My Dad and Shout to the Lord

The stadium was packed.  Andre, Jeff, Me, and My Dad had all come to the Promise Keepers rally together.  In reality we were dragged there by our Dad…  he didn’t have to pull too hard because we loved him and knew he had our best in mind, but we were dragged nonetheless.  I remember that I brought a friend, I can’t remember if it was Chador not… Chadwas my first choice to take to these kinds of things (no offense to any other friends who read this… but I was 12, so get over it.) Chad was an awesome friend.

 I remember thinking, “More people go to Saints games than to Jesus games.”  (While that is a convicting statement and an oddly cogent thought for a 12 year old, that’s not the point of this blog.)  So, I sat next to my brother Jeff and Chad.  On the other side of Jeff was my Dad.  Dre was on the other side of Dad.  The stadium smelled funny…  it was that wierd clean locker room smell, you know, the one that lasts until someone walks in and changes after football practice.  It’s an odd oder of concrete and bouty fabric softener.  I remember a man came up and gave a rousing speech about manliness, there were cheers and laughs.  Chad and I were doing dumb junior high boy stuff.  Then the musician came up.  He walked on stage and the drums began to play.  I honestly don’t remember the first two songs, I’m sure they were great, but the third is forever ingrained into my head and my heart. 

Dad loved to sing, mostly beautifuly obscure hymns he loved from Africa and occassionally an off key rendention of  Kenny Rogers or Neil Dimond.  He was a huge man, who could throw you over a car, and who loved to sing.  Just saying, theres nothing sissy about singing… so lets just drop those stereo types for now…  deal?  Jeff and Dre also have a talent for singing and are pretty stinking amazing men.  Anyhow, in the stadium, I had been fiddling around with the back of the seat in front of me, bemoaning that I was here in the Super Dome listening to another sermon and singing more songs rather than playing basketball with my friends.  So in my half attentive, ignorant stupor, I looked over at my Dad.  I saw his face light up as he began the song,

 “My Jesus, My Savior,

Lord there is none like You! 

All of my days,

I want to praise,

The wonder of Your

Mighty Love”

 Tears rolled down his cheeks as the Dome echoed with the voices of men who love Jesus.  It was as if Dad had joined the chorus of the angels and was screaming out praise to God.  The Promise Keepers Rally in New Orleans was one of the worst attended rallies in PK history.  But at that moment, you could feel the victory of the cross over a dark and dying world.  It must have been how Gideon felt when he and his 300 screamed “For the Sword of the LORD!” in Judges 7 and won victory over the Mideanites.  I felt the sound grow and build as I watched my Dad.  I was transfixed on his face as he began to shout the words:

 Shout to the Lord

All the Earth let us sing

Power and Majesty

Praise to the King

 Mountains bow down

And the Seas will Roar

At the Sound

Of Your Wonderful Name!

 I sing for Joy at the Work of Your hands

Forever I love You, Forever I stand

Nothing compares to the promise I have

In YOU!!

Jeff, Dad, and Dre were singing there hearts out (I don’t remember looking back at Chad…  but I am sure he was too) .  It was beautiful.  It was messy.  It was real, open heart worship!  I can’t help but think of that image every time I hear that song.  It can be at church, on the radio, or just in my head.  On the way home, Dad hummed that song and said, “I love that song.”

Flash forward a few years and you have a pip-squeek teenager who thinks he is AWESOME (me) going to another similar type rally (may have been promise keepers…  I don’t remember) with his pip-squeek teenager youth group inTowson, Maryland.  Jeff decided to come too, which now I understand was an act of love and mercy towards me, since he was waaaaayyy too cool for us.  I stood next to my brother, not by choice…  I am almost certain he arranged it, but to this day I cannot prove it.  We were having a wonderful time the speakers were incredibly uplifting and convicting and the music was fantastic!  Then, they played that song.  Shout to the LORD came on and I broke.  It was as if my Dad, who had passed away by that point, was worshiping with us again, this time from heaven.  This time, I was exposed before God.  This time I understood what it felt like to join the chorus of angels.  My heart poured out of my chest and I even began to confess sins to my brother, who prayed for me and encouraged me to overcome.  I realized that everything on earth and heaven praises God, except rebellious us.  Trees, rocks, stars, grass, even the dirt praises better and with more consistency than us.  My glorious King Jesus received praise from a crowded stadium filled with broken people who long to worship the King.  On the way home, I hummed that song and said, “I love that song.”

 Now I strive to worship this way all the time.  This is a little difficult because I am still incredibly self-conscious in corporate worship.  Never wanting to be a distraction I usually try to go to the back of the room or play guitar in the front. (Evidently, no one cares if the guitarist dances, screams, or cries… that’s not weird, it’s just good worship leading- not so sure about that but eh,  What do you do?)   Anyhow…  no cool applications for you today, Just thoughts. Go worship the King.

Adam, Where are you?

Gen. 3:9 “Adam, where are you?” 

This phrase has always perplexed me.  The All Knowing, All Seeing, All Present God stands in a garden and says, “Adam, where are you?”  Don’t get me wrong, I get the symbolism of the story and that God is now spiritually distant from Adam, but it still did not really make since.  Even symbolic reference in the Bible tend to have a notion of logic in them.  But this story is different.  How can the Almighty ask this question?

Recently, my Thursday bunch (still no idea what to call ourselves, mostly because no one but me cares to have a name) has been studying Jonah.  As a part of the study, we examined the phrase “from the presence of the LORD.”  It was incredibly insightful to see that the Bible explains this uses this phrase to discribe those who are separated from intimacy with God, from communion with God, and from the mission of God.  Out of the fall, Adam and Eve hide “from the presence of the LORD.” (Gen 3)  After murdering his brother, Cain “went away from the presence of the LORD.” (Gen. 4) In Job, Satan goes out “from the presence of the LORD” to harm Job. (Job 2)  Jonah “flees from the presence of the LORD.” (Jonah 1) And in stark contrast Peter calls the people of Israel to return “to the presence of the LORD.” (Acts 3)

So, last night (Wednesday, November 10th) I came home from youth group and my wife (who deserves most of the credit for the insight) shares this song with me by Don Francisco.  The music is a little Old School for my taste, but the words are profound and powerful. 

God’s words in the garden were not intended to highlight Adam’s pitiful attempt to cover himself.  They were intended to highlight the separation that was now felt between God and man. To highlight the desperate state that man has now steped into. 

Just imagine, all through the rest of his life, Adam would hear that phrase echo in his ears.  “Adam, where are you?”  Oh they weight of such a phrase.  I can picture Adam, working in the field, digging in the dirt to plant some seeds, and he suddenly collapses as he realizes yet again that his is gone from the intimacy he once shared.  What about when Cain was born and Eve says, “I have gotten a man!”  Did the voice of the LORD echo in his ear then?  “Adam, where are you?”  Did he break down right there or try to hide his tears as he was overcome with the realization that he caused his son to die before he was ever born? 

In Romans 5 Christ is called the second Adam.  Where the first Adam brought death and destruction, the second Adam would bring life and peace with God.  Now, things can be different, Now the curse is gone, Now God isn’t say, “Adam where are you?” but “Adam, here I am.”  Intamacy, communion, and mission are now restored.