When the speaking ceases, I know I’ll stand alone at the foot of a mountain, as a footstool
Feet sinking into the quiet beneath the mouth of a fool
Thinking, ‘Be still and know that I am God’
Beneath storehouses of snow and storehouses of hail
With my head hung low, ‘I’ve failed; I’ve failed’
My life was never mine at all
At the fall, when Eve stood subservient before the serpent
Flicking his tongue, with his tail choking out the root
‘I’ll make a god out of you; you’ll be the fruit of my labor
Together you and I will never die, like the Creator’
But, God, I make such a terrible maker
And the devil’s eyes dance from side to side
While Adam stands idly by, pointing his finger
I swear passivity will prove to be the root of all evil
While the mouth, like an open grave, shifts the blame
But I can speak out venom tethered behind my teeth
As sharp as the next man’s, or any beast on a leash
Yeah, it’s poisonous, it’s cunning, it’s a venomous seed
It’s the fear that I breed
It gives root to a need to drag an audience down with me
King David had knees as hard as camels’
But I’m working on burning the enamel off my teeth
Fuming, ‘My tongue is a rudder and a forest fire
And the whole ship is ablaze, sinking into the sea’
We will not stand for Your hand of peace that You sweep over the waves
We do not want to be saved
I killed a man in my dreams
Woke up weeping to realize how much the hate in our hearts was getting to me
Well, out of its overflow, the mouth speaks, so we are attached
And I am guilty of rash promises, a fool’s voice, and a hasty muscle that beats uncontrollably
And yet, like the pulse of the tumult colliding against brave Peter’s sense of safety
I act in control of my breathing until I am out of breath and then cry out, ‘Heaven, save me’
Hands cuffed over our ears
Mouths open and rash promises we fail to follow through
As we offer them up like they hold conviction
And when they come up lacking, we can always blame You
It’s so convenient that I can make my passivity Your responsibility
Praise and curse You when I want to
So may blessing pour from my mouth, Lord, when I think that You are worth it
But I will withhold it all from You on the days that You don’t deserve it
James, sometimes I’m afraid I may have been grafted into a vine
Just to spark a flame that burns branches, bridges, and overwhelms the grapes
Left raisins that betray the image of said glorious Name
Before the rooster crows at the end of the age
God, I need grace bigger than my mouth
I need mercy that resounds ten thousand times as loud
I need redemption that rings clearer than my distortion
I need You
I made it a goal to write down a page a day
But then my chest started aching
And my legs started shaking uncontrollably
Anxiety that swallowed whatever words I thought I had to say
Until I drowned myself whole behind those thick, paned-glass windows
Tangled syllables, lost letters, and words that mean nothing
But I’m trying to learn how to create a landscape from torn paper, a dry brush and vapor
As if I’m the Creator who makes something out of blank space
Catering my forward motion to an audience
Like I’m the only creature in the ocean that got God’s backhand with bitter providence
And wondering what it means to sing, ‘God left me’
And breathe simultaneously
As if I could utter another complaint
Hammer in another stake
Or raise up and insurrection against the King who bore my fate
Without the common grace He gave me
We’re all hypocrites, baby
We’ve all got serpents in our throats
That strike at one another’s heels
And hiss as if to boast
The pressure between the tongue
And the roof of my mouth
Would be enough to withhold the heel
That’s already crushed the entire skull
I need grace bigger than my mouth
I need mercy that resounds ten thousand times as loud
I need redemption that creates a new song from my distortion
I need You
Since this disagreement between Mark Eshleman and myself is becoming more and more of a public sort of contention; since several people on Tumblr and Twitter are saying I “don’t know a lot about copyright”; and since several people are taking sides in this disagreement without first understanding the context of the situation, I am writing this post to provide that very context.
For those who act as if I am some hermit hiding in a cave, ashamed of the course of action I took, not willing to talk with Mark about our disagreement, I would like to point out that such a view is quite false. Over a month ago, Mark contacted me via Twitter regarding the House of Gold video I had uploaded to YouTube, and I was more than willing to communicate with him about why I did what I did and even about having the video taken down.
Of course, communicating with a limit of one hundred forty characters per message was a bit difficult and inefficient, so Mark provided me with the email address at which he could be reached, and the next morning I sent him an email complete with my reason for uploading the video and an explanation of why it is legal for me to have uploaded it—the Warner Music Group has already attempted multiple times to have YouTube permanently remove the video due to copyright infringement but has failed each time due to this very fact.
After giving Mark a quite thorough presentation of my thinking and my rights, he never once responded. For over a month, he ignored me—until yesterday afternoon when he began to publicly post passive aggressive comments about me on his Tumblr account and grow a mini Belieber-esque army against me. I say “Belieber-esque army” because the group of individuals I am referring to are being more like hateful teenagers who idolize Justin Bieber and lash out at anyone who does not also like his music or his hair than they are like the Clique. The Clique is something much, much different. It is a group of broken people who understand that everyone fails and everyone has problems, and it is a group who is loving. The Clique is a family and not a herd of outraged followers. The Clique listens to and talks civilly with each other.
Now, since I am within my legal right to have uploaded the video to YouTube, the current disagreement revolves around the personal opinions of right and wrong and perceived beliefs of individuals. The disagreement is not one of copyright and legality but of different viewpoints. For instance, Mark wrote the following, refering to me and this situation, on his Tumblr yesterday:
I feel like if a painter didn’t want a painting up on display a fan wouldn’t grab a photocopy of the painting and post it all over the world.
This statement displays his personal thoughts and beliefs in relation to this disagreement. I, however, “feel like” if a painter creates a painting for someone, the person for whom it is created has the say in whether or not it is publicly displayed. In other words, since the House of Gold music video was created for Tyler Joseph and Joshua Dun, they should be the ones to decide whether or not the video should remain uploaded by me. If they decide they wish for me to remove the video, they can tell me as much, and I will willingly and gladly remove it for them. Mark and I have different views on right and wrong just as do Atheists and Christians or Republicans and Democrats; however, that does not make neither Mark nor myself a monster. I still respect Mark Eshleman and love his work and find him to be quite a fun and great guy.
I am imperfect, a sinner, a rebel. I am a filthy, repulsive whore. I am a Christian.
Those who know me may have noticed my continuous Facebook posts sharing various articles from a group of three guys who call their blog and cause Bad Christian (or Un-Learning, as it was called when I first began following it). These guys, present and former members of the band Emery, have been instrumental in my spiritual growth since the end of my senior year in 2013. Through them, God has slowly been encouraging me to study His Word for myself and not solely rely on what my peers and the elders in my church do or don’t say and do. Some have seen the confidence growing inside me—my classmates, for instance, when I, the slightly shy boy, spoke to fellow Christians in my speech class on why cuss words are not sinful; others from many locations who later read my expanded blog post on the same subject; a small group of college kids who attended a summer-long Bible study with me in which I typed out and presented my testimony and the story of my life for the first time; my current continuous small group in which I have done the same—and now, after much prodding by the Holy Spirit who lives inside me and the reading of a couple particular blog posts from Bad Christian, I believe I am ready to take my next step in spiritual growth—more like a leap of faith. In all honesty, I am terrified. That fear inside me, however, is pride. That fear is sin. I am a sinner. Contrary to popular belief, I suck.
On August 28th, 1995, I was born in Kokomo, Indiana—a tiny farm town known only for its corn and its ironically unknown acoustic pop-punk trio Calibretto 13, who, by some work of divine intervention, managed to acquire a contract with the very same record label as well-known bands such as Anberlin, Hawk Nelson, Emery, and Family Force 5. While still a baby, I moved with my mother, father, and older brother to Kirklin, Indiana—yet another small Midwestern town that is almost entirely unheard of.
I skipped pre-school and entered directly into kindergarten several years later at a private school that seemed almost like a one-room schoolhouse. I was raised in a Baptist church and prayed to Jesus Christ for His free gift of eternal salvation while still in kindergarten. My home was very Christ-centered and loving; I was blessed to have a mother who would pick black raspberries with me, a father who would sneak me candy during the church sermons, and a brother who would teach me to love hot sauce, Star Wars, and Relient K.
Come Thou Fount of every blessing
Tune my heart to sing Thy grace
Streams of mercy, never ceasing,
Call for songs of loudest praise
At the age of five, at the beginning of my first grade year, I accidentally discovered a gift given by God to men, which I had no idea was to be reserved for when I had become grown and married; it never seems to anyone that a child so young and ignorant should need to be instructed on such a topic. This gift, this addicting feeling misused unknowingly by me in the form of masturbation, began to be all I would ever find myself doing whenever struck with boredom, and I was only more encouraged to continue doing so once my brother, seven years my elder, discovered me in the act and entrusted unto my knowledge that he also would consistently do the very same.
During Christmas break of my first grade year, my family and I moved across the street from my new school and church, Faith Christian and Faith Baptist, in Lafayette, Indiana. Over the next several years, I continued to selfishly but ignorantly give myself pleasure and, in fact, had become so proficient at doing so that I could successfully pull off the act during elementary school recess without a single person noticing. It was my freshman year of high school when—though I had known already for a year or two that masturbation was sinful—God began to show me how disgusting my actions were and how wretched I truly was. He showed me His holiness paired with His love, and He helped me to break away from my eight-year-long addiction. My faith in Him became a relationship, and I was constantly in prayer—in conversation with my Savior and Friend. We would talk in the morning as I dressed and ate breakfast, in the halls during passing periods, and on my daily walk home after school. My best friend’s older brother Josh, who also happened to be my next door neighbor, taught me to play the bass guitar and even began inserting me into the church worship team. Though I had never been at all athletic in any way and still am not, I was a part of my high school wrestling team and developed some strong pain-induced friendships. I was a member of the Yearbook class and would regularly photograph our sports events, which, though technically would be considered homework, was a relaxing and fun experience I would look forward to every day with anticipation. When I let go of my trash to claim God’s treasure, life became beautiful—every day a new adventure.
Teach me some melodious sonnet
Sung by flaming tongues above
Praise the mount; I’m fixed upon it
Mount of Thy redeeming love
That same school year, on my way home from taking pictures at Homecoming, my mother and father explained to me that, for matters related to my father’s employment, we were going to move to Georgia as soon as the school year came to an end. In my mind, the end of the school year signified the end of my story—the end of the life I had lived in Indiana for fourteen years—and I bawled all the way home and into the night. The remainder of my freshman year was dedicated to feeling sorry for myself and saying “so long” to all my friends, family, and acquaintances. Since my father had moved down to Georgia several months before the rest of my family in order to prepare for our arrival, a church had already been picked by the time I stepped foot into Dixieland. We attended this church for a year before leaving and switching to a nearby Presbyterian church called The Vine. It was in my first ten minutes with The Vine’s youth group that I finally met my first true friend in Georgia—it had taken a whole year to find someone my age who actually cared about me, and his name was Peter Roberts.
Very shortly after switching churches, my father attempted to rape my cousin, who had lived with us for five years and had become an older sister to me; consequently, my mother had him removed from our home and began the process of filing a legal divorce from him. About half a year later, I started becoming close friends with a girl from Faith Christian, my old school in Indiana, by means of Facebook, texting, and actual voice-to-voice phone conversations. With every passing month we became closer and closer and were even able eventually to have a bowling date together with our moms when my family visited Indiana for a week’s time.
Here I raise my Ebenezer
Hither by Thy help I’m come
And I hope, by Thy good pleasure,
Safely to arrive at home
As an early birthday surprise—two months early, in fact— toward the end of my junior year of high school, my mother told me that I would be allowed to live with my best friend in Lafayette, Indiana in order to claim my high school diploma from my home school and graduate with all my old friends. Just two days after returning home from a mission trip to Haiti that summer, I flew alone on a plane back to my true home—the land of beautifully bland scenery and rolling flatlands. I now lived a mere minute’s walk away from my old high school, rather than the ten-hour drive that had separated us for the past three years.
My first semester of senior year was a dream—being back home with friends and family, having semi-easy classes, going to all the home games that I could attend, and spending every spare moment with the girl I had become so close to through the internet, telephone calls, and handwritten letters we used to communicate while I was away in Georgia. The first semester ended quite badly, however, when she and I were caught petting graphically and passionately kissing on school property. I was very nearly expelled, and God’s gracious hand which oftentimes intervenes in the events of our lives was all that kept me from being removed from Faith Christian School. The girl’s parents told both of us very clearly to stay away from each other and that if any communication at all were to happen between us, there would be great consequences—with an expulsion on the side. However, being stubborn, foolish teenagers who had already sworn to each other our hands in marriage, we passed notes whenever we could acquire a few random people to form a note-passing chain between us. We soon were caught and given one final warning, so we finished with our communication at school; of course, we were not finished with communication entirely. Every Monday, a different mutual acquaintance would sneak to her my phone, we would talk late at night, and then I would receive my phone again the following morning in the school halls. After a while of the same cycle every week, I began, in addition, to sneak out of the house between one and two o’clock in the morning once every other week and walk three miles in the pitch black to her house in the middle of nowhere, where she would then let me in through her basement door. After a few repetitions, these meetings which originally were comprised of sitting on the couch talking and watching television became a great deal more sensual and more frequent. Our bi-weekly half-hour meetings talking in her basement became several hours of sex every few days for a span of many, many weeks. As a direct consequence, our grades fell, and our relationships with others began to dry up and wither away.
Jesus sought me when a stranger
Wandering from the fold of God
He, to rescue me from danger,
Interposed His precious blood
Somewhere within the great mess of constant sex and endless days without sleep, I found out that my friend Peter, who had been the first person my age in Georgia to show God’s love to me, had been killed in car crash; this was God’s first step in revealing to me the repulsive whore I had become or, rather, had always been—the unclean hypocrite who helped lead worship in front of the masses at church. Soon after Peter’s sudden, terrible death, I was told by my mother that the divorce plans were finally moving forward, reminding me of the family situation I had almost successfully pushed to the back of my mind for an entire school year. When again contemplating all that had happened between my dad, sister, and mother, I began to feel terribly nauseous; I was becoming just like my father—the one who attempted to steal away his own adopted daughter’s dignity and treat her like scum. The thought of becoming my father terrified and sickened me to the point of finally seeing the past several months of my life through God’s eyes—the eyes of my old Savior and Friend.
I explained to my girlfriend at the beginning of summer vacation that our relationship was far from godly and too disgusting for words—that we needed to end our selfish relationship and seek our Father who was out looking for his lost son and daughter. I met with her father at Starbucks during my work lunch break and explained to him everything in detail that I had done to his precious little girl, and I asked for his forgiveness. Though he refused to forgive me and made me swear never to come into contact again with any member of his family, he decided to let me live and not beat me to death outside of Starbucks, and I knew that my heavenly Father had forgiven me and already paid the death I owed for my atrocities.
O to grace how great a debtor
Daily I’m constrained to be
Let that grace now, like a fetter,
Bind my wandering heart to Thee
My life once again became focused on my God, Savior, Friend, and my faith yet again had become a relationship. In the following six months, my faith grew more than it did the entire year before, and God continued to hold me in His arms and show me His unending grace and eternal love—not that He no longer does. For those six months, I can honestly say that I did not have a single lustful thought. God was incredibly gracious and temporarily removed all sensual distraction and struggle from my life in order to mold me more into shape in other areas.
When January and the new year of 2014 came, however, the protective shield that had been placed over me for half a year was removed and temptation returned. I resisted. I fell. I cried. I prayed. I read God’s Word. I resisted. I fell. In fact, just last week, as I lay in bed awake on Friday night (or early Saturday morning), I closed my eyes, imagined a random busty blonde in a blue bikini, reached between my legs, and masturbated. This afternoon, when I saw a picture on Twitter of two girls in front of an acquaintance of mine, in line at a store, wearing ridiculous, matching, orange, spandex suits that very much showed off their hind ends, I thought to myself a nonverbal thought that, when translated into text, was more or less was like “Man, I could go for some of that.” All the women reading this and many men also undoubtedly just cringed with a tinge of disgust and perhaps even hatred. I understand; I am a slimy, self-centered, idolizing ass.
Prone to wander; Lord, I feel it
Prone to leave the God I love
Here’s my heart, Lord; take and seal it
Seal it for Thy courts above
I am imperfect, a sinner, a rebel. I am a filthy, repulsive whore. I am a Christian. While dead in my sin, the Creator of all sent His only Son to die and suffer separation from Him as payment for all my sins—those from my past and those I am to commit today, tomorrow, and for the next seventy years or more. For nearly my entire life, I have attempted to keep secret as many of my failures, shortcomings (no pun intended), and downright repulsive behaviors as I could, while I tried equally as hard to be a good Christian. I would read I John 1:6-7 and try my hardest not to “walk in the darkness” but, rather, to “walk in the light” and be more righteous. This good Christian lifestyle, however, is a lie and directly contradicts the entire message of the Gospel. What makes the Gospel so amazing, so incredible, so awesome is that God sees Christ’s righteousness instead of my sin and loves me continuously even though I am a rebellious and disgusting piece of shit. What makes the Gospel so beautiful is not that Christ died for a good Christian but, rather, that He died for a bad one. I John 1:6-10 says, “If we claim to have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.” To “walk in the light” does not mean to walk in righteousness; it is to be in fellowship with other believers, being open about our unrighteousness. I am a self-centered and slimy whore with a crapload of problems; I am a son of and fellow heir with the Creator and Ruler of the universe. I am sinful; I am justified. I am broken; I am redeemed. I am a Bad Christian.
O that day when, freed from sinning,
I shall see Thy lovely face
Clothed then in blood-washed linen
How I’ll sing Thy sovereign grace
Come, my Lord; no longer tarry
Take my ransomed soul away
Send Thine angels now to carry
Me to realms of endless day
I agree that it is wrong for a business to refuse to serve a specific group of people; however, it is also the right of the business to serve whomever they wish. In a free country, we all have the right to be racist, sexist, hateful douche bags—even though it is wrong to be such. When we fight for the government to make laws that force our own businesses to serve groups we do not wish for them to serve, we are doing several things:
We are being fair. Homosexuals, African Americans, and females should all be able to live their lives without condescension so great that they cannot purchase their daily supplies and rations. We need to treat all people groups like what they are—people.
However, we are also giving the government the power to control who does and does not get treated as a fellow human being. Sure, we are giving liberty to those who are downtrodden, but we are giving them a negative liberty; by giving the government the right to give specific people liberty, we are also giving the government the right to not give specific people liberty and even to steal away others’ liberty.
This does not mean we should stop fighting for the sake of minorities or those who are simply despised, but it means the fight should be a moral and personal one rather than that of legality and government. If we think homosexuals should be treated with love, then we each need to do our part in treating them in such a way and encouraging others to do so as well.
As I was doing computery things in my bed, I noticed out of the corner of my eye a brown spider, one inch in diameter, sprinting across my covers near my leg. Naturally, I jumped—higher than most white men can typically jump thanks to adrenaline and my intense desire for survival—off the bed, opened the closet, and procured a shoe of mass destruction. I then returned to where I saw the terrifying demon spawn sitting on the side of my bed’s wooden frame and attempted for three whole minutes to persuade myself to take the life-altering risk of swatting the shoe at the spider. This attempt at persuasion may have lasted even longer due to my pansiesque nature in regard to arachnids if it wasn’t for my noticing that what I had been staring at was just a spot in the wood’s finish and not the hellish intruder. I was petrified. The spider could be anywhere. I stayed in place and looked all around me for the monster for a whole half hour to no avail.
For this reason, you may find me “sleeping” on the couch for the next few months.