SONG: These Imposters Sleepin’

https://voisey.app/u/sparklecityhop/voiseys/jPVMyFom0i2aTBymAWmj

This is a collaboration that I did with @lilsleepy202 over a beat laid down by @kayda72 called “ANARCHY” on the Voisey app.

My goal here was simply to add a “hype” layer that complimented yet contrasted to her rapping. I was definitely inspired in my style and FX choices by Anthrax and Scott Ian, as I listened to them a lot when I was younger.

Hype Layer Lyrics

Ah yeah...
Rock Star
Rip it up lil sleepy
Come on thug git down
You betta listen hear
Yeah
Whatcha gonna do
Whatcha gonna do
Whatcha gonna do
What you gone do
When they come for you
While you sleepin
Ha ha ha ahhha
Think you a rock star?
Ha ha!

This was recorded on my iPad using an iRig Pro I/O digital interface and Garage Band to interface into the Voisey app. I used a Shure SM7B microphone along with a TC Helicon VoiceLive 3 Extreme for all of the vocal effects and processing. I used preset 22 “Thicker” with some slight adjustments to delay decay and reverb. I also made post processing adjustments for additional compression and auto tune within the Voisey app.

Contemplations

Lilsleepy’s lyrics focus on what it really takes to be a rock star and how imposters don’t measure up to the real. In contrast to her name, you can see that lilsleepy isn’t lazy in her rap game. That’s part of why she shines and her productions are on top. She works, she invests, she pours herself into this thing. It isn’t just a passing hobby for her. It is a passion and it is her voice to share a message with the world.

If you know me much at all, you know that I’m going to make this about Jesus, right? Jesus was the rock star even before Anthrax. A man who lived a life so truly clean that it made it clear to all that the religious people were just filthy, judgemental hypocrites. A man who taught with authority a provoking message that is so contrary to the ways of selfish and prideful men yet somehow humbly claimed himself to be God! A man who was persecuted, executed, and laid behind a huge rock — only to rise up like a star into the heavens.

And yes, there are imposters when it comes to religious people who imitate like they know about this Jesus cat — but there are also the real. And if we believe what this Jesus told us — that imposter vs real makes a huge difference not just in this life but for all of eternity. So we don’t want to be caught sleeping on that.

Shine bright rock stars, or one day you will get down (on your knees) after you’ve been laid down and find yourself in what lies beyond the veil of this life.

“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’ “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’ Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”
Matthew 25:31‭-‬46 ESV

SONG: Therapy

https://voisey.app/u/sparklecityhop/voiseys/gUau9rP3Wc4I03UrqQP1

This is a collaboration that I built from scratch based on the beat called “Therapy” by LR2Productions on Voisey.

The track that I’ve put together is about the many layers of our persona as it pertains to mental health and therapy. It isn’t meant to be catchy or popular as much as provocative.

Many of us who enter a therapy office unawares expect to sit back on the couch, maybe talk a little bit, but primarily expect the therapist to “do the work”. So layer one is all about that detached involvement — even though we’re making the decision to be there, it’s still a transactional perspective where we are paying the person in front of us to do something for us.

At some point, we are faced with the reality that for anything profitable to happen, we must actually choose to speak about the deep things that really matter. But before that happens, there is fear, lack of trust, and what seemed to me to be this inner little puppy whimpering. So this layer has no words, just the whimpering.

The third layer represents our basest and most animal instincts that usually contribute to those most hidden problems. I felt that sex is easy for most to understand as an animal instinct, and how this layer sexualizes the idea of someone “working on their head” seemed an apt approach to this layer. There is no thoughtful dialog in this layer, just a repeated pumping back and forth of the same sexualized phrase. There is not even a crescendo of activity towards a climax, but just a consistent trancelike abandon into the repetition.

The final layer is one of contemplative confession. A consideration of what it might actually mean to fling open the doors and let light shine in on those innermost shameful, frightening or hurtful things. It is meant to be a little creepy, because that is how we feel others must think us to sound if we would truly confess such deeply hidden things.

Part 1: Thicker Therapy Office
————————————————-
Gonna sit right back

Sit right back, right back on this couch right here

Watch you do yo thing, and work your therapy

Get inside my head, inside that head o mine

Work my head and do your therapy


Part 2: Whimpering Puppy
——————————————-
*whimpering


Part 3: Popeye n Olive Sex Therapy
————‐————————
Baby Work that head,
Baby Work that head for me


Part 4: 156 Up Tube Confessions
——————————————————-
I have these thoughts

These thoughts that I shouldn’t have

These thoughts I know are wrong

The preacher calls it sin

The police calls it law

The judge calls it guilty

Now I’m trapped

Trapped in this prison of my mind

A trap of my own making

What if I tell

will they think I’m crazy

Will they put me away

Technical Details

This was recorded on my iPad using an iRig Pro I/O digital interface and Garage Band to interface into the Voisey app. I use a Shure SM7B microphone along with a TC Helicon VoiceLive 3 Extreme for all of the vocal effects and processing. Part 1 used the default preset 22 called “Thicker” with a few subtle tweaks. Part 2 used the default preset 28 called Tinkerbell as is. Part 3 used the default preset 29 called Popeye n Olive as is. And Part 4 used the default preset 156 called Up Tube.

Contemplations

When I consider “Therapy” in light of the gospel — I’m reminded of the passage in James chapter 5 about confessing our sins to each other:

Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise. Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.
James 5:13‭-‬16 ESV

The various translations of James 5:16 put it in perspective that confession is “to each other”, “to one another”, etc — not just to God, not solely to a priest, but to each other. And it states it as a cause and effect. Do A, so that B will happen. And this section is not just a book of wise probabilities like we have in Proverbs where it is wisdom learned and shared through the ages about patterns and consequences in this world. This passage is about faith, promise and fulfillment. So we can take this as prescriptive medicine so “that you may be healed”.

Therapy in its most effective form is is obeying this precept laid out for us by the Word of God — confession that leads to healing. The fact that even nonbelievers see benefit in therapy should be no surprise — because God sends rain upon the fields of both the proud and the humble, upon the rich and the poor, upon the wise and focused man with map firmly in hand and the drunk fool stumbling lost through the dark as well. And like the rain, therapy can be a benefit or a hassle.

Lord, help us past our distancing ourselves from the blessing of truly confessing to one another. Help us to go deeper and be healed and to not fear or avoid or bury these things. These things are not hidden from you, nor are they too big or heavy or burdensome for you to take off of our hands, Lord. Help us to trust you, even when it means trusting others too. Amen.

Moments Together

I loved worshipping tonight at 4 Points Church’s Christmas Eve Eve service. Even as I sank into deep, intimate and personal worship — with people of all ages in attendance, I could appreciate that there were so many people in different places in that moment. Some youth in awe of what was happening around them, some children too young for their attention to hold out, some adults making it through another obligatory appointment on their busy holiday schedule, some worn and tired from a hard week, some trying their best to put on their best smile, some like me not really knowing which way is up but hopeful for an opportunity for God to show up.

As I was contemplating the deep things of communion, my young daughter was more captured and curious and inquisitive about the details of the moment — the little wafer and what it represented, the way the wax melted on the candles, when we were supposed to do this or that.

I laughed at myself for almost having to come out of the transe-like state of worship to answer her questions or help her understand the experience. But instead of being frustrated that my worship was “interrupted” or that she didn’t already “know how to act” – I realized there was a great moment for me to be right there by her side “in her moment” with her exactly where she was — instead of far away in my own.

And it reminded me that’s exactly the Christmas story — Emmanuel — God with us. God came to us and made Himself accessible to all of us exactly where we are.

Thank you Jesus! I love that the gospel isn’t just a “some day I’ll get to spend eternity in heaven with God” story — but is an “I get to spend this moment now with God” reality. And I love that this truth helps me value and appreciate putting aside “my moment” to appreciate someone else’s. I find myself much richer for doing so.

Awestruck

You didn’t choose me. I chose you. I appointed you to go and produce lasting fruit, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask for, using my name. This is my command: Love each other.
John 15:16‭-‬17 NLT

what are mere mortals that you should think about them, human beings that you should care for them?
Psalms 8:4 NLT

How often do we really consider what it means to be chosen by God? To be considered and cared for by Almighty God, creator of the heavens and the earth?

How self absorbed and deluded would I have to be to imagine and make up a scenario in my mind where an all powerful, Almighty God of all of the universe and all of eternity past and Stritzinger future chose me and cares for me specifically and uniquely? Doesn’t it sound like the most narcissistic thing that a person could claim about themselves if we consider it from that perspective?

Yet, those of us who know this to be completely true are humbled by it, not puffed up or inflated or hard hearted and proud of such a claim — we are softened, awestruck, overcome by peace and grace instead.

It is truly the work of God.

Saved from Self

And she will have a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”
Matthew 1:21 NLT

I remember how exciting it was when I discovered being naughty — when I felt that rush of pleasure that came from getting away with something that I knew that I shouldn’t be doing. It was a rush, it was a thrill. It made me feel in control and empowered in a way that just following the rules simply didn’t.

Yes, my sin, even the temptation to sin for me was pleasurable.

So who would want to be saved from sin if it is pleasurable? This is a valid question that many will ask when they encounter what looks to them to be the “confining rules of religion”. They hear people preaching about this law and that law, and the long list of “what religious people are against” and it’s easy to miss anything lovely or beautiful about “a couple thousand year old story some people wrote down a long time ago”.

But while sin is pleasurable for a season, it always bears a higher cost than the temporary pleasure that it first baited is with. It can wrap its tentacles around us, and before we realize it — is dragging our life down into the dark depths as we slowly suffocate.

It is an age old story that holds true in every life. And at some point, we will need to be saved from ourselves.

Today, I’m not only grateful for the Christmas story, not only grateful for being saved from the consequences of sin, but I’m grateful for having my eyes opened to see sin and temptation for what it is – a thief.

Thank you Jesus for everything.

Candidate for Good Neighbor

If you’re an American, you’re probably very familiar with the words:

” I am ________, candidate for __________, and I approve this message.”

This type of statement is required in political ads in the US because of a law enacted to combat anonymous negative political ads from flooding the airwaves: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stand_by_Your_Ad_provision

These days, campaigns just resort to propaganda, fake news, rumor and speculation they feed into the social media machine in order to stir people up into a frenzy instead — so maybe we need something similar to curb this new ugly underbelly of political wrangling.

But this gets me thinking about the messages that we each “approve” every day via our various social media interactions. Every time that we like, share, comment and post — we are endorsing/approving a message. We are putting something out there to show people who we are — or at least who we want people to hear/see from us.

But I wonder what we are a “candidate for _______”? If we look at our social media presence, is it a good representation of a “good neighbor”, of a “good and faithful servant), of a “humble ambassador of Christ Jesus”? But even greater than that, is our curated social media presence a false and fake political ad that we put up as a front to garner likes, while our heart and lives are far from living up to the shiny promises of our campaign slogans?

For those who call themselves Christians, we should be living as a candidate for heaven, not because others get to “vote is in” (because they don’t), but because they need to see that all this “Christian religion stuff” isn’t just poppycock and nonsense like most political promises and candidates prove themselves to be. They need to see the reality of “Christ in us” in those where the Holy Spirit of God dwells so they might see, taste, touch, smell and hear that God is good for themselves. We are the candidates for “good and faithful servant” who are to take this gift of God’s abiding presence into the world for it to be multiplied in others.

“Again, the Kingdom of Heaven can be illustrated by the story of a man going on a long trip. He called together his servants and entrusted his money to them while he was gone. He gave five bags of silver to one, two bags of silver to another, and one bag of silver to the last—dividing it in proportion to their abilities. He then left on his trip. “The servant who received the five bags of silver began to invest the money and earned five more. The servant with two bags of silver also went to work and earned two more. But the servant who received the one bag of silver dug a hole in the ground and hid the master’s money. “After a long time their master returned from his trip and called them to give an account of how they had used his money. The servant to whom he had entrusted the five bags of silver came forward with five more and said, ‘Master, you gave me five bags of silver to invest, and I have earned five more.’ “The master was full of praise. ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant. You have been faithful in handling this small amount, so now I will give you many more responsibilities. Let’s celebrate together!’ “The servant who had received the two bags of silver came forward and said, ‘Master, you gave me two bags of silver to invest, and I have earned two more.’ “The master said, ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant. You have been faithful in handling this small amount, so now I will give you many more responsibilities. Let’s celebrate together!’ “Then the servant with the one bag of silver came and said, ‘Master, I knew you were a harsh man, harvesting crops you didn’t plant and gathering crops you didn’t cultivate. I was afraid I would lose your money, so I hid it in the earth. Look, here is your money back.’ “But the master replied, ‘You wicked and lazy servant! If you knew I harvested crops I didn’t plant and gathered crops I didn’t cultivate, why didn’t you deposit my money in the bank? At least I could have gotten some interest on it.’ “Then he ordered, ‘Take the money from this servant, and give it to the one with the ten bags of silver. To those who use well what they are given, even more will be given, and they will have an abundance. But from those who do nothing, even what little they have will be taken away. Now throw this useless servant into outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’
Matthew 25:14‭-‬30 NLT

I am Harold “Hop” Ballinger, a candidate for good and faithful servant, and I approve this message.

What is this?

What love is this,
From cradle to cross,
For my gain,
Seemed His loss?

What King is this,
Title and honor laid down,
Takes up my sin,
With His thorny crown?

What Savior is this,
Along the roadside I meet,
Who bows Himself,
And washes my feet?

What child is this,
Whom angels sing,
And Christmas praise,
To Him we bring?

He is my Jesus,
He is yours as well,
Come bend your knee,
We have a world to tell!

  • “What is this?”, Harold “Hop” Ballinger, Nov 30, 2021

We can do better

“We can do better”

Did you read this statement as encouragement? Or did you read it as criticism?

Does how you read this say more about:
What I actually intended you to hear?
How you perceive me to speak?
How you choose to hear things?

I believe that “we can do better” is all about the opportunity that lies ahead of us. Looking forward and preparing ourselves to be and do the best we can is helpful. So I offer “we can do better” as an encouragement for what opportunities lie ahead, not as a criticism of the past.

But how we read something, how we receive something written, spoken, or acted out by another person usually has a lot to tell us about ourselves. As many of us will be with our families today — alongside the people who we have a lot of collective past,and baggage, and presupposed notions about — maybe we can prepare ourselves now to “do better” in how we see each other, how we hear each other, how we give the benefit of the doubt to each other, and how we avoid the pitfall of criticism and offense.

God bless you and Happy Thanksgiving!

Sensible people control their temper; they earn respect by overlooking wrongs.
Proverbs 19:11 NLT

A Rainbow Sequined Jacket

As I shopped together with my mom and daughter yesterday in a craft store, we encountered a wide variety of buttons and marveled at how unique and beautiful each one was. On display together they were quite marvelous like a shimmering dress covering their roundabout displays. But if we examined and inspected any one of them closely, we could see that they were “just buttons” — pretty inexpensive, and many of them were silly and even gaudy.

Then a friend posted this on Instagram and I loved it:

As I think about my life and my friends — I realize that we have all been a bunch of insane, perverted, drunk, high, arguing, gossiping, selfish, lustful, divisive folks. Religiously speaking,  you could easily call us “wicked and sinful” people. Want evidence? I’m sure that it’s not that hard to find.

But I’m not ashamed of that. I’m not ashamed of you or of me. That’s just the honest truth about what parts of our lives look like behind any curated social media posts and the “branding” most of us have put out there to sell others on “how we want to be seen”.

Who we really are in our deepest, darkest places isn’t the whole of who we are. And who we advertise ourselves to be isn’t the whole of who we are either. I see something beautiful in you, friend. Each of you is like a precious, unique gem — and having you as part of my life makes me feel like I’m wearing a beautiful, flamboyant, rainbow sequined coat of many colors that is uniquely mine to live and to treasure.

And you know what? My teacher tells me that is how God sees us and that is why Jesus came as God incarnate to live amongst us and show us a better way than religion — a better way than people trying to measure up on their own and compare against one another in judgement and shame.

My teacher is not some book. My teacher is not some man on TV, the Internet, or behind a pulpit on Sundays. My teacher is the living God who made you and I in His image and who has a wonderful and challenging and fulfilling purpose for us doing this life together.

I know.  That sounds crazy, right? That doesn’t sound like I’m just handing out tickets for a church service or a weekly religious gathering, or trying to get you to invest a tithe in my religious organization of course, does it?

I’m not in the business of religion. I want you to know that He lives in me, and I see His beauty in you — even in your imperfections — ESPECIALLY in your imperfections. I love you, and He loves you even more.

When you think of the people around you, can you see the beautiful coat of many colors in your mind?

Can you see their beauty and your own? Or has your sight grown dark and have the troubles of this life and the imperfections and brokenness of this world left you wondering where beauty and hope might even be found?

Let’s shine our little light, my friend. Let’s love and appreciate and encourage each other, my friends. You are all welcome and loved in my house.

Thank you, Jesus, my Lord, my Savior, my healer and my teacher for opening my eyes to such beautiful things. Amen.

So God created human beings in his own image. In the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.
Genesis 1:27 NLT

So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves. The sinful nature wants to do evil, which is just the opposite of what the Spirit wants. And the Spirit gives us desires that are the opposite of what the sinful nature desires. These two forces are constantly fighting each other, so you are not free to carry out your good intentions. But when you are directed by the Spirit, you are not under obligation to the law of Moses. When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, the results are very clear: sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division, envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other sins like these. Let me tell you again, as I have before, that anyone living that sort of life will not inherit the Kingdom of God. But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things! Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there. Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives. Let us not become conceited, or provoke one another, or be jealous of one another.
Galatians 5:16‭-‬26 NLT

Have you heard? Have You Seen Him? Tell Everyone!

Is it just me, or does it seem like some fundamentalist evangelists primarily try to scare people into theologically agreeing to accept “good heaven” instead of “bad hell” by saying something today as a down payment on a future return on their investment?

Whereas I feel like I’m a voice crying out in the wilderness, “I know God, I get to walk with Him. He’s real! He’s really alive and active and powerful and fulfills His promises and you can walk with Him and know Him as your friend and experience His blessings and His peace TODAY! He’s changed me. He really changed me! Draw close to Him! Repent!”

Am I crazy to feel like there is a wide difference of perspective between the two?

And I’m not faulting anyone with a different perspective, I just don’t spend much time talking about the scariest parts of hell and Satan and darkness because they don’t even hold a candle to how good and amazing God is! I don’t need to convince people out of hell mentally/theoretically, I just want them to truly meet my God! He’s so beautiful and wonderful that surely if they even meet Him once they will be in love with Him too!

Hear:

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

See:

“Come and see a man who told me everything I ever did! Could he possibly be the Messiah?” So the people came streaming from the village to see him.
John 4:29‭-‬30 NLT

Tell:

Tell everyone about God’s power. His majesty shines down on Israel; his strength is mighty in the heavens. God is awesome in his sanctuary. The God of Israel gives power and strength to his people. Praise be to God!
Psalms 68:34‭-‬35 NLT

A dear friend of Christ shares this: https://youtu.be/5oiQqHNExV0