I’ve been keeping up with the shootings at Chardon High School in Ohio. A little untypical of me to follow a story so closely, but I have been really drawn to it. Today as the young, alleged, seventeen year old shooter had his first hearing, I learned that the family surrounding him was two aunts and a grandfather. No father, no mother. I said to myself and maybe to God, “... another fatherless kid.” My heart started to break, not just for TJ Lane (alleged shooter) but for all the fatherless kids who I know and are lost in some manner. To be honest my thoughts went straight to the Church. There are so many scriptures about justice for the widows and fatherless. I have a desire deep in my heart for the church to be victorious in the now. I know there is a day coming when we will reign victoriously with Christ, but I don’t believe that excuses us from being victorious right now. I believe that every time a Christian adopts a baby, saves a baby and mother from abortion, mentors, takes care of a widow, needy and poor that we are victorious in the now. Likewise, I believe for every TJ Lane we should evaluate what we are doing as a church and what we are missing. I know it seems impossible to fight for every fatherless child, but it’s still a desire breaking my heart.
There is a song called How He Loves written by John Mark McMillan a few years ago. I’ve heard several arguments over this song, some for some against. The latest one I heard, a couple of days before the Chardon shootings, involved someone saying they never wanted to sing the words, “...sloppy wet kiss again.” In the same conversation the song was referred to as a “bedroom” song. That analogy is from likening the Sunday morning church service to having company over at your house. You spend most your time in a living room or kitchen where it is comfortable, not hanging out in the intimacy of a bedroom. Please understand that I understand the analogy and the argument behind the analogy. As the phrase “bedroom song” rang in my ears, my heart disagreed. It’s a living room, around the kitchen table, outside in the backyard, in the mall, at the zoo and any where else that the opportunity rises for a father to lavish his love on his children type of song. My heart hurt a little, and I asked God to help me lead worship in such a way that His love, the Father’s love, is revealed. For every argument I’ve heard against that song, those lyrics to be exact, I’ve heard two on the other side of the spectrum where people learn of the love of God in a whole new way after hearing and singing and worship with the song.
As I was processing what I was learning today about TJ Lane I was overwhelmed with compassion for him. I cried out mercy over him. To be honest, I was willing to dismiss it as emotionalism, after all my son will be in high school next year. The thought of homeschooling even crossed my mind. Yep, right up to the point when I heard God, the Father, say, “he (TJ) was in need of a sloppy wet kiss.” I had not connected the two yet. As I was driving and crying everything slowed down as I did connect the two: Asking the Lord for a revelation of the Father’s love and Him responding by using these shootings.
In my circles there is disunity in the church over what songs should be sung on Sunday mornings, when does worship become too expressive, new churches starting and why, new church formats and why, and who prophesied what. And though those things hold importance, I regret the amount of time I’ve personally wasted arguing over Sunday morning services, it’s two hours of an entire week. I regret every opportunity I’ve missed to reveal the great, big, messy, unfailing, unchanging, doesn’t care what room of the house you are in love of God. I mean, what are we doing? I'd rather be the hands and feet of God's sloppy wet kiss to every and any fatherless, needy child (young or old) that crosses my path.
(In case you can’t tell, I’m having another Pop-Eye moment. See Bill Hybels’ book Holy Discontent.)
Perhaps, if we are going to sing songs that have the words “...here I raise my ebenezer...” then it’s not that big of deal to walk across the spectrum and sing the words “heaven meets earth like a sloppy wet kiss...” This post isn't really about the song or the lyrics or when and where it should be sung. It's about how far will we go to make sure people are hearing about the Father's love.
Father God, would you send someone who knows you and your love to TJ Lane and change his life with a big kiss from heaven. And would you open my eyes and heart to fatherless and needy all around me. I’m not satisfied with only singing about you.