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

Subversion of the Day- Have No Fear

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With it being Halloween, I thought it fitting (like I am sure a thousand other people) to tackle the subject of the day.  Though this may end up sounding a little bit like a past post, I want to take it in a new direction.  The Subversion of the Day is to have no fear.  On Halloween, fear and fun, or trick and treat, rule the streets.  I want to be clear on the onset of this that I am not out to bash Halloween.  I think that is kind of a fool’s errand, and there are much greater, much more evil of social institutions to throw my weight against… like Christmas or Easter (I kid… sort of).  But there is that common theme of fear that is associated with this holiday, or holy day to some.  When the night creeps in, and strange noises began to tear a part your mind, thinking that some crazed maniac, some ghastly specter, some evil-possessed entity is about to descend upon you…

But how often does that actually happen?


I think there could be something cathartic about the fear induced around Halloween, if we allow it to challenge our desire to flee from things that cause us fright.  But the fear I am speaking of is much more sinister, much more insidious, much darker.  Everyday we go through life carrying certain fears and doubts and uncertainties.  Fear of the unknown, fear of those different than us, fear of change.  We are often crippled by this.  And this is the realm that I think the real evil, the real darkness, the real demonic finds the fruits of it’s labors.  This Halloween stuff is chicanery, slight-of-hand.  The real powers of darkness want you to look the other way, while they are convincing you to walk through your life in fear of really living.  Because when we do that, we disconnect from relying on the God that truly loves us.

So how do we fight the real darkness?

 

I good place to start in subverting the darkness is not to wage an all out war on all things scary and Halloween-like… but maybe just take it out of your life.  Don’t watch so many movies, read so many books, think so many thoughts that relate to terror.  Instead, think about things that are good, holy, of great worth.  Think about how Jesus changes the world, and brings light to cause darkness to hide wherever He goes.  And then, when you are really ready to tackle the true strong holds of darkness, question the fear that society, and yourself, implant in you:

Fear of other nations/ ethnic groups

Fear of other religions

Fear of other orientations

Fear of other ideologies or political affiliations

Fear of failure

Fear of loss

Fear of death…

When we question fear to its face, it usually doesn’t have much to say.  When you carry the light of Christ with you, the darkness, and fear, has no other option but to flee.  Subvert the powers today.

PS:  I may talk big game, but the picture at the top of this page gives me cold chills every time I think of it, lol.

There is no fear in love; instead, perfect love drives out fear, because fear involves punishment.  So the one who fears has not reached perfection in love.

 1 John 4:18

Subversion of the Day- Consistency

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Is this thing still on?  Man, crazy stuff going on in my life right now- school, work, the greatest marriage ever, preparing to move away from the only state I have ever lived in.  It is like my world is falling apart, and coming together at the same time.  So please stick with me as I figure this out and deal with the Subversion of the Day- being consistent.

I love these little ideas that seem to have nothing to do with a revolutionary existence of under-throwing the powers of darkness.  But the real power is in the powerless!  So how appropriate that something as small as being consistent has such affirmative, life changing power!  If you can’t tell from my month long disappearance, i severely struggle with consistency.  I love to passionately start something, get distracted, and quickly forget about any commitment I ever made towards it.  I get the feeling that a good chunk of the world is like this.  But it is in our consistency that we see real fruit of change.

Maybe it is the only place we see real change?

Revolutions typically aren’t things that just poof out of thin air over night.  They are great events that have had long term influences.  If we really want to see darkness cast out in our lives and in our communities, then we must stick with what we start, or at least not abandon things.

Take time today to think through things you have committed to and have given up on when things were difficult, not what you wanted, or no longer interesting-

A job?A promise?
A commitment?
A relationship?
A resolution?
… a faith?

Or maybe just a blog.  Either way, in order to walk in the way of Jesus, you have to die to the sinful urge to give up.  Perseverance is key, in seeking the Kingdom, and seeing good things in your life.  Some heroes of the faith that I try to stand on the shoulders of say that real change doesn’t happen in the community until the 10th year of doing something.  You can’t expect to see real change in yourself and your life if you cant keep up with something after the 10th day.  I am taking this time to repent of my own lack of commitment and consistency by recommitting to making this blog a prophetic voice for change.  Maybe more consistent than lengthy is the answer.  Let’s find out together.  Subvert the powers today.

Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.

1 Corinthians 15:58

Subversion of the Day- Judge Not

 

It sure has been a bit.  Hopefully the next one will be more timely.

The Subversion for today simply is to “Judge not, lest ye be judged.”  I don’t know why, but there is something fun about reading that in King James Version.  Maybe it is because it is so simple to manipulate for our own power.  This is one of the most poorly used, out-of-context spouted verses in the whole of the accepted Christian Scriptures.  Most often, it is framed as- You can’t tell me what to do.  Don’t judge..  or something similar.  Maybe a modern paraphrase can help shed some light on this- “Don’t pick on people, jump on their failures, criticize their faults— unless, of course, you want the same treatment. That critical spirit has a way of boomeranging.”

Ain’t that the truth?

I used to think that I was doing the world a service when I would point out all of the ideas, interests, perspectives, beliefs, and preferences on anything that I thought was stupid.  I cared about them, and I didn’t want them to poison their lives with meaningless, unimportant drivel, from tearing down musical preferences to religious ideology.  And yet, it was I who was the one being poisoned all along with that unnecessary, overly critical thinking.  It repulsed people, made me ugly.  I tried to clean their face while I had a gaping wound to my forehead.  That is ridiculous.

And yet, we all do that.

Everyone is a product of their own chosen, assigned, or inherited systems, and there are many: family, friends, work, education (or lack of), social or economic status, political affiliation, ethnicity, skin tone/race, sexual orientation, gender, taste, and religious belief (or lack of).  And the truth is, none of these are better than an other.  Nicki Minaj is not better than Bob Dylan, or vice a versa.  And Christianity is not better than Hinduism, and vice a versa.  Even further, one branch of Christianity is not better than another.  There is truth in all things that we can learn from, because all truth is God’s truth.  He has a monopoly on it.  With that said, I must say the thing that may frustrate and trouble you- Jesus claimed to be the Way, the Life, and the Truth.

Jesus is the Truth.

All truth stems from His existence as Truth.  And His life was one of loving and uplifting those who feel cast out and are different.  But, he was critical when necessary.  He was very critical of death and those things that associated with death or lead to it.  Therefore, we must focus all of our energy on criticizing those things that lead to death and destruction- like poverty, hunger, homelessness, drug abuse. depression, loneliness, violence of any kind, and destroying others with even our words.  The way of the cross is one of releasing power, not coercion.  Let someone know that you affirm them, even if you disagree with them.  Subvert the powers today. 

“Do not judge, so that you won’t be judged.(A) For with the judgment you use,[a] you will be judged, and with the measure you use,[b] it will be measured to you.(B) Why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye but don’t notice the log in your own eye?(C) Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ and look, there’s a log in your eye? Hypocrite! First take the log out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye. Don’t give what is holy to dogs or toss your pearls before pigs,(D) or they will trample them with their feet, turn, and tear you to pieces.   –Matthew 7:1-6

Subversion of the Day- Rest

 

We live in a culture that believes that consistently going is the best option, and that to slow down means death.  This, I must say, is corruption.  And I for one have fallen hook, line and sinker.  For example, I am writing this at 3 o’clock in the morning, and I have to get up to point kids to Christ in about 5 hours, and teach them how to fight the darkness.  I don’t plan on going to sleep for another 2 hours.  If we do not slow down, we die.  It is true; machines break down without maintenance; relationships tear without passionate investment; people die from exhaustion, literally and physically.

We need rest.

So the Subversion of the Day is to have a day of rest.  Now before you start calling me an out-of-touch bible-thumper or something equally as true, slow down a sec.  See what I did there?  I do not seek to be dogmatic about day of the week, or provide a list of activities accepted and not accepted.  This is about what allows you to rest, or recharge.  If being in the woods rejuvenates you, make that a part of your day of rest.  If it doesn’t, don’t.  The important thing is to see the importance of the activity: allowing ourselves time to recharge maintains us as a vessel to be used in God’s Kingdom.  It enables us to let out deal with pain and struggle of our week, so that we can consistently be an example of what Christ wants His people to be.

To subvert the powers, sometimes you have to take a break from subverting the powers.

So here is, for those interested, my example of what I will be doing to rest.  In a way I have split my day of rest into two parts, because in a way, neither is really a full day of rest for me.  On my day off during the week from acting as the Youth and Outreach Director at The Salvation Army, Richmond KY Corps, I spend time at a bible study I don’t have to prepare for (and I get to eat at), meeting with a similar saint that can encourage me, and spending copious amounts of time thinking, reading, and writing at Purdy’s Coffeehouse, drinking copious amounts of coffee.  This is super restful.  This isn’t giving to others, this is about me.  But one thing I need rest from I do not rest from on that day.  I will give you a hint to what that is: I am typing on it.  If you read my previous post Ode to the God of the 21st Century, you can see that I am prone to idol worship.  I need to cut ties with this device at least one day a week, so that way it doesn’t try to climb up on the throne of the King in my life again.

I am going throw back with this one.

This will officially be my first and last post for this blog on Sundays.  I am severing my connection from the internet on the commonly accepted Sabbath day to rest, and remember the God who can communicate to me without bright screen and a motherboard.  I am going to trust that He wants me to rest, and that the world won’t fall apart in that time frame.  I hope it doesn’t.  But if it does, I won’t know, because I won’t be checking Facebook.

Pick your own day to rest, and really find those things that allow you to recharge and be prepared to fight away the darkness and stand for the Kingdom every day.  Subvert the powers today.

 

One Sabbath Jesus was going through the grainfields, and as his disciples walked along, they began to pick some heads of grain.  The Pharisees said to him, “Look, why are they doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath?”

He answered, “Have you never read what David did when he and his companions were hungry and in need?  In the days of Abiathar the high priest, he entered the house of God and ate the consecrated bread, which is lawful only for priests to eat.  And he also gave some to his companions.”

Then he said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.”

Matthew 2:23-27

Subversion of the Day, and The Campaign movie review

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Last night, my wife and I went to see The Campaign with Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis for a date after a long week of work.  I expected it to be pretty low brow, and it was more or less off my radar other than thinking the trailers looked funny, but nevertheless, we chose to see it.  And at the end of it, I left the theater feeling like I had fallen in a septic tank.  The copious amounts of invasive, sexual humor just coated me in this film that made me feel disgusted when it was over.

Their plan worked.

See, I am pretty sure their plan was to make me feel uncomfortable.  But what I don’t think they intended was the commentary on the filthiness of the American political system.  Greed, corruption, adultery, deceit, violence, slander, religious posturing for votes, embellished patriotism for supporters; these are all things that are present in our current political conscience, and many of them are a part of campaign tactics.  But the movie plays Galifianakis’ character Marty Huggins as the goofy, loveable imbecile who is the one who stands for what he believes.  And in the end, all is made right.  (SPOILER ALERT!!!!) Marty doesn’t “win” the election, but is handed it by his opponent because he sees goodness in him, and then Marty lets the dogs out on the corrupt business men who tried to manipulate the whole thing.  Things are right, all is well, the political system is upheld.  This is all well and good, except one tiny problem.

This is fiction.  Not reality.

Marty Huggins was prone to corruption during the campaign.  He stooped to the level of Cam Brady (MORE SPOILERS); getting him drunk and allowing him to drive home, shooting him with a rifle in the leg, manipulating his son for a campaign ad… there is more, but it is irrelevant.  He was brought to the low level of his rival.  And he also left his financial backers when they said they were essentially selling his district to China, and he went after them later with his newly gained power.  But, he was still corrupted.  So, what now stops him from succumbing to other pressures, like lobbyists pushing him to sign into law something that would keep his constituency, but goes against his morals, or even his desires for his office as representative.  No person is an adequate representative of the desires of another.

Except one.

 

And this is where the Subversion of the Day come into play.  Let’s give it it’s own title-

 

Subversion of the Day: Engage in Critical Conversation Over

Popular Culture, and Point it Back to Christ

 

Christ is the only legitimate, accurate representative we have.  He knows our best interests, and actually wants them to come to pass.  He is not bound by the continuance of His office as King of Kings- it is eternal, and without realistic challenge.  He does not have to uphold the whims of his constituency, but instead, works together all things for the good of those who are called according to His purpose.  He is King.  So why do we think we need people who are prone to corruption because their OFFICE is prone to corruption making decisions that relegate our freedom?  WE ARE ALREADY FREE!  To live in the Kingdom means not to challenge the authorities in a violent, aggressive way, or even really in a political way.  It is to live differently.  To not disobey laws, but live as though legislation is not necessary, because grace fills our lives, and we guide each other. 

One last thing.  Marty Huggins is a good example of change though, in his pre-corrupt stage.  He is weird, he is a little dumb, and he is viewed as weak and silly.  But he cares.  This is foolishness to the system he works in.  And the cross of Christ is foolishness to the world- it is weak, shameful, weird, dumb, and silly.  We must be these things to point out the corruption and death around us.  We must be like Christ, and live differently, and not allow ourselves to be corrupted by the systems of this world.  We must be subversive.

This brings us full circle to the Subversion of the Day- engage in critical conversation over popular culture, and point it back to Christ.  Use the interests of the world around you to point others to the truth of reality, which ultimately, is that Christ changes things, and His Kingdom is better than all others, and it will reign after all others crumble.  Subvert the powers today.

 

“My kingdom is not of this world,” said Jesus. “If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would fight, so that I wouldn’t be handed over to the Jews. As it is, My kingdom does not have its origin here.”

“You are a king then?” Pilate asked.

“You say that I’m a king,” Jesus replied. “I was born for this, and I have come into the world for this: to testify to the truth.  Everyone who is of the truth listens to My voice.”

“What is truth?” said Pilate

John 18:36-38