So Many Goals, So Little Time

There’s a lot I want to do in life, almost all of which revolve around the entertainment industry. Some are ministry-oriented, and most has some crossover, but for a guy with often crippling social anxiety, I sure do want to be in the spotlight a lot.

The hardest part is staying focused. I can only do so much, so I choose to limit myself to one main pursuit at a time. Currently that involves creating a rap album. A *mostly* gospel rap album, to be precise. For as long as I can remember, I have wanted to be a rapper. It’s probably one of my oldest desires, and doing — at bare minimum — a guest spot on an album has been on my bucket list since a time predating me even having a bucket list. Of course this was before the days of iTunes and YouTube, so while self-publishing my last song gave me a great sense of accomplishment, I still want to pursue this one a little deeper. If I never get signed to a record deal or do a guest spot on another artist’s album, so be it. I’m still doing what I love and have always dreamed of doing.

I just really hope I can sell enough copies to not LOSE money.

That being said, if nobody ever buys my music, there are plenty of other accomplishments I want to achieve. Most involve writing. In fact, if all I ever did was write for other people and could make a living doing that without ever having to leave my house…home run. Of course I’d like to be the face of my music, but I’m not that talented, yet. So if a master composer can take my kindergarten-level worship song and lead the masses to the Throne Room of Heaven through his interpretation of it, I don’t feel the need to be the one on stage.

Every member doing his part.

Of course, I want to be a much better guitarist and a master drummer. And I greatly desire to learn piano. To round it off, let me be a decent bass player. Of course, singing in key at least the majority of the time would be beneficial. All take time and money to perfect.

To continue on with the writing career, I’d like to get at least one novel under my belt before I leave this old world. Some books on Christian living would be swell, too.

And of course, perhaps one of my greatest callings, I want to get back into comedy. I can even write for other comics and that would tickle my creative fancy, but hearing the laughs, knowing I’m bringing joy to somebody for at least a few moments of her otherwise depressing life…that lights me up like just about nothing else can. Doing funny songs kills at least two birds with one stone, so that’s definitely in my scope at all times.

So let me slip those into the middle of all the genres I want to do…rap, rock, punk, ska, blues, R&B, soul, funk, and even a little country.

But hey, I’m only one man.


 

Long Time No…Everything

It’s been a pretty good weekend. We had our public dedication of Hannah to the Lord at church, followed by yet another great sermon that hit the head on the mark.

Or however the colloquialism goes.

Then we went out to eat Mexican food with the whole family, only to find out somebody had already paid our bill when I asked for the tab. To top it all off, a long-defunct podcast…the very one that got me into podcasts, which I have blogged about and which I have long yearned for its return…made its way back to cyberspace, this morning.

I couldn’t be happier.

But even more important than all this is a mini-revival happening in my heart.

It’s not that I went off into full-on rebellion, but my heart had grown a bit cold as my devotional life had gotten tossed to the wayside with the birth of my newest child. Yes, Hannah is the joy of my life, and I thank God for her, but add a new baby to an already-full-of-too-young, super-needy children, and life as you know it pretty much ends for a bit. She’s been sleeping through the night for a while, now, but she’s still sleeping in my room so I don’t want to set an alarm to pray, only to wake her up and have to spend my I-hate-everyone-and-everything hours nurturing a fussy baby.

Truth be known, there’s not many days an alarm would be needed, since I get to bed so late and the kids tend to wake me up before my minimum-amount-of-sleep-for-survival quotient is met. But still, there are times it would behoove me to drag my butt out of bed and chat with my Maker.

Amazingly, a couple of times this past week I woke up with an unusual energy that allowed me to not only spend time with the Lord, but be more productive overall than if I had even woken up two hours earlier. Unfortunately it left me with less than my minimum amount of sleep needed, and my brain function was seriously lacking at work the last two days of my week.

Tradeoffs.

But add that to two incredible sermons in the last 8 days, and life is great. (Did I mention that yesterday somebody I prayed for got healed…the second in about the last month or so? I wasn’t the only one praying, and of course it has little to do with me, but YAY, GOD!) The Great Physician is working on my heart, and well…it’s needed. I want to honor Him in all things, and finding the healthy life-balance He has designed for me can be tricky. I have yet to get in the studio to work on recording any projects for my upcoming album, but I’ve been writing. I have scheduled a couple days off while my kids go to VBS next month to hopefully get several songs off of the drawing board and into something a little more concrete. And who knows but that the Gospel Friends revival might inspire me to be more persistent with my blog? I can’t just live this thing internally. If it never goes beyond me trying NOT to do bad, then the enemy has succeeded in stopping me from bringing God’s Kingdom to earth.

And isn’t that the point of life?


 

This is Only a Test

My mind has been so preoccupied with other things that I’ve just been forgetting Mondays are blog days. Not sure what jogged my memory, but after today’s social media frenzy all relating to one topic, perhaps I should have saved it for this post.

But I didn’t. So I won’t.

The fact is unless I’m doing something musical, I’m discontent. Trying to find contentment while being dissatisfied with my current level is a goal of mine, but I have to say it’s eating me up inside.

“For there is a proper time and procedure for every matter, though a person may be weighed down by misery.” (Ecclesiastes 8:6)

God isn’t obligated to make me or any of us feel fulfilled in life. He is making us holy, and that involves learning patience and humility and endurance.

And it sucks.

Wouldn’t it be great if God told us what we were supposed to do with our life and we just automatically found ourselves in the middle of it, with no struggle or setbacks or criticism from others?

Not really.

“An inheritance claimed too soon will not be blessed at the end.” (Proverbs 20:21)

Imagine Moses leading God’s people in his own strength like he tried to do when he offed the Egyptian. Imagine the Israelites inheriting the Promised Land while they were full of doubt and grumbling and pride.

There is a process of maturity, and some of us take longer to get there than others. I’m a slow learner, so I’m hoping God will allow me to be like Moses, full of strength in my 80s as if I was a young man, because it seems as if that’s how old I’ll be before I make any progress in becoming a full-time entertainer and/or minister.

So ol’ Rob, who is completely and utterly NOT cut out for work in the corporate world, might just have to spend the rest of his days in that environment, being a light to those caught up in the rat race.

But I guess it’s about conforming to His will, right?


 

New Goals

Last year, I had talked about putting out an EP this year. It was a reasonable goal, and something I should no doubt be able to attain. However, this past week I decided to get up off of my lazy butt and set the bar higher for myself. The fact is I already released my first single, and it felt good. The popularity of it isn’t what I’d hoped, although I discovered that my plan backfired, as a complete nobody releasing a song inspired by a super popular show on the date of its season premiere was sure to be lost in a sea of posts by and about the original.

You win some and you lose some.

No doubt the people who watched the video seem to love it, but it just hasn’t had the reach I had hoped for. And while that can be quite depressing some days, I refuse to give up. In spite of the odds of a nerdy middle aged white guy gaining any traction in a market flooded with crappy rappers, my new goal is to release a full 15-track album by year’s end.

Whoa.

That gives me approximately 3 weeks a song.

And that is INSANE.

So while I’ve had a little difficulty staying off of social media since returning from FMLA, I simply must avoid it almost altogether if I intend to reach my goal and put out a project with any level of professionalism.

Either that or give up TV altogether.

*gulp*

After all, I can certainly throw together a dozen or so roughly done tracks with crappy lyrics that aren’t delivered with the best flow, but greatness takes time.

And married fathers of five young children are severely lacking in that commodity.

Thankfully I already have a good amount of projects in the works that I just never completed. A few need remixed and perhaps a little more recording, and a few more are written and just awaiting some studio time. A vocal shield should arrive on Wednesday, so hopefully that will help my songs sound even better. (Not to mention new toys always inspire me to put in some work!)

So do me a favor. Whenever you think of me, pray that I do well with this project. Pray that I put out an album that is not only sonically pleasing, but that will draw people to the heart of the Father.

In case I haven’t mentioned it, this is by and large a gospel rap album…though I won’t promise that all songs will talk about Jesus. God digs us enjoying the works of His hands as well as us singing about Him directly.

In addition, be a pal and save up ten bucks or so. I could really use some sales. If you don’t like rap, buy it anyway and give it to someone else who does. I’ve just about drowned in Christian rap on YouTube and not to sound condescending, but most of it is absolute crap. People with little to no talent are getting tens (and even hundreds!) of thousands of views, making it difficult to find good music that honors God online. I might be a little biased, but my skill level is up there, and it will only get better as I have time and money to sink into my craft. They might have better production quality, but I’ve got raw talent. Most of the birthday songs I’ve done were done hastily and sloppily, but they’re still better than 90% of what I’ve heard, so imagine if I could actually learn my songs before recording? If I took the time to fine tune every nuance of every track?

It would be FIRE!!!

But that takes time, and time costs money. So if you haven’t already, look up Rob Haughton on iTunes or Amazon or wherever you buy music, and buy my Walking Dead single. And then set aside a quarter every week until Christmas to get the full album.

In the meantime, don’t expect too many videos. I’ll probably release those slowly after the album come out, with maybe a couple throughout the year if I find myself ahead of schedule.

That’s laughable.

I love you guys. My fan base might not be large, but those of you who like and share my stuff are absolutely the best. I can’t wait to give you a full project that will hopefully make you all proud to call me a friend.


 

How to Help

Okay, so I realize I’m one of those pesky friends who consistently bombards your news feed with shameless self-promotion.

Except it’s not as consistent or as shameless as I’d like.

In order to “make it” as an artist, one has to forego the thought that nobody wants to hear about it, but my perpetually guilty conscience and overly analytical mind that perceives every possible negative reaction gives me plenty of pause every time I want to share my work with friends and family.

Trust me. It’s a struggle.

So finding the balance between trying to make it in the entertainment industry and attempting to keep what few friends I have isn’t always easy. My mind is in constant turmoil with the knowledge that I know what I’m supposed to do with my life, feeling the ecstatic joy that comes with each new project, and the soul-crushing despair that ensues when it doesn’t get the traction I think it deserves. Heck, even with my last video garnering dozens of shares from friends with over 1,400 views on Facebook alone, almost all of those shares went by without a single like or comment from people I don’t know.

Shoot me now.

With that in mind, I know that some of you want to see me succeed. You have shown it in your support over the years. And trust me, from someone who needs constant affirmation to not feel like a failure, your kind words are a fountain of life to a soul that feels that death would be a better option than failure. So let me give you some practical tips on how to help me in my endeavors.

First and foremost, subscribe to and follow me on social media, and don’t forget to like my posts.

You can find me at officialrobhaughton on both Facebook and YouTube, though my url on YouTube won’t reflect that name until I get at least 100 followers. (Hence one more reason I need you to follow me!) On Twitter, you can find me at countitalldung. The more followers and likes I have, the more the powers-that-be will take notice and push harder for me to succeed. After all, if I gain popularity, that means more people on their sites viewing their ads and throwing cash at them, which is all they are concerned with, anyway.

Speaking of cash, the second step is to buy my songs.

Can we all just let out a collective, “Duh,” here? If nobody buys my songs, I can’t devote more time and resources to my craft. It takes money to make money, so if I want to get better (including training and upgraded software and instruments, etc.), then I have to justify (particularly to my wife) the additional cost I need to put into my art. If I make money with what I can afford to produce right now, then I can invest that money it creating higher quality productions which will hopefully garner even more cash that I can eventually just call a profit. And once I get enough of that to earn a living, then I have succeeded in my goals. (I don’t need to be Eminem or The Rolling Stones…a firm middle class living would be great.)

Thirdly and finally, share my work with friends and family.

I can’t stress enough the power of word of mouth. If you tell your loved ones how much you like what I do, then they are more apt to listen to it. After all, who the heck has heard of Rob Haughton? But even if what I do isn’t your cup of tea, it would be an even greater act of kindness to share my songs with your friends who might find it enjoyable. “I’m not a big rap fan, but my friend is pretty good and needs more publicity. You should give a listen and share!” Those words would win my heart, and hopefully a few fans along the way.

Perhaps I should also mention that while shares are great, what you say about it is probably more important than the share itself. I see friends share videos all the time, but it’s what they say about the video that is the deciding factor in whether or not I actually watch it. And the more friends I see sharing and singing its praises the better. After a video run across my feed so many times, I can’t help but scratch that curious itch.

And hopefully that’s all I need to get to where I’m going. After all, I’m already 40. I’d rather do what I love while I can still give it a little gusto. But then again, perhaps geriatric rap is where it’s at.


 

The Walking Dead

So here it is. Seven and a half weeks off of work, and my paternity leave ends when I head back to the office in the morning. The nausea-inducing lump sitting in my throat since yesterday tells me that I’m not quite ready to go back. It has been a great time, though I’m not sure how it passed so quickly. I got close to nothing accomplished, and it feels like only a couple weeks have passed. Perhaps sleep deprivation will do that to a person.

I like sleep.

I like sleep a lot.

I never get enough, of course, but even on a night when I get an accumulated 8 hours, having it broken up by a hungry baby is harder on me than a night I just get a straight 5 hours.

I’d kill for 5 straight hours of sleep.

Speaking of killing, I did accomplish something pretty monumental in my eyes while I was off. I released my first gospel rap video, with my first song being available for purchase on iTunes, Amazon, and a host of other places.

Okay, so that probably seemed like a train wreck of a segue, but trust me, it will make sense when you see the name of the song.

You ready?

You sure?

Okay. Now that I’ve hopefully put enough space in here to leave you in suspense, check out my newest video!

 

Yes, my friends, I wrote a gospel rap song that was inspired by The Walking Dead. Not only do I get shot (twice) in this video, I also pour a glass of wine.

*gasp*

So if things like that offend you, first get a better understanding of Scripture, and then come back and listen.

What? Did you actually think I would tell you not to listen???

I am a starving artist, after all. Not to mention I want as many people as possible to listen so that somehow, through all of my silliness (the opening of the video sounds a bit Scooby Doo-ish, which my kids love), some might be drawn to Christ. Through all of the countless hours I spent creating this project, through the time away from family, the money spent (okay, so it wasn’t much of a sacrifice on that end…extremely low budget production, though none of it makes my wife particularly happy), through being accosted by a landowner and nearly eaten by dogs, not to mention the scrapes, bruises, and cuts I endured, not even knowing if I was rolling around in poison ivy, it will all be worth it to me if one person comes to know Jesus through it or even gets that tug that gently draws them back to the Savior they’ve grown cold to.

But aside from the spiritual aspect of it all, it is entertainment. I love being in the spotlight.

I. Love. Being in the spotlight.

Call it pride if you will. Unfortunately, those whose calling/chosen paths put them in front of people are the only ones who get accused of false motives when they do their work with excellence. Nobody tells a mechanic that he needs to be more humble when he gets everything running smoothly. We thank him and move on, indebted to a man who took the time to train, learn, and commit himself to something we weren’t willing to do for ourselves.

Unfortunately, my perpetual guilty conscience is consistently accusing me, so I sit back in the shadows and let my work go unnoticed. This obviously leads nowhere, so as of late I have been a little more intentional in getting my music out in front of people. I know it can be annoying for those who follow me on social media, but to reach those who don’t see everything I post, I have to constantly think of ways to get it out there. I post at different times to reach those who are only on social media on certain days or at certain hours.

And yes, I think I did a good job with the project.

Sure, I could have done much better. I could have spent months and months and months perfecting everything. I could have put more money into it. I could have paid a professional to mix and master the audio. But considering this was almost a one man show (my eight-year-old filmed the opening/closing scene, my five-year-old was in one scene and off-screen for another, and a few people laid on the ground for my “pile of dead bodies”), I’m pretty proud of what I pulled off.

But not the sinful kind of pride.

I want to be recognized for doing good work. I don’t want to put out half-hearted crap. I want to give it my all, but to do that I have to have time and money. So for those who have shared my video and purchased my song, I am grateful. You are the true heroes. The more money I get for making music, the more I can sink back into it to make more and better music.

So I’m sorry I missed a few weeks of blogs while I was off. Though it seemed like I did nothing during my leave, it always felt as though I was busy (plus I tend to forget things when I’m not on a set schedule). And hey, I produced something I can be proud of. And if you would like to support me in my endeavors, the song is only 99 cents. Go wherever you buy digital music and search “Rob Haughton”. I’ll pop right up and you can not only have a cool song in your iPod or Mp3 player, but you can feel good about helping an upcoming artist fulfill his dreams rather than trudging through his nausea-inducing office work.


 

Boredom, Laziness, and the Call of Social Media

Nothing quite like the stupidity of liberals en masse to draw me back into Facebook.

Except maybe the stupidity of Christians who think Donald Trump to be some sort of Christ figure.

*sigh*

I have been on a break from social media for several months now, and it has been great. I’ve gotten things done I never could before, but after moving and having a baby, it seemed there was so much to do that the overwhelming nature of it all broke over me like tsunamis of activity paralysis. So I sat on the couch and watched TV while I fed Hannah. Or I rushed back and forth to the bathroom with my two-year-old who is currently being potty trained, all the while accomplishing nothing. It was boring, so I started to do a little Facebook stalking. No commenting. Just watching and laughing, using every ounce of willpower I had left to resist becoming engaged in something I swore off of for hopefully longer than the time I’ve given myself away from it.

I admit that I have commented on two posts. Neither of them has been political, thankfully.

I didn’t want to force everyone away with the first emergence outside of my cave in half a year.

But then the inauguration happened and hoooo-nelly!

People who scream for tolerance from the church now spewing their hatred of our new president like the bloody hallway scene from The Shining. Those who hated Obama and said he wasn’t their president now ridiculing those who say Trump isn’t theirs. And to top it off, Christians seem to be claiming that Trump is a revival of godliness in the land! I saw one dear sister whom I love and admire in the faith claim that our new president was a man who fears God and has a humble heart!

A HUMBLE! HEART!!!

Look, I’m not sure if something has happened to ol’ Donald since his TV days, but last time I checked, he was the epitome of pride and godlessness. Sure he made some promises to get elected, and pretty much everything he said went against everything he’s espoused in the past, but our nation lapped that Kool-Aid up like rabid Jonestown worshipers, so here we are to face the consequences. Is he better than the Democratic nominee? By a long shot. Does he have the capability to turn this nation’s financial and common sense direction around? Absolutely. But will he lead this country in a godly direction straight to the heart of the Father?

NO. WAY.

So for now I am trying to stay clear of Facebook. I’m not doing that great of a job at it, but I’m not completely immersed like I was before. Unfortunately I avoided my podcasts, though not by choice, and missed a great opportunity. Apparently I was 10 episodes behind on the Poddy Break Podcast, and the first episode I missed happened to be one where Tim Hawkins and Bob Smiley talked about me and actually asked me to make a rap for the show.

HOLY. FREAKING. COW.

That episode was over two months old.

And I just. Listened to it.

I might have missed the opportunity of a lifetime, but perhaps I will still hit the studio and see what I can do for the guys. If nothing else, maybe it will keep me busy enough to avoid railing people on Facebook for another week or two.


 

That Post-High Slump

No, I’m not talking about crashing after a coke binge. Perhaps only creative people will understand, or maybe I’m alone in this phenomenon, but after every video or song I make, I have the tendency to slip into a bit of a depression.

I pour my heart and soul into my projects. The endorphins and adrenaline and stress coursing through my being is amazing and overwhelming, and they push me through to completion of the project, no matter the time of night. The problem is that after it’s all said and done, it is not only an absolute joy, but a complete release of everything that kept me going. Much like a man, post-coitus, all I want to do is crash after smiling on my accomplishments for a bit.

“Whoa. Too far, Rob.”

Get over yourself. That was a darn good analogy.

To add onto my normal stress, this last video was made during a time right after selling my rent house, buying a new house, and having a baby. To say the stress level has been amped up to 11 would be an understatement. So to step away from my responsibilities for a bit to create something was just pressure icing on the overwhelming cake.

And then there’s my less-than-desirable need to be appreciated. If I don’t have constant affirmation of my accomplishments, I feel as if I’ve failed. So after obtaining maybe 20 views and very few likes or comments after having been up for an entire day, all I could bring myself to do was lie down at the top of my stairs and despair of life itself.

Perhaps I’m a bit too honest, but you’ll never have to guess what I’m thinking.

I absolutely hate this about myself. It’s crippling, but I have to press on. I have to work on that next project. (Not to mention get this house in order and take care of five kids and a wife who just had surgery.) Eventually…hopefully…something will click and I can start making a few bucks with my music and entertainment. I know it sounds like a pipe dream, but I’m confident this is what I am supposed to do.

Well, I say I’m confident. I tend to put off a very self-inflated vibe, but I am one of the most self-doubting people I know. My worst critic, I fail to put myself “out there” for fear of failure. It’s not even that I’m not looking to become a millionaire. Just enough to support my family would be great.

But even that seems a million miles away.

Anyway, I’m not writing this so that you’ll compliment me. I hate false flattery. I’m also not saying you can’t critique my work. I need that. As long as it is constructive and not just, “You suck,” I desire pointers and tips of how to better myself and my craft. I have to stay true to myself, but I also realize I need a fan base who appreciates my art.

So if you enjoy my stuff, by all means let me know about it. Like it and share it on social media if you find it worthy of such accolades. If not, no biggie. I know I’m not for everyone. And if you also suffer from this deep low after a mountaintop experience, don’t fret. Keep going. We’ll make it, eventually. Heck, I ended up getting a couple of “likes” from people who don’t normally like anything I post. And that was enough to help lift me back out of the pit I was in.

I’m not going to say I am 100% better, but having people I deem as “cool” enjoy my music is the greatest feeling I can imagine.

Not to mention that every time I watch this video I realize just how awesome I truly am. 🙂


 

Well, Hey There

God never ceases to amaze me. I am 40 years old, was raised in church from birth, have been in the faith for over 30 years, and yet He still continues to turn my world upside down. The more I grow in Him, the more I learn how crappy my theology has been. Every time I think I’ve “got it,” He shows me something else I was taught wrong or just believed wrong for decades.

Oh, the patience He must have.

So much evil inside me. So much blood of the Pharisees coursing through my veins. Placing the majority of the burden of my personal holiness on others in my desire to avoid lust. Somewhere along the line, I found nudity (or anything even remotely close) sinful, but the fact is that it’s not what I see that is the sin, but how I see it.

Anyhoo, I still have much more studying to do on the subject, so I won’t get into any more detail, but suffice it to say that I probably owe half of the world’s population an apology for condemning your desire to be comfortable.

Enough about that.

God has also been challenging me on my discontentment in life. I have so many dreams unfulfilled. I feel like I’m not a man because I’m not doing what I’m called to do. It leads to depression and discouragement, which typically leads to me doing nothing to pursue those dreams, which just continues the cycle in a spiral of death.

But what if I am doing what God has called me to do, right now??? My identity is not wrapped up in what I do, but in who I am in Christ. I am complete in Him, and am viewed as perfect by the Father. I can fulfill His purpose in my current position, despite how far from purpose I feel. If I never see another penny from entertaining people, if I never preach from behind a pulpit again, I can still be confident that He Who began a good work in me will see it through to completion on the day of Christ Jesus (Philippians 1:6).

So yeah, I probably just need to suck it up and keep working toward my goals without feeling like a failure for not achieving them yet.

Have I mentioned I have a new baby?

“That was a really sharp turn, Rob. How about a warning, next time?”

Here. Just chill out and look at this picture of a beautiful little girl and her daddy who, in my humble opinion, looks pretty darn good in this pic. (Just let me have my moment, okay…deceived or not, a guy has to feel handsome every now and again.)

img_1534

In addition to a new baby, we sold the house that we have been renting out for the past two years, and we bought a new house which has turned out to be a bit of a money pit. Apparently two toddlers and a monkey built and maintained the home for the past 34 years.

So yeah, I’ve been busy.

Hopefully my life will start regaining some sense of normalcy so that I can get back to blogging every week. And playing guitar. And making rap songs.

And having a deeper prayer life.

Sheesh. No wonder life has been so hectic and depressing. I’ve traded all the things I need to be doing for the things I have to be doing.

Or at least what my wife says I have to be doing. But Paul warned me about that.


 

Movin’ and Groovin’

Today marks one week since we closed on our new house. I’m not looking forward to that first mortgage payment (or any of those to follow), but having my freedom back is nice. We still have a lot to do to get the house organized and to our liking, so I’m thankful that baby Hannah’s impending arrival will afford me 6-8 weeks of time off. I won’t be sleeping much, so going through all of the boxes and creating music are pretty high up on my priority list. At least during the few moments I have between diapers and feedings and taking my 2-year-old to the potty.

Did I mention I will be potty training my toddler while I’m off, too?

And then there’s the vasectomy.

The insanity of how strongly sex influences a man is evidenced by the fact that any of us are willing to have a doctor not only handle our giblets, but cut, snip, and burn away at the family jewels until we are able to enjoy sex as God intended, but without the pesky side-effect of having more children.

Latex be damned.

There is nothing in the world more frightening than the thought of harm coming to my testicles, and yet having four young children and a fifth on the way has certainly given me pause enough to want to do something a little less given-to-whim than a condom.

God save the Queen.

Anyhoo, along that same vein, this past week marked one year since I purposefully watched any hardcore pornography. I wish I could say I was completely pure and never gazed too long at a picture that made its way past my filters or at a spammy Facebook post. I wish I could say I didn’t have that one night not long ago where I went down a rabbit hole on YouTube to find stuff that should never be on that site. I also wish I could say that giving in that one time hasn’t made it more difficult to resist and that I haven’t been less firm in my resolve to not allow any sort of impropriety before my eyes. But it has and I have, so when the battle rages I have to get my wits about me, much like the prodigal son who came to his senses, and pray that God changes my heart and fixes my gaze upon Him. I had hoped that after all this time it would just be easy, but I guess perhaps it never will be. It gets easier, but never easy.

That being said, life is a series of choices. Some more difficult than others. Perhaps even more difficult than resisting the temptation to violate God’s law is to readjust your entire perspective on God because of your upbringing and the Christian society of your day.

I imagine Martin Luther had some serious internal struggles when he realized that all he had been taught was a lie. And of course a quick study of his life and teachings will show that he still clung to many of the fallacies of his religious background even after coming to a knowledge of the truth. But he discovered the undeniable fact that justification was by grace through faith alone, and he suffered reproach because of it.

When it comes to my life and most of our society, we have often slipped back into a works mentality, even if we don’t call it that. Sure, we believe we are saved by grace through faith, but it’s not much more than fire insurance. We get to follow God’s laws, living by the Bible until we arrive at what we assume to be the goal of our salvation: Heaven.

But Heaven is only a final destination. We were made not just for eternity in a place we can currently only dream of, but for sonship. The Garden of Eden is the best indicator of what we were made for: Heaven on Earth. The naked purity of fellowship with our Father was God’s intent all along. No sin. No shame. No guilt. Just a Dad and His kids enjoying one another.

But here we are in 2016 America with the idea that we have to just follow a Book and drudge through life until we finally pass from this life into the next. And if God wants to do something that we can’t see clearly in the Bible, we reject it as if all of Who God is and what He does could be contained in a 66-volume collection of letters and books.

Such.

Idolatry.

Now don’t get me wrong. The Bible is great. It gives us glimpses into the history of God’s dealings with mankind, and gives us great principles to live by.

But it was never intended to be the catch-all for everything we need to walk with God.

The Son of God told us that it was better for the Holy Spirit to be in us than for us to walk right next to Jesus Himself. And yet we deny the Holy Spirit’s ability to lead, and instead lean on the comfort of the Law. It’s safe. We can trust it. We can never be deceived if we just live by the Book.

Never mind the fact that we have thousands of denominations, each with different interpretations of the same verses.

But that’s what happens when we rely on man’s wisdom instead of the Spirit’s leading.

Trust me, I believe in studying. But even as I go through my commentary on Romans I see hairs being split so fine that Paul himself would do a facepalm.

I’ve been going through this for years, and yesterday at church God really planted this Kingdom/sonship seed deep in my heart. I suppose that’s why the temptation was so strong last night. Satan certainly doesn’t want us to come to a knowledge of the truth. If I can live by law and condemn myself every time I fall, being too ashamed to have joyful fellowship with my Father, then he has won. Sure I’ll make Heaven, but that’s not the point. My own kids can be downright jerks sometimes, but I never push them away. They don’t have to be ashamed to come to me or feel like I don’t love them. I will always love them no matter what…and I’m a crappy dad. Just imagine the love our Father has for us! If we could get a hold of that truth, the revelation would turn into a revolution. It would shake the nation, and revival would become a reality. No more religious folks wagging their fingers at sinners. Just saints joyfully enjoying their Father and leading others into the freedom we have found.

But I guess we could all just continue complaining about how other people aren’t unpacking the same boxes or paying the same mortgage we are.