Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Shake It Off…. (Florence of the Machines)



(lyrics)
Regrets collect like old friends
Here to relive your darkest moments
I can see no way, I can see no way
And all of the ghouls come out to play
And every demon wants his pound of flesh
But I like to keep some things to myself
I like to keep my issues drawn
It's always darkest before the dawn
And I've been a fool and I've been blind
I can never leave the past behind
I can see no way, I can see no way
I'm always dragging that horse around
All of his questions, such a mournful sound
Tonight I'm gonna bury that horse in the ground
Cause I like to keep my issues drawn
It's always darkest before the dawn
Shake it out, shake it out, shake it out, shake it out, ooh woaaah!
Shake it out, shake it out, shake it out, shake it out, ooh woaaaah!
And it's hard to dance with a devil on your back
So shake him off, ooh woah!
And I am done with my graceless heart
So tonight I'm gonna cut it out and then restart
Cause I like to keep my issues drawn
It's always darkest before the dawn
Shake it out, shake it out, shake it out, shake it out, ooh woaaah!
Shake it out, shake it out, shake it out, shake it out, ooh woaaah!
And it's hard to dance with a devil on your back
So shake him off, ooh woah!
And it's hard to dance with a devil on your back
(shake him off)
And given half the chance would I take any of it back
(shake him off)
It's a fine romance but its left me so undone
(shake him off)
It's always darkest before the dawn
Oh woah, oh woah!
And I'm damned if I do and I'm damned if I don't
So here's to drinks in the dark at the end of my rope
And I'm ready to suffer and I'm ready to hope
It's a shot in the dark aimed right at my throat
Cause looking for heaven, found the devil in me
Looking for heaven, found the devil in me
Well what the hell I'm gonna let it happen to me, ohh
Shake it out, shake it out, shake it out, shake it out, ooh woaaah!
Shake it out, shake it out, shake it out, shake it out, ooh woaaah!
And it's hard to dance with a devil on your back
So shake him off, ooh woah!
Shake it out, shake it out, shake it out, shake it out, ooh woaaah!
Shake it out, shake it out, shake it out, shake it out, ooh woaaah!
And it's hard to dance with a devil on your back
So shake him off, oh woah!
There's so much liturgy to be discussed here. I will try to do my best to fit it all in before my writing becomes long winded.  

Okay first, this song is absolutely beautiful in the poetic sense that we can try all we want to in controlling our lives and situations but we will always be tormented by our regrets because if we follow a life of regret aka a life about "ourselves", our wants, our desires, we will always be following our demons.  Our demons of greed, vanity, murder….PRIDE (ahhh I suffer from this one too much)!  We will always build up our idols around US to set up US up upon an altar of worship.  In doing things our way and our comforts we put God below us,  He's a God for "us" right?  Not "Them."
If we keep  our same issues drawn, we're stuck in this rat race cycle of finger pointing, of living life about us it is hard to see life any.other.way!  We become blind in our pursuits of happiness, of entertainment, of glory, even if our pursuit of our own glory looks like pursuit of God's glory (aka counterfeit christianity, I've done that before).  We get fooled into thinking that we are in the right.  Just remember this:  WE ARE NEVER IN THE RIGHT!! No seriously the right way is the way NONE of us want to go.  It's a struggle and it takes losing ourselves to find it.  It's turning our back on our own wants, desires, and hopes and giving them to God.  Which in the end will make us happier.

"I'm dragging that horse around.  All his questions such a mournful sound.  Tonight I'm going to bury that horse in the ground."  This makes my geeky, poetry side all giddy as I think of all the deep mysterious symbolism of this.  Okay, Horses were the war-machines from back in the day, right? I see horses and stables used as symbolic a lot in songs and poetry.  Did you know God told King Samuel not to bred horses.  Well, like us, Samuel didn't think he heard the Lord right or something so he bred them anyways.  He had unbelief in God's way that he wanted to take control of things.  He wanted to put Man's will over God's.  You get what I'm saying?  This is a trend of ours.  Putting God on the side and just doing things our way.

Our way is always going to result in violence it's always going to be dark.  It's always going to point the problem at other people rather than ourselves.  We always don't see ourselves played into the story as bad guys but what if we did?  What if you and I were played right into it as the religious pharasiees and political power.  Don't both of this things, work towards glorifying man?  Religious people always seeing the blame in others and political power is a result from our greed and lack of faith of not putting God first and foremost.  Not believing in the Holy Spirit to do the work in people, while we just love them.  I don't think y'all are ready for this…maybe I'm not either.  I always want to blame stuff on others.  Other's greeds, other's sins, other's faults.
 But do you know what this sin culminate to?  Killing God.  We don't want others to be better, we want to be better.  Jesus was walking testament that there is better, and we didn't like that.  So we killed him.  He lifted up the poor, noooo that goes against our systems, the rich are always first right?  That makes sense to us.  He broke religious laws.  What? We don't follow rules in labeling ourselves as Christians?  "Oh, look I saw that person drinking the other day, they must not love Jesus like they said they did."  Maybe you didn't see them give most their money to the poor either? Just saying…  They called Jesus a drunkard and a glutton.  He enjoyed living too much, and he was poor and he drank wine, he def can't be the Messiah.  He went into the worst of sinner's houses and ate and drank with them.  He is blasphemous! Def let's kill him! And the cycle continues and we get no where.  (I know Jesus was raised from the dead, but we're not going to bring him to life in us as we continue this cycle!)

But you know what…we can bury that horse in the ground I been dragging around. That race horse doing the rat race of life,  because it's always darkess before the dawn.  And my graceless heart, well I'm going to cut that out and restart.  You know, maybe shake it out a little bit.  Shake off some of that weight, I put on my self, when I put myself first.  It causes others pain, suffering.  I'm not made to serve myself, I'm made to serve others anyways. I'm happier that way. When that devil is on my back well I'll just shake him off.  You know what I might have the devil in me but I'm still looking for Heaven and I'm still bringing it here and by doing that I DO shake him off!
I believe Heaven's here and I believe it's there. Let's quit romancing our ideas with War and violence.  Or we'll never get there.  I bring a little bit of heaven here when I bless others. When I show others how much God loves and cares about them.  When I tell them they are worthy despite what social status and religion tell them.  YOU ARE ENOUGH. Even when the devils on your back.  And at the end of your rope, death might be at your door…

…But is death the end?  Isn't that what Jesus came to teach us.  There's resurrection in death. And it's life everlasting. We can have everlasting water here and there. To drink from that cup  we have to be ready to suffer and we have to be ready to hope. It's a shot in the dark, right at our own throats.  We gotta keep looking for heaven.  Bringing it here and sacrificing our graceless hearts for more.  Remember it's always darkess before the dawn...

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Take Me to Church...









I love Hozier's song Take Me to Church so much so that I decided to write a whole blog on how beautiful, symbolic, poetic and so appropriate for what we in America have become in essence of spirituality and religion.  Lot's of people ask me what I think of this song as a Christian so heres my answer! It makes me really excited that it has become the #1 song for the year and I could possible see it becoming the song of the decade like Nharles Barkley's song Crazy, another favorite of mine.

What's interesting to me is that these songs have deep poetic words that not everyone probably gets the fullness of the message and sometimes the writer themselves wonder where the anapestic nature of the lyrics derived from. I've wondered it from my own writing, or I've at least sat down to write with an idea and by the time I'm done, I've concluded with "Wow, I really thought that without actually thinking it until I wrote it." Hopefully I'm not confusing you, my point is that I think the inspiring words of Take Me to Church and other songs are so spiritually influenced a lot of times by artistic poets it makes me wonder in amazement how God speaks through us by beauty, inspiration and just flat out realness of our exposed innards. (Yes I said innards! I kinda like that word.)

In those moments where I expose the inner workings of my thoughts and heart into my writing then I get down to the basics of me. I start to discover who I really am and what are in the depths of my being.  Sometimes those things aren't so pretty and I'm humbled graciously to find the dirty old "planks" that have been living in the dark corners of my comfy house for far too long.  But these dusty old boards become repurposed when I bring them out into the light and make use of them.

And that brings me back to the meaning of the Take Me to Church song.  I think we are drawn to these songs before we really even know what they mean.  As if something in our soul beckons us tap into a sort of sixth sense to try and figure out while the lyricist is asking us to. Inviting us to help them along the journey of life.  Well Hozier, I will try! And while maybe Hozier totally didn't know or mean for the song to go there,  (or maybe he did) I will take it there! Not only for myself but maybe I can facilitate and help point you towards the Light that inspired you as well as myself.

My lover's got humour
She's the giggle at a funeral
Knows everybody's disapproval
I should've worshipped her sooner

If the heavens ever did speak
She's the last true mouthpiece
Every Sunday's getting more bleak
A fresh poison each week

'We were born sick, ' you heard them say it

My Church offers no absolutes
She tells me, 'Worship in the bedroom.'
The only heaven I'll be sent to
Is when I'm alone with you—

I was born sick,
But I love it
Command me to be well
Amen. Amen. Amen. Amen.

[Chorus 2x:]
Take me to church
I'll worship like a dog at the shrine of your lies
I'll tell you my sins and you can sharpen your knife
Offer me that deathless death
Good God, let me give you my life

If I'm a pagan of the good times
My lover's the sunlight
To keep the Goddess on my side
She demands a sacrifice

Drain the whole sea
Get something shiny
Something meaty for the main course
That's a fine looking high horse
What you got in the stable?
We've a lot of starving faithful

That looks tasty
That looks plenty
This is hungry work

[Chorus 2x:]
Take me to church
I'll worship like a dog at the shrine of your lies
I'll tell you my sins so you can sharpen your knife
Offer me my deathless death
Good God, let me give you my life

No Masters or Kings
When the Ritual begins
There is no sweeter innocence than our gentle sin

In the madness and soil of that sad earthly scene
Only then I am Human
Only then I am Clean
Amen. Amen. Amen. Amen.

[Chorus 2x:]
Take me to church
I'll worship like a dog at the shrine of your lies
I'll tell you my sins and you can sharpen your knife
Offer me that deathless death
Good God, let me give you my life


Love this, in a sense he's asking us to partake in the standing on our own and being ourselves despite others disapproval.  I believe this whole heartedly too.  Other good meaning people will always point you towards what they want you to be but God made you just the way your are and he knew exactly what he was doing and he didn't make one mistake.  When we look towards others to facilitate who were called to be, we inevitably lose sight of what were suppose to be and without realizing it putting man on a pedestal where God should reside.  Not only that but with the thousands of voices of consumerism, advertisements, religion coming at us all hours of the day saying we need to do something/be somebody else to feel completed and God is telling you no!

You are even more a mouthpiece of the one who sent you when you are yourself.  And if you've been exposed to religion at some point in your life, you will see that, through very good intentions, you thought you had to change yourself to get closer to God but in a subversive way than religion would tell you, you are never more like God when you are naked in your clothes, bearing your heart out and coming to God as a poor crippled because any pride left is going to keep you blind to see what Grace is waiting for you.  Even though if you have pride, Grace still covers you, that's the beautiful thing about Grace, it's poured on us unmeritedly and unapologetically.

And yet he is crying out from his very soul about our religion leaving him empty and telling him to not be himself.  See religion will offer you a formula to get to heaven.  You can say a formulated prayer to Jesus and whaaala! You suddenly know exactly how to be and what to do in life as long as you read your bible, pray and make it to church 3 times a week.  And yet that will never be enough and that will never suffice.  The downplay of becoming a Christian as a way to Heaven will never make you full and it will leave you always wondering if there is more.  And Yes! There is more and it's called LOVE! Love will set you free.  The love you have for God so much so that you start to see him in others all around you. You start believing in bringing Heaven here.  You don't love him like that?  It's okay, there's Grace for that! I just now started loving him like that and I've been a Christian for 15 years! I can't make you love something but I can show you the beauty of the love I have for something. And then you have the choice to love it too.  That's the beauty of free will!

But anyways back to the song lyrics.  I love how he is taught to keep the "goddess" on his side, she demands a sacrifice (so does religion, all the time) and showing the pagan side of that belief by changing God to Goddess.  To drain the whole sea and get something shiny.  The sea in the ancient times was viewed as mysterious, fearful and scary.  It's the unknown but what I take from this song is when we forsake mystery and sometimes don't step out on Faith in Love, which a lot of times  takes us into the unknown and is scary we inadvertently reject God and follow well, our comfortable Idols: Greed, consumerism, civil religion! See those are safe.  Those are controlled by us! In shiny money we look for contentment, in consumerism and thinking about ourselves without even realizing it! And in Civil Religion we think God is on our side and he has the same enemies as us.  And if we act a certain way, we can get him to do our bidding (sorry but that's just bad theology).

The Take Me to Church chorus is sadly one we can all relate to.  Being hurt in or by the church, and I've been one that has been a victim of that, but it didn't keep me down and neither should it keep you down!  When I hear this chorus it reminds me of the Canaanite woman, who came to Jesus to ask for help for her daughter.  You see Canaanites and Jews did not interact so this was very unusal for that time period.  I like how when she first comes to Jesus and ask for help he doesn't respond.  Jesus spoke in metaphors, um a lot.  He was testing his disciples who seemed to not understand the concept yet.  They asked him to send her away for she was annoying them.  Jesus responds to them and her : "I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel." She pleads he goes on "It is not right to take the children's bread and toss it to the dogs. "  This sounds like a douchy thing to say for Jesus but he was testing their responses of the disciples but I can see him being surprised by her response as she doesn't mind being called a dog for she even knows the dogs are satisfied when they are fed from their master's table.  Wow! Jesus was blown away by her response he heals her daughter that very hour by speaking.

And yet I feel the beautiful imagery of a dog coming to a church is so humbling and yet even I feel like I want to be that dog because in imagining God's goodness it makes us so weak by our "proud" moments we can only give thanks for God loving us the way we are.  Because seriously we innocently sin without realizing it most of the time, it's so engrained in our being.  We need to be re-trained by the Master to love beyond our humanness and re-distribute the Grace that has been given to us.

In the madness of this Earth in the foundation of sins as our civilizations are founded on Cain (he goes out and finds the first society) and thus our societies and way of the "world" are founded on Empires of greed, powers and of religious blame.  Thankfully these powers were put to shame on the cross as our system of scapegoating crumbled because we went as far as scapegoating God and he was resurrected out of the madness of that soil and reversed our corrupt system by giving power to the victims (I could write a whole blog on this and probably will one day.)

So yes, Hozier when we can get off our high horse of finger pointing we will be able to help the starving faithful.  When we realize religion might help point us to Jesus but it is not what we should reside our Faith in, then we can see our own faults.   Religion won't solve our problems but Love can and will.  I believe it.  When we stop asking for blood and start giving Life. Then when that deathless death comes, we will not fear it.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

You Don't Have to Follow most Rules in the Bible! Your Welcome!!

Okay people just to make it clear because sweet, precious good meaning Christians keep asking me this(lol):  I do believe in Jesus as my Savior!!  So much so that if I were at a crossroad which tends to happen some of the time, between what he says and what the bible says: I look to him more, so much so than any other parts of the bible.  I believe in the whole bible.  I see it as flesh and divine intertwined but it is a book written by different writers over a course of hundreds of years.  You can’t pick scripture and say “Well, women shouldn’t talk in church, or tattoos are bad.” When this happens, you start looking more into the bible to lead your life than Faith in Jesus and that becomes BIBLICISM! That is an actual word, look it up.

A lot of it is written with a certain culture and historical meaning behind it. Added with different writing styles some even very satirical.  Not to be used as a pick and chose to do our bidding and when we read the word like that we read it as a lie instead of truth.  Our will does not go before God’s in ANYTHING! Let that sink in for a moment.  It is the only historic book written by and for slaves and captives and not the conquerors.  And we HAVE to read it like that.  Not like the rich greedy people that we are, living in a 1st world country looking for a God to meet our needs but coming humbly, like little children ready to seek God because once he becomes more to you than just an instruction manual and once you let him lead you in every aspect of your life in Love, Peace, and Joy for anyone who will listen, and not just in your heart but to those around you then that is when you will see the good fruits manifest in your  life.  And you will see his beauty in the ashes of our mistakes and even see in the Old Testament before Jesus came.  How God was wanting humans to just love him and to see how good he actually is but we didn't believe it and we have a hard time believing it now, becoming fearful that we are not doing enough when all God want’s to do is Love and be loved completely.  

And if you are angry with him and you don’t think he is lovable, that’s okay.  But if you seek him you will find him and it will turn everything in your life upside down in a good way and you will start looking crazy, like me, and preaching the REAL good news to everyone around you and realizing that it reaches sinners more than religious folks because that’s who Jesus came for.  For every time I get deep into theology, I learn he is more.  He is more than scarifices, he is more than burnt offerings.  He is more than that.  Think of it, he is an infinite God.  Do you think he cares really about which laws you follow?  Like if you can drink or cuss?  No! And that's kinda haughty to believe that, lol. He cares what’s in the heart and that is what spills out everywhere else.  If it’s greed.  It will spill out into all areas of your life.  If it’s hidden pride it will spill out of your mouth as instruction for everyone else while you are thinking you are safe from any folly.  (And that's one that is still teaching me, lol! See I am not exempt either!) If it’s love and it’s the kind of Love that Jesus came to show us how to live out then it will spill into every dark corner of your life and speak life into others.  If you think you got everything figured out, and everything is fine and dandy and you would rather believe in laws than Grace because that just makes more sense to you, then that’s okay too because Grace covers you, even in your folly and misinterpretation of scripture.


And here’s a crazy concept: what if Jesus came to save us from the Bible?! I mean really? From the laws and religiousness of the bible?  You know what Jesus thinks of laws: He broke a lot of them! ex:not stoning adulterous women, telling a guy to pick up his mat, apparently you couldn't heal people on the Sabbath but he did it anyways.  He told the Pharisees "You look for Life in the scriptures when you ought to be looking at life through me."  We don’t have to keep all those ridiculous laws of Jewish faith and we don’t have to do this or that to prove were Christians.  We just have to live like Jesus and love like him.  He showed us a New Humanity on how to live and yet we don't have enough Faith to live that kind of life outside our hearts and into every inch of our lives.  Isn't that what makes him Lord of your life?  Not just a way to save us from Hell and take us to Heaven but as a way for us to bring a little of Heaven to Earth by becoming servants even unto our enemies and loving them like ourselves.  That is radical and I believe that is where all his secrets lie. In Love.

I say all this to myself even more deeply because it is a very sobering concept when I thought I was the one fighting for Jesus when I myself was the one holding the nail ready to nail this heretic of the scriptures to the cross, when he was asking me to just Love him.  LOVE, LOVE, LOVE.  God is love and everything about love and beauty comes from him.  And yet that's the beauty I keep finding in the scriptures is that there is heavy, living, breathing breathe of God hidden behind those laws and mistakes of men, like myself trying to please Him in their sacrifices when all along God is saying this is what I think of your sacrifices: I resurrected the ultimate sacrifice that culminated from your hidden sins of finding fault in one another.

You see that is the fault of our existence and it became fully dilated when we killed God by trying to be for him but became against him, in doing that. If we were to take Jesus seriously in our command to love one another which goes beyond anything the "world" could do, we would not find fault in our brother but in ourselves.  We would believe we were part of the problem and we would start to do something about it.  We would no longer fear our enemies but want to do good for them.  We would want to feed and love them.

Thankfully we don't have to try to do this all on ourselves but that is why Jesus said "It is imperative that I leave so that he can come."  He was talking about the Holy Spirit and that Holy Spirit is what will help us love like that.  It will make us like Jesus!  It is a daily struggle for me to not think about myself first and foremost and I must take up my Cross daily and follow Him. Some days, I don't do so well.  Being a mom kinda helps with my selfishness but leaning onto something else is crucial to my Christian walk.  I war against putting myself first everyday.  I war against what man tells me to do and what God made me to be everyday.  In the end I must test the fruits of what I believe and those that come believing in Christ, as well.  Not so I can judge but just so I can know if it goes along with the Spirit.  Anyone who has the fruits of the Spirit (Gal 5:22-23) are on the fresh pulse of God because we can NOT possess these fruits any other way but with Love by Him and for Him.  If you find it difficult to possess these, it's okay.  You are covered in Grace but might be missing out on what your put here to do.  Seek God, seek Him by doing justly, loving in Mercy and walking humbly. (Micah 6:8)


(If your wondering where I come up with all these crazy concepts, don't worry they are not all on my own, for there is a method to my madness! I'm not smart enough for all that!  I love studying the bible with the help of written materials of educated biblical scholars, preachers and philosophers.  Some of my favorites are: Walter Bruggeman, Richard Rohr, NT Wright, Brian Zahnd, Jonathan Martin and my preacher Jon Stone at Renovatus.)