Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Making theologies out of our disappointments

I have a memory stuck in my head. I was at a youth event and a member of the prayer team came up to me to share a story of what had just happened to him. He told me how some kid had really hurt his leg and he had heard that God healed people. He then said 'Imagine; he came to me to pray about it before even going to the doctor! I told him to go to the doctor to sort it out'.
I'm not sure what response he was expecting from me, maybe something along the lines of 'Yeah imagine someone going to the prayer team for prayer about a sore leg when they can just go to the doctor like everyone else.'
I didn't argue with him, I think I was just saddened in my heart. What has happened that people have so little expectation of God intervening in their lives? I think one of the main reasons is people making theologies out of their disappointments. If we believe God is who he says He is and part of his nature is being a healer and we pray for someone and they don't get healed well we need a reason to explain it. More often than not the reason we give is that for some reason it wasn't God's will to heal or even worse that God has given us all our crosses to bear and actually this is a lesson that we must learn from. Sure after all isn't God is in control! There are a couple of examples in scripture of that happening but when we look at the life of Jesus who was the full representation of the Father we see nothing like that. We never see Jesus say to anyone 'Sorry buddy, my Dad is teaching you a lesson so I can't heal you. You gotta suck it up'. Even the example of the blindman in John 9 where through bad translation it alludes to the mans blindness coming from God the man is still healed. That's right, Jesus didn't say 'this is to teach him a lesson so we gotta leave him in his blindness'. No, he heals him. Always healed people. Sometimes it was their faith, sometimes it was a friends faith sometimes even it was a shadow of his disciple that healed someone but people got healed.
Of course there are always questions about why we don't get healed and the reality is that sometimes we can pray earnestly for years for people and they die disappointed. The reason why they weren't healed I don't think lies at the door of God. It lies in the mysteries of this free will laden universe with humanity and demonic angelic beings having free will to bring sin into the world (see Daniel 10 for a mental story about angelic free will and prayer). Amongst other things too lofty for us to grasp.
But what I do know is that Jesus came to redeem us and release us from the curse of sin and if I don't see answers to prayer I'm not gonna blame him for it. I know with all my heart that God is good. Actually good, not good in a sense that we can't really understand cause while he's comforting us with one arm he's actually inflicting pain with the other. No, he's good. He's a good daddy who loves His kids and if ever there is an example of that it's the cross. Jesus dying and ripping the keys of sin and death out of the hands of Satan, bursting forth from the grave and allowing us to enter into an amazing reality of the presence of Father, Son and Spirit.
We've all been disappointed but don't let the enemy lie to you that that means God isn't good or that he's holding out on you. The metanarrative of His word shows that he is a good God who is deeply in love with his creation and would go to the ultimate lengths to win them back. His grace is mind boggling. If you see someone else who has an answer to the very prayer you've been praying unanswered for years, celebrate in it. Let their victory become yours. Allow the testimony of Jesus to be a prophecy over your life and allow the Father to minister to you in the desert place trusting and knowing that he is good and makes all things new.
My sadness for that guy on the prayer team is that a day will come when his only hope for himself or his family is a miracle from the Lord and he will have no well of faith or testimony to draw from. On the flip side though I'm so thankful that God isn't spiteful and will gladly lend him some faith if he comes looking for it.
I should probably add that I've no problem with going to the doctor for sore legs. The medical profession in and of itself is a blessing. But lets remember that our God is the ultimate healer and physician so take his advice before you see someone else!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Asbo Jesus 1000th post

You can check out his site here (don't hold me responsible if you're offended!)

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Brooke Fraser, April 9th, Sugar Club, Dublin

I was slightly nervous about going to see Brooke Fraser, especially after such a cracking night with Bell x1 on Thursday. I wasn't sure whether it would be a little intense and if I would be the only guy there and if people would be shouting for her to sing Hosanna or the Desert Song or something Hillsong esque (there was a little bit of that).
All my apprehension went straight out the window the moment she stepped on stage. If Paul Noonan charmed my wife, then Brooke Fraser definitely charmed me. She started with the beautiful 'Theif' and you could hear a pin drop. She was then joined by Michael Guy Chislet supreme guitar player with Hillsong United and the greasiest looking American Italian ever to grace the shores of Ireland to play drums and percussion. Can't remember his name, Flavio Roberto Donnadoni or something to that effect. He was a solid drummer.
There was a mutual affection tangible in the air between Brooke and her Leprechaun friends as she liked to call us. She charmingly rambled inbetween songs about various things from eating her scabs, to wanting a pet lion called Glen Hansard to the names of her guitars; Paul, Rosie and Eric if I recall correctly.
She played a great selection of songs; 1 from her first album, the beautiful Arithmetic which closed the show, 4 from her second album, 8 from her new album and one cover (Coldplays Violet Hill). She is an excellent performer with an incredible voice and cracking melodies. I hope this little eurpoean tour gets her some attention that she thoroughly deserves. I'm sure playing with Hillsong is a monkey on her back with the media. That seems to me to be unfair as she is in the truest sense a christian artist, playing excellent songs that aren't confined to the walls of a church. The typical 'if you're a christian you need to sing songs that only overtly mention the cross in them' needs to be banished. If you're a christian you need to write amazing artistic songs that reflect an amazingly artistic God who is not one dimensional. Whether it's about Jesus, Glen Hansard being a lion or the Coachella music festival, just write good songs.
I should also mention her support act Liz Lawrence who was very good. A less angry, sweeter version of Kate Nash who seemed very grateful for the support on her first ever gig outside of England.
Two amazing gigs in the space of three days makes me very grateful, especially as Brooke was only 15euro. I probably haven't played that little for a gig in 15 years! Next up is Sufjan in may. That should be a belter. Here's the setlist and some photo's...

The Theif
Orphans, Kingdoms
Deciphering Me
CS Lewis Song
Who Are We Fooling?
Crows + Locusts
Violet Hill (Coldplay cover)
Something In The Water

Friday, April 8, 2011

Bell x1, April 7th, Vicar Street, Dublin

I Love Bell x1. My wife loves them even more, this may have something to do with Paul Noonans witty and sometimes heartfelt lyrics as well as his attractive charm. She says it's just cause of the music though. I remember seeing Bell x1 as their former guise 'Juniper' back in my teens. I thought I was so cool as I stood in Norris' pub in Celbridge as my mate Bago sang along to all the words and particularly emphasising the movement of his mouth, presumably to let everyone know he knew them. He infact did know them, especially their lead singer Damien. His Dad even got a mention in their ep Manna which I thought was so cool at the time. I still do; his dad was always good to me. I also think that lad Damien is still wearing the same jumper he used to wear back then. They used to sing this song called 'Insane'; I thought it was one of the best songs ever written!
For some reason my liking of them wore off a little when Juniper broke up and I wasn't too enamored with the newly formed Bell x1. 'Neither am I' disappointed me when it came out, but I didn't infact listen to it. I can't make sense of that one. How can you not like an album you haven't listened to? (Mind you I haven't listened to Pinks new album and I'm fairly sure I dislike it). I'm not entirely sure where my love rejuvenated for them. It did though, and it's been solid ever since.
Myself and Jane have been to a few Bell x1 concerts since we met. I think going to gigs with Jane is one of my favourite things. When Jane willingly came to Manchester and London to see Pearl Jam a couple of years ago I knew we'd last forever! Last nights show was a great one. Their new album is only out a week but it didn't quench the enjoyment whatsoever that we weren't as familiar with the new songs as we are with their staples. Infact some of their new tunes where my favourite's of the night.
They started off with the slow brooding Hey Anna Lena and the token witty first single 'Velcro' written about getting stuck in a field after playing Austin City Limits festival. My First Born For a Song next, a good tune, one that I would have swopped for perhaps 'How Your Heart Is Wired' but I don't make the setlist.
'Bad Skin Day' brought a huge cheer from the crowd followed by the 10 seconds of 'shhh', 'shhh'. It was a lovely rendition to a cracking tune. 'Built to Last' is a song that could have nestled well on a Dave Geraghty solo album but I'm glad it's on the new Bell x1 album; hopefully it'll remind people that he is a fantastic artist in his own right. A cracking tune. The one two punch of 'Rocky' and 'Alphabet Soup' were great singalongs. Especially Rocky. It got slightly overplayed at the time but it's still one of their best tunes. That change where it enters 'The sun gives light, and it takes it away, and like all the greats we'll burn out someday. I want to be that star'; is one of their very finer moments.
'I'll see Your Heart' made all the ladies swoon, including my feminine side, another great tune followed by possibly my favourite of their new album so far; 'Nightwatchmen'. 'The Great Defector' was another great singalong, followed by the crunching 'Tongue' which for some reason despite my inner love of rock I can take or leave. The funky '4 minute mile' which Paul said they decided should actually be called 'I believe I can't fly' closed the first set before they presumably got a cup of tea for five minutes and a fig roll before coming back for the encore.
The first song was just the three lads and they played the heartbreaking 'Trailing Skirts of God' a song about leaving faith behind. It got a couple of muppets cheering at the parts about leaving faith but I think most of the crowd realised that it's a huge statement to make that you're bidding adieu to God. Mind you, I'd probably say goodbye to the God he was presented with. Nothing like the God I know! Flame was another crowd favourite with great audience participation, followed by the Fianna Fail bashing 'Sugar Rush' another belter from the new album. The show finished with some heartfelt thanks from Paul and one of their finest moments; 'Eve, the apple of my eye'.
Another great show, helped by our cracking seats front row on the balcony. If you don't have their new album it's well worth getting, and they're an independent Irish band which is always good to support! Here's the setlist...

Hey Anna Lena
My First Born For A Song
Bad Skin Day
Built to Last
Rocky Took a Lover
Alphabet Soup
I'll See Your Heart and I Raise You Mine
The Great Defector
4 Minute Mile

Trailing Skirts of God
Sugar High
Eve, the Apple of My Eye