Broken-down Poetry: August 2009


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Friday, August 21, 2009

To all the purple states.

I wrote this blog back in November, after Obama was elected. I don't know why I never published it -- it's very clever. ;-)

But with all this health care hoo-hah I decided to go ahead and publish it with the same message. Obama is not God, but nor is he Satan.

Ha, enjoy.


God willing, I will do this in an unbiased manner. But I am human and I clearly have certain opinions that you may not agree with. That being said, I hope you all take what I say to heart.

Last night Barack Obama was elected president of the United States. Some of you are cheering, some of you are booing. That's fine. If all Christians were to vote the same way, I think we'd have a problem. There are certain issues I stand for that most of you might not. And vice versa. That's okay.

But please, now that our president has been elected, I ask that we put a few things into perspective:

One: Obama is not our Savior.

Two: Obama is not the Devil.

Maybe that's obvious to you, maybe it's not. But based off of some very dramatic Facebook statuses, I'm not too sure you all get the picture. (And maybe even I can put myself into the first category.) I'm trying to do this with the gentleness and respect that I can, but bear with me because my passion can get the best of me.

There's a problem when we think that we have elected a Savior as president. There is. If we are to say that we worship a Savior of the world, then bow our knee to a savior of our country, what does that say to the world? That we're idolaters maybe? That sounds a little extreme, but when Christ calls us to follow Him, He kind of make it exclusive.

And yes, we are supposed to obey our authorities, I'm not telling you to do otherwise. But don't say that Obama is the Hope for the world or anything like that because he is just a man.

Let's flip the coin.

So if we AREN'T going to worship Obama, does that give you permission to hate him, rally against him, hate those who support him, call him rude names, etc.? Since you are a follower of Christ, you answer right away should be "no." But I'll assume you need more proof than that.

Paul writes this to the Romans:

"Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves." Romans 13:1f

Some interesting tidbits: Paul wrote this during Nero's rule in Rome. Now, Nero was notorious for killing Christians. Early Christians (and some modern historians) were convinced that he was the anti-Christ.

But Paul still urges the Romans to obey? And that Nero's reign was "established by God"?

Now, that verse has been thrown at Dems and Repubs a lot through the years, I know. And it never makes me feel too hot either way. Especially when you take that verse and apply it to jerky bosses or profs. Submission sucks.

So let me give you another story ...

Zedekiah was king of Judah just years before Babylonian captivity. Fifty-some years of captivity awaited them. And they all knew it. Jeremiah told them all.

So a lot of the people got mad. They hated Nebuchednezzar, king of Babylon, because he was going to take their freedom away. (Or maybe they called him a socialist!) Nevertheless, Jeremiah has a message for the people of Judah.

He tells them if they don't obey Nebuchadnezzar, they will be punished via plague, sword, famine, etc. Why? Because God CHOSE Neb to rule. Chose him. God even calls him His "servant" (Jer. 25:8). That's a pretty powerful title for a jerk of a king.

And think of ol' David who had an opportunity to kill King Saul several times, but didn't. He was the "Lord's anointed."

Perhaps I am being a little dramatic. None of you threatened to kill our president or anything, but I want you to understand the implications. God has a control in the election process just as much as you do. (Actually, with this electoral college thing, he has MORE of a hand than you. lol)

For all of those I ticked off, I'm sorry if I did. I just know that what's on God's heart right now is NOT lower property taxes or socialism-esque policies.

His heart is for the poor.

The mistreated.

The voiceless.

The dying.

The sick.

The abandoned.

Our passion and rage should be devoted to causes God cares about. Not just about who will work in the Oval Office for the next 4 years.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

it is by Grace you have been saved, through faith

O Grace.

I feel like I have a new secret crush or something, and now I'm here to reveal it. Grace! I'm in love!

Okay, so last blog got a lot of responses - a lot, lot, lot, lot - via Facebook, and just one via Wordpress. I've had several urges to comment as well, clarifying what exactly I meant to say or to agree with someone's response, but I decided not to. Instead, I'm going to write this blog.

For over a year now God's been teaching me about Grace. It started in April '08 with Paul's sermon series based off of his favorite book, "What's So Amazing About Grace?" And since then, through books I've been reading, songs I've been listening to, friends I've been chatting to and through the Word of God, I'm finally starting to understand a thing or two about it.


I was talking to Jacque about this at Warren Dunes a few weeks ago, half thinking it was blasphemy.

Grace says that you can be forgiven before you even ask for it -- before you even want to ask for it.

This phrase (and it is true, by the way) kind of woke me up.

See, I've been a Christian since I was about 12 years old, and I kind of always understood the faith thing. I got that you needed to have a relationship with God, that Christianity is more than just a moral code.

But I didn't get Grace.

I thought that Grace was God's way of tolerating me.

I may not be saved through my actions,
but I better pull myself together
or God won't like me much anymore.

I ascribed myself to legalism. I never really got why I loved rules so much and why I loved when people got what they deserved. I thought it was because I was a moral person -- and I know for many of you reading this, you'll nod profusely, recalling a time when I just said no to one thing or another.

But I don't think it was because I'm a moral person. I think it's because I never understood Grace.

Grace says that I'm forgiven before I repent. I'm forgiven before I realize what I am doing.

But I was mistaking Grace with mercy. Mercy, is (and excuse my extremely secular and kind of heretical description here) ... mercy is Grace without balls. It says that I gueeessss I'll forgive you because you asked politely.

Mercy says, "You've gone through enough punishment so I won't add anymore. (But you're not off the hook yet!)"

Mercy says, "You deserve my pity."

Oh, but Grace says to the prodigal son, "Let me throw you a party!"

Grace says, "Whatever you did yesterday, whatever sin you have committed will be forgotten. Come and rest."

There will be more on Grace in blogs to come, I assure you. But for now, like any new secret crush (or, not so secret), I'm going to relish in what I do know about Grace. I'm going to take joy in the fact that I am forgiven. Already. I don't have to do anything to earn God's favor. :-)


Saturday, August 15, 2009

What Matters More

I wanted to quote this song in my facebook status, but I thought it'd stir up more controversy than conviction. So I thought I'd blog about it instead.

Derek Webb (musican/activitist) released his new album digitally -- and with it came a lot of drama. He wrote a song called "What Matters More" that not only speaks blatently against the Christian tendency to condemn homosexuals, but also uses two whole cuss words. (GASP!)

So, like I said, instead of just posting the lyrics so we can gawk at them (or nod in agreement), let's discuss them. Yes, you and me. (Okay, just me. This is a one-way blog, after all.)

You say you always treat people like you like to be
I guess you love being hated for your sexuality
You love when people put words in your mouth
'Bout what you believe, make you sound like a freak
'Cause if you really believe what you say you believe
You wouldn't be so damn reckless with the words you speak
Wouldn't silently consent when the liars speak
Denyin' all the dyin' of the remedy

What if we treated people the way we wanted to be treated? No really, what if we actually followed the golden rule? What if we stopped using the word "gay" as a synonym for stupid?

After reading The Unlikely Disciple by Kevin Roose, I started noticing how often people use "gay" to mean all these negative things. And after reading that book, it started getting on my nerves. Gosh, whether or not we believe it's God's will for guys to like guys and girls to like girls, we have no excuse to mock their lifestyle by turning it into a cuss word.

I believe that the greatest two commandments are to love God and to love others. And to love others, I think that means to treat them with respect.

Tell me, brother, what matters more to you?
Tell me, sister, what matters more to you

And here's the question: What matters more to God, do you think? That people know what they're doing is wrong or that they can be offered freedom through Christ?

And what makes us think that telling people they're living in sin will bring them any closer to the cross of Christ?

What matters more to you?

If I can tell what's in your heart by what comes out of your mouth
Then it sure looks to me like being straight is all it's about
It looks like being hated for all the wrong things
Like chasin' the wind while the pendulum swings

Again, the first two lines hold the punch. Why are we Christians known for our anti-homosexuality more than for our loving kindness and mercy? Does this seem right at all?!

I know that God is a God of justice. I know that he HATES sin so, so much ... but I also believe that there's grace. And I believe that it's offered freely. And that I sin. And that you sin. And that God cloaks us with his grace, if we accept it.

I believe there's forgiveness.

And I believe we should be talking about this more than anything else, friends. More than anything.

VERSE 2.5:
'Cause we can talk and debate until we're blue in the face
About the language and tradition that he's comin' to save
Meanwhile we sit just like we don't give a shit
About 50,000 people who are dyin' today

Lines 3-4 were taken from a Tony Campolo quote that says, "I have three things I'd like to say today: First, while you were sleeping last night, 30,000 kids died of starvation or diseases related to malnutrition. Second, most of you don't give a shit. What's worse is that you're more upset with the fact that I said shit than the fact that 30,000 kids died last night" ("The Positive Prophet," Christianity Today).

I think of chapter 12 of Lord, Save Us From Your Followers when documentarian Dan Merchant creates a confession booth like Don Miller did in Blue Like Jazz. But Merchant created it at a gay-pride festival.

Merchant sits in this booth apologizing for the way the Church has acted toward the gay community. He apologizes for gay jokes and for lack of help with the AIDS epidemic. He apologizes for not showing Christ's love.

And he's forgiven.

Everyone he talks to forgives him.

Are we that forgiving?

(I do say it's a beautiful chapter - all of it. I remember reading it early last school year, late at night, wanting to cry and to build my own booth.)

The chapter concludes with a quote from none other than Tony Campolo. He says, "You don't have to legitimate someone's lifestyle in order to love that person, to be brother or sister to that person and then stand up for that person."

And I conclude my blog with the words of Jesus Christ:

"I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me." Matthew 25:40