So wait, wait. First of all, these two men come to meet Abraham and tell him that he’s going to have a kid, which Sarah laughs at. Then God – yes, God – shows up and asks Abraham why Sarah laughed. I don’t know how he showed up – but he did. Anyway he shows up and Sarah gets scared and she says, “I didn’t laugh.”
And God says, “No, you did laugh.”
So that little squabble is funny in and of itself. I picture bickering with my sister.
In the next chapter, the two men are referred to as angels, and they walk to Sodom and Gomorrah and Lot, conveniently, just happens to be sitting by the gates of the city. (Like, wow! you’re just the man we’re looking for! There’s a million people here but you are the one that’s important and you just happened to be sitting outside of the city for no apparent reason.)
Convenient Bible stories 2010 (or B.C. Something-Or-Other).
So Lot invites them into his house, and all of the people from the town come to rape them (literally, vs.5: “Where are the men who came to spend the night with you? Bring them out to us so we can have sex with them!”) Then Lot begs them not to harm his guests, and instead offers his two virgin daughters (like that’s a respectable alternative).
Wait. What? How does that resonate? I am having a “What?” moment. How is that the honorable thing to do?
So the angels / men / whatever they are blind all of the people outside the house to solve the problem (No need to throw your daughters out to hell, Lot! We’ll just blind the crap out of everybody’s eyes!) Then they rush the family out of the city because the Lord counted them righteous on account of Abraham’s request to spare their lives. Cool. Awesome.
Then Lot’s wife sneaks a peak at the home she’s known for years as it’s getting destroyed, and God kills her. He turns her into salt. Oh. Bummer.
Then, Lot tries to move into this town, but I think he’s kind of a pansy and he’s scared of everybody, so instead, he moves into a rock on the side of the mountain (Gen 19:30 - … Lot left Zoar because he was afraid of the people there, and he went to live in a cave in the mountains with his two daughters.”) He’s got no wife now because somebody’s seasoning their macaroni & cheese with her remains, and everybody in the Bible is ultra-obsessed with this carrying-on-of-the-lineage business, so his daughters think of the grand idea of getting him frickin’ smashed two nights in a row, having sex with him, and getting themselves knocked up incestuously.
Let me just say a few things:
- I could not even imagine getting so trashed that you don’t remember having sex with your daughter.
- I could not even imagine getting so trashed that you don’t remember having sex with your other daughter, a night later.
- Besides the fact that you shouldn’t just go about getting trashed all over the place, you’d think that if you got that sloshed one night, you wouldn’t want to do it again after you woke up with a massive hangover.
- It’s interesting to me that this is the family that was spared destruction in the fires of Sodom and Gomorrah.
So that stuff is crazy. And then there’s all these other things… like how Jacob stole Esau’s blessing from Isaac. That doesn’t make sense to me. Isaac asks Esau to go hunt this stuff and cook his favorite dish, and while he’s gone, Isaac’s conniving, trickster of a wife totally takes advantage of his blind eyes and helps Jacob screw his brother over.
But the most ridiculous part to me isn’t the fact that Jacob goes and lies to his dad a bunch of times about being his brother, or that his dad actually believed him because he touches animal hair wrapped around his arm, or the fact that his mom somehow thinks it’s cool to encourage all of this…
The most ridiculous part is that Esau comes back and is heartbroken about his brother’s thievery, and instead of Isaac being like, “Oh, your brother is a total jerk. Bring him in here so I can chew him out” - he just says, “Sorry Esau, I have nothing left to give you. Your brother gets everything.” How the butt does that make any sense? Esau freakin’ begs his dad to give him something, and he essentially replies with, “Well, you’re screwed. I gave your blessing to Jacob, so now you have to serve him forever and he’s going to rock the world.”
And then God blesses Jacob, which reads as though the entire deal is a big endorsement to be a complete suckface and inherit everything that you don’t deserve. It’s unjust. It’s like you read it all and this righteous anger builds up inside of you like “what in the frickin world is going on and how is any of this okay at all?” If all of this buildup isn’t an example of the gracious, patient nature of God to work all things together for his developing nation of Israel - the nation on whom he will pour out his love - I don’t know what is.
What’s funny, what really humbles me, is that through all of my getting all riled up about how unfair and immoral and whatever all of these situations are or seem to be in my head, is that I know that my life is a motion picture of the story of a sinner who has been forgiven and blessed undeservingly. If anyone were to read my stories, their reaction would be the same. Screw this kid - he sucks and he doesn’t deserve anything that he’s been given. And I know that these stories aren’t over yet, and I know that mine isn’t either, but regardless of the outcomes to either, the point is that we’re all a crazy, undeserving, dysfunctional bunch, and I praise God for his mercies in our stories, despite how ridiculous they read.
My friend Kane Leonnig wrote this and my other friend Caleb Davis re-blogged it, and I didn’t ask for his permission to re-blog it but Caleb did it so now I am doing it, too. I read this for the first time a few days ago, and it was everything that I’ve had inside of me recently, in words. Please write Kane Leonnig and tell him how great this is, if you agree with me.
There was a time when my heart and my mind were inseparably intertwined. Like those deep, dark southern forests where vines cling tightly to Long Leaf Pines.
A time when my heart was getting filthy on the end of my sleeve, my veins were surging with new found beliefs, and my mind was spinning like the wide world, full of its unstoppable seas.
That was a time when a feeling no bigger than a mustard seed would be all I need to set up a canvas from the floor to the ceiling.
Back when music had fathoms of meaning and I could smoke a song away like the fading evening.
Radical thought was the air I breathed and no school or government could silence an imagination that seethed.
I was whole and Bradley said it perfectly: there was an Indian in my soul. The beat of his war drums filled me full with an untamed wildness unique to the confines of my own skull.
In that time, the movements of my hand were a boulder placed gently on my shoulders and my only relief was found in a release of ink on loose leaf.
But somewhere along that path of vibrant youth, that open road of unrestrained angst, the vines dried up and pulled away from the pines.
Now I find that my heart and my mind have resigned from their positions of alignment. They now live in solitary confinement, away from the beauty and pain that once seeped between my eyelids and into my irises. That time seems ancient, remembered by words and images stained on papyrus.
Though the Indian still resides in my soul, he now slumbers endlessly without the awakening alarm of pain which once made me wonderfully insane.
Maturity and age are the novocain in this new madhouse. They paved the way to this jaded shadow. They burned the bridges back to a time when my heart and my mind were inseparably intertwined.
- Kane Leonnig
Today, Sam and I went to downtown Santa Rosa and walked around. I can’t say it was the greatest place I’ve ever been to, but a few people had really cute dogs there, and it’s 4/20, so this glass-blowing shop had a radio station there and was giving away a bunch of free stuff. Sam got a $25 gift certificate to the shop, but there’s not a whole lot there other than glass pipes and bongs and such, so I think he found some weird flower/squid looking thing and bought that. I got a CD - Maylene & The Sons Of Disaster’s III. It’s so good. I’ve been jamming it all day.
Let’s do this, eh? Because @ahopeformatt does it all the time and that guy is cool: My top five artists this week are:
- Beach House
- Circa Survive
- Coheed & Cambria
Well, that was fun.
What I really want to do is get the new Josh Dies book - Nevada - and sit down with that and The Spinal Cord Perception and have a book reading party with myself and sip sweet tea and think about things that I could write about and decide not to.
(Disclaimer: For what it’s worth… I was sixteen when I wrote these journal excerpts that I’ve been sharing with you from my time in Asia. I’d keep that in mind when reading what might come across as rude or immature or overtly sarcastic to the point of being inappropriate or unkind. I was just a kid, experiencing new things and figuring stuff out. Enjoy…)
Don’t know what time, Veitiane, Laos. Saturday. Don’t know what time, Albuquerque, New Mexico. Friday. Day Eight.
Earlier today we were driving into the countryside/village/jungle outskirts of Vientiane, Laos, to do things that I will write about after I leave Laos so if anyone checks my stuff they won’t find anything “incriminating”.
Anyway we were driving and this crazy charismatic Canadian lady said, “Look at mango trees!” very excited and all. And, I don’t know, maybe that didn’t seem weird to anyone else but it seems like it would have made more sense if she said, “Look at the mango trees”, instead of, “Look at mango trees”. It was like more of an imperative than a gleeful observation. Where do I look? When do I look? What’s going on?
That’s the only thing that was weird to me about the conference: the majority of the people – at least the western missionary people – were incredibly charismatic. I mean, I know that it’s just a style of worship and speech and praise just as much as me not being incredibly charismatic is, but, good Lord, do you have to say “praise Jesus” with everything else?
I mean, half the people I met greeted me with “Praise Jesus, Levi, it’s great to meet you”.
“Hey Levi, praise Jesus, it’s a wonderful morning.”
“Levi, praise Jesus, we’ll see you next year.”
Yes, praise Jesus, but I’m just Levi. You don’t have to let me know – I’m sure God’s got it covered.
For instance, the crazy charismatic Canadian lady prayed over our breakfast this morning as follows:
“LORD JESUS (real loud and excited and forceful), we want you to know we thank you for this food…No, Lord, we REALLY thank you for this food…”
Did you catch that, God?
We really are really thankful.
Look at mango trees, God, we are really thankful for those.
And we had what were called Prayer for the Nations meetings where people gathered together to lay hands on the pastors representing their countries and pray for them and all. Real, real awesome, it was totally cool. But when you pray, do you really have to scream your prayers so loud that you can’t even hear yourself pee into the toilet three rooms away over all the noise?
Hopefully this isn’t sacrilegious.
10:30 AM Laos. Sunday. Not sure what time Albuquerque, NM. Saturday. Day Nine.
Laotian people, from what I’ve observed, know very little English.
Someone wrote the word “fuck” on a wall near our hotel. Evidently they know only the important words. Those crazy Laotian G’s.
So I’m sitting in the Gold Club Member’s lounge feeling very important and thinking of what to write about.
Actually I’m sitting on the plane flying back to Bangkok…somewhere in between the last sentence and this one we boarded and took off. We’ll arrive in Bangkok, wait around for a few hours, and then board another flight to Beijing, China at around 1am. Somewhere in between now and then I’ll take a nap. It will be nice and I’ll smile when I wake up. That’s the plan.
You know (and it’s funny how I write “you know” like I’m sending a letter to someone or something), while we were in Laos we visited quite a few Buddhist temples and spirit worship sites. One of which was a location where human sacrifices were still conducted up until the late 1800s or early 1900s, I believe. And while at these places we were asked to pray for the loosening of the “evil spirits’” grip of the people there. So we did, which was cool and fine and everything.
But I got to thinking, which I haven’t decided is a good hobby for me yet, that when the people who requested our prayer talked about the evil spirits, they talked about it like it was unique to that site. And I think it’s interesting how oftentimes when we go to or hear about or see places like that, or when we’re simply somewhere other than usual, we somehow get the idea that there is more evil, or that it’s worse, or that there’s a greater need for prayer than somewhere else or something. But the same evil spirit that’s in Laos is the spirit that’s in America; it’s just manifested in different ways. We need just as much prayer, you know? They worship Buddha or Allah or believe in karma, but we worship materialism and believe in ourselves. Just because we don’t make huge golden temples and shrines built in our image doesn’t mean it’s not just as much of a god.
Let me tell you though, you can get your gods cheap here. They even have two-for-one deals. 500 baht and you could get yourself a little fat man and a skinny chick with fifty-seven arms to set on your mantle piece back home and worship it whenever you want. Convenient, no?
You probably have a better experience if you go to a big golden temple and see a thirty foot tall big golden Buddha, though.
Not exactly a humble carpenter.
- - - - -
I went to Asia with a ministry called Frontline Resources. Essentially, they exist to encourage and equip teachers and believers of Jesus Christ in “Access Restricted Nations of Asia.” In Laos, for example, Christianity is the official, government-declared, #1 Enemy of the State. These people’s lives and their family’s lives are at stake for their love and belief and hope in Jesus. If you would like to be a part of contributing to the cause of equipping these persecuted believers with resources (Bibles, training materials, etc…), please visit http://www.frontlineresources.org
For those of you that don’t know, I do some writing for HM Magazine, and by the mid/end of this month, I am going to start posting weekly interviews with bands, artists, label representatives, tattooing folks and people that are random but awesome (anyone, really), as online exclusives for the magazine. I did this for a while last year, posting them at the end of each week as “TGIF Interviews”, but admittedly, I feel like I fell off the face of the earth for a while.
That being said, I’m also trying to get the word out there that I want to know what questions you might have for artists that I have access to, so that I can ask your questions and you can, in a sense, be a part of the interview.
Please email me your questions to: email@example.com
If you can, spread the word about this project, and let people know that they can have a hand in these interviews, if they’d like. Thank you.
Probably one of the first interviews that I’m going to be doing is with the band Hands. I just toured with these guys on their very last tour ever as a band, and they’re beautiful people with a fantastic live show and I’m sad to see them go. Now eventually, I’m going to start asking what artists you’d like to hear from, as well, but for now… do any of you have anything that you’d like to ask the band Hands?
Easter, up until 5:06 PM. Madison, Alabama:
Walk aimlessly around Wal Mart till three in the morning. Buy myself an enormous bag of Swedish Fish. Eat over half the bag. Hang out with Hands, ITMOL, and Onward To Olympas where we’re sleeping at the end of the parking lot. Try to fall asleep. Start to realize I need to pee. Try to ignore it. Don’t fall asleep. Pee. Rent Body Of Lies on Redbox and wish that I were as awesome as Leonardo DiCaprio (no, there is no sarcasm here). Fall asleep at six-thirty. Wake up at ten. Buy a three dollar, black trucker hat from the boys section because there aren’t any orange hunting caps available, and apparently mine has disappeared. Go to a buffet. Eat more food than I can handle. Find a bathroom. Walk in the bathroom, be stared at by two small children that are standing directly in front of the urinal, facing the entrance, saying nothing. Feel really uncomfortable and leave. Drive to Barnes & Noble for their bathroom. Take a picture of the person’s shoes in the stall next to mine because whoever it was had shoes that looked like Jonathan’s, and a man-purse that looked like Jonathan’s, and legs with about the same amount of hair as Jonathan’s. Start to believe that Jonathan is pooping in the stall next to me. Look forward to hanging out with him when we’re both done. Quickly delete the picture on my phone when I realize the almost inevitable, misinterpreted implications of taking pictures of strange pooping men. Look at graphic novels and wonder when I started to look at graphic novels. Sit on the floor with fifteen other dirty touring people and use B&N wifi. Eat the other half of the bag of Swedish Fish.
Jesus is alive, and days like today remind me that he loves me.
Last night, I spoke for Triple X Church’s Youth Night at Van Dyke church in Lutz, Florida. I’ve spoken at a lot of churches before, a lot of youth camps/retreats and a lot of venues and clubs and stuff aside from all of that, but let me tell you: I freaked out for about a week before this date. I tried to suppress the nerves and act real confident, but I’m not the best liar - I’m sure it came across.
I was talking to Dan, the pastor who had me through, about how sometimes I get reminded of Moses when I think about the fact that God would have me stand in front of people and be vulnerable before them. All the way through high school, even college, heck - even now - I’ve had terrible stage fright. Like, I’m-shaking-so-bad-that-I’m-going-to-sweat-myself-to-death kind of nervous. It just figures that God, who, as I’ve found more and more, has little regard for our “weaknesses”, would choose the foolish things about me to make his name known a little bit more.
Moses had this stutter, so of course God told him that he should speak for all of Israel. I’m not saying that my position is nearly as lofty, but I never wanted the be the dude in front of other dudes. Let alone other chicks. Let alone other parents or pastors. Let alone, talking about a pornography addiction.
But last night was a good night. In retrospect, there are points that I wanted to make that I forgot to make, but my prayer all along has been that the Spirit would say what he wanted to say, reveal hope for freedom, and empress upon hearts and minds that there is real power in the word of God for promises of authentic change that Jesus Christ went to the cross to provide for us.
I hope that, if nothing else, the folks last night left with that. I pray that Jesus worked through my momentarily sporadic trains of thought and my ever-racing mind and that, when it came down to it, they left with a confidence in the power of Jesus to set them free from their bondage.
“That is why we have a great High Priest who has gone to heaven, Jesus the Son of God. Let us cling to him and never stop trusting him. This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same temptations we do, yet he did not sin. So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it.” - Hebrews 4:14-17
So there’s that. I’m so thankful for the opportunity. It’s literally an answer to prayer. I remember a few years ago, I was a part of a Bible study with one of my good friends out in Texas. We were talking about why it is that people let go of their dreams when they get old, and what dreams we have that we never want to let go of. I said that I have a heart for people struggling with pornography, and that I’m praying that someday, I hope the Lord would let me be a light that the Holy Spirit might use to encourage people towards openness and honesty.
So that’s crazy. I feel blessed, humbled, and thankful, and I am continuing to pray for more opportunities to be a part of what XXX Church has to offer so many folk through their ministry. Thank you, Van Dyke Church, for opening up your doors to me, and thank you, everyone that was involved and that was their, for having open hearts, receptive towards what the Lord wanted to speak into your lives.