Some may call this a vice, but my favorite music to listen to when I work out is hip-hop and dance mixes.

I love it. When I’m working out, I slip into my fighter mentality. I don’t advocate a dog eat dog attitude, but I think that there is a lack of tenacity that is perpetrated in our American culture and even within the church. Meek, mild, and fatalistic really isn’t all we’re called to be.

Although they don’t channel their frustrations and desires well the vast majority of the time, one thing a lot of these artists get is that you’ve got to be willing to fight for what you’re working towards. No one will hand it to you.

The fact is that the things that are worth the most in life are things you have to fight for. For me, something I’ve had to fight for is my self-esteem, and my new workout regimen has been a big part of that.

So here is my workout playlist that pumps me up to kick butt through my workout. The bold are the ones I feel keep with the theme of the post.

  • Shut Up and Drive- Rhianna
  • Low- Flo Rida
  • Let’s Get it Started- Black Eyed Peas
  • One, Two Step- Ciara
  • Mama Said Knock You Out- LL Cool J
  • Party Like a Rock Star- Shop Boyz
  • Stronger- Kanye West
  • Lose Yourself- Eminem
  • This is Why I’m Hot- Mims
  • Sexyback- Justin Timberlake
  • Hips Don’t Lie- Shakira
  • Don’ Cha- Pussycat Dolls
  • Vertigo- U2

*note, author does not necessarily recommend these songs

What are the songs that pump you up? What do you work out to? I’m always looking for new workout music.

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On Friday, I went to a screening of the film “Back Home,” a documentary covering the story of one man who survived the Rwandan genocide in 1994. One of the themes of the film was reconciliation.

The method by which Rwandans have chosen to bring the perpetrators of the genocide to justice is called “gacaca“, which means “grass court.” At that time the the perpetrators come before the village, including the victim’s family, and confesses the crime. Then, the victim’s family has the opportunity to release the guilty party from their burden through forgiveness. There are still penalties paid by the offender, but this was described as the first step in their “re-humanization.”

One of the words that struck me as the director talked about this process was the word “sacrifice.” He said that in order for reconciliation to begin, the victim must sacrifice their right to vengeance. Those victims have every single right to demand justice be served and claim the authority to see the guilty pay for what they have done, but for the greater good, they forfeit that right.

To me, this is one of the greatest examples of selflessness I could ever fathom. It leads me to think of how much more then we should be willing to lay down our “right” to claim vengeance on those who have wronged us in the run of the mill, every day offenses.

There are times when we are done wrong- no question about it (although there are many more often times when we played a part in our being offended). But for those times when we are purely wronged, we have the choice to make the offender pay or to release them and help them “re-orient” to life in the Spirit rather than life led by the flesh, which led them into the offense.

Last night in my small group we read Numbers 21:4-8. It intrigues me because Moses had every right to be furious with the Israelites. He had been a faithful leader, and all he seemed to get was the shaft from the people. But when they plead with him to pray for them, he did. And because of his prayers, the Lord delivered the people.

I’m not sure how theologically sound this theory is, but I believe that those kinds of selfless, sacrificial prayers are deeply honored by God. When the offended can lay aside their right to anger and pray for the offenders, Satan’s plan is thwarted and the Lord can work powerfully.

The Lord is good, and His ways are far above mine. This is one of those things that doesn’t make sense to me, but I praise God for his love and the Holy Spirit that enables us to have moments where we can transcend this fallen world.

“See, I make all things new!”
Jesus the Christ, Revelation 21:5

That’s quite a promise. Only Jesus has the authority to make that kind of promise.

It’s fulfilled in more than flowers, you know. Life comes in seasons, and yes, there are winters… but there is also always the promise of spring. New life born only out of the darkness and death of winter. All things new!

Similar spring thoughts three years ago…

One of my spiritual gifts is passion. I relate this it enthusiasm, conviction, or just flat out caring. I think that for people with these types of gifts, Satan’s primary objective is to make you stop caring.

If Satan can make you stop caring, then that pretty much cuts the life-line of energy and desire to the ministries and people to which you were called to serve.

Lately I’ve found myself saying more and more often that I just don’t care, or worse yet, I can’t care.

Passion carries quite a price tag. It’s not cheap to live life passionately. Most people who embody this gift have battle scars to prove it. In the immortal words of U2, “the heart that hurts is the heart that beats.”

I saw this prayer a few years ago and it has been on my refrigerator since. It reminds me that to being a Christ-follower is not meant to be a life of comfort, but holy uneasiness is what God gives us to keep us longing for home.

May God bless you with discomfort
at easy answers, half-truths, and
superficial relationships, so that
you will live deep in your heart.

May God bless you with anger at
injustice, oppression, and
exploitation, of people and the earth,
so that you will work for justice,
equity, and peace.

May God bless you with tears to
shed for those who suffer so you will
reach out your hands to comfort
them and change their pain into joy.

And may God bless you with
the foolishness to think that you
can make a difference in the world,
so you will do the things which
others say cannot be done.

I recently heard a wise man speak on the fact that the church is sadly lacking in laments.

Thankfully, we have St. Bono of Dublin, patron saint of every emotion the heart feels. :) Lately, I haven’t been able to listen to my standard music. It’s a little too gentle for how I’m feeling. So I’ve returned to U2.

What I like is that they can express the deepest emotions of the heart while remaining faithful to the complexity of each and in their intertwining.

Longing

I have climbed highest mountains, I have run through the fields
Only to be with you
I have run, I have crawled, I have scaled these city walls
Only to be with you
But I still haven’t found what I’m looking for

Anticipation-

Something is about to give
I can feel it coming, I think I know what it is
I’m not afraid to die, I’m not afraid to live
And when I’m flat on my back I hope to feel like I did
And hardness, it sets in
You need some protection on the thinner the skin

Pain-

I’m around the corner from anything that’s real
I’m across the road from hope
I’m under a bridge in a rip tide
That’s taken everything I call my own
One step closer to knowing
I’m hanging out to dry with my old clothes
Finger still red with the prick of an old rose
Well the heart that hurts is a heart that beats
Can you hear the drummer slowing?
One step closer to knowing

Humility-

Tough, you think you’ve got the stuff
You’re telling me and anyone you’re hard enough
You don’t have to put up a fight, you don’t have to always be
right
Let me take some of the punches for you tonight
Listen to me now- I need to let you know
You don’t have to go it alone
Sometimes you can’t make it on your own

Courage-

Love is not the easy thing.
The only baggage that you can bring
Is all that you can’t leave behind.
And if the darkness is to keep us apart
And if the daylight feels like it’s a long way off
And if your glass heart should crack
And for a second you turn back
Oh no, be strong.
Walk on…
What you got they can’t steal it
No they can’t even feel it
Walk on…
And I know it aches, and your heart it breaks
You can only take so much… walk on

Does anyone else have any music they turn to when they need something that captures the rawness of life? Anyone want to identify the songs I referenced?

With my gratitude to my U2 Sempai, Peter-san.

I don’t consider my blog a journal, but one of the goals of this blog is to validate that a Christian person can go through many things and have many emotions while remaining a faithful person.

That said, some days suck. Some weeks or months suck. Over the past few weeks, I have taken a series of blows that have left me weary and deeply wounded.

This morning at church my heart was not there. Instead there was bitterness and anger and sadness. I couldn’t sing, couldn’t pray, just couldn’t engage.

The service was fantastic. Great sermon, wonderful songs… in fact, we sang one of my favorite songs, “Sweetly Broken” by Jeremy Riddle. The chorus is as follows:

At the cross You beckon me
You draw me gently to my knees,
And I am lost for words, so lost in love,
I’m sweetly broken, wholly surrendered

This is a beautiful song and beautiful sentiment, but today it drove daggers into my heart. All I could think was, “Draw me gently to my knees”? Really? Because it sure feels like I just had my legs cut out from under me, anything but gently. And “sweetly” broken? I feel like someone’s taken a sledge hammer to me.

I know the truth of the message in the lyrics, but at the same time, sometimes it just hurts. Yesterday I happened to read the passage from Luke 9, where Jesus promises suffering for his disciples, yet still calls them to take their cross and follow. This song takes that gritty, hard teaching of Jesus and paints it in a much softer light.

Life promises to break us, and I would much rather be broken by God than the world, but that doesn’t guarantee it will be sweet. Some days it’s a bitter pill to swallow.

PS- Check out the new poll question in the left column.

Use me, break me, waste me on You, Lord
Ruin me, take me, waste me on You
For to die is to live…

To starve is to feast
and less of me is more of Jesus
Lord, I want it all…

-Shane and Shane

Be careful when you pray this kind of thing. God just might take you up on it.

Each year I have hopes of truly being mindful and reverent of the Holy Season. Some years I accomplish that to some degree, others I don’t. This year was a case of the latter. I have allowed myself to become so entangled with human drama and righteous works that I confess I have lost sight of what this all means.

Last night I was thinking of the blogs I wrote last year for Good Friday, Black Saturday, and Easter Sunday. And I think that despite my neglect of the true meaning of these Holy Days this year, God in His mercy and grace is bringing my soul back in line with His.

Tomorrow will be busy. Our church is expecting 400 visitors, and though this is Kingdom work, I have a feeling I will have the heart of Martha rather than Mary by the end of the day. But God has given me today. He has slowed my pace and is drawing me close.

In the Christian tradition, this is a spiritual roller coaster of a weekend- the pain, the emptiness, the joy. Rather than dwelling on one or looking forward to the next, let us embrace the moment in which God has placed us.

Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good. His love endures forever. -Psalm 118

Sojoblog announces a new feature over there on the left column- voting! To start this thing out, I have a fairly harmless question. However, knowing me, you can rest assured that the questions will likely get more controversial in nature.

The blog title is a joke- sorry to burst your bubble, but this corner o’ the web is not a democracy. Just think of me as a benevolent dictatoress. ;)

God bless Sojoblog! God save the queen!

It’s amazing to me how God provides us with what we need before we realize we need it. I learned this song Friday and knew it was something special. Little did I know the comfort and anchor it would be for me since then. Maybe someone out there needs to hear this, too.

The More I Seek You- Kari Jobe

The more I seek you, the more I find you
The more I find you, the more I love you

I want to sit at your feet,
Drink from the cup in your hand,
Lay back against you and breathe,
Hear your heart beat.

This love is so deep, it’s more than I can stand.
I melt in your peace, it’s overwhelming.

Thank you, Father, for knowing our hearts, healing our wounds, and providing us with every good thing…