Funny Where Things Go Sometimes
I woke this morning feeling pretty flat and uninspired. The thought occurred that I needed to be aware of depression slipping in. Its weird, but sometimes I initially can’t tell the difference between deep ponderings that take place in my mind, and situational depression that sometimes takes me out for short periods of time.
At one point I mentioned to my wife that I felt an urge to write. She asked “about what?” I said “I have no clue.” Even as the words left my mouth, I felt a need to make a mental note because there are times when my thoughts can go from zero to Ninety in a heartbeat.
Ray Boltz Starts the Engine
I heard a song this morning that started this whole story. I was sitting in my living room focused completely on my cup of coffee and really nothing more. Maureen has an mp3 player with a bunch of older songs on it. I encouraged her to turn it on and after assuring her I wouldn’t make fun of her old-fashioned playlist, a really dumb 90’s worship song came on. Okay, so it wasn’t dumb…but the music of that day was kind of dumb…the kind of stuff you find on some TV evangelist show back in the day.
The story behind this song is pure iron, steel, power and strength. There’s a goofy sounding choir in the background, but to hear the words, and picture the scene…total momentum changing stuff like the famous scene I’m about to talk about. The song is titled “I Will Praise the Lord” by Ray Boltz.
Anyone who grew up watching the Rocky movies will remember the scene in Rocky II when Adrian laid in her hospital bed and whispered “win!” to her husband. Up to this point in the movie, Rocky had put a halt to his preparations for the upcoming rematch fight with Apollo Creed much to the frustration of his trainer Mickey, who eventually appeared to throw in the proverbial white towel, standing by his fighter’s side in the hospital room.
In this particular moment of the movie, everything changed. The music changed, the energy level in the theatre changed, adrenaline levels and expectation rose, and Mickey yelled. The fighter came off the canvas and the opponent saw a different look in the challenger’s eye. Momentum began turning simply because the fighter chose to get up.
Looking back, scenes like that may appear hokie to someone who didn’t grow up in the late 70’s. I was entering my senior year in high school when this movie released and the athlete in me responded to the symbolism. As a 50-something guy with bad knees and limited motivation to go for a walk, the coach, the writer, and the follower within me still responds to the symbolism. We’re in a fight whether we acknowledge it or not.
Paul & Silas
The song tells the story about the scene taking place in Acts 16:16-40. Paul and Silas had been beaten and jailed. So many lessons from this story, but what struck me in those moments was the picture of a fighter rising off the canvas with praise on his lips for the savior of the World…Jesus Christ.
It led me back to a blog I previously wrote about Get In Touch With My Feelings? What About the Facts?. The picture of conviction rising up in the heart to praise the living God despite the circumstances we find ourselves in…despite feeling like we’ve been overmatched and defeated by our foe…it led to a motivation to write this morning.
In those dark moments inside that jail, Paul and Silas determined that God was worthy of praise regardless of their current circumstances. They chose to demonstrate a faith that is pure iron, steel, power and strength. They chose to come off the canvas and declare that regardless of their current circumstances, they were called to “win!” They chose to dig in deep and win the battle at the line of scrimmage, they chose to slap the floor and create a defensive stop of their opponent’s next possession.
Sometimes, the Christianity I see appears so soft and wimpy. Christian musicians sing songs about being down-trodden, placing hope in a resurrected savior to come and deliver them…sometimes failing to declare we already have been delivered. Failing to declare we have the Blood, the Word, and the Name above all names already given to us.
From where I stand, masculinity within the church has come to look very soft and feminine at times. Although grace, love and mercy are a huge part of our faith, we were created in the image of the One described in Exodus 15:3, “The Lord is a warrior, the Lord is His name.” Instead of putting our armor on and enforcing the terms and conditions of Christ’s victory in His name and by His authority, we look more like a people group just trying to hold on until the Savior returns…or we’re completely taken out at the knees by the affairs we have with the things of this world.
Called To Win…Right Here…Right Now…
The Gospel that stirs me talks about a Church that will be on the offensive. In Matthew 16, Jesus talks about a mobile Church that will be coming against the gates of Hell…did you catch that? The Church is an army about to kick the gates of Hell in…it does not describe a church hunkering down with an army from Hell assaulting the church’s gates. Jesus is the one saying “Go!” Jesus is the one saying “You feed them!” God is the one saying we are more than conquerors, and we are told He will Satan under our feet.
We are called to win, even if it means we have to begin accepting this truth while we’re shackled in a jail cell in the middle of the night due to being unjustly treated. Where some may see only religious ritual, I see violence in the Spirit realm…chains are broken, cell doors come flying open…lives are changed forever.
Okay, so the song was dumb, but it fired me up. “I will praise the Lord!
Okay, back to my coffee.