Subversion of the Day- Prayer, a Series: Part IV

 

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Wow, its been quite awhile.  A lot has happened over the last month in my life, which has been the reason for the absence in posts.  But I have now gained some power, love, and sober-mindedness from living in the love of the Spirit of God.  And so, it is time to be intentional about this being a blog with a legitimate focus on subversion, you know, everyday.  So with that in mind, lets get back to subversion through prayer!

Returning to the passage in Matthew 21, we see that as soon as Jesus got done Hulk-ing out on everybody, he did the very next thing you would expect a pissed-off saviour to do: he healed people.  Wait, that’s not what you would expect.  But this was what Jesus was about; afflicting the comfortable, and comforting the afflicted.  And the religious elite did exactly what you would expect the religious elite to do: they were pissed that He did amazing things.

Wait… Oh, wait, that is what most people expect the religious elite to do.

I don’t say that with joy.  It is unfortunate that many of those who represent the “one’s who got it right”, at least in America, are the one’s who you could imagine in this situation getting mad at Jesus for healing people, muttering that they only came to get healed.  Or getting mad at kids for yelling “Save us, Son of David”, cause they’re kids.  They need to wait until they are older and have something of substance to contribute instead of just being loud.  Please take them to Children’s Church.  So like some today would possibly say to Jesus, they say “Do you hear what these are saying?”  I can imagine Jesus saying with a you-really-don’t-hear-what-you-are-saying tinged “Yeah, yeah I do.”  And then he quotes from a Psalm which says out of the mouth of babies you have prepared praise, and then leaves.

Cut to the chase.  What’s this got to do with prayer?

Right.  The Greek translation of the word praise is ainos, and it means a saying, proverb, praise, or something said out loud.  So easily, you can see that Jesus, by defending the blind and lame by healing them (these disabilities were typically attributed to sin in their lives) and defending the children, he was saying that in My Father’s house, a house of prayer, even the ones you don’t welcome are welcome.  In prayer, we must consider and defend those who are pushed down and oppressed by others.  To further show this, when you look at this passage that Jesus quotes as translated in the Psalms, it reads more like “you make strength come from babies that silences the enemy and the avenger.”  God’s strength resides in those without strength, and by defending those without strength in prayer and in action, we silence the oppressors.  Subvert the powers today.

Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
The words of Jesus, Matthew 5:5

Song- As Soon as You Were Finished

This is a song I wrote back in ’07 that deals with the vanity of things that promise us relief in life, and really don’t do a thing.  Enjoy, and let me know what you think!

As Soon As You Were Finished

Whiskey bottle, fancy seeing you around
If I thought that you could help me
I’d tip you up and drink you all the way down
Cause you smell and taste so warm
And your curves give me such a thrill
But as soon as you were finished
I’d be alone here still

Hello cigarettes, I see that all of you are here
Your telling me that I have nothing to fear
Cause I could burn all of you down
And fill the world with smoke
But as soon as you were finished
You’d burn my lips and make me choke

Hey there woman, you’re telling me it’s alright
You think I should lay back and say whats on my mind
Well you want to work your magic
Cause you say you see I’m blue
But as soon as you were finished
I would feel the same way that I do

Everything is vanity, everything destroys
I want to leave behind the scandals, and all of their loud noise
Cause nothing here can save my soul
It all washes out just like sand
So as soon as I am finished
I want to know where I stand

Subversion of the Day- Help Heal Someone’s Wounds

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It’s been a long week.  Between getting settled in to this school semester, spending time with friends, trying to coordinate a big community event in Richmond, KY, and preparing for a sermon that I preached yesterday, I have been swamped.  But, today is Labor Day- and I am going to celebrate it by blogging!

Using my weekly meeting with my friend at Purdy’s (http://www.purdyscoffee.com) as a spring board, yet again, I want to talk about how you can subvert the powers of the world by healing someone, specifically those whose wounds are self-inflicted.  This is a very difficult subject, and many people don’t know the first place to go to deal with it.  I read a statistic that said 4 percent of the population self harms.  4 percent.  That may seem miniscule, but in a city of 40,000, that is 2,000 people.  And the vast majority of those are teenagers- kids.  Kids I work with.  It is a trend that has gained steam in the last few years, but one that has been around for a long time.  And usually, it is associated with depression- it is a sign that things aren’t right in someone’s life.

There are some great resources out there (which I will suggest later) to aid you in trying to help those who compulsively hurt themselves.  But first, let’s look at an old one.
People have been harming themselves for thousands of years, and in most cases, it is a gesture to connect with the deity they believe in.  But it is one that God forbade His people to do, because he knew that it harmed them physically, emotionally, and spiritually, but that also back then it could have led to further harm through infections.  There is also a biblical example of self harm being connected to demonic influence.  Jesus encountered a man with an unclean spirit.  He lived among the tombs, could not be subdued (even by chains), cried out day and night and cut himself with stones.

This must have been a teenager.

That last comment was not really meant to be a joke.  I see kids all the time that suffer under the same darkness- they go in and out of the tombs, either literally by spending time in a cemetery, or figuratively by thinking about and idolizing death on a regular basis.  They are trapped in a culture of death.  Many teenagers cannot be held down or made to think a certain way- if any shackled are placed on them they typically refuse them and shake them off.  And many, many adolescents cry out night and day from the pain they feel, and do not know any other way to deal with it, so they cut themselves.

But what can we do?

To begin subverting this dark power, we have to care enough to step into the pain of others.  Not tell them to suck it up.  Not say they are just wanting attention.  And definitely not just ignoring them.  Learn about what they are dealing with.  You can get some knowledge about this from To Write Love On Her Arms (www.twloha.com) But, beyond these things, it is important that people who self-harm know that they do not have to hurt themselves to deal with their pain- someone else has felt their pain, and He has stepped in front of the blade for them.  Subvert the powers today.

He was despised and rejected by men,
a man of suffering who knew what sickness was.
He was like someone people turned away from;
He was despised, and we didn’t value Him.

Yet He Himself bore our sicknesses,
and He carried our pains;
but we in turn regarded Him stricken,
struck down by God, and afflicted.

But He was pierced because of our transgressions,
crushed because of our iniquities;
punishment for our peace was on Him,
and we are healed by His wounds.

Isaiah 53: 3-5

Subversion of the Day: Get a Tattoo

 

Now before you run out and say I told you to get all inked up: take a breath, read past the title, and decide for yourself, not because some moron on a blog said to do something or not to do something.

A friend of mine and myself have begun to routinely meet during the week at a coffee shop in Richmond, Ky (Purdy’s- check it out: http://www.purdyscoffee.com) to talk about major issues that are on the forefront of predominant youth culture- good stuff like drug abuse, self affliction, and pre-marital sex. 

Fair warning: these meeting may shape future blog posts.

So, the first topic was the inherit goodness or badness of getting a tattoo.  Now, because of a misreading of a verse in Leviticus, I have always had a disdain for tattoos of deceased family members.  To me, you could get pretty much anything, like a turtle riding a motorcycle in a hurricane on the small of your back, whatever, just as long as you were not memorializing the dead.  I was convinced that was what the Bible said.

That was, of course, until I actually read what the Bible said on the topic.

So, we came to the conclusion together that the Hebrew Bible injunction against tattoos does not necessarily pass over to the life of the subversive Christ-follower.  But, we still wondered what the purpose for one was, if there was one.  This lead us to two principle ideas in the New Testament that shaped our thinking.  One, paraphrased, mentioned that all things are allowed for Christians, but not all things are beneficial.  What is amazing about this is it in a way releases you from certain legislative bonds, and yet chains you to something greater- responsibility.  We become responsible for what we do.  So, the desire is to then do the most beneficial thing. 

Is getting a tattoo beneficial?

For the culture that I live in, yes it is.  I am more likely to spend time with a tattoo-riddled drug dealer than a CEO.  I am also more like to spend time with artistic types who express themselves in that way then reserved, evangelicals who think tattoos are a sin.  So simply, the benefit of the tattoo is that it can help me become “all things to all men (or women)”, which is another idea from the Bible.

Getting a tattoo is subversive because it is frowned upon by the dominant culture, and if you are a being that can shift in and out of the dominant culture, you show that the mentality of the “tattoo-riddled, food-stamp using masses” is an often unfair stereotype, and assumes that poor people cannot ever have anything nice if  they receive any kind of assistance, when in fact, many tattoos of the poor are done by a friend or relative for fairly cheap.  When you have a tattoo, you become more open to a certain set of folks, and that openness can lead to pointing them to Christ, which leads to ultimate, lasting life change.

So, in light of this, I am planning to get my first tattoo this year.  But I have some stipulations- to make getting a tattoo more subversive, I am trying to contact a local tattoo parlor to see if they would donate a portion of their proceeds the day that I get my tattoo to The Salvation Army, so I also know that actually purchasing my tattoo goes to creating change and helping others.  Think about getting a tattoo with me.  Subvert the powers today.

Even though I am free of the demands and expectations of everyone, I have voluntarily become a servant to any and all in order to reach a wide range of people: religious, nonreligious, meticulous moralists, loose-living immoralists, the defeated, the demoralized—whoever. I didn’t take on their way of life. I kept my bearings in Christ—but I entered their world and tried to experience things from their point of view. I’ve become just about every sort of servant there is in my attempts to lead those I meet into a God-saved life. I did all this because of the Message. I didn’t just want to talk about it; I wanted to be in on it!

1 Corinthians 9:19-23

Subversion of the Day- Ride a Bicycle

So, I rode my bike today.  And it was really great, but I felt pretty terrible at one point.  I am pretty out of shape.  But, necessity calls for one to do things to meet one’s needs, and I needed to get to school.  So bike it is.  However, i am thankful because riding a bicycle really is a great way to subvert the powers and principalities of this world.  Here are some examples:

– Biking saves you money on gas, which other than helping you save, it prevents you from buying gasoline, which most assuredly is acquired through the blood of others.

-Also with gasoline, the burning of it leads to further destruction of the world as we know it, and riding a bike helps to reduce that, or at least your involvement in it.

-Riding a bike is an easy way to keep your health in check.  Daily exercise is hard to come by, but allowing yourself a half an hour before and after work/school/whatever to transport yourself assures that you stay healthy

And in one of the most interesting things that riding bikes does is cause people to think clearer when they are driving.  Most people are prone to road rage.  So, if you ride a bicycle on a busy street, you really force those around you in a non-coercive way to think about how they react to others, and challenge their hearts and intentions.  That is very Christ-like.

So, ride a bike today, and spread the Kingdom of God.  Subvert the powers today.

Movie Review: Captain America- First Avenger

I love stories about Nazis.  There is something the important (and dangerous, which needs to be said) about the simple personification of evil into one group, one entity.  And most Americans, and I would assume a significant part of the world, view the Third Reich as close to Hell on other as we have come.

I would say they haven’t looked around the world long enough,.

Nevertheless, I like Nazi movies.  But, because I believe in the potential  of redemption of all people, I don’t see a person and see evil.  So, my preference for Nazi stories includes the incorporation of the occult, the demonic, the worship of death.  That is the true enemy.  Not flesh and blood.

And this brings us to the blind, patriotic violence of Captain America: The First Avenger.

Now, before you get really frustrated or defensive, this is not meant to tear down the closely held beliefs of an entire nation of believers in Christ.  I will wait to do that later.  No, I want to take the message and meaning behind the film and not get hung up on the issues of right or wrong displayed there in.  After all, this is a work of fiction based on a comic about the blend of science and magic created by Norse deities, and the creation of a super-soldier through technological means in the 1940’s.

If you have eyes to see, look at the metaphor.

To begin, there is this concept displayed in the film of the serum for a super-soldier, which has the ability to amplify not only one’s physicality, but also one’s inner most self, that which defines them.  So if a person is good, it makes them great; if they are bad, it makes them worse.  That is why the Captain is a handsome man, and the Red Skull is, well… a red skull.  In the real world, the super serum we have is the word of God, the Holy Bible.  It is a powerful tool, or weapon; how you use it depends not on your knowledge of it, but your proclivity to righteousness or wickedness, which is only measured by one’s right relationship with God.  There is precedent for using the word of God as a weapon towards the right enemy, which once again, is not flesh and blood.  There are those who say they follow God, and yet, they see their potential brothers and sisters as foes.  Like the Red Skull, they have claimed to excel to a level where they have “left humanity behind.”

But not the Captain, because he is the example of the pinnacle of humankind.

Kind of reminds me of a friend of mine.  Anyways,  the Captain also expresses his heart on the issue of war.  When asked if he wants to kill Nazis, Steve (Captain America) responds by saying “I don’t want to kill anyone.  I don’t like bullies, I don’t care where they are from.”  And from these eyes, he lives up to that for the most part: he takes very few lives, if any.  Though the government around him and his fellow soldiers do, he is at a level of human-hood that supersedes the need to steal another’s life to prevent them from stealing the lives of others.  My thoughts go to the actual second World War, and if more of those who claimed to be at a higher human level had followed the Christ they said they did, there may not have been a World War II.

Check the history, and let me know what you think.

The third and last point is related to the second.  Tommy Lee Jones’ character in the film says a very true statement while debating on Steve’s potential as a soldier: “Wars are not won with niceness.”  As I said, this is very true.  Wars are not won with niceness; neither are they won with violence.  Nations don’t win wars, they postpone the battle for another day, breed imperialism, and create casualties on both sides of the battle.  No, wars are won by the conquering of war itself, meaning their cessation.  There is One who has come who, unlike Steve Rodgers, overcame every failure and was, is and always will be the Perfect Soldier.  In fact, He is King.  That person is Christ Jesus.  In His Kingdom, there is only violence to that which itself violates: sin, death, and the demonic presence that perpetrates that.  Follow Christ today, use this film review to engage the culture around you, and to be a support in your own daily subversions.  Subvert the powers today.

Subversion of the Day- When You Fail, Try Again

 

 

To begin today’s subversion, I think it is important to let you know I tried this little experiment blogging once before at everdaysubversive.blogspot.com, and I failed miserably.  I wanted it to be revolutionary, incendiary, an anonymous cohort of writers, and aggressive.  I wanted my blog to change the Church, and the world.

God said nope.

Instead, it was left to fester and rot after one legitimate post.  And the problems were obvious; too many voices muddle the intent, anonymity can be devoid of integrity, the times were still changing, and aggressive in that sense is not the way of the Cross.  But that doesn’t mean that God couldn’t take the idea, alter it, purify it a little more, and make it something good, or at least better.

Something that actually subverts the powers.

You see, there are spirits that tell us lies all around us.  Whether you believe that is an actual demonic spirit or the zeitgeist (spirit of the times), we all believe it in one way or another.  And those spirits cannot be taken as truth just because they exist.  We must test them for truth.  The truth is that God wants all to follow Him, and wants good for all of those who follow Him; so by proxy, He wants good for all.  Not defeatism.

So today, you can subvert the powers (spirits) by trying something again.  Tell that voice that says you are a failure and should give up that it is not of the Truth, and you seek Truth today.  Get up, and try something again (for the record, the “spirits” didn’t want this getting out- i accidentally deleted all of this a few minutes ago.  I ain’t afraid of no ghosts).  Subvert the powers today.

Dear friends, do not believe every spirit,

but test the spirits to determine if they are from God,

because many false prophets have gone out into the world.

This is how you know the Spirit of God:

Every spirit who confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God.

But every spirit who does not confess Jesus is not from God.

This is the spirit of the antichrist;

you have heard that he is coming, and he is already in the world now.

1 John 4:1-3

Hold

Here is a song that relates well to the Subversion of the Day from yesterday.  It is about feeling alone and loneliness, and looking for someone to care about you.  It’s called Hold, here it is-

Hold
Well Im just to tired to fight

And the songs are just to hard to write

So I’ll just say goodnight and try again

When the Sun is shining bright

But my dreams may lead me astray

And try to tell me I’ve reached the break of day

When the sunlight is still so far away

They say that “This is all that sparkles”

But it still looks like gray

 

But if i listen, really close…

 

I can here a voice speak louder than the sorrow

You hold up your head, and I’ll hold up tomorrow

 

Won’t you draw near and push the others on out

There’ll be time later to hear them all shout

Well I don’t wanna mope and I don’t wanna pout

But if my heart’s a compass then I’m heading south

But every midnight tunnel you know it has it’s end

And every horseshoe curve has the one last bend

Rabbi I know you’ve made a way for my sins

But right now I don’t need a teacher, just a friend

 

But if i listen, really close…

 

I can here a voice speak louder than the sorrow

You hold up your head, and I’ll hold up tomorrow

Subversion of the Day- Be a Friend to Somebody

Friendship is a strong sign of the Kingdom come.  Christ even said that there was no greater love than that someone would lay down their life for their friends.  And really, that was Christ’s purpose- to lay down His life to make us friends of God.  And by proxy, friends of each other.  But for some reason, those of us who love revolution, who love waging war against the forces of darkness and corruption in this world don’t always see that friendship really changes anything.

However, friendship changes everything.

To really be someone one’s friend, means that you are willing to lay down your life for them.  If we are talking about bullets, most say that they will jump in front of the oncoming onslaught to save the life of the one’s they love.  They would be willing to die for that person, no questions asked.

But what if you are the one firing the gun?

See, we sometimes through ideas, accusations, obstacles, and an assortment of other nasty things that start with vowels at those we love, and refuse to be the one to stop those bullets.  Or, maybe we stop before that.  Maybe we refuse to love our friends, and fire it will.  (I like Will, whoever he is.  I don’t want to shoot him.)  I have experienced some who suggest that those in ministry (and also in the social work field) should avoid “enmeshment,” which means to get to connected with a person you are having a semi-intimate, professional relationship with.   But Christ is not a model for such an activity.  He did a whole bunch of enmeshin’; he spent most of His time with His disciples, ate with them, walked with them, probably had to run away from a few conflicts with them.  The greatest example of being enmeshed?  Yep, He died for them, even when they ran scared from dying, and left Him alone.  Some friends.

Christ was enmeshed.

And His cry to us is “Come, follow me” and “Take up my cross.”  So what does this look like in practice?  It depends on the two persons and their situation on specifics, but really the focus is to make a person a part of your family.  Eat with them.  Laugh and cry with them.  Be honest and gentle with them.  Be willing to listen to their stupid, repeated stories and their struggles.

Die for them.

Friendship will help us see the foundations and the walls of the Kingdom of God.  Subvert the powers today.

Love consists in this: not that we loved God,

but that He loved us and sent His Son

to be the propitiation for our sins.  

Dear friends, if God loved us in this way, we also must love one another.

 No one has ever seen God.

If we love one another,

 God remains in us and His love is perfected in us.

1 John 4:-12

American Idols

Here is a song that I wrote that falls in the vein of yesterday’s suggested subversion.  Let me know what you think-

 

American Idols

 

Well the talking heads are talking their heads off

About the latest fashion and who was wearing what

And I tried to speak my mind but I couldn’t get a word in

They said if it didn’t “pop” i should keep my mouth shut

 

So I climbed up a mountain to tell a dying world

That Christ died and rose again to bring us peace and love

And as soon as I thought my brothers were shouting with me

They told me to be quiet as the turned their TV’s up

 

So let’s tear down these American idols

And build back in their place an altar to the Lord

So let’s tear down these American idols

And build back in their place an altar to the Lord

 

 

Well they shake it on the Left and they shake it on the Right

So it seems there ain’t no middle cause everyone wants to fight

And politicians are wishing no one senses their precision

At collision and division so there pensions don’t go missing.

 

So there’s battles of the rich going up against the poor

And the black folk and the white folk are still engaged in war

And the genders are in combat but neither one of them are right

Cause there’s no Jew or Greek or slave or freak cause we’re all one in Christ

 

So let’s tear down these American idols

And build back in their place an altar to the Lord

So let’s tear down these American idols

And build back in their place an altar to the Lord