Falling Asleep

Question: What if I fall asleep while praying?

First things first, we need to make sure that we are getting adequate sleep. Our body is the temple of the Lord, so proper upkeep and maintenance of that temple is important. I sometimes overlook that part of the equation because it doesn’t sound all “spiritual” and “wise” to talk about (and it is an area where I need to improve personally) — but it really and truly matters. So please get adequate and healthy amounts of sleep, exercise, water, and food.

Many times when that happens to me, it was peace washing over me that I needed desperately.

But occasionally it can be my body fighting against my spirit having close, intimate time with the Lord concerning issues that really need to be dealt with. In those cases, I find that physically getting on my knees in the floor and leaving my head down towards the floor offers a position where I can sustain it for longer periods of prayer, humility, deep contemplation, and repentance without falling asleep.

In my experience, it really depends on what I need in order for my heart and my thoughts to be closer to His heart and His thoughts.

If I’m falling asleep because I’m not making time to be with God — and I’m just occasionally saying a prayer because I know I should in the morning or evening — I could probably benefit from being more intentional about my intimacy with God. I might need to grow in my attitude towards Him and my hunger for His Word. Once we’ve believed and received the Holy Spirit as promised in the Word of God — these types of groanings to God in periods of dedicated prayer (like we see Christ and the disciples model for us) can be powerful and offer growth, breakthrough, deliverance, healing, and renewal.

If I’m in a hard season where life has me worn, and it is work for me to lift a hallelujah because as I sing my praises, and my hope is that I truly believe these words that I’m singing, and I’m wondering where God is in all of this — that is a wonderful season where I can come to Him with my troubles, lay in His arms with faith like a child, say “I need you Father” and let Him wrap His loving arms around us and comfort us with peace and sleep.

He knows exactly what I need even better than I do. He is also a Good Father who loves me and welcomes me with open arms — I don’t have to make grand gestures or complete certain practices in order to speak with Him. But sometimes I need something practical to wash my hands and prepare my heart to sit with Him again.

Whatever it is that we need in order to draw close to Him, I pray it is granted by God, received by us gratefully, and empowered by the Holy Spirit to impact us and this life. Amen.

Offer sacrifices in the right spirit, and trust the Lord. Many people say, “Who will show us better times?” Let your face smile on us, Lord. You have given me greater joy than those who have abundant harvests of grain and new wine. In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, O Lord, will keep me safe.
Psalms 4:5‭-‬8 NLT

Some great verses to guide your study on intimate conversation with the Lord (aka prayer): https://www.openbible.info/topics/prayer

Job’s “One Great Story”

I listened to a wonderful podcast called Earbender by my friend Alexi Muzik yesterday where Rozette, a successful Pop Vocal Coach on Tiktok and InstaGram, described at the end of the interview her “one great story”. It was such an inspiring story full of doors flinging open unexpectedly and other people playing a crucial part in her growth and development as an artist. I commented that “I love when doors open for sweet people by the generosity of others around them — not only by their own talent. It helps build a humility that is so necessary in order to even begin trying to handle true success or fame.”

Success, fame and honor has another side to it that can be just as devastating to a life as loss. Just look at the number of lives destroyed by “easy come easy go” riches, success and fame. Look at the number of sports stars who can thrive on the field of competition, but whose personal lives are destroyed by what grows out of their success. Look at the number of celebrities who find themselves even more lonely, trapped, isolated and depressed even while their fame has them “on to of the world”.

But imagine the crash, to fall from the top of a building versus from the top of a few steps!

The contrast in the chapters of Job 27 and Job 28 should be humbling to any of us who have experienced success, favor, honor or fame in our lives. Chapter 27 talks about how it feels to live a life kissed by the favor of the Lord. While chapter 28 talks about a life darkened by strife, grief and depression.

Those who think that being religious and doing religious things guarantees them only success, honor and fame in this life are utter fools. And many only see religious traditions, theology and dogma as a way of improving their own standing — a narcissistic means of self worship (with God as a supporting cast in their own hero story). This is not worship or faith, but is hypocrisy, self righteousness, sin.

Even those who have truly humbled themselves before God, who know Him and walk with Him, and who are anointed by the Holy Spirit of the Living God are not immune to suffering, grief, loss, oppression, and trials in this life. In fact, Jesus tells the believer to redirect these things.

This verse in chapter 28 sticks out for me:

I live in terror now. My honor has blown away in the wind, and my prosperity has vanished like a cloud.
Job 30:15 NLT

This verse isn’t a statement from before Job ever walked in the favor of God. It isn’t like all was bad before Job made a decision for God and then all was wonderful afterwards — just like God wasn’t only angry and vengeful before the cross and isn’t only peace love and happiness after the cross — and just like our lives aren’t going to be all health, wealth and prosperity once we start “giving money to the preacher man”.

No doubt, there is so much that is gained in a life lived drawing close to the Lord. And the favor and blessing of the Lord is very real. But there is also a cost, and that cost is wonderful. Because that cost refutes the enemies claims that we love God only because He is good to us.

God is indeed very good to us. But only loving or hating Him for whether He is good or bad to us is very shallow, and isn’t about Him but is about us. Going through a season where we are hurting and God doesn’t “fix it” to what we want just because we pray over and over for it in various ways as we try to make sense of things like sickness, suffering, injustice, etc. — it stretches our faith to break through the ground and display the sapling to the world around us of a very real and peculiar faith. And it happens again when a new layer of bark is added. And again when a new branch springs forth. And again when bloom and fruit come forth.

We don’t have to pretend that everything is good if it isn’t. We don’t have to stick it up and take it until we make it. We don’t have to be in the height of our one greatest story to be content and at peace. We don’t even have to be strong.

Wherever we are today, I hope that humility will accompany us through the mountaintops and that peace will accompany us through the valley. And that even in our darkest and weakest hour, we might speak our piece, cry out to God, and then be quiet — for the glory of God. Amen.

Check out Ear Bender on Amazon Music.
https://music.amazon.com/podcasts/e75409be-87d9-45e1-9206-9b6b3fa877be/ear-bender?ref=dm_sh_o2Qic3UuUfK2BbrX5h6Pp5LLI

No Agenda, One Motive

I have a friend, Michael Mcleymore, who runs an amazing rehab/ recovery program in Union County, South Carolina, called The Prodigal’s Home. He recently had another inspiring post that he shared from a moment in the life of their program. At the end, he closed with:

“No agenda, one motive: be the love of Jesus! “

One of the ugliest things about people who are involved in “good things” is when we find there is an hidden agenda. When we find out that someone has laid out a chess match type of manipulation/transaction of a situation where they give the impression that they are being good, generous, charitable, etc. — but it turns out they were actually just doing it for themselves.

Even religious people who think that doing more good deeds in this life will earn them a greater reward somehow — may actually be working under a hidden agenda to benefit themselves, rather than truly being “motivated to love and serve others”.

It is the motive that matters.

As a Christian, we are to be motivated by the love of Jesus for us, that in turn motivates us to love others. This motivation that rises up out of faith that He loved us first — it is truly the foundation for the disciple of Christ.

If our theology, traditions, dogma and ceremonies don’t all grow from this root — from this motive — they are fruit from the seed of a poisonous tree — they are about the self-righteous measuring and comparing of our own good and evil — rather than a being drawn close to the Lord to walk as He walks.

No agenda, one motive: Be the love of Jesus!

Find out more about Michael’s ministry here: https://www.facebook.com/421873688267793/

Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other.
Romans 12:9‭-‬10 NLT

People may be pure in their own eyes, but the Lord examines their motives.
Proverbs 16:2 NLT

“The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is? But I, the Lord, search all hearts and examine secret motives. I give all people their due rewards, according to what their actions deserve.”
Jeremiah 17:9‭-‬10 NLT

For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God. Everything is naked and exposed before his eyes, and he is the one to whom we are accountable.
Hebrews 4:12‭-‬13 NLT

Those who think they can do it on their own end up obsessed with measuring their own moral muscle but never get around to exercising it in real life. Those who trust God’s action in them find that God’s Spirit is in them—living and breathing God! Obsession with self in these matters is a dead end; attention to God leads us out into the open, into a spacious, free life. Focusing on the self is the opposite of focusing on God. Anyone completely absorbed in self ignores God, ends up thinking more about self than God. That person ignores who God is and what he is doing. And God isn’t pleased at being ignored. But if God himself has taken up residence in your life, you can hardly be thinking more of yourself than of him. Anyone, of course, who has not welcomed this invisible but clearly present God, the Spirit of Christ, won’t know what we’re talking about. But for you who welcome him, in whom he dwells—even though you still experience all the limitations of sin—you yourself experience life on God’s terms. It stands to reason, doesn’t it, that if the alive-and-present God who raised Jesus from the dead moves into your life, he’ll do the same thing in you that he did in Jesus, bringing you alive to himself? When God lives and breathes in you (and he does, as surely as he did in Jesus), you are delivered from that dead life. With his Spirit living in you, your body will be as alive as Christ’s! So don’t you see that we don’t owe this old do-it-yourself life one red cent. There’s nothing in it for us, nothing at all. The best thing to do is give it a decent burial and get on with your new life. God’s Spirit beckons. There are things to do and places to go! This resurrection life you received from God is not a timid, grave-tending life. It’s adventurously expectant, greeting God with a childlike “What’s next, Papa?” God’s Spirit touches our spirits and confirms who we really are. We know who he is, and we know who we are: Father and children. And we know we are going to get what’s coming to us—an unbelievable inheritance! We go through exactly what Christ goes through. If we go through the hard times with him, then we’re certainly going to go through the good times with him! * * *
Romans 8:5‭-‬17 MSG

SONG: “Jireh” with Sarah Ratchford

You aren’t a lost cause. You haven’t let God down. You haven’t surprised Him with your faults and failures — or with your proudest moments.

My wife and I still laugh — no, we howl — at inappropriate jokes and memes.

We even still have a playlist called “Mommy and Daddy Jamz” with our favorite strip club songs from back in the day like ‘Trillville – Some Cut’, ‘Juvenile – Slow Motion’, ‘Trick Daddy – Sugar’, Chingy – Right Thurr’, ‘Ying Yang Twins – Wait’, ‘Lil Wayne -Lollipops, ‘Petey Pablo – Freak a leak’, ‘Ginuwine – Pony’ and so many more songs that we only play when my 11 year old daughter isn’t around.

For background, if you wanted to look for dirt on me, you wouldn’t have to dig very far. If you’ve ever heard embarrassing, inappropriate, lewd and explicit things about me on the Internet or in crazy stories — they are probably true (and maybe even tamed down for public consumption).

I’m not trying to compete for who has been the wildest. And all of that doesn’t embarrass me or cause me shame now that I love Jesus and I love for my life to be one of worship.

I’m not trying to “hide it” or “cancel it”, because it’s part of my story. I realize that I might not fit someone’s cookie cutter picture of “what a Christian should look like” — and if I said “I’m sorry for disappointing you” it would clearly need a hashtag for sarcasm. Lol.

My point is that my restored relationship with God is not predicated upon my own “goodness”. I’m bought and paid for, washed clean by the Blood of the Lamb, and anointed by the Holy Spirit of the Living God to tell you that He has very Good News FOR YOU!

I love these lyrics from the song Jireh by Elevation Worship:

“I’ll never be more loved than I am right now
Wasn’t holding You up
So there’s nothing I can do to let You down
It doesn’t take a trophy to make You proud
I’ll never be more loved than I am right now”

Yes, there is a lot of that “old life” that gets “left behind” now that we are walking with the Lord. When I go into the cell blocks, and the strip clubs, and the drug/whore houses now, it is for a different reason. I’m not there to judge, condemn, abuse — or even for a transaction. I’m there as a friend, as an encouragement, as someone who will listen with love, as someone who will offer counseling, help, prayer if it is wanted.

We need to love one another well. We need to bring love to those who might be hurting, helpless, alone, forgotten, taken advantage of, and beaten up by the traps of this life.

It’s not my job to scare anyone out of hell. If you hear that, you’re not listening to me.

Knowing and walking with Jesus is so much better than my old life, and it has all been gain, and all for my good — not sacrifice. Even when life’s challenges come now, I can find peace in the middle of the storm. I don’t have to pretend to be perfect or strong.

I just feel like someone out there who is afraid of getting hurt by “religion” really needs to hear that!

God bless!

The Thief on the Cross

People like the thief on the cross (who did NOTHING BUT BELIEVE but was promised paradise), and Samson (who COMMITTED SUICIDE yet is listed in the Hebrews Hall of Faith) blast holes in many folks’ theology and religious dogma. Or at least all of the “imperfect people” in scripture makes them have to dance hilariously to try and make it fit into the rulebooks they have chosen as idols (in trade for their laying down the grace of God and trampling upon the precious Blood of the Lamb).

So it seems important that we understand and avoid those same mistakes ourselves!

I saw the following “copy pasta” on social media this morning (anonymous social media postings are ALWAYS SUSPECT but many times are worthy of contemplation):

“How does the thief on the cross fit into your theology? No baptism, no communion, no confirmation, no speaking in tongues, no mission trip, no volunteerism, and no church clothes. He couldn’t even bend his knees to pray. He didn’t say the sinner’s prayer and among other things, he was a thief. Jesus didn’t take away his pain, heal his body, or smite the scoffers. Yet it was a thief who walked into heaven the same hour as Jesus simply by believing. He had nothing more to offer other than his belief that Jesus was who he said he was. No spin from brilliant theologians. No ego or arrogance. No Shiny lights, skinny jeans, or crafty words. No haze machine, donuts, or coffee in the entrance. Just a naked dying man on a cross unable to even fold his hands to pray.”
For God so loved the world he gave his only begotten son so that whosoever believed in him would not perish but have everlasting life. John 3:16
I read this today and was reminded of the simplicity of the Gospel.
Copied from a Friend.

It reminds me of a recent conversation that I had with my aunt about Jesus, about salvation, about judgement, and about faith. No matter how I tried to introduce her to the concept of grace, she refused to accept it and would ask another, “Well if I do _____ is that going to be good enough to get into heaven?”

Ephesians chapter 2 is a great scripture for tearing down people’s religious theology that has God constantly “changing the rules” on what they “must do to prove themselves a Christian”. I suggest you correct anyone who places the requirements for your salvation on anything more than God’s grace to draw you and give you the gift of faith.

For it is by grace [God’s remarkable compassion and favor drawing you to Christ] that you have been saved [actually delivered from judgment and given eternal life] through faith. And this [salvation] is not of yourselves [not through your own effort], but it is the [undeserved, gracious] gift of God;
Ephesians 2:8 AMP

God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.
Ephesians 2:8‭-‬10 NLT

Now God has us where he wants us, with all the time in this world and the next to shower grace and kindness upon us in Christ Jesus. Saving is all his idea, and all his work. All we do is trust him enough to let him do it. It’s God’s gift from start to finish! We don’t play the major role. If we did, we’d probably go around bragging that we’d done the whole thing! No, we neither make nor save ourselves. God does both the making and saving. He creates each of us by Christ Jesus to join him in the work he does, the good work he has gotten ready for us to do, work we had better be doing. But don’t take any of this for granted. It was only yesterday that you outsiders to God’s ways had no idea of any of this, didn’t know the first thing about the way God works, hadn’t the faintest idea of Christ. You knew nothing of that rich history of God’s covenants and promises in Israel, hadn’t a clue about what God was doing in the world at large. Now because of Christ—dying that death, shedding that blood—you who were once out of it altogether are in on everything.
Ephesians 2:7‭-‬13 MSG

The account of the thief is here in the book of Luke:

Two others, both criminals, were led out to be executed with him. When they came to a place called The Skull, they nailed him to the cross. And the criminals were also crucified—one on his right and one on his left. Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing.” And the soldiers gambled for his clothes by throwing dice. The crowd watched and the leaders scoffed. “He saved others,” they said, “let him save himself if he is really God’s Messiah, the Chosen One.” The soldiers mocked him, too, by offering him a drink of sour wine. They called out to him, “If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!” A sign was fastened above him with these words: “This is the King of the Jews.” One of the criminals hanging beside him scoffed, “So you’re the Messiah, are you? Prove it by saving yourself—and us, too, while you’re at it!” But the other criminal protested, “Don’t you fear God even when you have been sentenced to die? We deserve to die for our crimes, but this man hasn’t done anything wrong.” Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your Kingdom.” And Jesus replied, “I assure you, today you will be with me in paradise.”
Luke 23:32‭-‬43 NLT

If your theology rests upon the precious Blood of the Lamb, upon Christ alone as the justification — and the gift of grace through faith as the salvation — you have nothing but a response of gratitude to lead you along this narrow path holding His hand as He leads you. This is the gospel.

If your theology REQUIRES OF YOU (checking off a list of requirements/rules) — instead of TESTIFIES OF GOD’S GRACE — it probably has left the narrow path. Let what He has done be what PRODUCES INSIDE YOU the good work. That isn’t the same as doing good works trying to prove or earn something.

God bless!

Precious People – Thelma Edge, My Nana

I just wanted to thank everyone who visited or played a part in the services for my Nana, Thelma Edge, yesterday. We knew that it was the middle of a workday, in the middle of COVID, and far away from those of you who don’t live in “the center of the universe” (Pacolet inside joke). So I’m sorry for those of you who may have wanted to attend but couldn’t — we all extend our love to you and greatly appreciate your love for us and for her. Having said that, the turnout of so many sweet friends and family just blew us away. The flow of new stories, smiles, hugs and encouragement never once stopped and kept us all together with a community of “family” that might not necessarily be tied together by the bonds of blood and marriage — but were clearly tied together by the bond of love.

From the morning family gathering at my mom and dad’s house, with us all eating hot Krispy Kreme doughnuts and coffee that Pam Easler stuck past the healthy foods police ( you know who you are and I love you for it! ) — and talking about so many things that either made us laugh or cry. Like the very deep conversations with Debbie Ford Cromer, Patra Ford, Lynn Davis and Butch Davis about how there are seasons of this Christian walk that will truly stretch our faith and have us in places where we don’t have any answers for “Why?!!!” but we have God with us to see us through. Like deep and hopeful conversations with Betty Hutt and Vicky Polk we can have about the gospel, the all sufficient power of the blood of Christ, grace instead of works, and the hope we can find in the Lord when coming to Him with hard questions about chronic disease, suffering in the world, addictions, overdose, and even deep despair and suicide. And even the laughing about how different and unique our perspectives might be on “our own funeral services” or hilarious stories about Nana and Bill or the family and all of our quirks and general craziness. Some family stories stay safely within the 4 walls of the family homes, ha!

And the gathering and receiving of friends — oh my goodness! There are far too many stories and names to even begin to list them here. But the running theme throughout was that in “the Pacolet we know and love”, we are all family — that you are a “cuz” not just because of immediate blood or marriage, but because of the love and community — and so many times we laughed and encouraged each other knowing that we truly are all related as family — regardless of name, Job, position, address, area code, income, race, language, etc. Pacolet and Brown’s Chapel church and that white house on the hill on Cleveland Street seem they might always be Home, might always be the center of the universe, might always be my closest glimpse of what heaven might be like from this side of the veil. Not because of any big fancy houses, not because of streets paved in gold, not because of health, wealth and prosperity — because your early eyes will not see those things in Pacolet. But because of something that is truly rare, precious, and of eternal value — souls touched by the hand of God, birthing a community that lives one another. I had so many “favorites” that I got to hug and tell them one more time that I love them — and that is priceless.

And the service! I have always loved the pure worship that Steve and Wanda Wall have brought through the choir at Brown’s Chapel, because of you have heard me talk about wisp before — i always will say that the heart of the singing is so much more powerful than the polish. But not only was there such heart in the worship — it was for my ears like God had polished it into a fine gold arrow. And that arrow somehow pierced me so accurately and deeply in my innermost heart, but instead of striking me dead, renewed my heart and restored my hope. Ralph and Sherry Jett and their families have been at the very heart of the Brown’s Chapel church and to have them lead off and then everyone in attendance join them in the last verse of “How Great Thou Art” was so powerful that it was as if the earth shook around my very soul. And the beautiful encouragement of Wanda Wall singing “What a Day That Will Be” reminded me of how much sweeter that day becomes for me as more loved ones depart this temporary place for our “Forever Home”. And Ralph’s very real, very transparent, very intimate message to our family was for me as if Christ Himself spoke from the lips of his messenger EXACTLY what each of us needed to hear to comfort us in this time. And Chip Coleman’s compelling retelling of Nana and Bill’s testimony of hearing the call and following was exactly what was needed to stir both the believer and unbeliever to action. And Floyd’s Chapel has so many memories for me and we are grateful to them as well. Afterwards, I walked through to see so many name on stones that I either knew personally or at least knew the families — and paused at several where wonderful memories sprung up from the grave into my consciousness.

Spending time together afterwards, then traveling the familiar roads to see these places from my childhood once again was a special blessing. It is easy to get busy with work and responsibilities and look up, and another generation has passed by and another steps up to the plate for their time at bat.

At these things, we always say “We need to get together…” and we get busy again and we forget. This time I want us to get together not just because of a wedding or funeral. I’m thinking that something in May where we set a date, have food, encourage others to bring food and/or just themselves, and just celebrate family, community, a people that “love one another” where everyone is welcome. Maybe you’d be interested in joining us too?

Facts are only a Google, Siri or Alexa away. But Wisdom?

People know how to find many answers. These days, facts are only a Google, Siri, or Alexa away.

But what about wisdom?

What about those things that go beyond written books that the ears and eyes and senses of an apprentice can watch in awe and receive from a master of his craft?

What about those things to go beyond trades and talents and speak to the deeper, political, philosophical, even spiritual things of life and eternity?

Have you sat quiet enough in your mind to listen for the teacher’s voice that is not your own?

Have you sought out to find this “God” that others speak about, that many worship, that people see fit to pass down generation after generation in tradition and ceremonies?

Where have you gotten all these wise sayings? Whose spirit speaks through you?
Job 26:4 NLT

And this is what he says to all humanity: ‘The fear of the Lord is true wisdom; to forsake evil is real understanding.’”
Job 28:28 NLT

Where’s your God now?

When we are in a deep dark place of hurt, it is quite natural to consider things like Job did:

The groans of the dying rise from the city, and the wounded cry for help, yet God ignores their moaning.
Job 24:12 NLT

As I’ve watched the disease of Alzheimer’s steal from my grandmother for years. And as I watch parents lose their children. And as I watch the rich be frivolous with their money while children and widows suffer and starve in this world. And as I watch natural disasters bringing pain, death and destruction. And as I see families impacted by sickness, death, chronic illnesses, hunger, poverty, oppression, injustice, pain and suffering in this world. Who other than the cold hearted can ignore such things that are undeniably around us?

And when it hits close to you and affects someone that you love dearly — or even you personally — what does faith look like in this moments?

“Though You Slay Me” and “It Is Well With My Soul” are two of my favorite Christian songs. They don’t have the typical “raise your hands and bounce” of today’s Sunday morning mega-rave gatherings where “everything is health, wealth, and prosperity”. They speak to a season of suffering, of loss, of faith stretched beyond what can be endure by mere men to where we must rely on God alone — even in that moment where the question from the accuser screams inside our heads, “Where is your God now?”

It is in these places of suffering that idols are revealed and that the veil of this temporary place is torn back to reveal eternal and spiritual things to us. Imagine a child going to school and taking a test for the first time who is horribly afraid of a low grade on a standardized test — while a teacher’s goal is to determine where they can focus their time teaching to best fit the needs of the child for a rounded and comprehensive understanding of all objectives. Imagine a child experiencing an immersive virtual reality game for their first time and being truly terrified that they might fall to their death or be killed — while a loving parent assures them that there is nothing to fear. Imagine a hard working parent choosing to consistently sacrifice a few hours of sleep for years on end to obtain a degree that will open doors for them to better provide for their families.

It is easier for us to see both sides of the coin in the familiar situations that I described — where we must learn to trust that there is a greater purpose than what we can see and feel in the moment. But what about when life truly demands of us whether or not we believe that our God is faithful and true?

I’m not saying this so you’ll hide in the corner sobbing about how you’ve let God down yet again. Some very cold hearts that are far from God might need the ground to shake under their feet like that to wake them up — but you are here reading a Christian blog, so let’s skip past that trap of shame and get right to faith and trust.

Do you trust God in the hard places — because that’s going to be where you need Him most!

And when you’re in that truly hard place, it is going to feel like doubt and suffering — but it has the opportunity to be surrender and spiritual growth.

When everything cries out to us, “Where is your God now?” — we don’t have to win that argument.

When all evidence makes it look on the outside like the enemy is winning — we don’t have to win that battle.

When what lies ahead is clearly more than we can bear under our own power — we don’t have to speak to the burden.

Are there times that a student might feel like the teacher ignores their groanings about having to take a test — but the teacher isn’t truly ignoring them? Yes! Are there times when our not getting the answer we wanted in the moment we wanted it is good for us? Yes!

Lord, if going deeper was easy, everyone would rush to step out of the boat and walk upon the water. And if it was easy, those who stepped out wouldn’t sink and need your rescue. But this trusting in you isn’t so that our own strength can be put on display — but that our weaknesses can bring glory to you revealing your power. And trusting in you doesn’t profit our lives or the lives of others if it is just a one time statement of faith instead of a daily walk. Lord, for all these things, we need you. You are near and not far. You are here, and your victory is complete. You have called us by name, and we believe, we surrender, and we will trust you by the power of your Holy Spirit that you promise us. For the sake of your honor and glory and in the name of Jesus Christ our Savior, we boldly come into the throne room of grace with these prayers. Amen.

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.