May 2, 2013 § Leave a Comment
There is no new thought, there is no new idea under the sun. People in this world make decisions based on the decisions of others. Even those who believe they are “free thinkers” are presupposed by the thoughts of others – even if they do not recognise this fact. In the broader circle of my friends, some have believed to be “against the mainstream” since high school. The problem with this, is that the “mainstream” is awfully hard to define, especially when the majority seem to be classifying themselves as “against the mainstream.”
Within the biblical society, most people fall into two classifications, the “liberal” and the “conservative.” Sometimes these classifications dictate what political stance one should be a part of, but let us leave that out of the discussion for now. Both parties believe the other is fundamentally flawed in their logic and thinking. Both parties believe the other to be close-minded to discussion. Erroneously, both believe themselves to be right and in that point we discover that both sides are close-minded.
Recently, I read an article written by Wendell Berry, discussing the “middle ground” in regards to homosexuality and abortion. His article was grounded by the opinion that political powers should not have the ability to enforce one’s moral responsibilities and that both conservative and liberal groups desire freedom; albeit freedom from different oppressors. What he did well, was rephrasing the debate to become about what you live for and not what you believe in.
The writings of Peter Rollins and Rob Bell have to come into scrutiny by many within the religious world. Many have enjoyed questioning the norm based on subject matter from their literature, myself included. Rollins helped me to deconstruct my belief system – into something that is less tangible then black, white and grey; however, it is in that sentiment that my belief system becomes tangible. To me, YHWH is a God that cannot be described, except to say that He is indescribable – and that is where my intangible God becomes my tangible belief system. Questioning one’s belief system, doubt, can be a constructive activity. The problem with that is that it is deconstructive to one’s actions. Deconstructionism without construction is a pile of rubble. Whatever you inevitably build upon becomes that which you invest yourself in the most. The problem with Rollin’s deconstructionism is that, people depend and construct themselves upon the teachings of Rollins. Instead of becoming free thinking, you become Rollins thinking.
If your belief system doesn’t cause you to action then it is frivolous. If you are constantly calling your theology into question then you are not responding to call of humanity. In my background, to repel the consensual view of your childhood society means that you have in some way become something worthy of praise. This is nothing praise worthy, especially if one jumps straight from one pool of condemnation to another. Moving from one bandwagon, to join another. At times I am in disagreement with both points of view within the religious world. The dogma from my conservative youth does not allow for unity within Christ followers. The dogma of “free thinking” liberals does not allow for me to fellowship with Christ followers. Both sides have dogma that retain them from actually following Christ – but does that mean we cannot fellowship together? The fallacy is that both groups believe themselves to be right and the other party wrong. The fallacy is that we actually know while the other group doesn’t.
Christ taught humility and service. The Apostle Paul taught unity and love. Christianity has become about which side of the fence you stand on regarding any one particular subject. Though slowly this is changing. Together with fellow youth ministers in the area – we have been discussing the need for us to work in unison to further the kingdom of God. We come from different denominations, backgrounds, theologies and decades, yet we agree on one thing. Jesus light needs to be shone in this world – reconciliation to God needs to be made, and we have been left with a mission to share God’s love, grace and his mercy. Without that we are nothing.
Whatever view point you take, whatever side of the fence you stand on, it doesn’t change the fact that God’s grace, mercy and love have been offered to you to accept and for you to share. It is not my job to determine what is “correct.” My job is to live out Christ’s mission despite what politicians tell me is correct. Regardless of what I believe, if my actions do not line up with my theology – then my thinking is wrong.
“From the point of view of Genesis 1 or of the 104th Psalm, we would say that all are of one kind, one kinship, one nature, because all are creatures.
Much happiness, much joy, can come to us from our membership in a kindness so comprehensive and original. It is a shame, as I know from long acquaintance with myself, to be divided from it by the autoerotic pleasure of despising other members.” – Wendell Berry
All of us, despite our belief systems or worldview are Imago Dei and as such should be treated like so. There is not one above the other, because we are all equal and have died to ourselves, raising up Christ in our own place. If we looked at each other as being made in the Image of God rather than by what we believe – maybe, just maybe we could start the reconciliation process. Reconciling to the earth, to its people, and to God.
March 31, 2013 § 1 Comment
This Sermon is inspired by a lesson that I heard last summer – by a Dr. Ken Green – and recently preached it on March 17, 2013. I had the good fortune to organise worship and have my brother-in-law and friend come out and lead worship for us here in Boulder, CO. If you have 15 minutes then sit back and have a listen.
March 22, 2013 § 2 Comments
Throughout the years this discussion has been beaten to death by many who disagree with the mode in which we praise YHWH. I want to begin by saying that this “disagreement” is moot and as invalid of a discussion as whether to “eat meat sacrificed by idols.” I must therefore explain that my fence position is a decisive one, sitting firmly upon the porch overlooking the discussion. There are those who spend hundreds of missional hours explaining why their chosen method of worshiping YHWH is correct and “biblical” why those on the other end of the spectrum’s mean of worship is invalid and “unbiblical.” Some even go as far as to say that the use of instruments in worship is divisive.
Their are several arguments made by those on the A Capella side of the field that biblically inform the other parties why instrumental worship is incorrect and unholy. One of the major arguments is the “Silence” argument. These people state the the New Testaments (NT) relative silence on the issue of instrumental worship is evidence that we should not use instruments in worship. The amount of flaws in this argument are many and significant.
Firstly, the fact we look at the NT silence on the “issue” means that it was an indication that the first century writers disagreed with the use of instruments is erroneous and I believe in the exact opposite of this position. The fact is that because Old Testament (OT) patriarchs worshiped with instruments, means that there was no issue by the time NT writers penned their thoughts. Hence, they spent no wasted time writing about whether to worship with or without instruments. The point was moot and as such I will no longer refer to this discussion as “issue” but rather “subject.” It was not an issue.
Secondly, the NT was not silent on the subject of instrumental worship. The words “praise” “singing” “worship” were synonymous with the Psalms of David – whom we know to be a strong believer in the use of instruments when praising God.
“Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.” – Colossians 3:16 (emphasis mine)
Read a psalm like Psalm 150 and then tell me that instrumental music is not allowable. NT writers telling us to use bible verses that declare our use of instrumental worship.
“Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord” – Ephesians 5:19b
The Ephesians verse was purposely omitted to exemplify one of the most valuable A Capella evidences. That we are told to make music from your heart – not with instruments – is one of the most devastating holes in the Instrumental evidences. However, once we look at the full verse:
“Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” – Ephesians 5:18-20 (emphasis mine)
Normally this verse is used to show the that we are commanded to sing with our hearts and not our hands. However, reading this verse in the Greek shows that the only imperative clause in this entire verse is the sentence I edit with bold. The only verse commanded in this text is the command to be filled with the Spirit, everything else flows out of being filled with the spirit. It is not a command to sing with your heart, it is a command to be filled with the Spirit. Funnily enough a subject that does not get as much air time as worship modes.
The NT is not silent – by any means – on the subject of Worship but is in fact wrought with commands to sing the Psalms of David, as David himself did.
Early Church Fathers
One of the other great undeniable evidences used by A Capella purists is that because the early church fathers did not use instruments, that we should not either. Considering our early church fathers should be men like David (whom I might remind you is a man after Gods own heart) and Solomon who paved the way into the intricacies of Worshiping YHWH.
The only evidences that we should be using whilst talking about this should be biblical evidences, statements made, and words penned. During the time of Solomon he worshiped before the ark of the Covenant and this is what occurred:
All the Levites who were musicians… stood on the east side of the altar, dressed in fine linen and playing cymbals, harps and lyres. They were accompanied by 120 priests sounding trumpets. The trumpeters and musicians joined in unison to give praise and thanks to the Lord. Accompanied by trumpets, cymbals and other instruments, the singers raised their voices in praise to the Lord and sang: “He is good; his love endures forever.” Then the temple of the Lord was filled with the cloud, and the priests could not perform their service because of the cloud, for the glory of the Lord filled the temple of God.” - 2 Chronicles 5:12-14
Unless I am extremely mistaken, the worship experience created by these people was so appealing to God that his glory filled the temple, so much so that the priests were unable to complete their tasks… Wow, I wish I could experience a time of worship like that one.
We have many obstructions in the Church of Christ that keep is from experiencing the glory of God. Help us to not make the use of instruments one of them. We have better things to do when we enter the mission field, then to waste time telling people they are “wrong to use a guitar during worship.” Unfortunately, I personally have experienced this abuse of time.
As soon as we can realise that the debate of “Instruments vs A Capella” is moot and invalid, then and only then can we learn to work together as Christ followers. We are all none of us perfect. We could continue disagreeing and fighting over “who is right” but I think you will find the apostle Paul was more concerned about unity of the body then he was about playing a guitar during Amazing Grace.
January 11, 2013 § Leave a Comment
I’ve been keeping myself from the thoughts of the world losing Ken Neller so suddenly. I sit here in my church office and implement each day the techniques and suggestions he gave me while at Harding.
It’s funny because Ken and I had such an odd relationship. In my last preaching class with him it became a competition where I could never live up to his high expectations. Looking at the sermons I wrote for him and seeing the comments strewn over its content. It was not Ken’s high standard that he was keeping me too but to a higher Godly standard. He took preaching the word of God so seriously. If nothing else he instilled in me this:
Do not take lightly preaching from the word of God, always teach and preach with respect and with purpose.
He lived with such vigor and zeal, it was hard to not both hate and love him at times. Him and his stupid perfect hair.
I will never forget my time with him. I will never forget his “goading” me about “allegorizing the text” and being “more specific” during exhortation.
The notes on my sermons, audio from NT survey, and Christian Ministry folder will always reduce me to tears.
Harding has lost a remarkable man and will be hard fixed to ever replace him.
December 5, 2012 § Leave a Comment
Last Monday I attended my first Block Party. The main theme of this event was about “Hope.” One of the key aspects of BlockParty is that there is an Open Mic portion where any if the teens can come forward and share some of their experiences and answer the provided question about Hope.
Overwhelmingly the event became a gut-wrenching ordeal as student after student gave testimonies sharing about their life feeling defeated, weak and hopeless. Broken homes, unfaithful parents, being shunned from family members. These realities are becoming much to common than one can bear.
There are many people in my life who I can look into their lives and see nothing but hopelessness. It’s a feeling I’ve known, it’s an emotion I’ve held onto in years past but it’s sentiment about life that I have let go of in grasping for something deeper, more absolute and tangible than living an Agnostic reality.
It crushes my soul to know that there are millions of people on this Earth who have absolutely no regard for Jesus, who look upon his face with disdain. And all because of some negative interactions they’ve had with a Christian in the past.
Heck, we’ve all been hurt by other people but if we disassociate ourselves from an entire group linked with that person our world will become pretty small in no time at all. A brunette girl once cheated on me – THAT’S IT! I’m never talking to a brunette again! They’re all so selfish!…
I would hate for a few bad examples of Christianity taint the waters for every non-believer to ever see the hope in Jesus that redeems mankind.
It’s hard to articulate the desire I felt that pulled me toward Jesus. I’ve never lucidly justified to others why I gave up a life of “worldliness” to pursue Jesus. All I truly know is that my life without Jesus felt empty. That I would wake up in the morning and feel nothing except uselessness and melancholy.
There are still times that I arise with parochial intent, neglecting my Godly purpose, and become someone living for a corporeal world. There is a reason we live in a consumer driven culture, it’s because nothing in it will truly sustain you for any significant amount of time. And then this process continues in which you search your life for meaning and purpose.
We are all beings in search of something, anything, everything that will fulfill and give us all a sense of purpose. When I see the real Jesus (In a sunset, a storm, a selfless deed, or in the hands of a child) I understand who I have hope in and I understand my purpose of this world.
Those teens at BlockParty were going through so much pain but they saw the light at the end of the tunnel. They could see a way out, they could see that no matter how was tragedy struck them they had options. By the grace of God these students had people around them to direct them towards God and give them hope in Jesus but there are millions of people out there who don’t. Some of those people are your friends, your co-workers, your neighbours and yet we hold back the gift of hope because of the fear of offending.
How can someone know they’re invited to the wedding banquet if we never send out the invitation. This Christmas it’s time we stood out from behind our veils of safety and protection and let folk know about the wonderful gift God has for them, about his love that never fails and never gives up.
That is my prayer for me and my house – we will serve The Lord. And we can’t do that if we’re too busy serving ourselves.
This world is not devoid of hope, so long as one thing remains…
January 23, 2012 § 1 Comment
Recently, I was kept awake at night with words burning through my brain – the only answer was to put word to paper. This was the result (raw and unedited):
My heart is bursting with a message I can’t hardly contain,
So please bare with these next few awkward refrains:
I’ve been thinking so much of late,
About churches dying, crying, imploding and beginning to dissipate.
For years the church has been on the decline.
The only new members from those looking to refine–
Their lives from all the crap,
Removing off their heads these itchy, annoying burlap sacks–
Which have been veiled over our eyes,
Becoming a fastidious disguise,
Too many believable doctrinal lies,
Hindering us from being relevant, graceful, loving and wise,
–Too all of these wise lies, in disguise we can only surmise–
To what the ending result is:
A Christianity like a soda except with no fizz.
And yet we preach it and preserve it and serve it in its place,
But is there really any meaning behind that deadpan face?
Don’t get me wrong people fight for this cause,
But is Christianity really the motive and reason for starting these wars.
The Heroes I look up to like: Abraham, Moses, Noah and Job,
They weren’t weak, timid, tired or boring,
Waiting for YHWH to rouse them from their snoring.
They were audacious and alive, they weren’t afraid to talk back—
Too a God that would listen to their searching requests,
Because they had passionate, hearts like fire, deep in their chests.
“Jesus is alive!” I want to hear you all roar!
‘Cause that’s the only type of faith that’ll cause others to open the door.
A faith that’s exuberant, alive and living,
Do not trouble yourselves with trying to fit-in.
A life of a Christian isn’t supposed to go undetected
You must follow Jesus life as the only thing to be reflected.
Don’t taint Christs example,
By mixing and matching doctrines by sample–
That we pick and choose from a list of Jewish customs that we water down and then trample.
Where is the church?
Huddled and hiding from sin?
They don’t even realise the situation they’ve put themselves in.
The Church exclaims:
“In here we’re safe from all kinds of dangerous prey”
NO! Can’t you see? You need to open the doors and reveal Jesus light—That’s the only way!
And hey while I’m at it:
We need to open our hearts too!
Only God knows what Jesus has done for you.
So let go and tell us how you came to be,
I want to hear how Jesus set you free!
That’s the most powerful message, the story of our lives,
We need to keep sharing the good news until Jesus arrives.
Jesus came to give us life and to that I can attest-
“Come to me all you weary and I will give you rest.”
That Is the promise that he made (I think you will agree)
It’s now become our promise, to offer to others, not just you or me.
Look at us! We have had our rest and turned into a slob-
asking what the church can do for me
Look around you! and ask what can you do for Frank or Bob…
Or Tom or Jane perhaps Sarah or Mary,
Come on guys we ain’t praying to no fairy.
We serve, The Lord Jesus Christ, his name be praised,
Telling that to others shouldn’t make you phased.
Tell about Jesus, Yeshua, Lord God Adonai-
Any less respect deserves to make YHWH cry.
In our praise we should offer outwardly,
Doing all that we can do to break the cycle of bad family trees.
All that pain and anguish will surely melt away,
So long as you promise now not to stay—
Where you are: comfortable, toasty and warm.
There are others out there not living in dorms,
people fighting for their lives, all they need is Jesus.
But all we can think about is selfishly trying to please us.
“Please Him! – Jesus Christ our Lord!
Don’t be concerned with trying to please the horde.
Because soon this world shall pass away,
and I’m telling you now—I’m not planning to stay.
So get off your butts and make a difference today!
Remove the veil from your eyes, shrouding the world and all it’s wonders.
There’s a rainbow in the sky fraught with glorious colours.
If not today, I hope that you’ll see it some day soon.
Take your hands off the beer and exit the saloon.
Saddle up your horses or get into the car.
Help a brother out—I promise—You won’t have to go far.
And at the end of the road you’ll be hitting nothing but net.
Breaking records so high Michael Jordan couldn’t set.
So wake up O sleepers. Stand up and reach out your hands
Take a hold of this life and fulfill Gods holy plan.
December 7, 2011 § Leave a Comment
It is getting close to Christmas once again. The time of year when everyone gets to be with their families. I am reminded of my one year Anniversary coming up, and the fact that this time last year my family was in the United States attending my wedding. It feels so long ago. This was the last time I saw them, which is something that happens fewer and more far between of late.
There is a sea of water that lies between my family and I, yet they will always be close to me. Is that not the beauty of family? Wherever they are, however long it has been, they will always be your family. I have always been fortunate to have on of the most kind families in history. One Helton family slogan is “love more, live on less.” Something that we, at the Potts family, know a lot about. We have always had love. Our parents have always gone above and beyond to support us in any way we have needed. They are the reason that I have learnt to be content in life, to be fully dependent on God for the blessings he chooses to bestow. They are the reason that I have had every opportunity in life–except for not being able to represent my state in “the walk” in 12th grade because Drew made the squad and I had already competed at State champs for Hockey. You suck Drew. hahaha. That was divine intervention on mum and dad’s part with that one–and have never wanted for anything.
As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord. There is a lot about the past that gets reflected upon at different times of the year. One could spend an eternity trying to re-live the past. I know what my past has done for me, I may not know fully but I know who I am now and that I am here to serve the Lord. While I do not know what is in store for Rosie and I in the very near future. I know that whatever it is, we will be serving the Lord.
Like Moses and the Israelites being lead through the desert, we do not know where God is leading us too. We may not know the destination but we do know that there is a journey ahead. So I will prepare for the journey, because sooner or later God will ask me to cross the Jordan and enter…