Lupus?! A wha dat?!

Just another emcee who gets free. Vessel of philanthropic vision fueled by theophilic purpose.

“Do You Want To Be Made Well?” (John 5:1-17)

"Do You Want To Be Made Well?" (John 5:1-17) by Di Baddest Chaplain on Mixcloud

The Problematic Pool Party

Calvary Gospel Tabernacle


John 5:1-17

“Do you want to be made well?” Seems a bit silly doesn’t it? Of course I want to be made well!  But I wonder…if in like a parallel universe this brother might look at Jesus and say, “Meh, come to think of it, lying down… it’s not so bad! I’m fine, really! I’ve got a Good view right here! plus the cool off the pool is refreshing at times. Yeah, I might stay a while…”


I love this situation. There’s a bit of agency included in this encounter with the Christ. Not so much agency that it gives license to twist the gospel, or reduce the gospel into some sort of self-help, pull yourself up by the bootstraps message. No friends I believe we have a situation where once again our Lord calls us, even us, into community and responsibility for one another.


The man who has been suffering in this story has been suffering for a long time! Scripture tells us in verse five that he has had his infirmity for thirty eight years. This man was a staple of the area, time and time again seeking his healing in the pool but unable to receive it. When reading this scripture my mind was drawn to the brothers and sisters I have encountered in my travels. At Penn Station, both Newark and New York, it would be impossible to pass through and not see a brother or sister experiencing homelessness. A brother or sister in desperate need of help. Food. Shelter. Some recognition of their humanity. Some dignified gesture that reminds them that they are not forgotten.

On the subway earlier this week I sat and watched two separate occasions where gentlemen attempted to gather the passengers’ attention and ask for help. Some change. Any food. Leads on shelter. Clothing for their children.

Walking around my neighborhood in Brooklyn I encountered two more men. One in a wheelchair trying to find shelter. Another asking for enough change to get bus fare.

In the encounters this week, I fear that I fell among the number whom James addressed in James 2:15 and 16. ‘If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,” but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit?

Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.’

You see I’m normally happy to give. A cheerful giver even! But I found myself with eyes glued to my book on the train, unwilling to open my wallet in public and give what I could. I gave a dollar to the brother in the wheelchair but found myself pretending to be unable when I really was unwilling to help more. The last brother was very polite and I wanted to help him too but I was unwilling to use my debit card to buy his fare. In all of these instances I felt my spirit bursting to grab hold of these brothers and love them; praying for them, encouraging them, showing the vitality of our faith, letting them know my works are grounded by the moving of the living God.

I made no such statements. My mind more attuned to my bank statement. Dollar bills held hostage by the tyranny of bill collection. And I paint this picture for you because I consider myself a good, charitable person. A nice guy even. Yet still I must wonder, like popular hip-hop artist Kendrick Lamar wonders, “How much a dollar cost?” I’m not afraid that I’ve blocked my blessing nor am I fearful of any divine punishment as a result but I pray that God’s love pierced their situations in spite of my inaction. I am confident that my anxiety, my cowardice, could never build a wall high enough to impede the Lord from lifting them out of their circumstances. No doubt, this is the gospel but it is far from a license for complacency.

Brothers and sisters, in truth, we serve an awesome God. A God who continually calls us to participate in God’s life. Instead of seeing one another as an inconvenience how transformed would we be if we saw one another as an invitation to follow Jesus.

I wonder how many people we know in our own lives who are stuck like the brother by the pool. I love this story because I not only see Christ’s example but I see myself by the pool. I joked earlier about the parallel universe where the man is actually content where he is. But when I think about the ways I have answered “Do you want to be made well?” with complacency, fear, anxiety, or doubt, it is no laughing matter. If we are really going to be about this life and really trying to grow in our walk with the Lord then we need to be real about the ways that we too are attending a problematic pool party.

I would never go so far to call lupus and the difficulties that followed my illness a good thing but I saw so many examples where God used this tragedy to bless me. One example of this is learning to receive charity. We feel good when we help other people. There’s an extra puffiness we experience when we know we can reach out and help somebody. Maybe we even believe we are sowing a seed of some sort by helping somebody. I always wonder if I have unwittingly entertained angels (Hebrews 13:2) whenever I have helped somebody. But brothers and sisters, on the opposite end of that spectrum…it is not fun to need help.

Our culture teaches us to preserve our dignity at all costs. Some of us have been burned by needing help, ridiculed for taking a handout, seemingly suffocated under the weight of our shame. But receiving charity is not a mark of failure. No one gets anywhere by themselves. Both Thomas Merton and Dennis Brown agree, “no man is an island.” There is a strong sentiment within the culture to prove how much you are trying, that you are can do! But I submit to you that a crucial component of Christianity is reaching the limits of your agency. Where your try just is not enough, and you need to be made well.

This is beautiful to me because the man tried and it was not enough. Living with a situation like his for thirty eight years…that’s more than enough evidence to believe that this is his lot in life. That perhaps contentment in this stage would be wise. Save him from some heartache. Why try to get in the pool again? But thank God that this man’s story does not end there. He encounters Christ and Christ invites him to participate with God. It is a slice of being a co-heir with Christ (Romans 8:17). Faith is participatory; we cannot afford to hold onto what we have whether that “have” is excess or doubt. We need to be available in order to be made well.

In verse 8, Jesus said to him, “Rise, take up your bed and walk.”

I wonder what we can accomplish when we believe in God more than we believe in our circumstances. It seems that faith always has to come with a level of absurdity. If I tell you I’m going to breathe my next breath you probably won’t be that impressed. But if I’m telling you that while I am in a hospital bed recovering from pulmonary embolism, some faith may be required.

We cannot be so married to our dignity, caught up in our sense of self that we forfeit these opportunities to participate with God. God is calling us to be made well. God is calling us to ask our brothers and sisters if they want to be made well. What’s realer than that?

Truthfully being faithful is difficult and I think we develop a sort of Stockholm Syndrome with our problems. The devils we know seem better than the ones we don’t. (Or as my great, late grandmother used to say “Never lef sure fi unsure.”) But what happens when we quiet our circumstances enough to hear the Master’s voice beckoning us to “Rise” take up our beds and walk. Don’t worry about where you will go, just get going.

In verse 17, when it is clear that some members of the community are offended by what the Lord has done, Jesus answered them, “My Father has been working until now, and I have been working.”

Everytime I see this verse, I think about Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir singing “God is working.” It is seductive and rather simple to write off your life, write off the world even, and stay convinced that the world is going to hell in a handbasket. But I wonder what happens when we take the Lord’s Prayer serious enough to believe that God’s Kingdom come, God’s will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven (Matthew 6:9-13). Not focusing on the situation (and surely not ignoring it, by and by) but believing that God is working, that God loves you enough to invite you to participate in that work and making yourself available so that “He who began a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.” (Philippians 1:6)

I am convinced that we cannot follow Jesus by ourselves. To be Christian is to be in community. And the beautiful thing about the beloved community is that God continually calls us to love folks we may not even like. The least of these. Those the rest of society has the leisure to forget. We do not have that leisure.

We see in Deuteronomy 10, verses 18 and 19 that God “administers justice for the fatherless and the widow, and loves the stranger, giving him food and clothing. Therefore love the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.” The Lord provides the example then calls us to be holy as God is holy.
So where are we in this story? Are we going to be like our Master or are we going to care more about our sense of order more than one another? I pray that we guard our witness closely. It is conflicting, and rather silencing to say we love God when we do not show that love to our neighbors. In what ways are we forgetting that Sabbath was created for man and not man for the sabbath? (Mark 2:27)

Brothers and sisters, you do not need me to convince you of the world’s brokenness. The problematic pool party has too many attendees. Despair seems more logical than hope. Too many feel that it is over but praise be to God, we know the author of our story. And He intends far more than this. You are not defined by what ails you. You are not a prisoner of your problems.

May we see our Lord as our example and walk with such empathy. He got directly involved in the mess, he was not far removed. He lived His life worshipfully. May we open our eyes and pray with our feet so that we too may worship the Lord in spirit and in truth. In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, Amen.


Heatrock of the Week KB feat. Lecrae “Sideways”

The Armond Episode #STCDNW

The Armond Episode #STCDNW by Di Baddest Chaplain on Mixcloud

In this episode of #STCDNW, Di Baddest Chaplain speaks with Armond about his excellent album, The Epiphany of Marcus Graham. They talk about relationships, the GOATs (in and out of CHH) and another great show, Clock Radio Speakers.

“Songs that can do no wrong” is hosted by Di Baddest Chaplain on the globe, Chris B. Only on #Soundbooth Radio 1.

Beautiful and Devastating 


For a few weeks I’ve watched with anticipation as NXT advertised for Nia Jax.
I didn’t know what or who to expect. Full disclosure, when I saw her last name was Jax, I kept visualizing some lady with metal arms running through the competition down at Full Sail. What happened last Wednesday was far more destructive.
The music hit, the video played and out walked an extremely formidable wrestler. Not diva and not just a lady. I’ve seen a few Awesome Kong comparisons pop up on the internet already but when I first saw Nia Jax my mind went straight to Bull Nakano. (Her match with Alundra Blayze is worth revisiting on the WWE Network and is where Paige gets her fantastic scorpion crosslock submission finish from).

Nia came through and crushed the buildings. Evie is no slouch. She has had independent circuit success and does not have the makings of a jobber. Nevertheless they booked Nia with such invincibility that the only thing she was missing was the blinking lights from Super Mario. 

The scary thing is I don’t feel like we saw the full move set. She had a devastating bearhug, an exceptionally disrespectful pin (folded Evie like some laundry) but I can’t help but think we are going to see some great striking techniques from her later on. 

She has the potential to make every move look critical. One can only hope they use her as the monster heel she was born to be and put her in some great matches with Charlotte and Sasha Banks. Initially I was most excited to see her work with Sasha but the thought of Bayley going against all odds and hitting that Bayley to Bayley on her? That’s how legends are born. After all, she is a member of the Anoa’i family (The Rock, Wild Samoans, Roman Reigns and ’em) so anticipating greatness is so necessary. 

The Finals Next Time (Between the Knicks and Me)


Little fella you’ve been in this world for nearly five months now and of all that I teach you, I hope you will always remember that #ballislife.

You will be blessed to grow up in New York City, a town that has as many courts as Brooklyn has churches. I will do my best to teach you the fundamentals of the game and I pray that you love the game as much as I do. But there is one thing that I will find difficult to pass on to you. I cannot teach you this, I can only give you exposure. And exposure to this thing I speak of, this thing I hold so near and dear to my heart, may cause repulsion more than reverence. Your mother has already threatened me with divorce if you grow to embrace them as I do. Others have asked me why I would want you to suffer like I have. But I’ve paid them no mind. Trust me son, being a Knicks fan builds character.
I, your father, am too young to fully appreciate the glory days of the Knicks’ championship years. I will show you one day the great moment when Willis Reed came through the tunnel. You will know that Walt Frazier was once Clyde and played the game with style as great as his suits. 

My glory days were in the 90s when the Knicks often lost to an evil man named Michael Jordan. (An evil man who sells fly shoes, more on this later.) They also had a heated rivalry with an annoying man named Reggie Miller. This man, as you will discover when we watch the blessed game on TNT, is just as annoying broadcasting the game as he was playing it. When the day comes and you ask me, “Father, why is that skinny man so obnoxious?” I will shed a joyful tear. 

There will come a time when you will ask me why my hate for the Heat is so deep. (#FIHM) I will tell you that my hate for them is twofold. In my glory days we had a great coach named Pat Riley. He took the Knicks to the Finals in ’94 and when the owners wouldn’t give him more power (power that he truly deserved), he went to Miami. In Miami, Riley turned a floundering expansion team into a conference powerhouse. The Heat would challenge the Bulls, Pacers and my Knicks and adopted that mean style that the Bad Boys Detroit Pistons fathered. My Knicks brushed them pretty regularly (Allan Houston’s shot to eliminate them from the playoffs in ’99 is my favorite NBA moment) but the hatred was solidified during the ’96-97 playoffs when PJ Brown hip tossed Charlie Ward. 

The Knicks went from winning the series 3-1 to losing in a game 7. They suspended 9 Knicks in the series! 9! Now as you hear this I’m sure you are thinking, “that must have been a big fight.” And yes there was a pretty sincere brawl (My Knicks were always ready to throw hands.) but many of the players who were suspended as a result of merely stepping onto the court. Including, my favorite Knick of all time, Patrick Ewing. Ewing is the most deserving of all legends who never won a ring and #FIHM because he should have won one that year.

You may be thinking, “Wow Father, that does not seem like enough reason to hate the Miami Heat forever (not to be confused with hatred for the city of Miami. After all it is gorgeous and not Boston.)” and perhaps you are right.

 I must admit my hate for them began to subside after Allan Houston hit that glorious runner against them and as my Knicks faded from conference relevance. But that hatred roars again because of the summer of 2010. A mere five years before your existence, I know son, but it is the summer of my discontent. 

That summer I anticipated LeBron James joining my Knicks and bringing the first championship we have experienced since 1973. But that did not happen. LeBron would go to Miami and win 2 championships then return home to Cleveland. You will learn that LeBron is a good enough player to take a team to the Finals by himself and most definitely could have won us a championship. So I admit, I am bitter. I had no reason to believe LeBron was coming to my Knicks but I was hurt when he did not. I have forgiven him but my hate for the Heat rages on.

So what will we do? I am certain you will love this game and can see an attraction budding as you watch the screen intently as I play 2K. I will not pressure you, simply expose you to Knicks games and hopefully take you to the Garden, the world’s most famous arena. Your mother wants you to be a Warriors fan and I cannot blame you if you do. Children are often frontrunners and they will be good for a long time. Just please, promise me you will never cheer for the Bulls, Celtics, Heat, or Pacers. You’re a Brooklyn kid though. So if you end up cheering for the Nets I will not judge you, I will only laugh. 

Wardell ain’t playin’ wit y’all 


“I apologize for us being healthy…I apologize for all the accolades we received as a team and individually. I’m very, truly sorry, and we’ll rectify that situation this year.”

– #CurryGOAT
I can’t help it. Whenever I read that quote, I hear “Takeover” playing in the background. Folks stay wanting to switch up the narrative, like we weren’t alive during the history. 

Let’s not pretend that the Golden State Warriors are the first team in league history to win a championship with some fortunate breaks. (Shoot, I still maintain that my ’96-97 Knicks would have given the Bulls the blues if the whole team didn’t get suspended during the Heat series. Forever I hate Miami. #FIHM) 

Yes Durant was hurt, yes the Spurs and Clippers got eliminated and Cleveland would have been a different team if Kyrie and Love were healthy. But what’s lost in the sauce with all that conjecture are the facts. 

Remember when the Finals were winding down and there was significant buzz about giving LeBron the MVP even in a losing effort? I was a fan of that idea because LeBron was otherworldly in that series. But that doesn’t mean Cleveland wins in a parallel universe where Kyrie and Love are injury free. LeBron’s superhuman playing would have changed during the Finals with Kyrie and Love there to share the load. And anybody watching basketball last season would be truly hating from the sidelines if they wanna pretend that the best team didn’t win the chip.

I used to get annoyed when I heard people endorsing anyone but #CurryGOAT for MVP last season. In retrospect, I can see how a reasonable case for James Harden can be made. But you guys really need to think this through. Before the reckless talking, hemming and hawing, I honestly wasn’t sure Golden State could run it back. But now? #Currypeat 

Every great is always looking for fuel to motivate them. A little extra to feed the hunger for more. You yentas done took Steph to Costco. 

I didn’t like it when I heard Steph sarcastically say that “we’ll rectify that situation this year.” But I was limited. I heard it as rectify=we fitna lose. But nah, not Steph. He don’t slack a minute. Steph is out here warning y’all that he’s about to leave no doubt who the “top shotta” is. Y’all done walked into Lennox’s house while he’s watching soccer and shot the place up?! You know who you a ramp wid?! Please leave it alone, don’t throw rocks at the throne. 

Andy Mineo’s Great American Rap Album (A Review of Uncomfortable)

Uncomfortable is the best word to describe the Christian life. I often joke that when we, American Christians, get to Heaven, we may find ourselves at the back of the line. Possibly disturbing to some but when you consider the plight of brothers and sisters around the world, it feels appropriate. Persecution certainly happens within this culture as well but far more insidious is the damage done to us by excess. I often meditate on Proverbs 30:7-9 (NKJV):

Two things I request of You (Deprive me not before I die);
Remove falsehood and lies far from me;
Give me neither poverty nor riches–
Feed me with the food allotted to me;
Lest I be full and deny You,
And say, “Who is the Lord?”
Or lest I be poor and steal,
And profane the name of my God.

I wonder if this passage had an effect on Andy Mineo as he crafted the album, Uncomfortable. The title/intro track begins by taking us to King David’s place when he was out of pocket and observing Bathsheba’s beauty rather than engaging in war where he ought to be.

How often are we misled by comforts? How often are we enamored with excess and deny God?

As 2015 began, I was looking forward to two emcees dropping albums: Kendrick Lamar and Andy Mineo. King Kendrick’s release, To Pimp A Butterfly, has catapulted him into my personal pantheon of emcees and is simply, black excellence. I speak about Andy’s Uncomfortable as a great American rap album because of its timeliness. In an age where #BlackLivesMatter is systematically shouted down by respectability politics and narratives detailing what is wrong with black people, Andy does what is required of white Americans if our nation will ever jettison racism, he examines himself and sees how he aids and abets white supremacy.

The love of Christ flows through Uncomfortable. “My own people owned people but we don’t own that.” There can be no reconciliation without recognition. Andy plunges into the difficulty and squeezes a cross shaped perspective into stifling issues. Mineo makes his listeners consider Christ’s role in their response. Truly transformative. How would this world look if Christians wore WWJD on their hearts instead of their wrists?

I remember when Nas released Life Is Good in 2012 and proclaimed that “Loco-Motive” was for all of us still trapped in the 90s. But there’s something about that record I could not fully appreciate until I heard it while riding the subway. “Uptown” has those same qualities. Andy, originally from Syracuse, has adopted Washington Heights as his home but is an anti-gentrifier of sorts. Instead of whitewashing his environment, he embraces and engages the surrounding culture. The terrain described on “Uptown” is neither glorified or mocked. A wonderfully soulful vibe, infused with Latin Jazz, lays the foundation for a record filled with love for his part of town. Hopefully the city loves him back. Real talk, can we name the top 5 emcees coming out of NY right now and not include Andy Mineo?

One of my favorite elements of Lecrae’s Anomaly was his unashamed Outkast fandom. It was hard to hear “Timepiece” or “Fear” and not here the ATLiens influence. Uncomfortable showcases the multitude of sounds Mineo appreciates. We move from the soulful Latin Jazz of “Uptown” to “Now I Know”; a refreshingly honest record that would make Teddy Riley crack a smile. “Now I Know” ain’t out here to make friends. Business picks up as Andy performs introspection with a lyrical scalpel. Ain’t nothing safe, from wrestling, Santa, his mama’s virtue (!), to jobs being available after college. Many artists lay themselves bare but Lecrae said it best on Saturday Morning Car-Tunes when he noted that Andy fillets himself for the benefit of others. “Now I know” works for me because Mineo questions much but hasn’t been able to place Christ in the pile of things that failed him.

I enjoyed listening to “Desperados”. Superhero flow definitely in the building! Wanted to hear more Mali Music on this but that’s my biggest complaint. (Sidebar: if Andy and Mali ever did a Drake-Futuresque collab?! What a time to be alive!)

I’m a fan of hyperbole. Sincerely. But hear me (read me?) when I tell you “Hear My Heart” is a crown jewel. Whenever “The Best of Andy Mineo” is considered, “Hear My Heart” will be there. When we consider the best rap songs of 2015, “Hear My Heart” will be there for everyone who’s really paying attention. “Even though you was born deaf, I pray you forgive me for the years I lived blind.” A beautiful record, honestly detailing his relationship with his sister, Andy shows that he is a master of catharsis.

When I saw the track change and a song was called “David’s Roof” I said “Uh-oh”. Nothing good happens on David’s roof. And the same is true here. Song was way too short. Just as I got into it, it was over.

I liked “Rat Race” because it showed flashes of Mineo’s battle rap roots. “It ain’t all bout who you know. Bleek knew Jay Z.” Much of the rhyming on Uncomfortable was simple but to the point. I pray Lloyd Banks gets saved. CHH needs his punchlines.

“Know that’s right” sounds very radio ready. I appreciate the freedom Andy expresses on this album. He’s clearly not chasing singles or making formulaic music. It doesn’t even have the trademark “116” anthem that Reach used to put on every CD. It is clear that Andy is ready for the world. A world that will embrace him as a conscious emcee speaking about justice more readily than the youth group circuit he has outgrown. Some may think this is bad news. But CHH is not in danger. We need Christians in the marketplace. Moving the culture’s needle. Shining light in the darkest places and playlists. Prayerfully someone who likes that OVO sound can hear “Ghost” and rock with it. Hopefully they hear “Love” and get inspired to live in its fullness, past lust, past mistrust.

Andy ends the record with a pair of #StadiumStatus joints. “Strange Motions” sounds like it will be a fantastic live record. If I was him, I’d perform that joint right after Uno Uno Seis for the cool down, lighters up anthem. It’s a big record, your headphones are not enough. “Make Me A Believer” really encapsulates my feelings about Uncomfortable in general. I anticipated a very fun album but received a more mature, but still enjoyable album. It’s great to see growth. I was lowkey disappointed when Heroes 4 Sale came out because it felt like a step back from Formerly Known. Uncomfortable is a leap above Never Land. Andy getting grown! He is absolutely a great emcee and an ambassador of the gospel.

Gems on Gems. I give Uncomfortable 4 #obligatoryjamaicanairhorns

Forgiving Trump

Photo by Gage Skidmore/Huffington Post

Now I don’t normally want to talk about Trump because I consider his contributions nothing more than the dregs of our society. To call him a scoundrel is saddeningly as controversial as an announcement that water is still wet. To be honest I am enjoying his success in the political arena because it is an indictment on the country. White supremacy dies once Americans acknowledge our complicity. Systemic racism does not exist because of “them”, it exists because of “us.” (I mean, it’d be nice to just blame this all on white people–slow down respectability politics, I am not agreeing with you–but Ben Carson, Clarence Thomas and every other person of color who lets their self-hatred shine shows that white supremacy, ironically, is an equal opportunity employer.)

I first noticed this Trump video a few weeks ago and it made me pity him. In the video, Donald is asked if he has ever asked God for forgiveness and he is demonstrably uncomfortable. He speaks about how folks are often surprised to learn he is religious and then waxes poetically about his late pastor, name dropping his book, and reminisicing about how captivating said pastor’s sermons were.

The interviewer does not let him off the hook. The audience laughs at this show of authority and Trump eventually admits that he has never asked God for forgiveness. He assumes that his effort and desire to do better next time should suffice, or maybe even the elements of bread and wine at communion get the job done. 

Trump’s answer is perfect to me. It encapsulates the errors of human pride in a wonderful way. Here we have a man who regularly displays misogyny, racism and an utter disregard for others. 

(Two dope TV ideas: Iyanla needs to bring Trump and Rosie O’Donnell on “Fix My Life”. Like why is he so mad? Unlike other targets of his misogyny, his barbs come with the kind of intimacy birthed from a destroyed friendship. Why you so mad Donnie?! 

2. I want this whole campaign to be an episode of Unsung with special guest narrator, Herman Cain.)

With Trump I see a man who reminds me of the judge in the parable of the persistent widow (One who “did not fear God nor regard man” Luke 18:1-8). Trump tries to use his privilege and sidestep the conversation entirely. But name dropping a pastor cannot save you. Trump then talks about his own efforts, “to do better next time”, but this only exposes his misdiagnosis. The offense we each commit against God is far more severe than a misunderstanding. Perhaps when I offend you, I can strive to learn from that mistake and do better next time. But sin’s stains run deep. And no matter how much we endeavor, no matter how much we hope to learn from our mistakes, it is a complete waste unless we ultimately encounter our futility. How we cannot clean our own hands. How desperately we are in need of a Saviour. 

Trump proverbially enters the right building but is on the wrong floor when he speaks about communion. His description of communion turns it into a work of righteousness which sells the sacrament short. If communion is a mere work, the heavy lifting is done by us. After all, we are the ones who go to church. We are the ones who take the bread. We are the ones who take the wine. Yet communion is much more than that. It encapsulates what the Christian life is, participating in the life of Christ. The focus cannot and never should be on what we do (which if we are honest, is not much). One enters into the Christian life at the edge of one’s futility (“God, be merciful to me a sinner!” Luke 18:13) but one matures through worshiping God in Spirit and in truth (John 4:23). Trump, like all of us, must get dissatisfied with his own works. Lose the love he has for his own ability to make a way. This walk is not about showing God how well you are trying; we get nowhere until we humbly admit we can’t. 

The Richie Righteous Episode #STCDNW

The Richie Righteous Episode #STCDNW by Di Baddest Chaplain on Mixcloud

“Here Lies The Dragon…” (Rev 12:7-12)

"Here Lies The Dragon..." (Rev 12:7-12) by Di Baddest Chaplain on Mixcloud

It fascinates me when I think about those peculiar bedfellows. Hope and despair.

How can we be victorious when it feels all is lost? Much more than mere feeling, or passing sentiment, how can we sing our song in a strange land? I confess that there are times when I feel all thumbs. When I can tell no one is buying what I’m selling and there are low points where I cannot blame them.

No one needs compelling evidence that there is evil in this world.

The news, our communities, our lives are filled with examples that convince. Freddie Gray‘s smashed larynx and nearly severed spine in Baltimore. Walter Scott shot in the back in Charleston. Tamir Rice murdered in Cleveland. Eric Garner and Eric Harris expressing with their dying words that they cannot breathe, to no avail.

I remember when I learned about the way crucifixion kills. I never gave it much thought coming up. I guess I just thought the nails piercing the skin forced one to lose too much blood on the cross. Coming up we always sang about the blood. Communion was about the blood. Movies and television shows always depicted Jesus shedding a lot of blood so I suppose I put two and two together.

While it is true that one loses a lot of blood when crucified that is not the primary cause of death. Crucifixion is an exceptionally cruel way to die because amongst the nails piercing your skin and the practice of breaking the bones (which Jesus was not subject to), asphyxiation is the primary cause of death. While on the cross, your body stretched out, breathing becomes a laborious task until it is an impossible task and breathing stops. It is a death void of mercy.

Leaves little wonder why Jesus in the midst of such agony would quote the psalmist in his plea, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” We too must wonder if we have been forsaken. When this bitter soup is continuously reheated and the actors tragicomically fill their roles. Everyone fulfilling their duty to the zeitgeist. Eat. Sleep. Outrage. Repeat. Unfriend people on Facebook. Attend a march or two. Refuse to watch mainstream news. Ultimately feel overwhelmed, perhaps defeated but begrudgingly press on. Does our blood cry from the ground?

I am encouraged by my inability to excuse myself from God’s presence. The psalmist has found nowhere to go where God is not. The psalmist reveals that even when we make our beds in hell, God is there. God is in our streets, with us in the jail cell, in the paddy wagon, with us as we mourn, with us as we suffer.

This presence comforts me but perhaps you remain unconvinced of its significance. Perhaps you cannot see the benefit of God’s presence in these circumstances.

Victory as presented through a biblical lens is peculiar. Scripture speaks about swords being beaten into plowshares, lions eating straw and a time when the wolf and the lamb will feed together. These examples are hopeful examples, a time when we will have to study war no more but ring hollow in our landscape because our society is disinterested in turning instruments of war into tools of agriculture. Our society cannot comprehend why one would eat straw when one is an apex predator, fully capable of sinking one’s teeth into whatever one chooses. Our society has conditioned us to believe the lamb has gone for the okey-doke and it is only a matter of time before the wolf’s plan is fully revealed and that foolish lamb gets got. Our society has created a lens where anyone who concedes power is foolish, might makes right and just hospitality is weakness.

There’s no room for the gospel in that worldview. When one hears the gospel under those conditions they must hear a toothless message. Where turning the other cheek is no longer an act of endurance but is a capitulating act of cowardice. You hear that a lot in the struggle, don’t you? Where the struggle is reduced to either being a disciple of King and non-violence or a Malcolm X type of brother who ain’t with all that. The gains gotten through non-violence seem inconsequential to the hell still being caught that an alternative seems seductive. We reduce Malcolm to a righteous Rambo who kicks in the door and takes everything back. But this lens sees only what it wants to see. It has no room for gleaning lessons from the lives actually lived by these men and is often unwilling to broaden that lens to include the men and women through whom we have reached this point. There is a danger when we can no longer learn. When we’ve figured it out or made our world so small that our context has the only hell being caught.

And let us make no mistake: people the world over are catching hell. There is something cold and sinister about making someone legitimize their suffering. Why is my personhood disquieting? Why must I assert my dignity? Who made it ok for me to be irrelevant? Or silenced? It should not be subversive to say black lives matter. To live my life confidently, knowing that “I am not forgotten” as the singer says, “God knows my name.”

It is exciting to see our text today on a cosmic battleground. Michael, the archangel defeats the dragon. As a result the dragon and the dragon’s angels are thrown out of heaven. When we look at verse 9, where the dragon is thrown, the verb used to show Satan’s defeat, eblethe, we see that this verb is passive. It is a device used in scripture referred to as a divine passive. An action that is initiated by God. Michael represents God’s combat capabilities but this triumph over the devil is achieved by God.

When I first read Paradise Lost I was in awe of the swift defeat Lucifer received when he attempted to revolt against God. The character appeared shocked and dismayed; simply didn’t know God had such capabilities. The same is true and much more so in this text where a cosmic battle of majestic magnitude is won through an act of humiliation.

Verse 11 tells us that the ones who were accused by the accuser have “conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they did not cling to life even in the face of death.” It is on this plane, in our terrain where this cosmic battle is won. An ultimate sign of shame, defeat, complete dehumanization is the device used to reveal real power. Christ performs the greatest act of empathy the world will ever know. Unwilling to be a sideline savior, Jesus offers himself and reveals himself as the Christ. It gives a greater understanding to the power of prayer, coming together as community and what is possible when the lordship of Jesus Christ is taken seriously. Here we see what happens when what is bound on earth is bound in heaven. Our tendencies are challenged. Our worldview is subverted. Every misconception of what power actually looks like is destroyed. Victory is found in the blood of the lamb.

I am mystified by verse 12. It is easy to create a perennial parallel here; rejoicing in heaven and running through the earth with my woes. The evil that we face on this plane is deadly; you don’t need me to tell you that. It is a cost we know too well. But it is not the end of the story. The devil is no match for God. Evil, no matter how ubiquitous, has not received a blank cheque. This hell we are catching is nothing more than the death throes of a system that is falling and cannot get up. Every lash it makes against us, another proof of its demise. It cannot last, it will not last, it does not have the victory.

Brothers and sisters we must live victoriously. Not guided by the boots on our necks nor seduced by tales of alternative means for power. New Testament scholar Eugene Boring notes “If Revelation teaches anything, it is that the power by which God brings the kingdom is the power of suffering love revealed in the cross.” Our Lord stands at the door and knocks; calling us to participate in God’s life. Live passionately for justice. Let your life testify to who God is, what real power looks like. Amen.


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