and somehow they wrote my song.
There’s always my own attempts of made up on the spot as I do gardening or dishes songs.
There’s always the good ol’ classic Project 86 or Jackie Wilson.
I am not at a lack for songs to sing. I am not at a lack of music that makes me dance. I’m not at a lack of finding a soulful honest piece of artistry, even in our modern age.
Music is still being made. There are songs yet to be sung. There are masses still cramming towards that stage to sing-a-long with the band, and to sing their song. We are still excited to hear our song being played one more time. Our soul still listens for that song that we are compelled to sing along with. If you don’t know it, then there’s always silence. For it will come. It will be heard. It will break upon us.
Inspiration is far from finished. Let us try again.
“Sometimes I think God has put us apostles at the very end of the line, like prisoners soon to be killed, put on display at the end of a victor’s parade, to be stared at by men and angels alike.”
– St Paul
Strangely, I get the impression this isn’t one of the first five things anyone thinks of when they think of the Christian Life or walking by faith. …and I wonder what it’s like to be that person who walks along without this weight. I wonder what it’s like to think of Christianity in terms of things done in or pertaining to a “church” building.
I imagine it’s terrible and boring.
1st Corinthians chapter 4 is very powerful in a humbling way. It’s like reading a story of how my ancestors got to America and got established into our modest life. It’s a reminder that we aren’t just trusting God for our day to day life, but we’re part of something greater. It’s a reminder that it isn’t just about what’s happening now, but our “now” is part of greater chorus which has been sung out in faith. We join those who have believed before us. We join those who believe now, and we join those who struggle to believe but keeping living for one more day, searching for truth…if there be any left in this world.
This is a challenge. This is a weight.
Later on, in 2nd Corinthians, Paul uses the phrase “eternal weight of glory”. A small phrase that has baffled many. What could it mean?
I think it means, when we get connected into the roots of our faith, and into the forefathers of faith, and we start wanting to be a part of their faith, knowing their God, and living that faith…then we’ve connected to something that eternal. Something that’s glorious. And there’s a weight to it all. “the eternal weight of glory”
When we think of the long lineage of history that has processed our stories and brought message of a living God down throughout history, we look small. Yet…in our “now” state of being, we feel so worthless, so insignificant, and sometimes so forgotten by God. We feel like God puts us on display in the worst way. We feel foolish. We like stoning up our hearts, instead of opening them up. We feel like we have no faith at all. We feel insane. …but we keep going.
There is no alternative. There is no following the system into a happily-ever-after. There is no daydreaming and one day it’ll come true. …not without an attempt. Not without skidding through some failure, bristling through some doubt, drowning in stares of people who “admire” your “cute faith” but they sure don’t want to be you or live their own faith in the same “admirable” way.
Yet not everyone can.
Someone has to be at the base. Someone has to discover that old path that now seems overgrown and hidden. If it ever was here, then it’s still here. But my God, it isn’t easy to find, and to keep, and follow. …Yet if that’s all we had to do, it’d be easier than this. Yet we know, behind us will come those who are looking for this same path, and we need to put signs out for them. We need to clear some of the brush. But we need to make sure, it is the right path at the same time.
To say it’s hard is an inadequate understatement.
We are on display, and this display makes us seem like fools. We know. Yet we must. It’s not just for our sake anymore. When we enter into an ancient and eternal faith, then we become part of legacy. One that must be preserved. One that must be given to the next generation. And I just don’t have the faith to believe that our “church” systems are going to be the ones to pass on a living faith with a Living God, where even the words of God are still alive to us today.
To be eternal means there is no “Old Testament” God vs “New Testament” happy-go-lucky Jesus. Just one triune God working throughout all of history. Including now.
There is an eternal weight of glory, and it’s exactly what Jesus was talking about when he said, “My yoke is easy and my burden is light”. We preserve, because if we quit, we will never know what the saints of ol’ saw. We’ll never know why the cloud of witness is cheering us on. We preserve because there’s other children coming after us, and if we were kicked out of the church for seeking deeper truth in our perilous times, then what will happen to them?
This is why we are part of a faith that is on display before men and angels. Because God has a plan. …and that’s something that I want to be part of. So here’s to one more try…
When I was a kid there was this beautiful old hymn, that imagine still exist today. The title was “Just As I Am” …forgive me for not remembering the composure’s name. It still have that song in my head sometimes today. It was beautiful and heartfelt. Unfortunately when it was played at the end of church service we knew we had twenty more minutes to stand and play hangman beneath the cover of the pew in front of us. It was a beautiful song, but was used cruelly to the point of having no meaning within the church buildings. …well none but twenty minute warning for a song that was only 3-5 minutes long. In the hands of the best evangelist it was a meaningless song that cried out for numbers and emotional abuse, instead of people and truth, but outside the building, on many dark quiet nights, it was beautiful to the point of tears.
How does this happen? How can something beautiful by nature become morbid, dull, and nullifying in the hands of well-meaning folks?
The modern day phenomenon known as “church” has an amazing filtration system for straining out gnats and swallowing camels. They’re especially trained in tactics, rituals, and hype. It’s always business as usual with a new Clark Kent disguise at best. To say we’ve lost touch with the root and who we are as a people of God would be like eating a burger at McDonalds and expecting that you’re eating 100% grass raised organic Bison. The words “not likely” seem to be much too polite to even be a downplay of the reality at hand.
I’m harsh on mainstream modern Christianity for two reasons. One: I grew up on the inside, I’ve gone in as deep as it goes, or nearly. Two: I believed in it, once upon a time, but we never synced up. I tried. I failed. I moved on. And Three: I read my Bible, I believe in God, I say my prayers, and I can’t stand to imagine my fate being the fate of many thousands more kids to come. People have told me you can’t change things from the outside, but the only people who said so where on the inside, so how would they know? They haven’t changed anything that matters, unless they want to take credit for the downfall which has perpetual come upon this thing called church.
I pray for something different than the hype and revivals of our forefathers.
When church systems and religious rules get involved I see less of God. They can paint his names on posters, but just because someone else wears the same name tag as my husband, doesn’t mean I will run and smooch that person. On the other hand, if my husband isn’t wearing name tag, I will still embarrassingly kiss him publicly, because I love him. I know him. I recognize him in crowd. My heart is drawn to all our history together. His face is speckled with my memories. He is dear to me. I don’t depend on name tags and familiar places to recognize my great man in front of me. I know him. I love him organically (so to speak).
My personal time with my husband everyday contributes to our relationship in ways at no one else ever could or would. There are things I can only know about my husband by talking with him, spending time with him, and an occasion arguing with him. …because it requires variances to know someone. How much more with God?
A song can hold outstanding beauty but if that song speaks of cherishing, but it’s only used to put the moves on someone… then the song loses its meaning. If the song is about bad days and it’s sung in happy tone, it loses its meaning and potency. If the song states how you desire to be honest, but is used to provoke reaction, then it’s disdainful to even hear.
There is a time for everything. But too often we don’t care to wait for the right time, now is the right time. Our inconsiderate use of beautiful gifts make everything ugly. Our get it right with Jesus in the next hour and we’ll send you this guilt free card, system isn’t working. A system that says a relationship with God is personal, but has no more idea of what organic means the McDonalds latest CEO, really doesn’t cause me to believe. It’s a camel I can’t swallow. Personal to me, doesn’t mean one super compact hour a week or a day. It doesn’t mean shooting off prayers I read from some book. It doesn’t mean singing my favorite song until I feel something. It doesn’t mean finding someone who has my husband’s name tag and saying “good enough!” But that is the inevitable consequences of a system that promotes effectual goals, as processed food promotes the feeling of full but not satisfied. Our bodies and spirits starve under these conditions while we develope fat and disease. This isn’t the truthful, personal approach I’d hoped for.
I know it’s crazy but when I hear a song or tag line that says we’re allowed to be free, I want that! I want freedom without lying fine print. I want to be free for more than an hour. I want to come to God just as I am already at anytime, and find God able to deal with that graciously, honestly, and maybe on an occasions joyfully. Like maybe God would be happy if we spoke even if I haven’t put dirt on my head and told him what a wretch I am. Maybe a personal God would wake me up on some morning and give me joy or peace, like my husband who might kiss me in the morning. Maybe some nights a personal God might allow me to cry over those who have been cast off from this system like I have been, but they weren’t able to recover again like I did. Maybe a personal God might speak to me regularly even if I didn’t attend church buildings for the last 5-7 years. Maybe…
Maybe Just as I am could mean just that… at any given time. Maybe.
What’s the point in having faith when (as far as I can tell) nothing is actually happening in the external world? If there is something, even something minor happening, how am I suppose to assume that has anything to do with me anyhow? I’ve felt so stuck and nullified, that I begin to wonder what difference does any of this make? But I know I am not alone. So maybe, but just maybe, I am learning something here?
I wrote to my brother. I needed advice. I always take my brothers’ advice …well, almost always. I wrote a small question, and waited for an answer that would say more than one little answer is suppose too. He wrote back with a small simple answer. I was satisfied. I’m not losing my faith, and I’m not losing my mind, so what else is this strange feeling? I feel so incredibly anxious to move onto the next step in my life that I wonder: What is the point in the now?
This morning a little phrased popped into my head, and I looked up the fuller context of what it was. It was Abraham, the father of faith and the father of many nations.
Hoping against hope, he believed that he would become “the father of many nations,” according to what was said, “So numerous shall your descendants be.” He did not weaken in faith when he considered his own body, which was already as good as dead (for he was about a hundred years old), or when he considered the barrenness of Sarah’s womb.
No distrust made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, being fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised. Therefore his faith “was reckoned to him as righteousness.”
– Romans 4:18-22
What’s the point in the now? Abraham, the father of faith, believed and it was accounted to him as righteousness. In the midst of Abraham waiting for God to begin the necessary steps to fulfill a big promise and a future for Abraham’s family, it’s recorded as Abraham believed. That’s not a very external list of what happened, but somehow, the saints who record this story know that this is the more important detail to be recognized than a do & don’t list or a list or events.
This is very odd concept. Because Abraham believed (a continuous belief), God accepted that, more than any doing, as an act of righteousness.
Righteousness is something which we usually say something like, it’s doing that which puts us in the “right” before God (meaning in good standing with God). Some people are convinced that their love in the hearts for their family and lack of murdering other people will count was righteousness, should they ever have to stand before God. But the Bible say some weird things about righteousness and being counted as a “good person”.
We are unfit to worship you;
each of our good deeds
is merely a filthy rag.
And our iniquities, like the wind,
Have taken us away.
At one time Jesus says something like, “No one is good, except God alone” which seems a little extreme… but then again I’ve had some sad times where I had a similar opinion. But there’s also place where the Bible seems to imply everything we do with our own strength is meager.
Unless the Lord builds the house,
those who build it labor in vain.
Unless the Lord guards the city,
the guard keeps watch in vain.
It is in vain that you rise up early
and go late to rest,
eating the bread of anxious toil;
for he gives sleep to his beloved.
Which again might bring about the question: What’s the point in the now? Which also takes me back to Abraham.
Abraham believed God and God’s promise(s) and it was accounted to Abraham as righteousness. Abraham obtained righteousness for not for his actions, reactions, or self-control, but instead it’s recorded as his faith in God and God’s words that put him in right-standings before God. Out of that also came actions, reactions, self-control, and so on, but these sort of things are secondary and aren’t the true symptoms that something or someone is good or bad. Instead it what comes out of the deeps of who we are.
Somehow, who we are, what we choose to believe, and how deeply we believe anything starts to define what’s really in us …good or bad. But that’s not what our society says. We have responsibilities, we have obligations, we have limits, we have temptations, and some people even believe that each of these things are a test, and depending how we do on that test we effect our levels of righteousness.
So how does Abraham fulfill God’s longest desire simply by faith?
Maybe righteousness isn’t so much about getting to place of right standings before God. Maybe it’s something more like willingness to commit to working along side of God. Maybe that’s the kind of people that make God say, “I call them my righteous child”.
My husband and I live in an odd situation where we feel God has called us out of many of the systems of this world. It makes people scoff. It makes people wait for our doom. Afterall, you can’t fight the machine. Things have been like this for generations, you can’t just change it now. These are tried and true methods of a “happy” life. We’re willing to test them anyways. We’re willing to leave the tried and trued, and to take that path of “no return”. We’re willing even to put up with some scoffing.
But it’s been a while, you know, and sometimes it seems like nothing’s happening. We’re anxious for the next step in life, but we’re waiting. Waiting brings questions. Questions are belligerent company on a path less traveled. But our hearts are 100% here in the unknown. We pray for miracle frequently, daily. We study, we learn, we research, we smile, and we even cry. But sometimes it seems nothing is changing yet.
Abraham was a man in an impossible situation. Throughout his life’s story he had many crazy hard situations. Maybe sometimes he made better decisions than other times. I’m not really in place to judge that, because at the end of it all Abraham is remembered as the father of faith. He’s remembered as something even greater than a saint. All this was not because of external factors, but something that came from the deepest part of Abraham.
One of the sayings of Jesus that I like to use as a compass is: “If you were children of Abraham, then you would act like it.”
Maybe I don’t see the external factors, but maybe something is happening. Maybe we’re not making great impressions on the people around us, but maybe God is satisfied. That would be cool. I’d be happy to fulfill God’s heart merely be taking God at his word. I don’t know if it works like that in my situation, but that could be a beautiful beginning to a great story of humble saints.
Wish us luck, say a prayer, but whatever you do… Let’s all journey on together. There’s more life coming soon.