Luke 22:25Jesus said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those who exercise authority over them call themselves Benefactors. 26But you are not to be like that. Instead, the greatest among you should be like the youngest, and the one who rules like the one who serves. 27For who is greater, the one who is at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one who is at the table? But I am among you as one who serves.
I see injustice everywhere: The other night, while washing dishes, I found myself meandering about my thoughts and running into corporate tyranny and trade federation horrors, knowing that big business and dirty money is more important to the economy than the lives of people disgusts me. I know of corporations that sell expensive seed to Indian farmers for more money than they ever had, and then when the seed self-destructs and prevents them from using the left over crop the next year, they have no means of making their livelihood. Those farmers are killing themselves because of dishonest, money-hungry men. On a more relevant note, I know many people have complaints about Wal-Mart. I know for a fact they buy out farmers crops, get them to sign contracts, then short them on prices (that’s their low-price guarantee) and now they are beginning a health care plan and phone plans. It seems more and more a reality that the idea of monopoly could come true.
Cars need to be built better: It is a well known conspiracy that present vehicles are made of plastic and poorly fabricated materials in order to be replaced within a certain period of time. They are made out of cheaper stuff so that it is more likely they won’t stand up to much of any opposition. Engine blocks, electrical sensors, computers, and the actual bodies of cars are not made to last, as you would assume honest human beings to craft. They are made to fail in some capacity and force the owner into a shop because no one has a computer system rigged to communicate with their car in order to correct an issue or buy a new car. However, no average person has an engine lift in their garage, nor can they replace the body panels on their car because they hit a cat coming home from work, nor is there enough cash lying about in bank accounts to buy a new vehicle every 10 years. I don’t think this is worth 50 grand in car payments. We hit a deer in our 1994 Chevy earlier this week. We were going 60. There was no avoiding it, the deer ran in front our vehicle perhaps 30 feet away, and even with attempted avoidance, we sent that deer flying and it took our turn signal and the passenger side of our grill with it. It sounded horrible, that dull metallic thud. It bent the hood and the fender slightly. Earlier that day we saw a Toyota that had hit a deer. It was obliterated. Our van is made of metal. It also gets 18 mpg. with all our gear in it. She’s got over 200,000 miles on her, and she works fine. Her design is from the 1970’s. Someone make an honest, modern car for the honest, modern, person. They’ve been making fuel efficient, durable, vehicles since the 1960s. They still drive them in Europe.
I am no longer afraid of confrontation: I have been informed that someone has been talking about me to my good friends, who find what this certain person says out of character for me. I really am not offended, and I am not afraid to tell them why they should stop, if necessary. Also, I am not afraid when people need to talk to me about my own need to shape up. Correction is necessary for growth. If you ignore the garden, you end up fruitless.
I love God-centered conversations: There is a sense of extreme peace and joy whenever my friends call me and we share our hearts. I have had two such conversations in the past week and both have been wonderfully enlightening, soul-bearing, and encouraging. I talked with both Bryce and Deaton, and both these dudes gave me insight and wisdom that I needed. Why don’t we, as Christians do this more often?
Making things refutes idle hands: I cannot stop it. There is something so organic in making your own things.
I’m reading a book about this. It is not talking about Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John. While they are important. It is about the broad-spectrum of utter misunderstanding of what it is that the Gospel is that has waylaid the Church and left a whole lot of theological invalids in its wake. People who claim to be Christians often don’t even have an idea of what it is that is the Good News, what it is that they are saved by. The Gospel is bloody. It demands attention. It is offensive, it will tell you that you are wrong, that your way is not the best way, and that you need to change. Not that its an option to choose it, but that you are living contrary to your very definition if you are living apart from God. It will tell you that Hell is real, and there is consequence for actions that you decide to do. It is heavy. We needed Christ, it will scream. Because we couldn’t find our own way to God. There is no other way. It has dirty words like “sin” and “atonement”. Words that none of us want to hear like “obedience” and “self-less”, like “sacrifice” and “go”. It tells you that you need someone to tell you why you’re wrong, why you can’t achieve your own version of heaven (because you didn’t make it). Why all your “goodness” isn’t really good. And then it will tell you that you have an option. Not options. It does not tell you why everyone in the world understands or doesn’t understand it. It tells you that you needed God, because there is not a one of us that has met the standard of godliness that is required of a person who was made by God, to be for God. It tells me that I have lived a life of self-interest and have taken every moment that God gave me and spent it on my self. And for that, I need a savior, because I cannot see the way out. Someone has to show me. It says that without Light, I will never see the end of my darkness. So Jesus Christ came, in the form of man, through a virgin birth, with the intention of doing what it would take to restore humanity to their original definition: to be with God. He lived a life among people who knew of God. The religious and the proud, the traditional and the law-laden. He looked at the people who were trying so hard to reach God through the brute force of their religion, and he had compassion. He was hated because he told people they were wrong. That God had not given them all the rules they had contrived, and that faith in the loving Father that was God, what what it took. He stood up against people who never put their words into action, who lived selfish, money-hungry lives and fed off those who were deceived. And because he suggested and lived a life against religious “spirituality”, and threatened the men who were in control, he was unjustly tried, and though he was innocent, though he was God, though he was the Savior, he was crucified as a criminal. He bore the transgression of our own failures, he suffered for hours, bearing trauma that few understand, suffocating, undergoing hypovolemic shock, naked, mocked, and seeing the people he was dying to save, hate him all the while. It does not stop here, where Christ is dead on a tree. History has testified that this man Jesus was killed by Romans, and the tumult he caused. He cannot be denied existence. It also cannot be denied that he was buried in a borrowed tomb, and in three days, by the power of the Holy Spirit, was brought out of that tomb alive. It is the single factor that separates Christianity from the rest. A real man, who was fully God, gave himself up to save those who hated him through their actions, was killed, and then brought to life as proof of his love and his power. Dead three days, the period of time that Jews believed it took for the spirit to leave the body. Long enough to assume it was over. But He was alive. Throwing off the robes of sin and death, and proclaiming salvation to all who follow him, to all who cast off their chains in sin by the power of His blood, the perfect atonement. When Jesus Christ rose from the dead, it was God saying that Jesus was it. He was the One, the last sacrifice. With Christ’s passion, the curtain in the temple, the one that separated the Holy of Holies from the rest of the world, where the Spirit of God would come down and where only the high priest who was cleansed could come, once a year to bear the sin offering, this curtain was torn in twain. The most Holy of places was opened to the world. To all who would come through the blood of Christ, because all the weight of sin before God would be expunged through the perfect sacrifice. And that sacrifice restored our ability to come to God and have a relationship with Him. It restores us through grace, by faith in the blood sacrifice that ended them all. The Good News of the Gospel is that you do not have to try to gain access to Heaven through your own merit, its impossible, because we are covered in the rebellion of sin. But Jesus Christ has given up himself as a sacrifice to God, and God rose him up from the grave to be our eternal High Priest. To those who believe in Jesus name (his name is what he has done), there is given eternal life. The knowledge of salvation assured because belief in Jesus means we are made like Him. God sees Jesus when he looks at us. He was our proxy. And our spirit is assured by God’s Spirit that we are his, through his promises. The Gospel is salvation. It is clean hands and a pure heart before God. It is the assurance that we are made for something more than 84 years and dirt. We were made to be God’s, and we can be reclaimed from death and sin through Jesus. We can be made perfect before God through reliance and faith in Christ. “Through one sacrifice, he has made perfect those who are being made holy.” - Romans 10:14. It is not some frivolous, feel-good attempt at making your life easier, make you more wealthy; it won’t tell you that you could have everything you want. It is knowledge that you have peace with God, and that no matter what happens in a world that is not yet perfect, God has your heart, and there is nothing greater than the knowledge of restoration. Bad things will happen. Negativity will stir, discouragement and opposition to joy will exist, people will still do horrible things because this world is messed up. But the eternal perspective of a Christ-follower is undeniable. It doesn’t mean that you won’t fail, but understanding that everything on this earth is temporal and your God is forever, that you are loved by something that never changes, motivates and cultivates love and open-handedness. It leads to growth, however long and slow, into a realm of inexplicable relationship. I know many people look at this and have no desire for it. It seems too irrational for some. But God has proven his words as truth to me. History has helped. And honestly, if I could tell you my story, I would be dead if not for Him.
Praise Jesus. My Rock and My Redeemer. He keeps me.
I am still shocked at humanity. In so many capacities. People act out when they forget What they were made for. Or perhaps they never knew in the first place. People need something to define them, and it’s what defines them that can either fill them or kill them.
The past few days have proven eventful. Sometimes I cannot believe my life, because it seemingly happens with such sporadic intensity. Sunday, I awoke to drive the last stretch of tour at 7 a.m. However, we were fed breakfast by some amazing friends in North Carolina, and left at 8:30. The boys fell asleep a half-hour into the drive and I was left to my thoughts for 4 hours. Most of that time was spent composing hardcore (as in Advent/legitimate hardcore) songs in my head for some futuristic project I want to do.
We arrived at Callie’s around two o’clock, where we were meeting to venture to the Oceana/My Epic show in the Burg. I was overjoyed. All the way there my heart was full to bursting with happiness. We hopped into Callie’s little skittle car and went to her old National Guard base to get her stuff for her new location. It was strange to see all the people that were there interact with “civilians” as we were, in different manners. Most were so nice, some stared at us oddly, others invited us to come party (which we quickly declined). No one really understood Callie’s civilian life, but I think it was good that they saw her in normal clothes and with her friends. After short audio adventures into the world of Thrice and Title Fight, we made it to the show. I immediately saw one of our friends from Oceana, and I talked to him a bit, and the whole night proceeded in similar fashion. Lots of warm smiles and hugs transposed into conversation. I was elated, I got to see so many good people. I wish I could give some expository speech on the profound vibe that was there. Even through the awkward bands, we were laughing and enjoying ourselves. It reminded me so deeply of old times. Everyone together in one place, for music. Its like the same current that brought us there runs through our heads and hearts and lets us share life together in the best way. It was awesome to see My Epic, Aaron is always such a blessing to be around, and I got to talk with the other guys who I new from shows and classes, which was amazing. During their set, my dear friend Mike proposed in the most magical manner, and proceeded to get engaged to his sweet lady. I cried, and smiled. I thought I would explode with elation. We all sang our hearts out and my appreciation for Aaron and the boys grows deeper as they share their hearts. He talked about how we’re the Bride of Christ right after Mike and Sam were betrothed, and I could not have imagined a more beautiful moment. It was very grounding; a solid, tangible expression of the love of Christ. Truth and love work so well together. Oceana was amazing. If you have failed to hear their new EP, I suggest you do so with haste. They sounded like magic. Brennen’s voice is so perfect for their sound, and the intricate sound they build is sweet to the ears. I was so glad to see them, and they were likewise, glad to see me. I really, truly appreciate the fact that they don’t base their success on how much money they make. They play what they love. And it shows. After many goodbyes, we went to see Deaton, walking up to the window of his dorm after curfew and chatting. As if the immense amount of joy could not have increased, I felt the pinnacle of it happen with this encounter. He’s such a wonderful friend, and we both realized how stupidly long it’s been since we’ve talked. That momentary reminisce into the way things used to be was powerful. It is always good to remember where you came from. Especially when it involves so many good memories. We drove home, talking about life and the Bible, getting back around 2. I went to bed an hour afterward with the wheeling thoughts of the day, and My Epic swirling about my head.
Yesterday, in short, involved finding the most perfect guitar, hanging out with the Vessel boys, going on a late night bike ride, losing people, some kids who thought they were tough getting in a fight with drunk people, having a gun pulled, and us being scared for our lives. It was a lesson in egotistical testosterone-based stupidity, however, we did make some new friends and were able to get a good ride in. Welcome home to Richmond. Where somehow, violence and alcohol is a good idea.
I’m in Arkansas. Justin from Deas Vail began a sentence last night with “One time, I had a beard…”. He also bought a scollar. (Huge smile appears on my face) I have my own little room in a gorgeous house owned by people with the biggest hearts ever. The are lovers of Jesus. I’ve eaten too much. I’ve slept too much. Knitted too much. Who can say such things about tour? Me, I suppose. But still. I remain unsettled. Adventure awaits.
I can’t help but say this is hard. I don’t think I’ve ever encountered a relationship that makes you look at yourself and understand that you need someone else to love you beyond what you see. That you need to base your worth in what Love says about you. That you need to see your misery in all it’s vain-glorious terror, and then you have to watch love crush it. I’ve not been taught how to pray very well, and it is not because I have not been told. It’s because I just didn’t listen. Ears hear lots of things, but unless you take it to your heart, open it up wide, and let those things in, it won’t really effect you. Unless it sinks into your heart, the words and ways of what you claim to seek deflect off the hard surface of your stone organ. So goes it with a relationship that has one-sided conversation. It remains bound in the fear of being discovered, the fear of actually hearing. I’m tired of being afraid. After so long of being bound in the reluctance of inhibition, something has to break, whether it be your heart or the rock around it. People go to great lengths to shed their stony shells. People get drunk so that they will make friends, so that they might forget the troubles that heavily weigh on their shoulders, so that they might reach out to someone and share their hearts. Ephesians 5:18Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit.
Usually, we find ourselves focused on the “Do not…” part rather than the “Instead…”. But the Spirit is the point. Whole beings are transformed by the influence of an outside substance. And whole beings are transformed by the introduction on the Holy Spirit into their lives. The difference between the Spirit and man-made substitution is one leads to Love, the other to debauchery. I’ve seen this. The Spirit is the remedy for a life of fear. Romans 8:15For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” 16The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. “Abba” - The Loving Father. He who invites open-handed, wide-hearted communication with His little children. He who sits next to His loved ones and is their confidant, He who does whatever it takes to show them His love. It is the by the Spirit that we can even say this. Fearlessly understanding that we are able to know the Love that we were made for. It is by the Spirit that we can approach God. Inhibition lost, but with clear minds and clean hearts, speaking with God. Flesh and blood, soul and spirit. Amazing.
Luke 18: 9To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everybody else, Jesus told this parable: 10"Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11The Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. 12I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’
13"But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’
14"I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted."
Yesterday, I received some information about a little old lady who ran an antique store in Evansville, IN. We bought vinyl and hats and brooches from her. They found her dead in her house. Someone had beaten her head in. I’ve never known someone who has been murdered. It made me sick.
I had a dream two nights past. I didn’t really understand it when it happened, but I will expound.
There was a girl who was in a relationship with a boy. Evidently, it had been for a long time, and he acted toward her in a very devoted manner. He consistently lavished upon her the affections of his heart, or what she thought to be his real love. She believed him well, till she stumbled upon a gathering in a park. A white building with a steeple, lined with red carpet and fitted with benches. It resembled a church, but did not house a Church. She entered it, curious of the hubbub that seemed to be going on. She entered the vestibule to see men in suits, and girls in cream dresses lining up to proceed into the hall, bouquets of lilacs in their hands. She was appalled at the necklines of these gauzy garments, for while their color denoted innocence, the actions of the swathed characters knew no such virtue. They descended the gradual slope of the isle to the front of the crowd. Standing in neat lines with all their brazen faces grinning, they looked expectantly toward the portal from which they came. It had all the makings of a wedding, but there was no groom, no smartly dressed men lining the opposite side of the party. The chords of some horrendous song were not struck up, nor did anyone rise, but the bride began to move forward from the back under reign of silence. Dressed in a poorly made gown, a crown of false gems upon her red hair, and in her hands, a bouquet of weed-like flora. She moved with no genteel quality. She did not seem as a bride should. She, like her escorts, held aloft a calculating, artful countenance, full of arrogance and intentionality. Here, entered the groom. It seemed that everyone had been awaiting his arrival rather than hers. The girl was aghast at the sight of the one she thought her match standing so assured across from the bride he was about to wed. She watched him marry the other, with sick horror and deeply-felt betrayal. She could not cry, she could not protest. He had made his choice, and she was more or less overcome with a raging pain. She stumbled outside and found his mother. The both of them shared their shock and grief, the girl asking why had his mother not stopped him. The woman could not answer, but she had not known his plot. Then the wedding party emerged from their cave, and he saw the girl he had committed his heinous treason against. He went to her and attempted to kiss her neck. It left marks of teeth. She tried to yell and scream, she tried to make known her pain, but nothing came of it. There was no word to come from the dizzying effect of that promise shattered. That he had run off with a girl he hardly knew.
I woke up with the heaviest feeling of terrible misery. An ache that gnawed at the root of my heart, attempting to cut it off. I felt as if I had watched an actor playing Judas mock love. I felt that weight with all cognizant graveness. I didn’t know why I had dreamed this, I didn’t know what sparked such a terrifying example of a turncoat. And then, this occurred to me:
I was watching the romance of love be splintered by the idolatry of self. If God was the girl figure, then I was the boy. I am not saying that this was an accurate depiction of the reality of the relationship between God and man. But with every selfish desire gratified and every disparagement of His love, we are the lying lover. We sing of our great loyalty, and sneak into godless places to make ourselves our idols.