Thursday, February 01, 2007

Kings of the Wild Frontier

(I've been wanting to share this for a long time. I do not apologize for the length of this post. :) God's creation is vast, to an extent that is unimaginable. We are part of that creation, and our lives are meant for so much more than a daily struggle to "live right." --- As of today (2/1/07), I have the song mentioned here as my song on myspace. That is subject to change, but I do also have a video for the song there, and that will be there for a while).


I feel beneath the white
There is a redskin
From centuries of taming

I first heard the song “Kings of the Wild Frontier” by Adam and the Ants about 25 to 30 years ago! I was probably about 10 years old. I’ve been a huge Ant fan ever since. (I don’t believe I admitted that!). Well, I was a boy living in England at the time, and the Ants were popular!

There’s never really been anything about “Antmusic” lyrics that turned me on. In fact, I really don’t understand the lyrics most of the time! And when I do understand the lyrics, it’s often a little too… sensual… for my tastes. But I really dig the sound! There’s something about the way the music and vocals are arranged that really gets into my soul like no other music does. And that’s why I listen to it.

But a year or two ago I was listening to ‘Kings of the Wild Frontier,’ and there was something in the lyrics that suddenly did made sense to me, and it really HIT ME right where I was. It was an amazing time. Lots of pent up frustration was released as God spoke to my heart about my true identity through this song, and He set me free.

In the song, it’s as if Adam is saying that beneath his modern day white man’s skin, there’s an Indian Warrior hidden deep inside, dying to get out, but yet he suffers because he’s been tamed by many years of white man’s culture (some of the early Pirate/Indian/Warrior imagery and music style of the Ants came under the direction of their manager). For years, I'd really had no clue what the song was saying. :) But on this day, it all became crystal clear to me as God was revealing the identity inside of ME that has been suffering because of the culture in which I live.

The culture that I’m speaking of is today’s Church culture.

Let me back up, and get a bit personal, just for a moment. About 2 1/2 years ago, my wife and I had some marital problems. I had been having some doubts about my love for my wife. I won’t get into all the details, but I’ll say that we ended up seeing a counselor. He was great. He listened, and asked questions, and listened some more, and asked more questions. This is truly, truly a very, very condensed version of the story, but the main thing is what the counselor revealed to me about myself.

My problem was not that I didn’t love my wife. I really did (and still do, very much) love my wife. But in trying to be all that I could be as a “good Christian husband,” I wasn’t being the man that God had really wired me to be – who He had truly made me to be as a New Creation (2 Cor. 5:17). If you listen to (or watch) much of today’s Christian media, or go into many of today’s evangelical churches, so much of it is focused on self-improvement, being a better person (being a better spouse, parent, child, coworker, etc), striving to “do” all the do’s and “don’t” all the don’ts.

Many people think that if we can just get our behavior in line, then life will be better. Maybe you don’t disagree with that statement! But I found that the more I tried to get my behavior in line (for example – to be a better husband), the more I felt like a failure because I just couldn’t live up to it! Believe me, I tried for years and it was a roller coaster ride of success and failure, but mostly the ongoing nagging feeling that I just couldn’t do it. I don’t need to go into great detail here. Either you relate to this or you have the Christian life down pat. :) But here’s a personal example: I would be in bed, or driving somewhere, or listening to a sermon or Christian talk radio, thinking and praying about something that I really wanted to change in my life. And I would get all excited as I thought about how I would go about making this change. But then came real life… and the failure to change… and then guilt, despondency, and the feeling that I would never change. It was a vicious circle… a roller coaster ride as I said.

And the thing is… for 12 years now, I’ve been growing in my understanding of living by God’s grace – not my own efforts to change, but His work in me, which is sufficient. “We are His workmanship” (Eph 2:10). “In Him we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28). “He who calls you is faithful, who also will do it” (1 Thes. 5:23). “For it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure” (Phil 2:13).

New Covenant life is about counting our self-efforts at pleasing God as dung (rubbish) (see Phil 3:3-11). I know this. I can tell others about it. And for the most part, I live it. Rather than trying to establish MY life (in the flesh) as one that is pleasing to God, I have let go and I live my daily life by faith, trusting in Him to do anything and everything in me and through me by His own doing. If you just let go, and put your trust in Him and not your own efforts, you will see that He is completely faithful to work the works in you and make the changes in you that He wants to.

Think about it… if we are God’s workmanship, and yet we try to make our lives out to be our own workmanship, even if we think we’re doing it “for” God… we are really making ourselves out to be GOD.

And so my problem is… sometimes I try to be God. In my marriage, I was trying to be God. I sincerely wanted to be a "better husband," but instead of letting Him work His wonderful works in me, in His way and in His timing, I was trying to do it. In a sense, I was really just going through the motions of being a good husband. It may have even had a great outward appearance from time to time! But on the inside, I knew I was FAKING it. My “good” efforts to be a better husband were really a work of the flesh. They weren’t coming from my union with God. I had sincere desires, but the efforts were not of God.

And so… I began to think that I didn’t love my wife. All my best efforts, as I said, were just me “faking” it. What I came to find out is that I was faking holiness. I just didn’t realize it at the time. But anytime you try to be holy or righteous by your own efforts, you are FAKING the real thing. The “real thing” is God’s workmanship, His life in union with ours. Our flesh can't compete with that! And our spirit knows it, but our flesh still wants to try. So, what I was confused about was this: how could I have such sincere desires to please my wife, and yet all my efforts were making me fall flat on my face? This confusion led me to think that I didn’t love her.

But this low point in our marriage led to a great discovery that would forever change us! We saw the counselor together one time, and then we saw him individually. In my time with him, as I said, he asked a lot of questions and really listened to me. And then he told me what he thought. He said quite a bit, and it was all great stuff, but only one word stuck out to me. Here is what he said: “Blah blah blah blah blah blah, blah blah blah blah blah, blah blah IDENTITY blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah. :) (The "blah blah's" aren't meant to discount or demean the other great things that were said; only to emphasize the importance of the one word).

The whole problem was that rather than living out of my true Identity in Christ… the New Creation that I truly am… I was trying to be all the things that I thought I was supposed to be for my wife. Again, you may not have much to disagree with about that method of living! Why shouldn’t I try to be the best spouse I can be? The reason is that I (my flesh) can't! The key to everything here is that if you let go, and if you find out who you really are – your true identity in Christ – you won’t have to fake anything. You won’t have to “fake it till you make it.” You won’t have to “try” to be a better spouse (or a better Christian) because God is faithfully at work in you all the time, and He will work the works in you, as He pleases, to make your outside behavior match the New Creation (your identity) that you already are.

I believe the reason there are so many dysfunctional Christians out there is not because we’re failing to get our acts together and start living right. It’s because we are trying to get our acts together and start living right!

My counselor recommended the book “Wild at Heart” by John Eldredge, which I didn’t actually start reading until about a year ago. For the sake of the fact that this is already long, I’ll just say that the gist of the book (at least to me), is getting out of our small, metal, inflexible, rigid, religious boxes that we’ve place ourselves (and God) into… and getting out into God’s world and being who HE created us to be! It's an understatement to call God "wild." Just look at His creation. And look at yourself - created in His image.

Today’s Christian culture has created a lot of these small religious boxes for people - and has kept them from experiencing the fullness of who God created them to be. You don’t know the freedom I experienced when I finally broke free from my little box! “I feel beneath the white there is a redskin suffering from centuries of taming.” I know that the core of who I am – my spirit – has always been longing to get out and to be who it is created to be! My counselor put that in perspective for me 2 1/2 years ago. And then that day – the day I heard those Adam and the Ants lyrics for the thousandth time – my heart cried out to God as the truth hit me in such a way that I knew I could never, ever get inside that box again!

Popeye put it this way: “I am what I am and that’s all that I am.” And God’s word tells us that all that we are is a truly wonderful creation – a work of God that can’t be kept in a religious box and that can never be faked!


  1. Hi Joel, howard from grace walk, I read this and me likes, my walk was similar, trying and trying, to the end of the energy of my own flesh, raising my white flag, saying I give up, thinking to the enemy and it was to the creator, who now leads the way instead of me.

  2. Hi Joel. This helped me SO much! I don't even know the depth of the impact at this moment but it was like therapy for me, while reading it. Thank you so much! Now I'm off to watch that Adam and the Ants video on your MySpace page.


  3. Thanks for sharing, Sheryl. It was like therapy for me, too, when I wrote it. :) I know that God created us for so much more than "trying to get it right," which is what we Christians seem to be always trying to do in our relationships with God and others. And our relationships suffer and fail because of it. The new creation that He's made us... LONGS to get out and LIVE! But our true identity seems to get lost in today's church culture that is focused on doing all the do's and don'ting all the don'ts, and that hardly takes any time to build us up in who we are solely by the grace of God.

  4. Wow I loved this. Isn't it amazing how diverse and imaginative God is in how He chooses to reveal a truth to us that only He knows we are ready to receive?

  5. That really is so true, Melissa. It's so wonderful to be able to simply trust Him in our daily lives, without having to strive or worry about where we stand with Him or what He's doing, because we know that He's always up to something good. :)