Archive for the tag “daniel amos”

You are Free

Ok, I need to air some dirty laundry here. I have something I need to admit to you all.

I, not so secretly, love Christian rock from the 1980s and 90s.

Yes, the music sounds very similar to secular bands like Depeche Mode, Motley Crue, or Run DMC. Sometimes the theological message of the songs is, well, way off base. And many times those artists weren’t even really Christians, they were simply cashing in on the latest craze.

But bands like Daniel Amos (hands down my absolute favorite band of all time), Adam Again, the 77s, Mad at the World, 20/Twenty, Crumbacher, Rage of Angels, Common Bond, the Altar Boys, Bride, Code of Ethics, D-boy, the Dynamic Twins, Farrell and Farrell, Jacob’s Trouble, Jerusalem, Leviticus, One Bad Pig, and yes, even Petra are all still on my playlists to this day.

I don’t even listen to Hillsong or Bethel or any of those top 20 Christian artists today.

So why do I bring all this up?

In 2017, one of my favorite Christian bands from that era reunited to record an album.

Roger and Randy Rose, otherwise known as Mad at the World, put out a new album in 2017 entitled Hope. The album goes back to their earlier sounds of being very Depeche Mode-esque. They cover a lot of songs that deal with leaving behind our oppressions, addictions, and hang-ups in life.

The underlying theme of the album is that we have hope in a Savior, Jesus Christ.

One of the songs really struck me tonight.

It is called You are Free.

One of the key points in this song is that once we accept Christ, we are free. Jesus died for all the sins that we have ever done or will ever do, once and for all.

But Satan continues to tell us lies, claiming that we will never be free. The problem is that we believe those lies.

Roger Rose sings in this song the words of Isaiah are repeated as a benediction of sorts as he quotes Luke 4:18-19:

“The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free,
     to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

Isaiah (quoted by Luke, quoted by Roger) uses the word free twice in this series of verses. It is the exact same word used twice which literally translates to “deliverance.”

So what are we delivered from?

Many would say sin.

But that isn’t entirely true.

Even the most well-meaning Christians still sin.

No, what we are delivered from is the power of sin.

Sin can no longer control our appetites. It can no longer keep us slave.

But I know so many people who are living as if they were never delivered. Some of them are close to me. Some are just people that God has placed on my heart without knowing who they are or the details of their oppression.

To the person who is struggling with addiction to drugs or alcohol or pornography, there is deliverance in Christ and accountability found in community.

To the person who is struggling at work, fighting for their job daily, God has freed you of the concern over other people’s views. You are not a slave to them, you are free in Christ. Seek first the kingdom of God and then you will find all you seek.

To the person who has been fired from their job, God has given you a freedom to pursue Him. Seek Him during this transition and understand that God will take care of you. The Creator of the universe adorns the sparrows and they don’t have any needs that God has not met.

To the person who is dying of a deadly disease, know that now is the time to finish well. Take this time to celebrate the blessings God has given you in your family and friends. Make your legacy a desire to see God’s Name proclaimed for years as yours diminishes through the years.

To those who have sinned and have been found out, know that the truth is freeing. It may lead to short term pain and significant change, but eventually God will show you the way that leads to heaven as you mature and learn how to live as Christ desires.

To those who have sinned and are doing well at hiding that sin, you also need to know that the truth will set you free. The more you fight repentance that more energy it takes from you and the more you drift from God. Once you repent and come clean, you will find that freedom waits for you. It is your choice.

To person who just feels like he or she can’t go on and wants to take their life, know that freedom comes in living. If you give in to the sin of suicide, you will never know the person God has created you to be. You are beautiful. You are not a mistake. You are a beloved child of God and there is a community of believers who love you and want you to know that.

To those who have been hurt by others or called stupid or fat or bad, know that those words can only define you if you allow them to. God created in you someone special. God created you to be you, no matter the circumstance. Don’t allow people define your purpose, allow God to define it.

To the single parent who is trying everything just to provide a decent life for their children, know that God sees your sacrifice, and, while you might feel like life is a constant closing door, your children will understand your sacrifice and they will rise up to call you blessed.

To the divorced parent who doesn’t have custody of the children, simply be there for them as much as you can. Allow them to see all your bumps and bruises and teach them where to follow in your footsteps and where not to.

To those who are alone, take this opportunity to find your purpose in Christ. You are never alone, God has promised not leave you nor forsake you.

To everyone else that I have left out, God has a purpose and a plan for you. You simply need to know that and follow that.

You are free.

Accept the freedom that comes in Christ.

Don’t believe Satan’s lies.

Believe your freedom and live a life that exemplifies it.

Theology, Koko the Talking Gorilla, and Rock n’ Roll

So my latest seminary class, Systematic Theology II, is teaching me about the differences in opinion between theologians on various topics.  The topic that we are discussing in class right now is the idea of the Trinity.  So I read St. Gregory of Nazianus’ writings on the subject and Gordon Fee’s book on the topic.  As I was reading both of their books, one thing came very clear, both of the views are human explanations of God.

My favorite band of all time, Daniel Amos, has a song called Darn Floor, Big Bite.  In it, they talk about Koko the talking gorilla.  Know the story?  Allow me to elaborate.  Koko was a female gorilla born in 1971.  She is able to sign over 1,000 words and can understand over 2,000 words of spoken English!  Everyone calls her ability to understand language as controversial.  One story goes, as Daniel Amos sings, that when someone asked her to explain an earthquake, she signed “Darn floor, big bite.”

Regardless of whether you believe that she was able to adequately explain an earthquake through her sign of “darn floor, big bite,” or whether you believe that she was way off base with her view of just what an earthquake is, one thing a painfully clear….Koko has a definition (right or wrong) of what an earthquake is in her mind.  She may not be able to explain it in scientific terms or even in words that don’t even seem to go together, but she knows what it is in her mind.

When it comes to the theology that is precisely what we are doing when trying to explain God.  We may not get it right, but we try.  Take the example of St. Gregory and Gordon Fee.  They have two very different views of the way that the idea of the Trinity came about, but at the end of the day they know that the Trinity is true.

St. Gregory bases his view on the Old Testament and the book of John.  He uses a lot of controversial views, though.  For example, he claims that the Bible isn’t always factual.  I personally find that statement of St. Gregory’s as wrong.  The Bible is factual.  You can laugh at me all you want, but I do believe in the creation account in the Bible.  I believe Noah’s ark was real.  I believe the entire Bible in its entirety.  If the Bible isn’t true, then it is false.  Therefore, the Bible is true.

Gordon Fee, on the other hand, looks at the views of Paul to make the claim that the Trinity exists.  Now, Paul was a missionary.  He was a church planter who was way too busy living out Matthew 28:19 to worry about analyzing every single word that the Hebrew Bible said.  He accepted the accounts of Christ, he accepted his conversion experience on the Damascus road, and he understood the Hebrew Bible.

At the end of the day, our minds are just way too small to understand the intricacies of God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.  I will never be able to explain them completely to anyone who asks me.  It is a mystery.  We are simply too small to understand the enormity of God.

But there is one thing I do know.  God has touched my life in so many ways and at so many times that I know it is more than coincidence.  I know God exists because of the work He has done in my life.  Some of what I am about to share, I could never explain.  The scientists in the reading group would pass off much of it as coincidence, but it isn’t.  So here are a few of my stories:

1)      My conversion.  When I was a kid, I did not know I was allergic to hay.  My youth group went to a concert and got bales of hay and threw them down.  I dove in head first and woke up a few days later in a hospital.  I had a serious asthma attack and almost died.  By the time I was released from the hospital, my pastor asked me if I was ready to commit my life to Christ.  I did.  And from that point forward, I see God in every little thing that happens to me.

2)      About 12 years ago I was fired from a very good job.  The strange part is that a few weeks before getting fired, I was getting contacted by another company and within a few weeks after getting fired, I had another job lined up.  Coincidence? No.  God knew what was going to happen.  He started laying the groundwork for me to keep a steady stream of income.

3)      A few months ago I wanted to go to Peru on a mission trip.  I had no clue how I would afford the trip.  I kept putting off payment until I could no longer put if off.  I had been praying and praying.  Then my stock options paid off.  The stocks I had all went up and I cashed out.  The amount was equal to the trip to Peru, my vacation with my kids, plus a couple hundred dollars more.  God came in right on time.

Those are simply a few of my own stories.  God came to my rescue.  God came alongside me.  God carried me when I couldn’t do it myself.

The one thing that is the most inexplicable to me?  Just how true Romans 8:37-39 is.  “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  God loves me!  He loves me even when I don’t love myself!  He loves me even when I do stupid things!  He is there to comfort me.  He is there to pick me back up.  He is there to show me the right way to behave.  BUT HE LOVES ME!  Thank God I am loved!

Is theology important?  I don’t know.  I know that it has helped me understand just why I believe what I do, but it is not a necessary piece for being a Christian.  You simply need to know that God loves you, Christ died for and rose again, and the Spirit empowered you to share your story with others.

In closing, I want to share some of the lyrics to Darn Floor, Big Bite by Daniel Amos along with the link to the youtube of the song.

Illuminate my muddled heart
Sweep the shadows from my mind
So I might imagine what you are like
And understand the great design

Darn floor – big bite
You are earth, water and light
Darn floor – big bite
Can I ever hope to get it right, can’t get it right

For more of Daniel Amos, check out the following website:

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