Realizations

Philosophy in the Middle of the Desert

“Hallelujah” by Leonard Cohen: Following The Life of David December 9, 2019

If all the known verses of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” were to continue the story of King David as overtly as the first verse, the song could be interpreted as something like the following verses. Compare them with the original lyrics I put at the bottom of this post. Each verse gets closer inside the life of David as it goes from third person to second person to first person narrative.

VERSE 1: King David played his lyre and composed music for the LORD in a way that pleased Him so greatly that, in a mysterious way, his angelic-sounding music moved the supernatural realm and moved God to suppress demons. David tapped into the beautiful, angelic patterns God created within music theory of the fourth, the fifth, and the beauties of major and minor, dark and light, reminiscent of the joyous and sad seasons in life, but God is glorified and can be worshiped in it all (which foreshadows the ups and downs of his life explained in the coming verses). This mysterious, worshipful experience of music transcends David into the spirit realm to connect with God, leaving him in a state of baffled euphoria in His presence.

VERSE 2: But when God gave him rest on all sides, he started to become complacent and the impenetrable faith of his youth developed holes and he became more casual about his relationship with God and keeping His Law and became prideful, which always comes before a fall. In this state of disconnect from God he wasn’t strong enough to withstand the temptation of moonlight lust on his rooftop which resulted in adultery with Bathsheba,  David’s “great sin.” Because of this great evil, God cursed David so that his royal throne was broken, he lost his power and had to flee for his life from his son Absalom, all for a lustful night of euphoric indulgence. He traded the euphoric “Hallelujah” of worshiping God for a euphoric “Hallelujah” of selfish, carnal indulgence.

VERSE 3: When confronted about it by his first wife Michal, David recounts how their childless marriage had been threatened from the beginning and their love quickly turned cold and distant, and certainly wasn’t any warmer now that they were finally back together in safety, albeit through David’s force. This coldness and lack of love incited David’s lustful eyes to look for something more. And whether leading the triumphant troops home in a victory march under the royal banner of Saul’s house on the marble arch or leading the ark of the covenant triumphantly back home under the scathing eyes of Michal, Saul’s daughter, the joy of those victories was always tainted by the lingering curse of the royal family of Saul overlooking and antagonizing all that David did. Instead of David’s home life being as joyous as his victories, it was cold and broken and marked by the pain of obedience to God to do the right thing toward Saul’s family.

VERSE 4: David is broken in repentance and sings to God in Psalm 51 begging Him to not take away His holy spirit from him and restore their relationship to the way it used to be when God’s spirit was moving in him, showing him what to do, and God was with him in everything he did, glorifying Himself through David.

VERSE 5: It’s ironic that the third of the Ten Commandments is to not take the name of the Lord in vain, but it’s a name that isn’t even spoken and modern Jews don’t even know how to pronounce it; perhaps it was so even in David’s time, and they didn’t know exactly what God’s name was that was revealed to Moses.  With David’s pride resulting in his backsliding, he became lax concerning the Law of God (as evidenced in the mishandling of the ark) and perhaps this included the third of the Ten Commandments, to the point that the holiness of God’s name was forgotten, maybe even influenced by the rough-around-the-edges military companions he surrounded himself with (Joab seems to loosely use the LORD’s name in vain in 2 Sam. 19:7), which certainly wasn’t helped by the doubts and disconnect he felt from God in fleeing for his life — unlike his previous fleeing from Saul, this time fleeing because of his great sins. But even in David’s sins, he still had a core, loving relationship and understanding of God’s grace and heart that overshadowed the Law and his sins (as mentioned in Psalm 51). Saul was instantly removed from being king for not following a specific military command of God, while David did far graver sins and God instantly forgave him (notwithstanding consequences) and He continued orchestrating things to establish David’s legacy for centuries, because David was after God’s heart. It’s this understanding of the heart of God and the Law that allowed David to see the bigger picture and get away with breaking other holy laws like lying to eat the holy, consecrated bread. He understood that God wanted more than just specific rules followed, God wants to be in everything we do and are. More than revering specific laws or a specific name for God as holy, God’s blazing light is in every single word, the holy and the broken words, indeed He is not just in the holy sacrifices and rituals, but in everything in life, the happy and sad things. (“For you do not desire sacrifice or I would give it… My sacrifice, O God, is a contrite spirit,” Ps. 51) “I broke a rule, so what? God is bigger than the rules, he wants our hearts.”

VERSE 6: Even after David’s repentance, God fulfills His prophecy by Nathan the prophet of “the sword never departing from David’s house” when Absalom rises against him. David doubts God’s promises to him and even if God is with him or there at all. He laments that all he’s known from his loved ones (family, friends, in-laws, children) is strife and having to watch his back and literally be prepared to defend his life from someone who suddenly rises up against him. But even in the midst of his life’s tragedies, he was still singing his psalms to the Lord, finding a way to praise Him for His providence and trusting Him to fulfill His promises. Albeit, his Hallelujahs are sung from a sorrowful state of humble, faithful obedience, rather than from joyful exultation, in the midst of external pain and somber repentance.

VERSE 7: Yet at the end of his life, a life of unimaginable conflict, he’s able to say, “As the Lord lives, who has redeemed my life from all distress (1 Kings 1:29)” and in his final words he recounts, “The Spirit of the Lord spoke through me; His word was on my tongue (2 Samuel 23:2).” He dies without feeling regrets, thankful to God for forgiving him of his sins in His grace and for the promise He upheld to establish his throne forever. “Is not my house firm before God? He has made an eternal covenant with me, set forth in detail and secured. Will he not bring to fruition all my salvation and my every desire? (2 Sam. 23:5)”  Again, David is seeing the bigger picture: God is the Lord of Song, creator and sustainer of all music, and so David finally finds himself back in the spiritual state of Verse 1 and uses God’s creation to connect with Him, moving in Him, and once again “Hallelujah” being in every breath he draws. 



 

ORIGINAL LYRICS OF “HALLELUJAH” BY LEONARD COHEN:

[Verse 1]
Now I’ve heard there was a secret chord
That David played, and it pleased the Lord
But you don’t really care for music, do you?
It goes like this, the fourth, the fifth
The minor fall, the major lift
The baffled king composing “Hallelujah”
[Chorus]
Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah

[Verse 2]
Your faith was strong but you needed proof
You saw her bathing on the roof
Her beauty and the moonlight overthrew you
She tied you to a kitchen chair
She broke your throne and she cut your hair
And from your lips she drew the Hallelujah
[Chorus] Hallelujah, Hallelujah

[Verse 3]
Baby I’ve been here beforeI know this room, I’ve walked this floor
I used to live alone before I knew you
And I’ve seen your flag on the marble arch
Love is not a victory march
It’s a cold and it’s a broken Hallelujah
[Chorus] Hallelujah, Hallelujah

[Verse 4]
There was a time you let me know
What’s really going on below
But now you never show it to me, do you?
And remember when I moved in you
The holy dove was moving too
And every breath we drew was Hallelujah
[Chorus] Hallelujah, Hallelujah

[Verse 5]
You say I took the name in vain
I don’t even know the name
But if I did, well really, what’s it to you?
There’s a blaze of light in every word
It doesn’t matter which you heard
The holy or the broken Hallelujah
[Chorus] Hallelujah, Hallelujah

[Verse 6]
Maybe there’s a God above
But all I’ve ever learned from love
Was how to shoot at someone who outdrew you
And it’s not a cry that you hear at night
It’s not somebody who’s seen the light
It’s a cold and it’s a broken Hallelujah
[Chorus] Hallelujah, Hallelujah

[Verse 7]
I did my best, it wasn’t much
I couldn’t feel, so I tried to touch
I’ve told the truth, I didn’t come to fool you
And even though it all went wrong
I’ll stand before the Lord of Song
With nothing on my tongue but Hallelujah
[Chorus] Hallelujah, Hallelujah

 

**Author’s note: I don’t actually think this song is intended to be interpreted as one continuous story about the David narrative (or any other continuous story for that matter), as Leonard Cohen wrote 80 verses for it and whittled it down to the above verses. It’s abstract and he probably just picked the most interesting verses, although I do think that observing the song exclusively from the David context is a very moving perspective and more captivating than the more likely interpretation of a modern relationship struggle that just invokes Biblical metaphors. Regardless of the different interpretations, I’d say this is easily among the top ten most intriguing songs ever written by human beings.

 

Crisis Philosophy October 28, 2014

[as originally typed up on my iphone from 4:30-6am, 101714, after waking from a nightmare, terrified by the disgusting abominations I saw and felt, as if they were really happening]

 

The disgusting, demonic nightmare:
The old, placid doctor talked to his assistant (a pretty, young blonde in a labcoat), as if another routine day on the job:
“Yes, my dear. We’re going to rape you and burn you and chop you up and freeze you.”
The young lady was standing very routinely, but with a sudden look of surprise and confusion. Then two men came up from behind and grabbed her, put her down on the ground, and put a large ice bag on her neck.  She screamed as they started chopping her ankles with a butcher’s knife. But the scene cut right before the blade touched her flesh. And I thought, well that’s a relief the scene was cut, otherwise it would have been inappropriate.
Then I was on a bus and this same scene was playing as a movie on a screen. I was watching it again with the other people on the bus and when it got to the point of chopping her ankles I knew the camera would stop again just in time before the blade cut, otherwise it would have been inappropriate for a public place like that. But there was sitting in front of me a pretty young blonde, similar to the young nurse in the movie, and she turned her head away right before the chop, in horror, unable to watch anymore. Then the movie showed the nurse’s head on the ground next to the opaque freezer box which contained her chopped up body. And that’s when I woke up, full of terror and overcome with disgust at the darkness of that movie. And yet I already said in the dream that “at least it wasn’t inappropriate”, though that same “appropriate” movie caused the girl in front of me to turn in disgust, and was enough for me to wake me up in a terrified panic. What symbolism there is all throughout this dream!

And, as only a dream can do, my mind and heart were suddenly opened, and I could feel the fear and pain that blonde nurse experienced, and all my first world problems vanished. I realized that intense human suffering like that was going on right now in the world; it didn’t end with the Holocaust. And being in that fatal doctor’s office with that nurse, I felt her panicked desperation as she thought “Surely there is someone who can save me! Surely there is someone coming for me, or at least working or fighting to get here and rescue me!”

 

Then this dialog played in my mind while I was recovering from the dream.
Old European gentleman: “Oh come now. Eat. Drink!  Be merry. There is much to do, but there is also a time to enjoy life!”
Neo: “No. You don’t get it. You don’t realize how evil evil is. If you did you wouldn’t be able to put that food down. You would be staying up all night thinking and working to save these innocent people right now. The hand is cancerous and its spreading faster than a venom, but because of the remaining good in it we ignore the bad for a little bit longer, hoping it will get better… Hoping until it’s too late.”
Gentleman: “You can’t just throw away the good with the bad, the baby with the bath water!”
Neo: “But I say, yes!  Throw it out!  Better to enter life with one hand than to burn in hell with both.  The thing that’s keeping this kind of evil active is humanity’s existence. As long as we’re still around there will be immense suffering, because there will always be demons to put evil emotions and ideas in our hearts, and just enough lazy, complacent good people to keep the world good enough, and not altogether bad enough to cut off. Good enough people are the problem. It’s the hardworking man in Iowa who works an honest job and comes back to a wholesome meal with his family and settles in for a night in front of the tv. This is the problem. This is what’s allowing more time for the evil in the world to go on betraying and cheating and lying and piercing and burning. This is what’s keeping the stew just lukewarm enough to not be thrown out.  Oh, you don’t understand the evil that exists!”

God, destroy this Sodom even though there be 10 righteous in it!

 

I think about the horrible, utterly disgusting depravity of this world with its inhuman media, making movies like Human Centipede. Not only are people given opportunities and incentives to let their minds wander to such dark corners, inspired by the dark boundaries surpassed by those before them, but then they invest time and money to not only make their evil imaginations visible, but to put them in other people’s heads, into the minds of people that might not ever think of these evil things otherwise. Such is the cancer of pornography and MTV and Hollywood, who makes inescapable commercials that are literally filled with the same scenes that made movies in the 60’s rates R, and in the 50’s rated X.  And yet most Americans think this is … Wait for it… GOOD!!!  We have been so numbed to the evils of pornography that we have also been numbed to the good of innocence and virginity. Numbed to how good it is seeing a young woman as a soul, created in the image of God, and the beautiful work of art she is within, and thus is our desire to protect her from pain and devaluing numbed. The hardworking family man in Iowa is doing nothing to stop this genocide, but instead embraces it, even if only subtly, and subjects his family to it as acceptable prime time tv!  He is the problem. He is in the way of justice and mercy. He is no better than the passive Germans who kept living everyday life when there was a concentration camp in their backyard. Oh that you were hot or cold, holy or evil, but you are lukewarm, and even though you are not altogether bad you will be thrown out, and cause the rest of us to be thrown out with you.

 

When we were children our eyes were still open to see the gravity of evil and it could make us vomit, but today we have been so numbed to how great this evil is, that instead of vomiting out the poison we laugh at it, ingest it, spread it, and it kills us all. America could very well be the most wicked nation on Earth, for we are a Great Whore seeking out nations to invite to drink our cup of adultery, and so make them guilty also. And as if our rated R movies and pornography and sex slavery wasn’t bad enough, what’s even worse than all of that is that we stamp “In God We Trust” on it. I assure you God doesn’t take that blasphemy lightly.

 

Right now, somewhere in the world, someone is being tortured just as bad as the horrors of the Nazis and their Holocaust.  Like what’s going on in Iraq at the hands of ISIS right now.
If I live a good, comfortable life but someone else is living in Hell as we speak, then may both our lives be snuffed if it stops their suffering; for pain is more tangible than joy. Until then let us fight this horror with whatever time and energy we have left.
I pray God would have mercy on us, as in the days of Noah, and wipe us all out for the sake of the suffering that we have allowed to become this unimaginably horrible. I don’t care about justice, all I care about is ending the pain. With people going through this kind of intense pain right now, how can we do anything but be constantly working to rescue them? I mean, we’re in a state of emergency crisis! Put on hold your job, your marriage, your parenthood! Don’t you dare waste any more time on entertainment and recreation when you could always be doing something to help in the fight against the suffering of the innocent. I know you’d wish people would give up entertainment to fight for you if you were in that kind of pain. If you’re not part of the solution, then you’re part of the problem.
Better to err on the side of righteousness and holiness than on the side of blasphemy, apathy, laziness, lust, and violence.

 

———————–

The next morning I knew I had to do something. And while I’m limited at helping to fight the genocide of ISIS (you can support Voice of the Martyrs as they are actively helping those victims), I knew that there were plenty of horrors happening in my own backyard, and so I signed up to volunteer myself (not just my money) with End Slavery TN. Even if all I can help with right now is sorting papers or doing data entry or writing essays, I’m at least part of the solution to bring relief to the suffering. Even if I can do nothing more than menial tasks right now, so that more active people in the organization aren’t tied down doing them, then I will allow more time/energy/attention to be directed to help the suffering.  In whatever we do, we need to live like we’re really in a state of emergency crisis, because we are.

 

The god of Embarrassment October 22, 2014

Filed under: Christianity/Theology/Spirituality — milesprowers @ 1:48 pm
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I worship the god of Embarrassment.  Not in the same way I worship Jehovah.  For I worship Jehovah in praise and great joy and love and gratitude and rest.  But I burn incense on the altar of Embarrassment in great fear, so as to appease his spirits, to pacify him a little longer that I might have partial relief.  And yet Jesus said, you cannot serve two masters.  For you HAVE TO love one and hate the other.  You cannot serve both God and Mammon.  But I don’t serve Mammon; I serve Embarrassment.  And that HAS to change!  For right now I’m not open to doing ANYTHING God tells me to do, only those things which don’t conflict with my previous commitments to Embarrassment.  And so I bind the hand of God from healing this suffering world.  Just so I can live in an illusory comfort zone, hiding behind my rituals and tradition, trying to worship a man-made idol.

 

On the Tips of our Tongues April 24, 2014

Father, order my thoughts and make them words.

There is something on the tips of all our tongues.  It’s the look on the face of a dying man, just released from the hospital, sitting with his eyes closed listening to his friends read a book with him, resting in the gift of that moment.  There’s something there. Something so powerful that I’m speechless, and I don’t dare to interrupt the embrace of that bliss. We all felt it but we couldn’t grasp it; we didn’t know what to do except savor it before it was gone. There are no words for that feeling. We just don’t get it. It’s on the tip of our tongues but we can’t say it.   On the tip of our hearts and souls but we cannot comprehend it.

It’s when a random song starts playing and it unexpectedly brings you to your knees, brings tears to your eyes, and all you can think to do is stretch out your hands to praise God, the only one you can think to attribute such euphoria to.  We don’t understand why or how, but it’s there. There’s something there which we just can’t get at.

But very soon all will be complete and we will see it as it truly is. We will become real and experience reality. We will sense with maximum perception.  For we will no longer glimpse the divine with fleeting experiences, but we will live the divine.

When you smell a fragrance you haven’t smelled since childhood and the nostalgia overwhelms all your senses and melts you inside, bringing you close to unconsciousness, it is a taste of what is to come.  Though right now we can only taste it on the tips of our tongues.  There’s something happening in our midst that is deeper than anything we can ever know right now.  Something is about to burst at the seams.  And when it does we will look back and laugh at our finitude.  But until then all we have are snapshots into the Director’s commentary, glimpses of the divine.

photo (2)

 

A Man After God’s Own Heart March 6, 2014

I think of a child running through the meadows, wide-eyed with wonder, a radiant smile, hands outstretched to Heaven, spinning around, throwing up flowers to the sky, to God.  Taking in the mountains and fields, loving life, rejoicing in it.  Loving God who he can feel there with him, who he knows intimately, talks to and praises openly, with all his heart, thanks God for the beauty of nature, which he knows are God’s gifts to His children, fruit of His love.

And God responds to this innocent boy, perfect in heart, by coming alive around him.  As the boy runs, the flowers around him open up, the clouds part to reveal a beautiful sunset, a breeze blows his hair, light shines down on him, birds fly by, deer appear.  It’s the manifestation of God smiling and hugging the boy, telling him how much He loves him.  And likewise, as if trying to hug back just as hard, the boy shouts at the top of his lungs, “LORD!  I love you with all my heart!!!”

And being overwhelmed with this euphoric experience he falls backward into a soft bed of flowers, eyes closed, no longer focusing on the manifestation of God, but rather God Himself, there beyond the senses. He doesn’t know what else to do except whisper over and over, “I love You.  Thank You.  I praise You.”  Then his joy reaches the next level where his smile turns into a frown and tears of supernatural joy freely flow from his face.  The boy doesn’t care who sees or about anything else going on, because all he cares about is loving and worshiping God as much as he can.

[written with my left hand, while my right was sprained, on 1/16/14]

 

My Valentine February 15, 2014

[written on 1/25/14 with my left hand, during 24 hours of silence; posted in honor of Valentine’s Day!]

If you’ve gone through a whole day without loving God, trusting God, or truly focusing in on Him/tuning into His voice… then you failed your top priority of the day.  The day was a failure.  You got an F.  You didn’t pass the test of loyalty.  After all, isn’t this the greatest commandment in the Old and New Testament, and indeed the meaning of life?  “Love the LORD your God with all your heart…”

If you don’t feel love for God in your heart something is wrong.  Stop everything you’re doing; take off from work if you have to.  Until you’re right with God, until you get to the place where you can honestly ask God to give you opportunities to proclaim His name today, to proclaim your Love.  And then go out actually looking for those opportunities.

God wants us to love Him like a lover — like in Song of Songs — consumed with Him as if we have a crush.  God wants me to run out through the fields to find a tree that I can carve a heart with both our initials in it.

We always put God on the shelf, getting Him out when it doesn’t conflict with anything else.  But why not put everything else on the shelf until it doesn’t conflict with God?  Why not love God and trust Him even if it means we die?  [21514- As my friend, Spencer Argow, pointed out to me last week, the last time I saw him before he died:  “Though he slay me, yet will I trust in Him.” ~Job 13:15]

[I should note that writing this article is my very act of living out my advice, as this came to me during a time when I have so much stuff people want me to do, and I chose to put it on the shelf until I’m right with God again.  It’s kind of corny, I know, but that’s the point!]

 

Lonely God February 8, 2014

Filed under: Christianity/Theology/Spirituality — milesprowers @ 6:25 pm
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[1/27/14-  while listening to John Reuben’s I Pictured It]

Lonely god. A phrase I thought of a week ago. How truly sad it is, this creator god who creates children to love him, but instead even the best of us confine him to increments of our time disproportionate to our other affections. What a shame that I truly care more for his children than I do him, the very one by whom I exist. I’m scared to lift my hands in praise to him because I care more about what my brothers and sisters think, than what my father thinks.  He gets excited when an opportunity arises for us to talk about him, to mention him like we would a lover. But when we think he’s not looking we change subjects or imply that we don’t even know him. And his smile becomes a frown as he turns his head and leaves before we see him and realize he overheard us. And I feel this god crying out in the wilderness, saying, Why won’t anyone come live with me?  Why only brief visits?  Is it the way I look?  Or is it because we don’t have anything in common?  Nothing to talk about?  But oh, my child!  Don’t you have more in common with me than anyone else?  Shouldn’t you have more to talk about with me than anyone else?  You are made from my own genes.

What would happen if we went to live with this god?  And got his advice and encouragement all day?  Ran to him when we were injured or rejected, knowing he would only run to us, embrace us in love and cry with us. And there, resting in between his shoulders, we could feel his heartbeat.   [Deuteronomy 33:12]

People are actually dying around us and yet we are still too afraid to just trust God, to just praise Him as much as we know how, and let him come to us and supernaturally change things, for the best of our own lives and ultimately everyone we are connected to.   People are on the verge of dying and will one day not be able anymore to feel the effects of the reckless faith we could have had. And God cries out to us:  Why won’t you just trust me?!  What have I ever done to you that you would doubt me like this?

O Moses!  What did you find out there in the wilderness?
O David!  What did you find out there in the wilderness?
O Jesus!  What did you find out there in the wilderness?

 

The Boy and his God January 6, 2014

[written on 1514]

2 Kings 19:32 Therefore thus saith the Lord concerning the king of Assyria, He shall not come into this city, nor shoot an arrow there, nor come before it with shield, nor cast a bank against it.
33 By the way that he came, by the same shall he return, and shall not come into this city, saith the Lord.
34 For I will defend this city, to save it, for mine own sake, and for my servant David’s sake.

The thing that moved me so profoundly about that last line was the fact that this was spoken to Hezekiah, king of Judah, 300 years after David’s death.  What was it about this one man David that would cause the almighty creator of the universe to honor him as such that hundreds of years later He continually mentioned him by name and continued to bless his descendants on his behalf?  How was David different than everyone else in Judah’s history?  David was by no means faultless, having committed adultery with Bathsheba and then killing her husband to cover it up.  And even later in his life–a life filled with polygamy and violence (the latter keeping God from allowing him to build a temple for Him)–David’s arrogance caused 70,000 Israelites to be slain.  Yet throughout the books of the Kings God refers over and over to David as His servant, a man after His own heart, and “perfect in heart.”  What was it about David that was so great that it overshadowed all the evil he had done and then put him on a pedestal for everyone to model after?

It all goes back to why David became king in the first place.  Unlike all the kings after him, he was not from the royal line–becoming a king simply because he was born into it. There was no royal line yet.

1 Samuel 13:13 And Samuel said to Saul, Thou hast done foolishly: thou hast not kept the commandment of the Lord thy God, which he commanded thee: for now would the Lord have established thy kingdom upon Israel for ever.
14 But now thy kingdom shall not continue: the Lord hath sought him a man after his own heart, and the Lord hath commanded him to be captain over his people, because thou hast not kept that which the Lord commanded thee.

Saul was a tall, handsome, respectable man and fit the image of “The King of Israel” more than anyone else, but his heart wasn’t perfect.  Now God looked throughout all of Israel to find one whose heart was perfect, though he might not fit the image of “The King of Israel”.

So God sent His prophet Samuel to “Jesse the Bethlehemite: for I have provided me a king among his sons.

1 Samuel 16:6 And it came to pass, when they were come, that he looked on Eliab, and said, Surely the Lord’s anointed is before him.
7 But the Lord said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart.

It turned out that of everyone in Israel the LORD could have chosen, He single-handedly selected the youngest and least likely of Jesse’s sons to be king.  Instead of a tall, noble, robust man like Saul He chose a young, humble boy who was merely in charge of looking after his father’s sheep while his older brothers prepared for war.

Here was a young boy, alone with his sheep each day, amazed by the majesty of God in nature, and singing and playing songs to praise God.  Through the years he came to know and love God intimately, and was unashamed of his love for God, singing it at the top of his lungs for all to hear.  It was in those fields that God established his faith, delivering him from the wild beasts that preyed on his sheep, showing him who his shepherd was.  Of everyone in Israel, the LORD had a special, intimate relationship with this boy, and He knew this was one who had the makings of the perfect king.  A king who would be unashamed of his love for God, dancing for Him in the streets for all to see, yet worshiping alone in the house of the LORD.  A king who loved reading and meditating and proclaiming the word of the LORD — not just the exciting stories in the Bible, but also its rules and decrees (he actually sang songs about the Law and how wonderful God’s decrees were!).  A king who would trust in God for protection and success, not in armies to kill giants.  A king who would follow the Law of the LORD with all of his heart, not even willing to defend himself against his enemy, Saul, because God had anointed Saul as king.  And so the LORD gave all the kingdom of Israel to the shepherd boy David overnight through Samuel’s anointing.

Oh that I could live a life like David, and make such a mark on God’s heart that hundreds of years later God would still refer to me by name and bless people for my sake, even though I’m dead!

***********

I think about 1 Kings 18:20 So Ahab sent unto all the children of Israel, and gathered the prophets together unto mount Carmel.
21 And Elijah came unto all the people, and said, How long halt ye between two opinions? if the Lord be God, follow him: but if Baal, then follow him. And the people answered him not a word.
22 Then said Elijah unto the people, I, even I only, remain a prophet of the Lord; but Baal’s prophets are four hundred and fifty men.

In all of Israel there was only 1 prophet of the LORD?  And of all Israel gathered there, not one person would say they followed the LORD?!  It’s sobering to realize that based on the way I sometimes dance around the subject of God in public, I myself would probably fare no better than the Israelites here if put to an intimidating test like this.  And I can’t help but wonder if when 2 Chronicles 16:9 says, For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to shew himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward him, if the LORD’s eyes would stop on me, and say, “Now, here’s a man after my own heart.”  When the standard of men like that is set to Elijah and David, I know I don’t make the cut, and that grieves me.

What changes do we need to make in our lives to be men and women whom the eyes of the LORD will not pass over?  What is stopping us from living reckless, kamikaze lives of faith like David–going up against a giant with only a slingshot and boasting about it to him?

And what would happen if we did risk everything by trusting in God completely (risking our reputations, our personal desires, our control)? Something like this:

After a series of evil and mediocre kings in Judah, all of the sudden came along 25 year old Hezekiah, of whom 2 Kings 18 says, “And he did that which was right in the sight of the Lord, according to all that David his father did.”  What a stir would that cause (actually living like David did) in a country where immorality and “tolerance” had become the norm of society?  Imagine a president showing up all of the sudden and reforming all of our laws to be more strict morally, and less tolerant of religions besides our country’s founding religion, and outlawing everything that goes against the Constitution and the original intentions of our Forefathers?  That would take some serious guts.  Hezekiah did what he knew God wanted him to do regardless of what everyone else thought; he was unflinchingly courageous in his faith and love of God.  So what became of a man that lived like that?

2 Chronicles 30: 26 So there was great joy in Jerusalem: for since the time of Solomon the son of David king of Israel there was not the like in Jerusalem.
2 Chronicles 32: 29 Moreover [the LORD] provided him cities, and possessions of flocks and herds in abundance: for God had given him substance very much.
30 And Hezekiah prospered in all his works.

And when he was confronted with war he never even had to lift a sword, for indeed the battle was very real, and against the strongest of enemies, but The Lord Himself fought for Hezekiah (as referenced in the scripture at the beginning of this post).  Oh that I could be a Hezekiah who when presented with the worst letter imaginable (a letter from the Hitler of the day saying he’s coming for you next!), takes the bad news and, before doing anything else or consulting anyone, brings it into the house of The LORD to lay it before Him and ask for His help.  Outrageous faith and devotion to God is accompanied by outrageous blessings of God.  Whereas in the past God would bless the kings in battle by allowing them to defeat their enemies through their own swords, for Hezekiah God sent out an angel to destroy the Assyrian army, while he and everyone stayed safely inside Judah [See 2 Chronicles 20 for a similar story with righteous king Jehoshaphat]. And even on his death bed, when he cried out to God to remember how he had served Him wholeheartedly, God heard his prayer and gave him 15 extra years of life.  Oh that we would live likewise and give God a reason to do amazing supernatural things!

So how can I become like that shepherd boy that God blessed so much?  I believe that years before Samuel anointed David as king, David’s heart was open and surrendered to God, and so through the years God gave David more opportunities for his love and trust to grow.  Until finally David was “perfect in heart” and then, being ready, God raised him up to do amazing things he would have never guessed.  David didn’t love God so that he could one day be king, he loved God because God is more worthy of our love than anything else, and he would have been content to live the rest of his life in those fields with God, his treasure, the most important thing in life.  What more of a blessing could David have been given than a life in the wilderness, with great amounts of time to spend with his loving God?  Certainly not armies and kingdoms and women and riches.

I have to love the LORD my God with all my heart and mind and strength.  Of course that can only be done by the grace of God, so I have to ask for the grace of God — for God to open my heart and mind that I can love Him as David did.  It’s really not as intimidating as it sounds; it’s actually so simple.  God’s not asking us to drain our energy and finances in service to Him, or even to make the biggest impact possible.  God’s just asking us to love Him right now, as much as possible.  That’s it.  Then, to keep loving Him as much as possible in the next moment and the next.  As long as it is right now.  And in that love, God will show His love for us more clearly and give us experiences to grow our relationship and trust until we love Him intimately and publicly without embarrassment, and trust Him unrealistically.  And when our hearts get to the point of being perfect God will zap us wherever He wants us to be, even if it makes as much worldly sense as a shepherd boy being anointed as king overnight.

So for me personally, am I willing to give up everything that makes sense to simply love God with all my heart?  Am I willing to give up my ministry and my giftings and callings and all the ways I think I can make the biggest impact with my life to be seen as a fool for God?  Or am I hiding behind my so-called ministry, so I have an excuse not to do something embarrassing?  Am I really willing to dance before the LORD with all my might in public and worship Him intimately in the lonely wilderness?  Willing to do embarrassing, corny, cliche things like talk about how much I love Him around people that don’t even believe in God?  Maybe God won’t call you to do that, but would you be willing to if He wanted you to?  If for no other reason than He just felt like asking you to do it, and He is worthy of it?  I’ll do it.  Whatever You want.  Not because it makes sense, but because I love You and care about You.  Here am I, Your servant, Your instrument; send me.  I know that whatever You want me to do, You will enable me to do it.

***********

Why don’t we believe that if we love and trust God with all our heart that everything will be alright, and indeed better than just alright? What’s the worst that can happen?  We experience pain.  And then it’s over.  Are you okay with something bad happening to you?

And while you should never even entertain this thought, just for a moment let’s entertain it:  What would actually happen to you if you took a risk and trusted God despite the circumstances?  What if you choose to trust God despite the circumstances and he doesn’t come through like you want?  Well, really, what’s so bad about that?  What if you go down in history as the person whose life fell apart and he died, but he trusted God until the very end?  Isn’t it true that we will never see all the things God is doing before we die?   Why not trust God regardless of how things turn out, if for nothing more than being obedient to God who has commanded us to trust in Him?

Daniel 3:16-18: Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, answered and said to the king, O Nebuchadnezzar, …Our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king.  But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.

As Oswald Chambers put it:
“Our Lord has a right to expect that those who claim to be his should have an understanding confidence in him. But too often our trust is in God up to a certain point; then we go back to the panic prayers of those who do not know God.  We get to our wits’ end, showing that we have not the slightest confidence in him and his government of the world. He seems to be asleep, and we see nothing but breakers ahead.  ‘O you of little faith!’ What a pang must have shot through the disciples. And what a pang will go through us when we suddenly realize that we might have produced downright joy in the heart of Jesus by remaining absolutely confident in Him, no matter what was ahead.”

And as the LORD Himself put it in Joshua 1:9 Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.

God is pleased so much by our ACT of faith, our CHOICE to obey Him by believing, regardless of the circumstances, regardless if they measure up to the world’s standard of being realistic.  The supernatural by definition isn’t natural, therefore it’s unrealistic, thus God is unrealistic.  And hallelujah that He is unrealistic!!!  Because that means He does unrealistic things like coming through for us in our times of need.  Is it realistic that the almighty, infinite Creator of our world would choose to become a helpless baby, born in a stable, raised in the ghetto, later become homeless, and finally tortured and killed as a criminal?  No, we serve an interesting, unique, mysterious God, who isn’t the kind of God we would make up if we tried.  We serve a God who would rather dwell in a tent than a golden palace.  He has his own personality.  And why would you want anything different? Not only do I love You, God.  I like You.  I like who You are and the way You do things.  You are an amazing, cool God.

And when we love Him and have great faith in Him he likes it.  He really likes it.  A lot.  You know how I know?  Because in the Bible His favorite people, who He blessed the most, were those who had a genuine, loving, unashamed, trusting relationship with Him.  God wants us to rejoice in Him, to be excited about Him, to let Him be part of everything we do.  So that whether we eat or drink or whatever we do we give glory to God (just as he commanded us to have feasts in the Old Testament to be glad and celebrate Him!).  He wants us to sing praises to Him, and chant His name.  Applaud Him and do fist pumps in the air with pride, saying, “They’re no match for my God.  My God can do anything!”

I know this is true personally.  Since having this revelation and living life like David lived it day by day, all of the sudden God has come out of the woodwork: putting the right people into my path at the right time, giving this shy introvert an unabashed passion to worship him publicly with tears (not caring what anyone else thinks), hope and peace in the midst of dark circumstances (valleys of the shadow of death) where normally I’d feel afraid and doomed, and an authentic desire to seek out opportunities to proclaim my loving relationship with God to friends and neighbors and anyone God gives me the opportunity to.

We only live once.  Why not go all out, taking risks to serve God with all our hearts, even if we die?  Live the kind of life that would make someone name their child after you.

After we’re all long gone, only the best of us, even the kings, will get only a sentence in a history book.  I want mine to say: And he did that which was right in the sight of the Lord, and walked in all the way of David his father, and turned not aside to the right hand or to the left.

*The musical soundtrack and audio reading of this essay can be found here: https://soundcloud.com/thesecretofdavid

 

The Paralysis of Analysis November 29, 2012

Filed under: Christianity/Theology/Spirituality — milesprowers @ 12:26 am
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

[Written on 112812- while on a spiritual high after seeing Shane Claiborne speak, and then having an extended time of devotion/meditation]

“And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith.” ~Heb 12:2

The Christian life is a race.  In a race you can’t think about how weak you feel, how tired you are, but you ignore those thoughts and just keep running.  Otherwise you start to dwell on them and then think how to soothe the pain: “just slow down a little, you can still win, or maybe you can go all out to win a later race.”  No, this is the only race we have to run.

Likewise, don’t even entertain negative/depressing/pessimistic thoughts, because once you allow them in, you inevitably start to dwell on them and then on how to soothe them, aside from God.  When in reality God is what you need to soothe them.  And He will soothe them if you give them to him.

Negative thoughts are never from God.  Why would he ever have reason to put a negative thought in your mind?  What good does it do?  Does it increase your faith?  Make you more in love with Him or others?  Make you more likely to share the gospel or serve?
No.  Never.  Negative thoughts are always from the enemy.

Some argue that they aren’t pessimistic, they’re just being realistic. “I’m a realist.”  But since when does God want us to be “realistic”?  Is the Holy Spirit’s intervention in our lives realistic?  Is the supernatural realistic?  No.  God has told us to hope beyond hope (Rom. 4:18).  Have hope even when it doesn’t make sense, doesn’t seem realistic.  After all, we really do have something to hope in that should trump all our current circumstances (salvation from sin/judgement, God’s presence and bliss in Heaven, the love and peace of God, the promise that all things work for our good).

“And now these three remain: faith, hope, and love.”  ~1 Cor. 13:13

This is what you’re supposed to believe is realistic:  that you have to do it yourself, you’re helpless, God won’t supernaturally intervene for you, he won’t give you a supernatural filling of peace, you’re left on your own to fight for your whole life trying to survive (finding happiness, not in God but in food and entertainment and your job and comfort).  But is that really more realistic?  Of course not.  But the enemy plants the thought in your mind and once you entertain it, your emotions embrace it.

And yet this kind of thinking directly contradicts Jesus’ whole attitude on Earth, who said: “Do not be afraid anymore, only believe.” ~Mark 5:36, Luke 8:50

Just stop the introspection and live!  Just keep running!
Believe that God is good and really does love you!  Believe that He will actually keep the promises He made to you in the Bible.  Believe that if you resist the devil he WILL flee from you.  Just try it and see that it actually does work.  It gets easier each time, and the first time’s always the hardest.

When that little man in your head starts nagging again just tell him that you aren’t listening today, and keep running the race.  If he starts up again later, then tell him again and ignore him again.  Who is he anyways that you should believe him instead of God?  Instead of listening to him, listen to God.  Embrace the love, peace, truth and goodness of the things of God which he wants you to embrace.

“Since, then, you have been raised with Christ,set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.” ~ Col. 3:1-2

Look up, not down.

Be others-focused, not self-focused.
(But don’t become judgmental towards others as you focus on them, be judgmental of your own sin first.)
Be others-serving, not self-serving.

You can’t change others, so don’t try to change others.  Only God can change them, so ask God to change them.  And leave the ball in His court.  Or does He not truly care for them more than even you do?

Ask that God would create a time of silence in their lives when they can hear Him clearly, hear what He wants to say to them, and ask that He Himself changes them, according to His will, in His timing.  That’s if they even do need to be changed the way you think they do.

Don’t criticize others; encourage them.

If you’re convicted about an area of their life, judge yourself in that area first.  And then let God change them.  If they’re to be changed by you at all, let it be by your love and their own love for God, and His spirit drawing them, convicting them so that they change by their own choice, by the Spirit’s enabling.

And remember that while the Christian life is a race, it’s not a sprint; it’s a marathon.

Think only good things all the time.

🙂

 

These Elaborate Machines November 6, 2012

[as written 81311 – 31712, with additions on 11612]

 
On 81011 during our Bible Study prayer time, when it came time for my prayer requests, my small group leader prayed over me and lifted up my requests from the night, and I just started praying for the requests myself as if I wasn’t me.  As if from my universal, eternal soul that is not confined to a body or circumstances or personality, but the universal spirit that we all have before being shaped by our lives.  As I (the spirit, of God Himself perhaps, which is universally the same but individually molded depending on each person’s nature and nurture) was praying for Miles Prowers, who he is and has become, all that makes Miles Prowers Miles Prowers, that particular character in God’s story of Earth History.

And it produced in me a bizarre sympathy for me, as if I was praying for a dear friend who I knew more intimately than anyone else.  I prayed for his job, knowing just how stressful it was and how it conflicted with his extreme desires to be an artist.  I prayed for his brother, whom he’d always known and loved since youth.  It was a surreal experience that had no reason for happening, it just happened.  Since then I’ve never attempted to recreate that perspective, because it was kind of weird, and I’m not sure it was God-honoring, though I have no reason to believe it isn’t either; it’s just that I’d never thought or heard about something like that, so I don’t know what to think.

 

Hebrews 4:12: “For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.”

 
But what are we really?  I can’t figure out how to distinguish between soul and spirit and mind and heart and body.  All I know is that in the beginning God created Adam from the dust and then breathed life into him, as if breathing in His own Spirit into him.  As if he constructed all these little organic machines and then turned them on by breathing His electricity into them.  So then do animals have spirits?  Do they have the spirit of God in them, keeping them alive?  Or was it just His Spirit that sparked them into motion and got fate in motion to carry itself out?  Obviously there is a stark contrast between the most sophisticated animal and the dumbest human, in that the dumbest human is still a human being.  Is the contrast because man has a spirit and animal does not?  As if when you took away the spirit in man he became an animal?  Or do they both have the breath of God’s Spirit in them both keeping them alive and man’s body is just that much more elaborate than the animal’s to allow for consciousness?  The electricity through these elaborate machines of ours.

 

Or do man and animal still have spirit at all after the initial God breathe?  If man is cloned will it be an animal version of man, with no consciousness?  I used to think so, but I doubt it now.  He’ll still have all the functions for consciousness that the physical brain allows.  He may be mentally retarded, as a copy is never as good as the original, but that doesn’t make him unconscious.  We are truly unique, self-conscious beings, but are we only machines made to resemble the one true Being?

 

[11612- An interesting note, made by an old, pot-smoking hippie I randomly met in The Parthenon while writing “Fade To White”: The Bible doesn’t say God breathed animals into being, only humans.  So there is a spiritual difference between us and animals, whatever that may be exactly.]

 

Humans are in a class of their own, caught between the animals and the angels, but the choice is ours as to which end of the spectrum we fall on.

 

And yet there is something supernatural in us that allows us to transcend nature and have intuition, feelings and other supernatural capabilities.  So do we each have individual spirits of our personalities, and that’s who we are?  Or are we anything at all?  Isn’t our individuality just the unique combination of our two parents’ previously-existing traits, mixed together and shaped through our surroundings in life?  If we do have individual spirits, where do these spirits and personalities come from?  The only logical conclusion is that they must have been directly assigned to us by God Himself who put certain spirits in certain bodies to have certain outcomes to make History go according to His great plan.  So it all comes around to the fact that we have nothing God has not given to us and we are nothing that God has not made us.

 

But there is no evidence of individual spirits that give us our personality aside from our nature/nurture make up.  I think perhaps more logical is that there is only one Spirit, that is, God Himself, who, according to His will, moves in us individually to give us those supernatural capabilities in certain times.  He periodically manifests His spirit in our hearts and minds and the natural realm to intervene and guide us away from the natural path of fate so that by divine inspiration we change our natural course, that we would naturally go down aside from His intervention.  Of course if there is only one Spirit, then what are we when our bodies die physically (the breath of life leaves) and yet we live on separately?

 
Ecclesiastes 12:7: “then the dust will return to the earth as it was, and the spirit will return to God who gave it.

 
In Heaven what are our souls if we no longer have the body that created our personality?  Without our bodies what’s left?  If we do each have souls are they all the same generic soul/spirit that manifests differently given a different body to come out of, a different-shaped outlet?  It’s a mystery no mortal can solve.  So then, when those bodies die, wouldn’t the Spirit of God return to its source (God)?  This is the equivalent of Nirvana, where we exist in the afterlife, conscious, but not as our individual personality.  Rather we all exist as The Personality of God Himself.  And yet, there’s no mention of that concept in the Bible (our only sure-fire source of truth on the subject).

Isn’t it interesting that the Apocalyptic Bible passages all refer to us having bodies in Heaven.  Almost implying at times that we have no consciousness until our bodies are resurrected/glorified.  So, “we” are nothing without our bodies, but in Heaven our bodies are there, therefore our bodily-induced personalities live on through the bodies that make them.  Still, it’s entirely possible that at some point in the future of eternity even our glorified bodies will fade away, leaving behind the One Spirit in all of us, and “we” return to experience the euphoria of existence in oneness with The Spirit.

 

John 17:22:The glory which You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one, just as We are one; I in them and You in Me.

 
Our bodies are simply our parents’ bodies combined.  God breathes spirit into us, giving us life, but it’s just the natural mysterious energy as it naturally flows through that machine of our parent-combination bodies.  However, when we’re born again, God’s Holy Spirit indwells us, which is not just the spirit of life, but actually God’s own personal Spirit living in us, actually Christ Himself.  So it’s not just our natural bodies at work, but Christ living and working with that physical body.

Which is why you actually witness people change to become different people after they’re Christians.  Non-believers can try to change and do self-help formulas and show signs of change, but they’re still the same people they’ve always been with the same tendencies they give into.  Only when another being comes into your body, living through you and changing you (not of your own energy and will-power), then can a person actually change into a real different person.  Because it really isn’t them anymore. It’s the perfect spirit of someone else, His mind living in our bodies, making choices and offering an alternative to our natural bent.  I am now partially Miles Prowers and partially Jesus Christ, but gradually becoming more of Jesus Christ and less of Miles Prowers, to the point where Jesus Christ is me, just with the looks, personality and memories of Miles Prowers.

 

Who am I? What am I? What even is “I”?  I don’t know.  Something between a random combination of atoms and God Himself.

 

[The mysteries expressed in this essay were condensed into a song entitled “Fade To White”.  You can hear it at soundcloud.com/terremotoothers.  Enjoy!]

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