Amber

20 Some of the Pharisees asked Jesus, “When will the kingdom of God come?”

Jesus answered, “God’s kingdom is coming, but not in a way that you will be able to see with your eyes. 21 People will not say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or, ‘There it is!’ because God’s kingdom is within you.”

Luke 17 (NCV)


I wrote this song in 2012 and revisited it last year to add some spontaneous worship. I recorded this video about 5 months ago.

(I often sit on things for long periods at a time if that’s not yet abundantly clear).

One of my favorite things about shooting this video was collaborating with nature and getting to see some lovely miracles. Toward the end of the video (around minute 4), I was singing, “dancing in deep amber joy floating in the atmosphere” when a yellow dragonfly floated down and joined me. I had never seen a yellow dragonfly before. It was absolutely beautiful. I smiled at it as it floated down past me.

The whole theme of the song is yellow light and joy, which is why I shot this outside and used a lot of yellow elements (and why I was particularly happy that nature joined in a dance with me). Thanks, yellow dragonfly; you were a happy addition to my day. Thank you, all other dragonflies that graced me with your presence. Thank you majestic birds for making an appearance in the background unbeknownst to me. And thank you beautiful blue skies and sunlight for being my heavenly gifts every day. (Lyrics are below.)

Let’s go to heaven

Let’s go to light

Let’s gaze in Jesus’ face, feel His smile

Let’s dance in deep amber joy floating in the atmosphere

It’s all right here*

oo oo oo oo oo*

Let’s break the floodgates of heaven open wide

Let’s show this earth what Jesus’ face is like

Let’s dance in deep amber freedom floating in the atmosphere

It’s all right here*

oo oo oo oo oo*

Like a light shining in the dark, I see you*

Like a fire shut up in my bones, I feel you*

And you are inescapable

Greet me with a heavenly kiss*

Put Your word upon my lips*

To fill all my spaces, occupy me*

You are inexplicable

Greet me with a heavenly kiss*

Put Your word upon my lips*

To fill all my spaces, occupy me*

(everything else was spontaneous)

Moon Mountain

Because the bond between my divine Maker and me dies from time to time.  

6:16am – Sunday, 6 Dec 2015

I loved waking up at 4am the first few days of camp for morning devotion. As the people would sing and clap, I would look up at the bright, beautiful, big moon right above the strong, solid, stoic mountain.  

I would think about God’s majesty and brilliance; how He made us all; how He designed and created the universe; how perfect it was; how perfectly everything turned… How beautiful it all was. How could I not believe in Him? He made this.  

Then harmattan decided to be weird. A fog rolled in so thick that it covered a mountain I had come to believe was unconquerable. Never in my days there did I believe I would wake up and not be able to see something so big and immovable. I looked in the same direction I had looked every single morning… Nothing but fog; just a blanket of white, flat against a vertical landscape. To me, that mountain and the moon had become an unshakable testimony of God’s faithfulness, presence and preeminence. It was mine. It was for me. The mountain was from God to me, to all of us, to see and marvel and know, “The Divine Maker was here.”  

And it was gone and it left me feeling hollow. Praying wasn’t as good or fun or majestic or cosmically vibrant as I had grown accustomed to.  

But I looked up and the moon was still there. Slowly traveling somewhere east-like every morning; sliding little by little in the sky. And I held on to it as my one solace in a land that had grown cold with a fierce and unforgiving wind.  

And one morning as we prayed, someone led with a song that said, “they don’t understand.” They don’t understand Our love, Our bond, Our journey, the beauty that is God and me. It just looks like confusion and randomness to the outsider but I can’t convey to them the depths of the dreams I have had, the things I have seen… The things I have seen. And I fell to my knees and cried like Jeremiah. With each saline drop hitting sand and stone, I felt God more for the first time in a long time. I let Him move me again. I let Us be again and He reached my fogged up heart with that song. You see, my heart was always His, moving and turning perfectly with Him, my moon…but some seasons are cold and winds and fogs fuck everything up. What was once clarity becomes confusion. And that thing I never thought I would lose was the first thing to go… My strong, solid, stoic unshakable stance beneath my moon,  my Divine Maker. And He moved further and further away from me, losing His fullness each morning.  Because the bond between my divine Maker and me dies from time to time.

But don’t these orbits and seasons and winds just happen naturally?  

“Even when I’m at my darkest, You know me all the same…and even when I cannot see You, I feel You closer than my skin.”  

Will the pull of the moon not always be felt? Are we not one Universe? Our connection will never die. No matter how She moves, She is mine and I am hers. And she will be near me, bright and full in a new season.  

Lift up your head (You won’t let me go) Lift your head cuz help has come

Lift up your heart (You won’t let me go) Lift your heart His will be done

Lift up your hands (You won’t let me go) Lift your hands and praise the One

Lift up your song (You won’t let me go) Lift your song O ransomed son.

Song lyrics: “Even When I’m At My Darkest” by Ascend the Hill.

Genderless God

Lately, I’ve been practicing imagining God in different forms. The other day, He was a black woman with a huge afro like Mary J Blige’s character in the Black Nativity movie.

Because what are all these forms we imagine when we pray? If you’re like me, you use a visual when you pray and it’s usually a vague representation of stuff from movies. Sometimes, I imagine stereotypical Jesus sitting next to me. And since I’ve never seen Jesus, I’m essentially praying to an idol – an image crafted for me. It’s weird to me that some people will be offended by my new visualization practice but seriously what does God look like? I don’t know. He’s not a person. He’s a spirit. What does a spirit look like? I don’t know! What do I look like? I don’t know. I don’t interact with my spirit through my eyes. I’ve never seen my spirit.

A few months ago, I was reading an article about a Sikh woman and she said,

“this body – it is a gift that has been given to us by the Divine Being [which is genderless, actually]”

I about jumped out of my seat with excitement at that statement. Even though Christians (technically) believe that, Sikhs have it way more together on this genderless God thing than we do.

A few years ago, translators of the NIV bible decided to release a gender-neutral bible and some people were just not having it. I’m not even talking about retranslating God’s gender references. I’m talking about expanding “brethen” to “brothers and sisters” in an attempt to

So I wonder how difficult this post might be for some people. A moment of silence.

Pressing swiftly along! While preparing this post, I read a piece titled, “Our Genderless God.” The author made a fabulous series of points:

“Most of us would say, if asked, that we don’t believe God has a gender. Instead, God transcends gender.

But we tend to use masculine pronouns for God because the Bible does. Yes.

We imagine God as male because Jesus called God ‘Father’. Yes.

Because Jesus, the image of the invisible God, was a man. Yes.

Because dominant images of God are associated with strength and power, with active and protective roles and we’ve been taught that strong means male… Ah.

Because we understand God in part by how we understand ourselves and the theologians who have had the most influence through Christian history have been male… Ah.

Because God is the highest and the greatest and the very best of the best, and our experience tells us that a person at the top is probably male… Ah.

Do you see where we start to have a problem?”

We know God is a spirit and not a person. We know we are images of Him and He is not an image of us… but we’re so small and we don’t know how to reach up out of ourselves so we still picture a white man speaking English (except on rare occasions when Morgan Freeman plays God on “Bruce Almighty” or William P. Young depicts God as a black woman in “The Shack.”)

We box God up. We assign human qualities to God so that we will be able to think about Her in a relatable way but She is not human. The box, the form, the object… It’s not for God; it’s for us. The Holy Spirit descended upon Jesus in the form of a dove! It just seems like God was breaking all the rules.

God has to step in to expand our minds. He has to help us. And I believe She can help us unbox Her. Because I want GOD, not just my idea of God. So I knew, I had to shake up my preconceived notions of Him Her just to get started on the journey. I couldn’t just say He was more; I had to imagine God as more and ask Her to help me see truth, beyond my comfort and beyond my traditions.

God is the sourceless source of all, the eternity in which time subsists… God is not a dude. He doesn’t have a penis. She is not a woman. She doesn’t have a vagina. God is the intelligent, sentient, all pervasive force throughout the Universe. While many believed in a different god for the sun, the wind and the waves, we said, “Elohim is one,” that Elohim is the force behind all the forces physicists talk about. Elohim is the infinity that math teaches. Where all things have a beginning and an end, Elohim is the constant. Let us change our language to respect that. Let us not limit that truth we profess. I’ll admit that I don’t know the best way to unbox God but I am trying a few things. Honestly, I think God should have His own gender pronouns! She is in a class all by Herself, after all.

I look forward to the day when I close my eyes to pray and I see nothing. And beyond that, I look forward to the day when I open my eyes and I am shown everything.

Day 1: Racism + The Church

The world spins. It always has and it just continues today. Things have been the same since they started: the people are unjust and murder their brethren. The prophets cry out for repentance. The people ignore or even kill the prophets up until their sins carry them off in bitter war.

Like God and Cain, like Jeremiah and Israel…

But the prophets keep on singing because every Jeremiah has his Daniel.

I wrote this song yesterday. The past few weeks have been marked with pain for me starting with the Charleston Massacre all the way down to Sandra Bland. Music is the way I cry for the world.

A few lines into the song, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to pay homage to Jon Foreman’s, “The cure for pain.” Foreman is one of my favorite song-writers/philosophers and the lead singer of the band, Switchfoot. Jon co-wrote a song called, “The Sound” which tackled racism in America and praised the work of John M. Perkins, singing an echo of his mantra:

“Love is the final fight”

That song is another reason I respect Foreman’s Christianity.

Loving your neighbor is being a white man that sings about the black struggle as if it were his own. That is part of what I hope to bring to light with this blog series. More white voices joining in a song about the black struggle in America.

Over the next 4 days, I’m inviting some friends into the conversation, white and black, to sing to us about Jesus’ call to the church at a time like this. But first, let us rend our hearts in prayer because today, 2 millennia after the death of Jesus Christ, many of us still gather to worship the God of all people in a homogeneous space. It should not be so.

Sing with me:

  

 

Lyrics:

Slowly watching the trees sway

Watching the lizard run away

Watching the sun kidnap the day

Willing my bones to move

My heart to make a sound

Watching the people go insane

Watching the land from far away

  

Have you ever cried for the whole world?

And wondered why it won’t stop spinning

Watching all the people burn in the embers of a really cruel city

The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree

I’m sitting on a rooftop singing

“Why must history repeat

While we’re all too blind to see?”

 

I’m not sure why it always goes downhill

Why broken cisterns never could stay filled

  

I’m just another singer like the psalmists were

Another preacher like the prophets were

Saying, “Repent! The day has come.

Your brother’s blood is spilled on the floor.”

Crying, “Justice for the poor!

Redemption for the victims of war!”

We’ll be crying forevermore

Till Kingdom come

  

Heaven knows..

The water keeps on falling from my eyes…

He’s like a kid

He's Like a Kid

He’s1 like2 a kid…but a kid who knows exactly where He’s going: always talking, always laughing; super fun, spontaneous, unpredictable…

and we have a choice to give up control & blend into His joyous wisdom. We’ve often painted Him as this sage director who sits on His ass and points here and there, ordering His subjects to do and move but I see now…

perhaps He likes to dance and skip, disappearing and reappearing behind the curtains and in between the trees. Perhaps He’s inviting us into that dance of submission, allowing Him to pull us and push us away, lifting us up with His strength so that our faces mount closer to the sun.

Perhaps God is not stale. Perhaps He changes color right before our eyes like my sister once said. One second He is strong; the next He is weak but it is all by choice and all by His control.

Perhaps if we stopped being stuck up, “proper” people with sticks up their butts, we could dance with Him, play with Him, run with Him… UNDERSTAND Him.

So, maybe instead of being mad at His inpredictability,3 we could learn to love His charm and happiliy

hopefully

trust & anticipate

the surprises He carves out for us every moment.

God is no fool but He is no statue4 either. He is as dynamic as the wind.

No, O people, the Lord has told you what is good, and this is what he requires of you: 

to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.

Micah 6:8 (NLT)

The Lord said:

Forget what happened long ago! Don’t think about the past.
I am creating something new. There it is! Do you see it?
I have put roads in deserts, streams in thirsty lands.

Isaiah 43:18-19 (CEV)

Then He said

“What if I pushed you out of the nest & then you learned that you can fly? What if all the things you thought you needed, you could actually do without? 

Just leave it to me!

TRUST me!”

Then He ran off so I could chase after Him.

“Stop being annoyed at what I’m doing. Come have fun with me!”

(ah the sweet sweet peace in those words)

This journey is not for the faint of heart and all He longs to do is strengthen our weak hearts. Allow Him to.

Allow Him to.

Some readers didn’t make it past the word “ass” because this is a religious blog
He: why don’t we have a genderless pronoun other than “it?” ^^
Like: not the same as “is” ^^
Inpredictability: I know. Just… try to let it go. ^^
Statue: I think we are the statues and we would rather Him be as predictable as we are. ^^
Photos: Kamren B Photography; Rod Waddington; Fede Racchi 
6So… many… footnotes

The Healing Power of Love

healingLove is patient

To heal a heart, a broken heart, a broken body, a broken soul…

patience is required, to watch the bones grow painfully slow;

to change bandage after bandage, emptying bowl after bowl

of time and sensitivity, poured as a sacrifice upon the head of the wounded.

And finally, after many moons,

his eyes will open and her arms will rise to wrap around your neck and say, “Thank You.”

Love keeps no record of wrongs

“It’s all behind us” is the sound of forgotten pain.

A long embrace after rejection,

the smile that sees beauty even in separation

is the sign of forgiveness for mistakes.

To ingest acid and produce beauty,

to be unaware of the knife in one’s back and to move full force ahead without dying… that is the healing power of love.

Love hopes all things

And everyday I think about you and you and you, I hope you are no longer marra*; I pray you are happy; I pray only for your good and desire that maybe one day, we can meet in God’s park and walk through His field of fragrant flowers with the rising scent of smiles, laughter, positivity…

 maybe one day everything will be alright.

I know one day Love will make everything alright.

He will make everything alright.

He makes beautiful things out of all of it.

Love endures all things

Love survives the empty space between “goodbye” and “hello again.”

Love survives a slap in the face, the kiss of betrayal.

Love survives the harsh winter of abuse.

Many men have tried to kill her.

Many women have trampled on her breasts. She resurrects every time.

Every. Time.

And every generation, naive infants are born to teach us to give, to trust, to love again.

Love is the greatest of them all

It takes Love to love. We are nothing without it.

We love because He first loved us.

He was the one to reach aCROSS.

He was the one who gave His Son.

And that is the freedom we stand upon.

God is great.

God is Love.

 Fill us with Your Love, Lord, that we may be cured of the infirmities that breed hate, callousness, selfishness & silence.

Sing over our hearts every day until stone breaks into flesh.


“marra” – bitter

(Hymn) The Love of God

So, I’ve been thinking about doing this for a while. Now’s as good a time as any. I’ve decided to start posting videos of me singing my favorite hymns. So here we go! This first one is called, “The Love of God” and it was written in 1917 by a man named, Frederick M. Lehman. It has an incredible back story that you can read here.

The lyrics I sang are as follows:

The love of God is greater far
Than tongue or pen can ever tell.
It goes beyond the highest star
And reaches to the lowest hell.
The guilty pair, bowed down with care,
God gave His Son to win.
His erring child He reconciled
And pardoned from [her] sin.

Oh, love of God, how rich and pure!
How measureless and strong!
It shall forevermore endure—
The saints’ and angels’ song.

Could we with ink the ocean fill
And were the skies of parchment made
Were every stalk on earth a quill
And every man a scribe by trade
To write the love of God above
Would drain the ocean dry
Nor could the scroll contain the whole
Though stretched from sky to sky.