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Archive for the ‘Opinions’ Category

All slumber, but few find rest.

 

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When you don’t know who you are, you unwittingly rely on others to show you, which ultimately turns you into a slave to what other people say and think about you.

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What would it do for you as a parent if your teen aged kid came by to see you, without really needing anything from you, or if they decided to put down their phone because they really wanted to hear what you had to say, or if they passed up an opportunity to go out with friends because they just wanted to spend some quality time with you? I suspect it would do much the same thing for God, if we were willing to do those things for Him.

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OK, so I’m not losing sleep over who gets into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, but the latest batch of nominee’s reminded me of how haphazard this process can be.  This year voters get to pick from a wide variety of artists, which includes overlooked bands like The Zombies and MC5, singer/songwriters like Todd Rundgren and John Prine, genre pioneers like Kraftwork, and Rage Against the Machine, 80’s phenoms like The Cure and Devo, dancefloor divas like Chaka Khan, and Janet Jackson, or popular favorites like LLCoolJ, Stevie Nicks and Def Leppard.  It’s not that I have a big issue with any of these artists, it’s that there are so many other deserving candidates who seem to have been forgotten.  USA Today ran an article in recent days naming what they considered to be artists that were “snubbed” (e.g. Blink-182, Bone Thugs N-Harmony, Jane’s Addiction?), and while they did name a few I hadn’t thought of (e.g. Depeche Mode, Nine Inch Nails, Snopp Dogg, Kate Bush),  they left off what I considered to be the more obvious choices.  Four groups that jump to my mind are the Doobie Brothers, Boston, America, and The Guess Who.  Each one of those bands produced at least a half dozen classic songs that are still being played on the radio 40+ years later.  Their credentials are far superior to many of the other artists who are already in the hall.

In many cases, members of popular bands are also enshrined for their individual careers (e.g. Eric Clapton, Paul McCartney, John Lennon…).  Along those lines, I believe that a singer like Paul Rodgers should be admitted for his work in bands like Free, Bad Company, The Firm, and Queen.  Similarly, Sammy Hagar (Montrose, Van Halen, solo career), Ronnie James Dio (Rainbow, Black Sabbath, Dio) and Steve Winwood (Spencer Davis Group, Traffic, Blind Faith) should qualify for their stellar careers.  With bands like Journey and Cheap Trick already recognized, it’s hard to understand the exclusion of bands like Foreigner and Styx.  Similarly, if Deep Purple was worthy, so is Bad Company, and if Bon Jovi belongs, so do The Scorpions.  I don’t mind newer acts like Radiohead being nominated, but I don’t want to see some of these classic acts forgotten.  If you need further proof for the artists I mentioned, listen to the following:

  • The Doobie Brothers: Long Train Running, Black Water, China Grove, Jesus Is Just Alright, Taking it to the Streets, Listen to the Music
  • Boston:  More Than a Feeling, Foreplay/Long Time, Piece of Mind, Don’t Look Back, Rock and Roll Band, Feelin’ Satisfied
  • America:  Horse With No Name, Ventura Highway, Sister Golden Hair, Lonely People, I Need You, Tin Man
  • The Guess Who:  American Woman, These Eyes, Undun, No Time, Share the Land, No Sugar Tonight
  • Paul Rodgers:  Alright Now (Free), Bad Company (BC), Ready for Love (BC), Shooting Star (BC), Feel Like Making Love (BC), Satisfaction Guaranteed (The Firm)
  • Steve Winwood:  Gimme Some Lovin’ (Spencer Davis Group), Can’t Find My Way Home (Blind Faith), Low Spark of High Heeled Boys (Traffic), John Barlycorn Must Die (Traffic), Arc of the Diver
  • Sammy Hagar: Bad Motor Scooter (Montrose), Heavy Metal (solo), I Can’t Drive 55 (solo), Dreams (Van Halen), Right Now (Van Halen)
  • Ronnie James Dio:  Man on the Silver Mountain (Rainbow), Heaven and Hell (Black Sabbath), The Mob Rules (Black Sabbath), Holy Diver (Dio)
  • Foreigner:  Cold As Ice, Long Long Way from Home, Feels Like the First Time, Hot Blooded, Urgent, Juke Box Hero, I Want to Know What Love Is
  • Styx:  Lady, Suite Madame Blue, Come Sail Away, Fooling Yourself, Blue Collar Man, Renegade
  • Bad Company:  Bad Company, Ready for Love, Seagull, Shooting Star, Feel Like Making Love, Rock and Roll Fantasy
  • The Scorpions:  Holiday, The Zoo, No One Like You, Rock You Like a Hurricane, Still Loving You, Winds of Change,

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It’s sadly ironic when we use our presumably superior theology to separate ourselves from those who God wants to reach. By listening to His Father, Jesus often did things that offended the self appointed guardians of sound doctrine. Ultimately, the apostle Paul tells us that unless our faith finds a way to manifest itself as love, it becomes meaningless.

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I’ve heard it said that all couples fight, but I don’t agree. All couples disagree, because no two people see everything exactly the same. And sometimes our emotions get involved and it turns into an argument. But screaming, cursing, name calling, provoking each other, threats, or abuse have no part in a healthy, loving relationship.

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Crippled Lambs

Self-pity may seem to be a very natural and non-threatening emotion, but the spiritual effects can be dramatic.  Indeed, there is perhaps no state of mind more debilitating for a believer.  A love for the Lord certainly doesn’t make us immune to this; as a matter of fact it, is probably one of the most effective tools of the enemy against those who count themselves followers of Christ.

The problem with self-pity is that it keeps us focused on ourselves and bound to our circumstance, which countermands the scriptures exhortation to fix our eyes on Jesus (i.e. the author and finisher of our faith) and to focus on things eternal (2Cor. 4:18).  As we fixate on our condition, it opens the door for both our flesh and the “accuser of the brethren” to assert themselves.  In the spiritual battle that rages for control of our soul, this is no small matter.

Within the scripture we see some examples of how destructive this emotion can be.  As the nation of Israel was liberated from Egypt, the people witnessed a spectacular display of Gods sovereignty, as they were not only freed from, but literally plundered their oppressors.  Yet, a short time later, we hear them wishing for a return to their chains, all because the food and accommodations didn’t meet their expectations.

On a more personal level we see some of the prophets fall prey to this emotion, as Jonah bemoans his situation after finally delivering the message to Nineveh, and with Elijah as he hides from Jezebel.  In both of these cases, they had heard God clearly speak to them, had won great spiritual battles, had witnessed firsthand His miraculous power, and yet their self-pity effectively neutralized their faith, leaving them without hope.

As we focus on our difficulties, the enemy of our souls is quick to exploit those emotions, giving us an exaggerated sense of how bad things are.  When the vine that was providing Jonah shade withered, he said that he would be “better off dead”.  As the Lord queried him as to his anger at this, Jonah said that he was angry enough to die.  As Elijah was hiding from Jezebel, we hear him tell the Lord that he had been rejected and that he was the only one left.  Later, we learn that there were seven thousand who hadn’t forsaken the Lord.

This is the effect that self-pity has on us as well.  It magnifies our struggles beyond reality, and eclipses our view of God’s provision.  The spiritual principle is similar to that of praising the Lord.  As we are praising Him, we are acknowledging what He has done in the past, what He’s doing today, what He’s going to do in the future, acknowledging His influence on our lives, bowing to His will, and submitting to His authority.  As we know, there is great power in those times, and a tangible connection between the spiritual and the natural realm.  Unfortunately, we are doing the exact same thing for our adversary when we indulge in self-pity.

In other portions of scripture we see examples of those who refuse to indulge in self-pity, even when our natural minds tell us that they’d be justified to do so.  It was Job, who in the midst of his miserable situation, uttered one of the most hopeful phrases in all of scripture, “I know my Redeemer lives”.  There was Paul & Silas, unjustly imprisoned, and in chains, praising the Lord in the middle of the night.  And even more powerful is the picture of Jesus; beaten, bloodied, nailed to a cross, and praying that His Father would forgive them, because they didn’t understand what they were doing.  We later see Stephen do the same as he is stoned to death.

These men were being treated unjustly, but they wouldn’t allow themselves to focus on that.  Instead they focused on the Lord, and accomplishing His will in their lives.  We like to justify that we have a right to be offended, sad, angry, bitter…, but the cost of indulging those emotions is ultimately our ability to do the will of the Father.

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