Faces.
They tell a history.

Yet so many times in our fast paced muted life we move past people so quickly that we never look deeply to see what their face is screaming in silence to share. Our fast forward lives never allow us the mere enjoyment of staring soulfully into anothers soul through the lens of wrinkle, wink or smile.

When is the last time I looked at my face? What does my face want to say to me? What history is being ignored, displaced or passed by? Is it possible to live with oneself and never learn from oneself?

For the last two days I have attended a conference put on by John Perkins and Paul Metzger called Drum Majors for Love, Truth and Justice.

Here are some of my favorite quotes from John Perkins…

“To take care of yourself is an addiction, there is more than yourself.”

“We have to lower our hate voice.  We have to come up with a language for love.”

“The reason why you don’t relocate?  You love yourself more than your neighbor.”

“We need a culture of love.”

“Go… live, love, learn, build on what they have.  At the end, you want the people to say they have done it themselves.”

“We must move from charity to development.”

There was much more, but these are the things that are challenging me and my current thought-actions.

The things I love in life… I love my hammock.  I love to lay suspended and yet held.  I love my ipod holder in my truck.  Such a wonderful organizational device.  

But I love all of these things for what they do for me.  They are the objects of my utility and that is why I love them.  I use them therefore I love them. (likely a poor definition of love and really not love at all)

I came to the realization that I may think God thinks the same way about me.  Why do I think this?  Is it because the Big Wigs who hear God tell me that God needs me as the blare horn of the impending dangers of hell or that I need to be a student of God’s word in order to give ‘right’ answers to the unsuspecting Jehovah Witnesses that come across my door.

Utility, use, work.  Soon the Bible becomes the Sears Roebuck tool catalog of the 100 uses a Christian can be to God and I becomes God’s Leatherman of multi-use tools that he can utilize in any situation.

But what if,  what if my conceptions of who God is are wrong.  What if the theology buffs who graduated from their theology schools are wrong.  

What if I am not the object of God’s utility.

But rather the subject of God’s Love.

No longer a third party tool that God uses to uses to accomplish His purposes and then puts back in the tool shed, until the day another ‘non-Christian’ steps onto the scene.  

Rather I am the subject of God’s love.  

Here is a great question to ask God.  God what are you into?  God in your spare time, what do you think of? God what do you dream of when you are inbetween helping my favorite team win the Superbowl and helping me find a heavenly sent parking spot at Walmart?

This is what I think his answer would be.  

You.  You are the subject of my love.  

You are the one I spent eternity dreaming about.  

Not for what you could do for me, but what you would be to me

And that baffles me.  That confounds every sensible and religious bone in my body.  My meritocraty, my earning God’s favor and blessing, all an unbearable chainsaw noise to the God who is screaming with the feriocity of His love.  “STOP, stop living a life in relation to me as one out of utility and become the subject of my love.”

And so the question begs, will I take my ear plugs out, turn off the buzz saw of my workings, doings and yearnings and listen? 

Hello, my name is Kevin, and I am an ex-Sith Lord.

A little background… I have been watching the Star Wars series with my eight year old son as he is a Star Wars fanactic. I myself have never watched Star Wars before. Yes, I know that is weird. But I haven’t watched ET or Titanic either. Not that I don’t watch movies, cause I do, just never got to see these.

Anyways… I have come to the realization that I am a recovering Sith Lord. There is a fabulous scene in the Revenge of the Sith where Obi-Wan Kenobi is fighting with Anakin Skywaker (aka future Darth Vader). Future Darth Vader bellows, “If you’re not with me, then you’re my enemy.” Obi-Wan Kenobi responds by saying, “Only a Sith Lord deals in absolutes.”

Wow, cut me with a light saber! Only a Sith Lord deals in absolutes. Absolutes, right and wrong clearly these are things to be valued, cherished and extoled. I went to 4 years of Bible School and Theological training to equip me with what is the right view on everything. I had an absolute and right view on everything. You name it. I had an answer. And of course my answer was the right answers, absolutely! I realize now that I had graduated, not a heart of love and grace, but with a mind that measured everything. I had traded in my cap and gown for a measuring stick, a ruler.

Instead of the Word of God becoming a beautiful story that depicts a story of a lover after a beautiful bride, it became the measuring stick of how I measured everything and everyone.

Not to mention that walking through life while carrying a measuring stick is just plain difficult. (I realized that my tool for measurement had become a cane, to beat those who did not agree with the ‘right and abosolute’ into complete and absolute submission.

Crazy thing with measuring sticks or beating canes (whatever vernacular you want to use). They are extremely productive. Trouble is that when you begin to use the tool of absolutism and ‘being right’ you end up beating up a lot of innocent people.

I had become a dark Sith Lord, only dealing with absolutes. Dialogue, discussion, hearing, listening and reasoning… why stand on that defenseless ground.

My past experiences, which I wish could be just chalked up to a bad dream, are littered with statements of “If you are not with me you are against me.” And of course I knew that god was on my side. So you are not only against me, but you are against God. Deal with that!

So this is what I see. I see a past of bruised and battered people. People who held different positions and thoughts than I did. Most of these people were honest, God loving and God fearing people who were struggling with their faith and trying to articulate in the best way they knew how.

So I need to say, I am sorry. Sorry to all of those who I haven’t agreed with. I chose disagreement over relationship, I chose being right with being love, I chose speaking over hearing.

I chose my things over the things of God.

Now I hear all the screaming but…, “if we don’t have absolutes what will stop relativism to sweep over us and force us to accept whatever each of us want to believe.” I wish to talk about this more in Part 2.

Kevin, an ex-Sith Lord

1 Corinthians 13:7 says “Love believes all things.” Really, all things? Now there must be some allegorical, some mystical view of this verse. A literal interpretation on this verse makes me feel uncomfortable. Come on Paul, you really can’t be asking me to believe all things. We have a words for that kind of person. Gullible. Sucker. Really Paul, you must mean something different than this. Really, does Love believe all things?

Must I believe my friend who I feel has hurt me and when confronted tells me that was not his intention.

Must I believe my wife when she tells me that she did not mean to spoil our monthly budget, but was trying to feed our family with healthy, organic food.

Yes, I have to believe Paul knew exactly what he was saying when he said that Love is believing.

Cause that is my Lord.

My Lord is believing.

He believes me when I recommit myself to Him, knowing that I am going to fail.

He believes me when I ask forgiveness, knowing that I am going to falter.

He believes me when I say I want to spend time with him, knowing that I am going to sleep in the morning.

Some may call Him gullible, some may call Him a sucker.

But I call Him Love.

And He’s my Lord, who is my Love, and He believes me.

And so I must do the same…

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Richard Rohr comments in his book Jesus’ Plan For a New World, “Every town has the hard-to-get-to spot where the teens pain graffiti, late at night, at tremendous risk. Yet when the soul feels utterly insignificant, it writes its name where you can’t miss it.”

I have always wondered what drives someone to dangle above a freeway, nudging themselves along a concrete precipist, with a couple of cans of spray paint(probably made this mistake of not bringing enough spray paint only once) to get to that billboard and tag it with some unintelligible graffiti. I mean really, I don’t like graffiti(it messes with my sense of order), but I have to admit there are some taggers that I consider absolute rock stars for their incredible sense of daring.

Yet really, isn’t it a desperate cry for attention. “Look at me” it screams. It forces the attention of the world of commuters to view at the ‘art’ of one desperate individual.

But back to the quote above. Really am I any different? Yes I don’t hang over highways or slip into tunnels in the cover of the dark. Yet I have realized that when my soul feels insiginfcant, ignored, repressed, or not affirmed that I have the tendancy, even the propesity, to write my name where you can’t miss it.

To scream, “Look at me”, To demand attention. This is what we graffiti artists do.

The spray paint that we use is just a colorful as the graffiti artist’s pallete of colorful cans. They are,

Anger, gossip, arguing, withdrawal, sarcasm, hypocrisy, bitterness, attention, ignoring, disconnection.

(just to name a few)

(my favorite colors are withdrawing and disconecting if you really need to know)

We all do these things. They are as second nature to us as breathing. But the important thing is this

not to know what I do, but to know why I do it.

I know what I do, I know what I do when I get frustrated or annoyed or fearful, but to understand the why, now that really gets to the heart of things.

I guess I have come to this realization. We all have different forms of graffiti. You have soul graffiti, I have soul graffiti. And I am ok with that. And I am confident my Lord that he will clean up our graffiti in his way and in his time. Lest we forget, that love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, goodness, faith and meekness and temperance are called the fruits of the Spirit and not the fruits of my hard work and sweat. They are the fruits of the evidence of the Spirit movement in you and me.

P.S. For what it is worth, I have heard the book Soul Graffiti by Mark Scandrette is just awesome. I have not read it so I have no idea if it has any relation whatsoever to the above. But I have heard it is a must read.

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