Take chances. Abandon all the rules. Ditch the recipe. Color outside the lines.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

God the Socialist

I think God would be a Socialist. 

I mean think about it, pure Socialism is about giving to those according to their need, everyone takes care of each other, and all the wealth is shared.  Now, I don’t think pure Socialism is possible in our world today because people are fallen and greedy, but man it sure sounds nice!

Think about if it were God… he’s nothing but complete and total purity.  He operates like a socialist; constantly giving into those who need him most without thought or desire for anything himself.  Jesus spoke many times about the danger of money and the downfalls of being rich, saying it would be easier for a camel to get through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to get in to heaven. Have u seen the eye of a needle? I can’t even get a piece of string through there half the time much less a massive camel! 

I’ve been learning about all this grace stuff and it’s made me look at things in extreme ways.  To some people talk of God being a socialist may not sound too extreme but… I’m from Texas.  I’m pretty sure my grandparents may have heart-attacks when they read this.  For all my conservative readers just hear me out! 

God isn’t greedy when it comes to his grace.  He gives it out in abundance and in fullness.  It doesn’t matter how much you’ve done to “earn” it or how many spiritual hours you clock in to get your grace paycheck.  When it comes to grace there is no earning or doing to get more of it.  God has redistributed the wealth of grace to include and be given to all of us equally and in totality.

Romans says where sin abounds that grace abounds all the more.  So the more you need grace… the more you can take in! The reason socialism doesn’t work in our world is because people abuse it by using it as an excuse not to work or to not better their lives.  It’s interesting to me that that is the main argument against preaching the message of grace.  “People will use that as an excuse to sin.”  

You can’t abuse grace.  It’s not possible.  The abundance of it is overwhelming.  Sure some people will use it as an excuse to sin but honestly I believe that is when God gives them more grace and eventually they come running back to him with such a desire to serve him that it could never be matched by duty to achieve. 

God’s grace will always be given fully to you despite your works or your abilities.  Grace puts us all on equal ground from the mega church pastor to the street junkie.  I am a spiritual Socialist and I am all about the redistribution of the wealth of Grace to those who need it the most.    

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Green Eyes and Grace

One of my favorite comic book characters growing up was the Hulk.  I mean come on, he was a huge green monster that got to destroy things when he was mad, how cool is that?  During my high school years I found the Hulk very relateable as I, myself, seemed to more frequently turn into a monster and destroy things every time I got angry.  Anger has always been my default and my immediate reaction to any situation in which I’m not sure quite how to respond.  More times than not, I found myself in fights, usually on the behalf of the weak, and many times they landed me in rough situations.  As I have grown older I can see the danger of my anger and the destruction it leaves in its wake.  There were times I would go ballistic over something insignificant simply because I so deeply hated myself that I found fault in anything.  My anger was the main thing that kept me from really listening to the message of Grace for a long time because if I started believing in grace that meant I had to let go of all the anger I harbored towards people.  I have made major strides in learning how to manage the green beast within my own heart, although, there are times when I find it to be increasingly difficult.  This week I found myself face to face with my monster.  Innocence walked in on conspiracy and I overheard a conversation that was most definitely not meant for my ears.  On a side note, be careful what you say because you never know who may be on down the hall listening to your hatred.  Anyway, my accidental ease dropping began a massive inward war as the creature inside me clawed at the walls of my heart, trying desperately to make its way into the light and wreak havoc.  Grace, quickly following behind it, stitching up the scratches it left behind.  It is in moments like these that I usually end up at the dining room table of my pastor and friend where I am greeted with strong coffee and strong arms to wrap me in a hug and remind me that I am loved.  The conversation starts with me ranting and raving about how I just don’t understand God sometimes and how I wish he would just give those evil people what they deserve.  Then he reminds me that if God did that then it meant He would have to do the same to me.  He simply lets my Hulk run wild while he calmly sips his coffee and listens.  Then, eventually, it wears itself out and he fills me with words of love and grace as he softly reminds me that grace is even for the anti-gracers.  There are churches out there, religious people, that teach a duty driven faith heaped in law and driven by guilt.  I believe Satan is the father of these churches.  I don’t like them, but I also don’t have to live in them.  It’s ok to walk away sometimes.  It’s ok to stop fighting.  Sometimes you just have to live your life and let grace come out in everything you do and wait for the hurting to run to you.  Our job is to comfort the persecuted; it is not to punish the oppressors.  Let them have their empty religion and let us draw people to our overflowing relationship.  Quiet your Hulk; you will be amazed how dangerous you become.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Lessons Learned from the Ood

My latest TV Show obsession is the BBC show “Dr. Who” which is seriously addicting!  I started watching it because all my youth kids were obsessed with it and wanted me to jump on the band wagon. So, I did what any good youth leader would do and gave into peer pressure. 

It’s basically about this “time lord” named simply “The Doctor” who travels through time and space in his TARDIS (time machine/space ship) and saves the universe from mean aliens (and sometimes mean humans).  

On one adventure The Doctor encounters these creatures called “The Ood.”   The Ood are made to be servants to the humans by having their brains removed and replaced with a glowing translation ball that they use to speak.  They are stripped of their ability to think for themselves and are forced into submission without knowing any better.  


There are still some Ood who have their brains and they use them to telepathically send messages to their brothers in arms and all the Ood rise up against the mean humans and thus begins the Oodolution!  

It was all very dramatic and I found myself cheering for the aliens and against the humans.  Perhaps, because I found I could relate with the Ood to some extent.  I find that many times within the walls of religion our brains are taken from us and we are given our own translation balls that glow with the spiritual jargon of law and duty.  

We, like the Ood, are forced into slavery without even knowing it, herded like cattle through one ceremony after the other hoping that eventually one will bring us fulfillment.  Every question or doubt is met with further reprogramming and discipline to bring us into submission.  

Maybe it’s time we took a lesson from the Ood.  Maybe it’s our time to rise up and think for ourselves.  Maybe it’s time our eyes glow red with desire for more than captivity. It’s time to renew our minds.  


Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Catch a Tiger by Its Toe

I’m not sure if I should write this… but my heart is heavy.  I spent an hour and a half on the phone yesterday with my friend listening to her hurt and anger with a “spiritual leader.”  I feel her pain.  There have been many of those people who I have been at odds with, and still am in some cases, in my life.  The current thorn in my side is a spiritual leader at a pretty close to home church.  I see him spew hatred against Muslims, Democrats, rebels, and of course, grace teachers like me.  He likes to use spiritual jargon and five point verse break downs to prove his point and approaches everything as an argument.  He continually speaks of God chastising us and approaching God with fear and trembling as if God is some kind of evil task master waiting for his chance to point out what we have done wrong.  He constantly speaks with aggression and even when he speaks of God’s love it is laced with prejudice and selectivity.  When I see God portrayed like this it deeply angers me, it also saddens me.  I pity him.  How miserable a life it must be to live in constant fear of not being good enough for God’s blessings, or worrying about what will happen if you don’t complete your spiritual check list for the day, or even having to think about what you can do to please God more.  I hurt for him because he has no concept of the depth of God’s love for him.  He lives his life in constant fear of God and comparison to others… how exhausting that must be!  I never was good at the whole keeping the Law concept of Christianity which is why for a long time I wanted nothing to do with God because I thought that was the only way he could relate to us.  It’s hard for me to understand why anyone would want to live so held captive by the fear that religion brings.  I know that that is all he’s ever known; like a nursery rhyme a child repeats over and over, He has heard this message of working and doing to gain from God.  I know he will probably never read this, but if he does I have a message for him.  There is freedom!  Christ IS freedom.  He doesn’t want to make you feel fear, hurt, worry, unworthy, unloved, or undeserving.  He wants a vibrant, crazy, intimate, life changing, heart freeing, desire creating relationship with you that makes you overflow with love and joy.  His grace is not just for when you die, to save you from Hell, but also for your life, to save you from your everyday hurts.  He wants nothing more than to embrace you and show you how extravagant his love truly is… and rules can’t contain or express that love!  You don’t have to do anything to earn it, it’s yours, God’s favor in its fullness, all you have to do is reach out and take it!  It’s that simple.  Just jump and let him catch you.  Have faith enough to take a chance that God has something greater for you than your spiritual bondage.  Just jump.  Jump.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Hard to Love

Today I am headed to Kansas.  Unfortunately, due to the fact that I am “broke as hell” as Steve likes to put it, I booked a flight on a less than top notch air service.  The first half of my flight was spent circling around the Denver airport for about an hour for pretty much no reason waiting to land.  Then after a 2 hour delay in my connecting flight I am now currently sitting on the plane to Kansas at 10:08pm, half-awake, thanks to a cup of six dollar coffee.  As I sit here, looking out the 36 square inch window into darkness, I am provided quite a bit of time for thinking.  This weekend is a much needed escape for me.  I have set out on a journey  that has put me at odds with the institution of the church  in many ways.  That, of course, means that every “good church person” has decided to voice their opinions about the danger and awfulness of my “rebellion”  as well as a nice list of “do’s” and “don’ts” when it comes to asking questions of God and “his people.”  This has landed me at a point of frustration and spiritual tiredness.  I have an ongoing struggle with depression.  According to church people it’s because of my lack of faith and reliance on God; according to an actual medical professional (a few in fact) it’s because of a chemical imbalance in my brain.  Honestly, I don’t care why I have it; I just know that sometimes it really really sucks!  In high school I used alcohol to medicate my depression.  It worked… well if you count waking up on the floor in a pool of your own vomit working, I guess.  Hey, I wasn’t depressed anymore! I wasn’t anything.  Just really… smelly.  In college I started going to therapy and my therapist suggest I talk to a doctor about my depression.  I did and apparently I had a massive hormone imbalance and he gave me some really awesome drugs that made my cheeks hurt from smiling so much!  That didn’t solve all my problems though.  I still had these awful panic attacks, usually caused by my ridiculously intense nightmares that I’ve had since I was little.  So…. More drugs for that… yay.  Eventually the meds trained my body to start balancing itself out and my doctor weaned me off of them.  I still struggle with depression; not enough to be on drugs for it but enough to leave me extremely drained and numb sometimes for no reason… sometimes I wish I had the drugs again.  In these times of numbness I find solace in music.  Music is my escape whether it’s playing my guitar, writing music, or just blasting my iPod, closing my eyes, and taking in the music.  Today on the plane I settled on the latter (mainly because I’m pretty sure the other passengers wouldn’t enjoy me walking up and down the aisles serenading them with my guitar).  As I sit here staring out into the darkness above the clouds my current song obsession is playing in my ears.  It’s a song called “Hard to Love” by Lee Brice.  I’ve had this song on replay for the past 2 weeks but tonight the lyrics hit me a little harder. 
I am insensitive, I have a tendency to pay more attention to the things that I need.  Sometimes I drink too much, sometimes I test your trust, sometimes I don’t know why you stay with me.  I’m hard to love, hard to love, no I don’t make it easy, I couldn’t do It if I stood where you stood.  I’m hard to love, hard to love, but you say that you need me.  I don’t deserve it but I love that you love me good.  I am a sort fuse, I am a wrecking ball, crashing into your heart like I do.  You’re like a Sunday morning, full of grace and full of Jesus, I wish that I could be more like you. 
I have currently been obsessed with this song because It reminds me of my amazing boyfriend who is increasingly patient with me even  on my depressed days.  Tonight I started thinking of all the religious junk I’ve been fighting, feeling like I’m drowning in the waves I’ve made in this kiddie pool of conformity.  I am reminded that just as my boyfriend is patient with me in my hard to love moments God is patient with me in my hard to love moments; and not only is he patient with me but he’s patient with the religious oppressors in their hard to love moments and when it’s hard for me to love the hard to love (confused yet?)  I know God shakes his head at me sometimes, “Silly girl, don’t you know I love them just the same as I love you?”  It’s really not fair that he uses my songs to tell me stuff like that… that’s totally cheating!  Everyone is hard to love sometimes, but God easily pours out his love on us… he’s really crazy like that.  I may be hard to love but it comes easy to him.  He doesn’t do it out of duty or because we’ve done enough to get it.  He does it because that’s who he is.  God is love.  Nothing we can do can change WHO God is… which is love.  So… nothing we can do will ever change how much we are loved.  THAT is much better than happy pills.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Remembering the Rebel

Playing the Rebel
 As many of you know, my best friend and I have stated this massive project of making a documentary about Christianity called “Color Outside the Lines.”  The basic goal is discovering why people in our world today no longer want anything to do with church but have no problem with the person of Jesus Christ.  Today we conducted a social experiment where we went to a small Independent Baptist Church out in the middle of nowhere playing characters that one wouldn’t normally see in church.  She played an unwed pregnant teen and I was the insubordinate rebel without a cause.  The rebel role wasn’t a difficult one for me to play because not too long ago the person that walked into that church today was exactly who I was.  Angry at the world, my icy stares and baggy clothes tried desperately to hide the pain underneath as I held my breath that no one could see the weakness of my tattered heart.  Many times I found myself wandering into college Bible studies, youth led church services, or weekly chapels reeking of cigar smoke and puffy eyes from consecutive nights without sleep.  I hid my pain with snide comments and cynical humor trying my best to convince everyone around me that I really didn’t care what they had to say.  I walked into that church today pretending to be something I am glad I have escaped from.  My therapist in college used to say that the hardest part of moving forward is facing your past.  I understand more today than I ever had what she meant by that.  Today I faced a part of my past that I hadn’t really dealt with yet.  It is easy for me to look back on the depth of my brokenness and see how the religious truly scarred my heart; the hard part about today is that I had to look back and see that my rebellion was just as wrong as their rejection.   I have said many times, my response to pain is my fault not those who caused the hurting.  My choices to drink, smoke, fight, argue, hate, and respond with insolence are my own and not the responsibility of those that they are in response to.  I am thankful that grace came in and saved me not only from my oppressors but also from myself.  Today was big for me.  I proved to myself that I’m not that person anymore, hiding behind rebellion and cheering for anarchy, but that there is truly joy inside my heart that frees me from having to be hard to keep from getting hurt.  I shed another layer of skin today as I become the new me made by grace and loved by God.  I boast in God’s great love for me because I truly have never felt more free.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Playing Super Heroes

Growing up my little brother and I were very close and despite a five year age difference we always found something to imagine, pretend, and play together.  The most common thing we did together was play “super heroes” which I later discovered says a lot about our personalities.  We both have passionate hearts for the underdogs, unwanted, and weak spirited.  The difference between Chance and I is how that passion in our hearts pours out.  When we were little, my super hero was Super Tommy.  He was tough, strong willed, bent the rules, and, of course, had no weaknesses.  Chance’s super hero was Super Rascal.  He was soft hearted, brave, had integrity, and had one weakness that only the people closest to him knew about.  Super Tommy always scoffed at Super Rascal claiming that his tender heart made him weaker, but in the end Super Rascal some how ended up saving Super Tommy from some kind of trouble that his hot temper had gotten him in.  As we grew up we stopped playing super heroes and we became our super heroes.  I became tough, strong willed, hot headed, and strived for imperviousness.  Chance became soft hearted, brave, full of integrity, and honest about his weaknesses with the people closest to him.  I often saw his tenderness as weakness, but many times he has saved me from the trouble that my hot temper has gotten me in.  We both want to protect the weak and punish the oppressors, but where I come in with aggression he comes in with love.  As I am progressing on this journey of grace I find myself getting very angry with the anti-gracers.  I am disgusted by their words, turned off by their actions, and infuriated with their teachings.  In these moments my super hero complex kicks in and I rush in to save the day… not to comfort the hurting but to punish the hurters.  Chance comes in behind me taking care of the broken people that I have passed over in my rush to execute justice.  I don’t see Super Rascal as weak any more.  If we become so focused on punishing the oppressors that we forsake the oppressed then we miss the whole point of who Jesus was.  It’s interesting to me that Jesus rarely answered questions presented to him about the law with actual answers but rather responded with more questions (which I find quite annoying at times!)  There is one instance though where he answers with a pretty straightforward answer.  A man asks him what is the greatest of the Commandments and Jesus replies, “The most important commandment is this: ‘Listen, O Israel! The Lord our God is the one and only Lord and you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.’ The second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ No other commandment is greater than these.”  What was most important to Jesus?  Proving he was right and the religious leaders were wrong?  Bring those people to justice?  Fighting the continuous battle of law?  Love.  Just love.  I understand why now more than ever.  If you have love then all that other stuff falls into place.  That’s why it is so important because if you don’t have love you can’t have all that other stuff.  You can’t do anything right, be enough, pray enough, read your bible enough, witness enough, tithe enough, or be “Christian” enough.  If you have all those things but don’t have love then what are they worth?  I continually have to refocus my mind to love the hurting instead of punish the hurters.  See, because grace is for the robber and the robbed; the murderer and murdered; the raped and the rapist; the persecuted and the persecutor; the judged and the judgers; the proud and the humble; Hitler and those he killed; grace… is even for those who try to suppress it.  That’s the beauty of grace… it makes life not fair.