Musing on the Tragic Death of Amy Winehouse

Well yesterday, 7/23/2011, the pop music artist Amy Winehouse died. Sadly, not one person is truly surprised at her death for she was living on borrowed time, long ensnared by addictions to drugs and alcohol. It was simply a matter of time. She continued to use and ultimately she died. Sadly, her one hit was the song “Rehab” which she essentially wrote and sang about her rejecting a plea for her to go to drug rehabilitation. Her is a fact, while Amy’s life and death was tragic and while many can easily sit in judgment over how sick she was and proclaim if only she would get clean, each of us are really no different. When it comes to making changes, we too often protest “No, no, no.” There are things we like, we enjoy that we really just do not want to give up. We resist calls to repentance with the reply “No, no, no.” It takes brokenness and a realization of the truth to move toward change. We all have choices to make. There are many paths to death and destruction beyond the likes of alcohol and drugs. We are selfish and walk paths even with full knowledge that it is not good. We all have trouble embracing changes and turning from the paths of death. Ultimately there is one choice each person needs to make and sadly the refrain there is too often “no, no, no.” And that choice is surrender to the Creator, to Jesus the King of Kings. All to readily the response is “They told me to submit to Jesus” and “I said no, no, no.” See, for the appeal of self-direction and choosing own life, even if well aware of the pain and emptiness with lack of true peace, is alluring. Any life that dies apart from surrender is tragic. It is the path of many, not just Amy Winehouse. It is a sad day that such a hurt and broken soul reached the death point. It is too late for Amy, it is not too late for you. Please do not cry out “No, no, no” any further. This is true even for those who have submitted to Jesus yet God is stirring you to change and let go of areas of sin in your life. Stop saying “no, no, no” and repent, for the rejection only brings more pain. Surrender, say yes, it is worthwhile!

Superbowl Sunday Musing: True Victory

The day of this commentary is Superbowl Sunday. The day the “big game” is played. The games serves as the end of the football season where one team comes out on top and achieves victory. It is the cultural apex not only in the United States of America, but the world as well. No other contest, no other game gets the attention and the notoriety worldwide.

This game and the ultimate victor is one of many such contests, with one gaining the victory and coming out on top over all others. It is really a contest to determine who is the best and is the essence to how things function in the ways of the world. It is all about “reaching the top.” Be it career, politics, athletics, games, contests, and so on, in the world it is all about rising above the rest. Then once that is achieved, the contest starts all over. The victory is temporary and fleeting, lasing but moments.

There is a victory though that is not about “rising above” others. This victory is not fleeting or temporary but endures. This victory is that which occurs when one enters in to the Kingdom of God and recognizes Jesus as both Savior and Lord. For the true victory was already won, already declared when Jesus cried “IT IS FINISHED!” This victory is about victory over sin and the return to relating and depending on God. It is the setting in motion that of untwisting what was twisted when life apart from God was chosen. In this victory the least are the greatest and loss is gain. It is contrary to the world system and the constant striving to come out on top. It is simply victory through right relationship with God and having a place in His Kingdom. No granted, this victory is one that does not appear sound to the normal eye.

If I let go of that which is of self and look to God alone, how gain I gain. This because all we know of victory is the crawling, scratching, and fighting to come out on top. But see, the worlds way, the fighting to be on “top” there can only be “one” victor. In the way of God, the way of Jesus, there are many winners, yet it is hard to grasp. This victory is called the narrow way for many will choose the road that appears right with confidence they will make it through on top. It is a way of self-effort and self-determination. It is a way of losing. God’s way, the way found in Jesus and the victory established of the cross is the way of surrender. It is the way of growing up in righteousness while both transformed and renewed. It is the way of letting go and giving up of self. The cross started things moving and the course is set, victory is assured for all those who accept Jesus as both Savoir and Lord.

The time of victory is coming closer every day. The day is coming when all will be made right. It will appear for a time that the powers of darkness win and the schemes of the devil prevail. But the time is but limited and soon all will be made right, not by our efforts or strength but in surrender to Jesus and bringing all things under His authority. It is not done by our striving or effort, but will happen upon His return. True victory is assured. Victory over death. Victory over suffering. Victory over all that ails all of creation. Those entangled and engrossed in the twisted things of self and darkness will be death with and true life will be known. When Jesus does return and claim victory, the war cry will be sure “HIS LOVE ENDURES FOR EVER!” For it is by His love alone that all is made right. It was His love alone that established the way. It is His love alone that assures the victory. Imagine if you knew today the outcome of the game ahead of time. This is what it is like in terms of the true and eternal victory. We know the outcome, we know Victory is assures. So no matter what the struggle of the day is, as long as you remain in Him, remain true to the Kingdom of God and continue to surrender to Jesus as both Savior and Lord, then Victory is assured. So stand firm, endure, and surrender to him. Then rejoice in the Lord, for Victory is Won for it is HIS LOVE THAT ENDURES FOREVER!

Musings on the Life and Death of Michael Jackson

A picture from Thriller:  One man and his demons.

A picture from Thriller: One man and his demons.

Yesterday was a sad day for most Americans.  It was the day that pop icon Michael Jackson’s life came to an abrupt end.  As he was preparing for a comeback tour that hope to revive his fallen career and bring in money to attend to heavy debt load, his heart gave out.  Rumors abound about the potential of abuse of medication.  The end of this man’s life is tragic. 

In actuality the end of Michael Jackson’s life is actually no less tragic then the entire some of his life.  Yes, the man reached the acme of entertainment success. No one was more known around the global the Michael Jackson.  His music and dance touched billions.  Yet, the man was lost and haunted by inner demons.    There are lyrics in the song “Thriller” they really appear to be prophetic:

Night creatures calling, the dead start to walk in their masquerade
There’s no escaping the jaws of the alien this time
(They’re open wide)
This is the end of your life

They’re out to get you, there’s demons closing in on every side
They will possess you unless you change that number on your dial

This man impacted generations of baby boomers, generation x’ers and those younger who grew up  with Michael Jackson.  His lyrics often spoke of the cries for love and intimacy.  There are themes of having to defend self from attacks of others.  There are themes of betrayal.  His words and music fit the ethos of the culture and was latched on world over.   He was a man on stage all his life. He was always in the limelight. 

Rumors suggest that he was manipulated and abused as a child.  He was shaped to be an entertainer, and he performed that role majestically. His fall from grace was tragic.  He seems to have been a boy who never grew up. He was alleged to engage in multiple improprieties with assorted children, but the sense really seemed that Michael just never really understood fully how to relate to others.  He really probably never go the chance. Rather he was locked in his mind with his pain and self-distortions.  Clearly he was never happy with himself as  his continual altering of his body demonstrated.  He was clearly a man lost, broken, and desperate.   If his life ended through the abuse or poorly managed use of medication it is tragic and yet appropriate. For in this culture, we turn to whatever medication we can find to get through the pains of life.  Michael Jackson follows a long line of tragic deaths of celebrity who potentially have their lives cut short by turning to pain pills.  Elvis Presley, Heath Ledger, and Anna Nicole Smith are just some of the many.   The thing is that fame and fortune do nothing to sooth the inner wounds.  They all did well in reaching the pinnacle of fame yet found it fleeting and empty, with their wounds ever festering. 

Michael Jackson was ever aware of his inner torment. He even wrote of his need for forgiveness and redemtion.  The lyrics to 2Bad really gives a taste of the inner struggle.

Last night, an angel came to me
I was cryin’ alone
My heart was bleeding
Last night, an angel came to me
I was cryin’ alone
My mind was dying
God have mercy
Stop them destroying me
An angel came to me
To save my life
Listen to his voice
Please hear his soul
This angel came to me
To save me
Last night, an angel came to me
I was doing wrong (x2)
Last night, an angel came to me
I was sleepin’ wrong (x2)
God have mercy
Stop them destroying me
An angel came to me
To forgive me
Listen to his prayers
Please feel his love
This angel came to me
God saved me
An angel came to me
To fulfill his prophecy
He listened to my prayers
Please feel my love
This angel came to me
I recognized him

Yet, those lyrics show that he really missed what would bring true healing and repentance.  An angel is not the answer.  It is easy for folks to think of angels as a redemptive source that can help us lead our lives better, to better build our kingdoms. Yet, no angel can save.  Redemption by an angel or a relationship is shallow and do not heal inner wounds.

The truth is their is only one true source of redemption and healing.  The healing is not one that helps us build and thrive in our kingdoms, rather it is surrendering to another.  It is turning the wounds, the pain, the burdens over to Jesus with no expectation of relief.  It is recognition that we cannot run our own life, that we are selfish and need redemption.  Michael Jackson’s lyrics suggest a recognition of the need for redemption and forgiveness but he sadly never found it.  Never has there been any report that the man turned to Jesus. Not through all the pain, the disgrace, the struggles did Jesus get mentioned once.  Rather he turned to whatever else he could find, and as is always the case, he did not get redemption.  He died a tragic death and the greater tradgedy is that he died without knowing the true source of healing and redemption. 

We can try and gain the world, like Michael Jackson did, but it comes at a great fall. The world is fickle. It builds folks up only to tear them down.  Michael Jackson was going to try and recapture the world, restore him self to his former glory.  Perhaps his performances would have thrilled the world once again, but ultimately Michael could not recapture what was lost and it killed him. 

I ask the reader to consider your life, your pains, your hopes, and your inner demons. There is only one answer for redemption. There is only one hope.  It is not angels. It is not relationships. It is not fame.  It is not money. It is not sex.  It is not anything in this world.  It is Jesus.  There is no other answer. The answer is not about relief of pain, but about turning from self and submitting to Jesus.  It is about Jesus having paid the price for all that is evil and dark and selfish.  Make a choice today, while it is not too late.  You do not have to let the demons and aliens destroy you, as they did Michael.  Rather, true life and peace is found in surrender to Jesus!

 

Gods love and peace is only found at the cross. Surrender to Jesus dispels all darkness and demons!

God's love and peace is only found at the cross. Surrender to Jesus dispels all darkness and demons!