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Nothing God does is wasted.

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To walk into work every day and feel God’s presence in the details, the everyday, the ordinary.

It’s not the place, it’s not that it’s a ministry. It’s where your talents and gifts meet God’s passion. It’s a community of people loving each other and doing everything they can to serve others and lift Jesus high.

Sorry to get all introspective, but you’ve gotta know that this is possible! That God’s dreams in your heart aren’t going to lead to a dead end. That He’s going to use your Type A socially awkward self to connect people to His work around the world.

God led Chris and I to turn down a job at a place we loved with a paycheck that was super generous and comfortable. We had no idea what we were doing or where we were going. I had no idea why He was stirring a passion…

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Why I Love “Jesus Shot Me in the Head”

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Ok, so some unpacking.  The song lyrics I posted yesterday, and professed my love for: why?  What do I see there that so resonates with me?  I’m a theologian and Bible scholar; am I endorsing the theology of HGM’s lyrics?

Well, NO.  I’m not endorsing the theology.

What I see that I find so appealing, so resonant, is the sheer desperation the character feels when he talks about his conversion.  I hear a man who’s barely hanging on by his fingernails, as the temptations of the old life threaten to lay him waste.

I can relate.  So could Rich Mullins and Brennan Manning: ragamuffins know.

So can the apostle Paul: “The good that I want to do, that’s not what I do.  And the evil I do not want to do, that’s what I keep on doing!”

We have people all around us who embrace parts of Christianity we don’t like, or don’t think healthy, or whose theology we disagree with.  They embrace these aspects of the faith because they NEED them.  Trying to persuade them that “That’s not really what Christianity is about” is like trying to pry the life preserver from a person who’s just been rescued from drowning.

Read the lyrics again from that perspective.  This is a character (not necessarily the singer’s or the songwriter’s own experience) with raging addictions, turning to religion in a desperate attempt to keep his life from collapsing on his own bad decisions and inability to tear the monkey from his back.

“Jesus Shot Me in the Head” (REVIEW)

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My favorite songwriter in the world right now who ISN’T named Ryan Adams (and divorcing Mandy Moore) is MC Taylor, half of the great cowpunk act Hiss Golden Messenger.  HGM has released several albums: Lateness of Dancers (2014), Haw (2013), and Poor Moon (2012) among them.

Taylor’s voice is incredible.  The recordings are amazing, not the least for their use ambient noise.  (Some of his tracks were recorded in his kitchen, with the sounds of frogs and rain wafting in from his property in North Carolina, and his newborn baby son sleeping in a crib in the next room.)

As a guitarist, he reminds me of Paul Simon; very inventive use of the limitations inherent in the acoustic guitar.

But the melodies, and especially the lyrics, are where the meat is.  My favorite song, a perceptive look at Christian conversion from a new convert who’s not sure what he thinks about it, is “Jesus Shot Me in the Head” (from Poor Moon).  ASTONISHING lyrics:


Out and down from Nazareth town, with all those mistakes I made,

God is good and it’s understood that he moves in mysterious ways.
He saw it all, my folderol, my rough and rowdy friends,
In fact, I was getting wrecked in a Motel 6 when he showed up in the back.
So goodbye sweet Jim Beam, now goodbye my Tulsa friends,
Hey, hey, everybody, did you hear the news? Jesus shot me in the head!
Just as well, I was going to Hell, got wasted and everything,
No more shooting pool, no more getting drunk, now I’m going to see the King.
Now I’m on the road again, yes, I’m on the road again,
No more rolling down that wicked track, I’m going to see the King.
Oh, Lord, I need a hand, Oh, Lord, I need a hand;
So don’t be late at those pearly gates, c’mon and let me in.
I spent some time in Jerusalem, where I tried my best to behave;
I told the town and they cut him down, and he rose up from the grave.
Could you believe they laughed and me?  They would not let him be.
Next thing I know, I’m skipping stones on the Sea of Galilee.
Now I’m on the road again, yes, I’m on the road again,
No more rolling down that wicked track, I’m going to see the King.
Oh, Lord, I need a hand, Oh, Lord, I need a hand;
So don’t be late at those pearly gates, c’mon and let me in.
Now I’m recovering, the chosen one, he calls on us in thanks;
He loves us all, but the ones who fall hold a special place in his ranks.
At least I hope this is how it goes, ‘cuz I’m just about out of breath,
So hey, everybody, did you hear the news? Jesus shot me in the head!
Now I’m on the road again, yes, I’m on the road again,
No more rolling down that wicked track, I’m going to see the King.
Oh, Lord, I need a hand, Oh, Lord, I need a hand;
So don’t be late at those pearly gates, c’mon and let me in.

This is a heck of an artist; a lot of Dylan, a lot of Merle Haggard, a unique voice and approach.  HGM is well worth checking out.

Certainty

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Have you ever thought about what things you were absolutely certain of? Made a catalog of the things about which you had absolutely no doubt?

I think my catalog is actually pretty small. But I also think certainty is very much overrated.