Your Love Is Better Than Life

Simple lyrics profound enough to me personally to warant posting in my blog… Your Love Is Better Than Life by Newsboys:

I dunno nothing that I haven’t been taught,
I dunno why I was born into the family I’ve got,
I dunno if I ever had an original thought,
maybe not, maybe so, maybe later, I dunno
I dunno how I can end a prayer, then turn on a friend,
I dunno what I was thinking when I just pressed send,
I dunno why I still criticize the things I dunno
I dunno, I dunno, I dunno, but this one thing I knowYour love is better than life
Without your love, I’m just a broken machine
Without your love, it’s all a mindless routine
Without your love, I’m in another free fall
Without your love, I’ve got nothing at all

I dunno what goes down the moment we die
Do we get halos & harps? Do we sleep? Do we fly? I dunno
how, when and why this world will finally end,
Speculation’s gonna grow, who knows best, I dunno
I dunno if I should push ahead or stop and grieve,
I lie awake and wonder how to make a city believe,
I dunno when it’s a ministry and when it’s a show
maybe neither, maybe both, I dunno, but this one thing I know

Your love is better than life
Without your love, I’m just a broken machine
Without your touch I’m not a full human being
If I should ever leave, where would I go?
I look to you ‘cause you’re the lover of my soul

Here’s to the Lover of my soul

I dunno when to walk away or stand and fight
just when I’ve got it wrong, I’m sure I heard you right
and when my arguments are watertight you expose every hole with a flash and a flood and I know
I hear you call in the eye of the storm and I know you’ve had my back since the day I was born still
stoking my heart
still stirring my head
you’re my pillar of fire
you’re the wine, you’re the bread, and

Without your love, I’m just a broken machine
Without your love, it’s all a mindless routine
Without your love, I’m in another free fall
Without your love, I’ve got nothing at all

I dunno nothing that I haven’t been taught, I dunno why I was born into the family I’ve got,
I dunno if I ever had an original thought, maybe not, maybe so, maybe soon, maybe later, I dunno
I dunno when I’ve got it right or wrong, I dunno how I can wrap it in a four minute song, but I know
My grip is better when I’m not hanging on, your love is making us strong (all along)
Your love is better than life

Breaking Breeze

The myth of the tightrope strung high above is breaking
I braced for the crash
but just ended up startled
staring up
from the dirt-dusted ground
Its the fact that I’m still awake
The love that I still feel
The yearning that still haunts me
Hungover or not
That lets me know it is real

Questioning His Limits

I remember growing up and believing myself to be the face of future Christianity. I thought I was going to be a Seventh-Day Adventist pastor. I wore my GOD DOESN’T BELIEVE IN ATHEISTS t-shirt, listened to Petra, Michael W. Smith, and DC Talk sing songs like “I Am On The Rock,” “Place In This World,” and “Jesus Is Still Alright With Me.”
I got out of the pool during swim practice and left my teammates like a good Adventist at Sundown each Friday. I didn’t drink or party with my friends. I had a HE LOVES ME bumper sticker on the back of my 1980 Toyota Corolla right next to an anti-abortion bumper sticker. I read Christian books, attended Christian youth conferences, and even spoke sermon-style to a group of church members at a vespers meeting.
But, there were some issues that weighed heavily on me at that time. They were issues that would continue to weigh on me for years to come: What was I supposed to think about my dear grandparents who loved me, provided breakfast for me each morning before college classes, co-signed a loan for me to buy a car, but, didn’t attend church? What was I to think about the Contemporary Christian Music artists that I so avidly adored and that I perceived to be so sincere, but, in reality were no better than I? Or, wait a minute, maybe they were better. Maybe they were closer to God. No. That can’t be right. They weren’t Seventh-Day Adventists! What about babies born in China or third-world aboriginal cultures where they will never hear about Jesus? Are they going to hell just because they didn’t have the technology to get the Billy Graham broadcast that included an altar call? What about those friends of mine who, though they taught me to get drunk, smoke cigarettes, and do other things I shouldn’t do, also taught me what it meant to have somebody I could rely on?

The truth is that God’s grace surfaces in so many different forms throughout our lives. Nobody in this world is as they should be. We are all lost: The condescending Christian that responds to your apology with an I-told-you-so-type attitude. The Pope, Ellen G. White, Ghandi, John Lennon, Trent Reznor, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, Billy Graham, Michael Jordan, Paris Hilton, Bono, Tony Blair, my in-laws, and myself.

If any of us had to lay our hope in our own pathetic efforts to be good, attend church services, pay tithe, perform rituals, or argue our way into heaven, we would all face eternal seperation from God. I don’t know if there is an eternal Hell or if all the damned just cease to exist. What I do know is that our only hope is in God’s grace. His grace and his Love far supercede any church doctrine, any liturgy, any papal mandate, and any governmental law. The Creator knows the hearts of those who have never heard the gospel and He knows the hearts of those who have heard, but, persistently deny the gospel. His justice will be served.

Its strange indeed that anybody on earth would have the audacity to try to outwit God. Instead, I admit my flawed self. I concede that my own direction will only lead to pain for myself and those around me. My hope rests in my faith. My faith built on His grace. God offers his fatherly, unconditional, loving, eternal acceptance to me. I accept it. I pray that you do, too.

Peeling the Hardened Shell of the Church

Thanks to the insights and emphasis lent to the topic by authors such as Brennan Manning, Donald Miller, and the writers of the gospels, I’ve come to a much greater appreciation for what Christ intended when he taught the early disciples. When asked what is most important about living, Jesus said that we should love God with our whole beings and love our neighbors as we love ourselves.

This was the opportunity for Christ to name what he wanted his church to look like. So, did he say, “spend disproportionate sums of money on ornate, aesthetically pleasing cathedrals?” Did he say, “contribute large sums of money, time, and enthusiasm to the political funds of candidates running for a role in government?” How about, “lecture, criticize, and turn your back on homosexuals, self-proclaimed atheists, and people who get abortions?”

The Church, as referred to in scripture, is the body of people who believe in Jesus and follow him in faith. Unfortunately the focus of so many Christians in society today is inappropriately placed on contributing to the campaign funds of self-proclaimed “conservative” politicians, having the most stylish clothing and accesories to wear to church, and shunning those who are in such need of love that they’ve turned to unnatural, abusive means like promiscuity and addiction. From this perspective, the church is weak.

The church has been guilty of this kind of posture for ages. The prostitution of the church in Europe during the renaissance is evidence. The witch-burning days serve as evidence. The self-righteous population that drives to services in BMW’s and high-end SUV’s to fill churches, chapels, and cathedrals across America today serve as evidence.

If we truly loved others as ourselves, as Jesus instructed us to, we might sacrifice a little more so that we could contribute to meeting the basic needs of those starving and suffering in places like Africa and Central America. If we truly loved others as ourselves we would spend more Saturday mornings serving at the local homeless shelter and less recovering from hangovers from drinking too much the night before.

Nobody is perfect and some of the examples stated above of inappropriate emphasis were taken directly from my own personal list of weaknesses. But, can you imagine how much better off this world would be if the Christian population in America reorganized their personal priorities to match the priorities that Christ instructed us to have?

The cause of Christ has never been cheap, unjust, or fake. The people that make up the church of Christ, however, are all of those things. All of us are less that what we should be. God has bigger plans for us. Drop your religion and follow Jesus. Serve him by loving those around you.

 28One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?” 29“The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one.[e] 30Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’[f] 31The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[g]There is no commandment greater than these.” Mark 12:28-31

 

Suspended In Grace

Right hand reaching high
Hoping to grasp the next branch on the beanstalk
Both feet slipping
No foothold
Not touching the ground
Suspended in grace

It is my heart that fails
My soul that bends so easily
With the shifting wind of a pub song
So easily swept away, picked up
Turned around
Just enough for me to find pain in coming back down

The yearnings of my shell lead me closer to Sheol
Until I remember that I am capable of nothing more on my own
Once more I empty my hands
So, that I can pick up, again, what He has given me
And walk on
With ease of mind and soul

Your Cell

aIn a recurrent moment of knee-jerk reactions
I recline paralyzed in a mixture of fear and hope

Not knowing how to respond
I don’t respond at all

Worried about coming across too abrasive
I send only my silence

You are swallowed by your problems
You are cocooned by your candy shell veneer

Your sight is diverted
Your insight is lost

Instead of fortifying windowless walls
Please open your cell

While you can still hear the knock
We were born to love

Go Cheap

Poor Old Lu is one of my favorite bands of all time. Within the context of music, their run through the nineties was a rare blend of legitimately skilled, creative musicianship and a Christian lyrical perspective. The band released their last titled The Waiting Room a few years ago and since, disbanded in favor of other creative opportunities (e.g., the band Fair).

By far, the Poor Old Lu song that left the biggest impression on me was, “Speak Soft,” which was a cover of The Swoon’s original version. It hit me hard because it so articulately describes the struggle I was going through in the mid ’90’s. It continues to resonate with me today because, while I’ve sought and found peace, so many (including friends and family that I love dearly) have not.

Its difficult to effectively convey peace-laden satisfaction to someone who prefers to quarantine themself from the possibility of such a concept. Instead, they rely on a long list of well-recited defense mechanisms that prevent them from getting their feet wet, getting their hands dirty, and living abundantly.

Jerry had some beers and started to sing
he knows just what he means he don’t mean a thing
he waited for the wisdom years would bring, to him
on the refrigerator door
are the words he had written moments before
it says ‘i hope i never have to go to war’
speak soft, baby don’t you talk to me
he goes to the dance and falls in love
years later it’s still her he’s thinking of
she never spoke once or even looked up, enough
speak soft, baby don’t you talk to me
Houdini closed himself inside of a box
he didn’t have a trick to spring the lock
off the stage the people watched, the clock
prison could be a nice place to live
the bars on the window like bars on a crib
freedom is the least desired gift, to give
speak soft, baby don’t you talk to me
Jerry had some beers and started to weep
it’s time to turn away, it’s his time to sleep
don’t trouble yourself with seeking peace, go cheap

“Speak Soft” from the EP Straight Six by Poor Old Lu