But Wait... There's More!
I recently placed some newspaper advertisements which strongly encouraged opposition to the advocates of proposed “civil rights” legislation for homosexuals. I received some hearty support for doing so, but I also was hit with some very aggressive and mean-spirited opposition. I was interviewed for television, radio, and print news; cut-and-paste versions of my words made it into various media sources. And I spent some time reviewing online comments which expressed opinions about my ads and the associated article I wrote – and about me personally. The bright yellow-and-red stickers on the paper got noticed, and by extension, so did I.
And then it was another morning.
The choice to submit a truth-based perspective in my ads and online articles (as well as that of offering my home-recorded music to the world at large) in the age of instant information was mine alone, and a certain amount of attention for this most recent effort was not unexpected. But the intensity of those few days served as a reminder of the stress that life can bring, especially if one decides to testify on behalf of the God in whom he believes. It caused me to recall my deep need for faith and personal discipline in the face of all manner of distractions, whether self-induced or otherwise. Resisting the “Add the Words” movement was not the original purpose of this website, nor is it the primary purpose now. The purpose of my site (and of my life) is to use my abilities – however limited they may be – to express the truths that I’ve discovered in my nearly 44 years of life, and to bring honor to Jesus the Christ, who is the truth (and the way, and the life). Exposing and opposing legally sanctioned (and ultimately mandated) immorality of various kinds is but one aspect of the Great Cause.
As the dust settled from this particular upheaval, I recognized the necessity of regaining and retaining balance by simply getting back to my daily work. Regarding the work germane to this site - and to my small ministry - It’s been pointed out to me on more than one occasion that I have some shortcomings as a musician (as if I really needed to be told), so I suppose I shall have to practice some more. Someone mockingly claimed that they found some typographical errors in my writings; I’ll have to see if that is so, and if it is, I’ll correct them. I’m sure that some people might say that I could set a better example, offer a more loving witness, and generally just be a nicer guy. I’m sure that’s all true. I’ll keep working on it.
A couple of people have emerged from the proverbial woodwork to seize an opportunity to expose the failures of my past. I’m not sure how they expect me to respond… to try and hide the evidence, perhaps? If so, they’re in for a disappointment. I’m not campaigning for office, and trying to cover all of those tracks would be too much for me in any case. I’ve committed plenty of sins, some of which were quite public. The fact that I have stumbled, fallen, and sometimes lain on the ground in self-pity is not news to me; I was there. But what’s done is done, and the one who desires to find God and eternal life must get up to fight again (Proverbs 24:16).
In short, I’m not going to do what some very hateful (and often anonymous) detractors plainly want me to do, which is quit. If I was into taking that road, I’d have probably done so a long time ago. Admittedly, I’d have often liked to; I just didn’t see it as an option. I believe in Hell, as well as Heaven, after all.
I’m not a fan of gratuitous violence, whether real or fictional, but I admit to having a certain affinity for the popular tales of good ol’ Rocky Balboa. This “fighter of limited ability” didn’t win every bout; in fact, in his first meeting with Clubber Lang, he got absolutely humiliated. Returning to form was difficult. He needed the assistance of a former adversary, the removal of material comforts, and the support of someone who loved him. With these pillars bolstering him, he came back to show Clubber and the rest of the world who deserved to wear the champion’s belt. Let the naysayers talk away; the faithful cannot be kept on the canvas.
If the Rocky metaphor doesn’t ring a bell with you (!), perhaps a reference to an old Michael Jordan quote will. After describing a number of his inglorious moments on the basketball court, he summarized the list by saying, “I’ve failed over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.” Regardless of one’s personal feelings about Jordan’s life out of the public eye, his success in professional basketball is undeniable. It did not, however, come ready-made.
Are the movie-derived and sports-based motivational stories not resonating? I recently read of a fingerstyle guitarist who competed eight times in the National Championships at Winfield, Kansas before emerging as the winner. How many people would keep going back to try again? After finally winning, he became a judge at the event, as well he should have. Anyone who perseveres to that degree has a chance of ending up with sufficient insight to be trusted with a position of authority.
As one or two media outlets reported, my hope is that I will be able to draw people closer to God. I cannot force the blind to see, demand the lame to walk against their will, or dictate that the purveyors of unbelief embrace faith. In my efforts to try to encourage those who have some desire for the truth, I may not land every punch, sink every basket, or nail every note. There may indeed be occasional typos, deviations from the song tempo, notes sung flat, and lyrics that fall short of Shakespearean creativity. So be it. The more one reaches for a goal with an eye toward eventually succeeding, the closer he comes to arriving. And I do hope to arrive. I don’t believe that “it’s all about the journey". I’m attempting to get somewhere. I’m also hoping to connect with my fellow travelers. I think my recent ads may have helped me find a few.
I'm referring to the nature of faith. Making a valid statement, creating a legitimate piece of work, and living a life of noble worth is unlikely to be an instantaneous process. If success was to be found that quickly, how valuable would it be? Excuse me if this seems crass, but anyone can produce pornography. That takes no special skill, creativity, or training; only a willingness to degrade. Any derelict can spraypaint a boxcar or scream expletives, but what kind of people will spend time and money to see and hear such “art?”
On the other hand, consistency is required in order to produce something that’s actually worth cherishing. Learning a piece of music, even at the intermediate level, can take a month or two (and there may still be some flaws in the execution). Building a model ship that only gets a white ribbon at the county fair may take a daily commitment spread over several weeks’ time. Reading and absorbing time-tested, inspired literature (such as the Bible) involves patient and diligent study. Bringing a child into the world takes nine months (ideally to be followed by many years of parenting).
What does it take to deride, disrupt, and destroy? Not much. To watch a musical performance on the internet and post smart remarks about the singer’s flubbed words or the drummer’s dropped stick involves no dedication or ability. To walk through the fair exhibits and chuckle at the mistake in the model ship’s paint demands no more than a faultfinding spirit. To fly a jet into a skyscraper that took years to design and construct only requires (I imagine) limited piloting skills and some bad religion. And to destroy a growing life in the womb takes no more than a few bucks, a lot of self-centeredness, and a willing butcher with a seared conscience. Faith demonstrated over time will create, build, and save. Faithlessness only tears things apart.
C.S. Lewis did an excellent job of expounding upon the truth that evil is nothing more than good that’s been twisted and uglified. This is the literal meaning of the word perversion. Dualism is not the spiritual reality; evil does not exist in and of itself. While all true believers have a responsibility to stand against evil, we should recall that the two warring parties are not equal, and we are no longer the rebels. Though we are sure to be misconstrued (often deliberately) as the ones trying to limit personal freedom, we are in truth the “for” party. Those who refuse to submit to their creator’s master plan are the ones who are doing the twisting; they are the ones “against.”
And such convolutions are presented from the left and from the right. People who regard themselves as political conservatives typically recognize the gross misrepresentations of their liberal opponents: pornography disguised as free speech; abortion behind the mask of women’s liberty; homosexuality smuggled in as a civil right. But who introduced the Patriot Act? The Christian ought not cling too tightly to any political affiliation; these are the affairs of man. Let our present (and rapidly deteriorating) rights be used appropriately and with discretion, keeping in mind that we seek a Kingdom, not a democracy... or even a representative republic. The nations – all nations – are a drop in the bucket (Isaiah 40:15).
I do not regret the advertising I did. It was but one footfall along the way I’m walking. Progress is sometimes described as “taking two steps forward and one step back.” I have often felt that my lifetime ratio is closer to 10:9. Nonetheless, I have some hope (and even some evidence) that there has in fact been progress in my life. I don’t take drugs or abuse alcohol any more. I’m not on food stamps any more. I can work and earn a paycheck; I can play quite a few songs; I can write a little bit. I even cook every once in a while (not extremely well, but I make an effort). Overall, I can testify that a life of giving is better than a life of taking, for I have spent time as both a taker and as a giver. My recent “campaign” was not spearheaded and bankrolled by some giant national organization with a corrupt agenda to push. If I suffer ostracism or discrimination, I don’t have access to a politically connected legal team that will bail me out of jail, file lawsuits on my behalf, and destroy the livelihoods of those who resist me. I don’t want any of those things; I’ll take my chances on the hope that, by faith, I will end up with the Lord of Heaven and Earth as my defender.
I hope I don’t fail. But there is certainly risk involved, which is another aspect of living a life of faith. “Nothing ventured, nothing gained,” they say. If you want to cross the ocean, you're going to have to get on a boat or a plane. The plane could be hijacked; the boat could hit an iceberg. These are the chances we take if we desire to cross over, and I do. How about you?
"It's not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena... who, at best, knows in the end the triumph of great achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly. So that his place will never be with those cold timid souls who know neither victory or defeat."