November 6, 2013 § Leave a comment
Sermon from October 27, 2013
October 1, 2013 § 1 Comment
August 18, 2013 § 2 Comments
This is a post that has been percolating for a significant amount of time. There are many things, in my life, that I am extremely remorseful about. There are many things that I need to apologize for, most of which I probably have forgotten. Too often when we make mistakes we are very quick to move on never returning to the possible outcome and effects that it will have long after it has occurred.
I am a Christian. That means that I should stand for something, have values, ethics, and just be kind to my fellow man; however, unfortunately this is/has not always (been) the case. When people remember how I “slighted” them, they remember my doing it as a Christian. No I am not perfect, neither are you, nor have I always apologized for my wrongdoings.
Around the world people have negative views of Christianity, and it’s not hard to see why. While I may not be the single contributing factor to people’s cause for disdain, I am one point of evidence in their defense. Each day we drive our cars with “Jesus Fish”, Church logo’s and WWJD on them, whilst also cutting someone off. (I’m sure that’s great for the Christian cause). And while we [Christians] can bring this thought or topic up in conversations, sermons, or devotionals, it will never end the continual marring of the Christian title.
The only justification that I can offer is that I admit fault. Regardless of situation, recklessness, theft, lie, slander, manipulation, or any other imprudent act, I admit that I am/was wrong. I have already begun apologizing personally to people in my past that I have wrongfully conducted myself too and in-so-doing have bastardized the Christian name. If I have not yet apologized to you personally and you feel that an apology is needed then please contact me and I will provide an acknowledgment of my neglect. Whether small, or large, I would like the opportunity to be able to correct your presuppositions about Christianity.
It is my belief that Jesus (The Messiah, Yeshua) The Christ, died for every man, woman and child on this planet, now and forevermore. He did this with an understanding that he would not be loved by all, and that many would still consider him inconsequential and irrelevant. Jesus did this so that all that came to him may understand the grace, mercy and love of God, that He has for His people. Jesus’ actions portrayed the model for reconciliation and selflessness, that are (or should be) quintessential Christian virtues. So I apologize for Christians everywhere who do not understand that their life is not their own, who do not know that they have laid down their lives before the throne so that Christ may reign over them – this separation of understanding means that I will remain irrevocably apologetic.
I am truly sorry.
July 14, 2013 § 3 Comments
“Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated” - Confucius
As a Youth Minister, I have seen the interview process of multiple churches. Churches that I have interviewed with, and also churches that have interviewed my friends. Minister’s often have job descriptions that not even Yeshua himself could accomplish. A church of 30 has 30 different opinions on what “the Minister” should be doing. A church of 100, has 100 different opinions. A church of 300, and so on and so forth. You get my point. This job description is taken out of the business world, that we are hiring an individual to work for us and the church. It is my belief that we are making this a whole lot more difficult then it needs to be and have missed the point. A job description not only escapes our capabilities, but also limits our potential. It is often said, “we want to hire Jesus, but that’s just not possible.” And by our current state of measuring, it’s true.
I am constantly trying to surround myself with good Mentors. People who can teach me a thing or two about life. My first mentor, James, helped me to see past the barriers of my own mind and taught me to think about God in a way that wasn’t already pre-determined for me to do, to act, to say. What are your requirements of a mentor? What do you look for in a mentor? You may answer that by pulling out your job description and start listing off all of the things you are looking for. Let me simplify it in the best way that I know how.
A mentor to me, is any person that I want to emulate. Simple as that. I want to surround myself with people who I desire to emulate my life after. People who reflect the Glory of God through their lives and who do Kingdom Work. People who, when I look at them, I see Jesus Christ through their words and actions.
The church of Jesus has got lost along the way somewhere. We have put servants in our pulpits who are good people. We have put people in our church who we like, or who have nice things to say but maybe not someone who we desire to emulate.
Think of someone, anyone, that you think reflects the Glory of Jesus Christ and imagine if they were in your pulpit at church. How excited would you be to come on Sundays, you may even want to come on Wednesdays. Lord have mercy, you may even want to meet up throughout the week to talk and have coffee.
People sometimes see my job as a teen baby-sitter. Some teenagers to do not expect me to stretch them beyond their desires and wants. Some teenagers do not look at me and see a mentor, they see a “minister”, they see a “pastor”, they see some dude that talks to them on Sundays and makes them stay up late and eat sugar. If our teens entered the church and expected to be stretched by someone they considered a mentor, I believe it would be a very different experience. For those who specifically consider me a mentor, I am constantly bettering myself because of their desire to know Christ through me.
If we walked into church on Sunday morning and expected to hear a message preached by someone that we want to emulate, I believe it would be a very different experience. When you consider someone worth emulating, you breathe in all that you hear coming out of their mouth and apply it to your life.
Church on Sunday morning is a time that we should expect change. That we should expect to be moved to action. Not through guilt, obligation, or condemnation but because we desire to be like Christ – displayed by the very person passing on the message. As I surround myself with Kingdom Working mentors I am encouraged to do Kingdom Work. I am encouraged to not be distracted by the inner workings of “Form and Function” and the intricacies of a church service. I am encouraged to find people who I can mentor, and pass on the joy I have for serving Jesus.
It is very hard to objectively critique someone, and measure them on a Christological scale. And yes, no body is truly perfect – but we know that our mentor’s aren’t perfect. They just have good advice sometimes, and who’s company I desire to be around.
This is our measurement: If our mentor’s do not reflect the Glory of Christ and are not actively doing Kingdom Work – then why would we ever consider them mentors. Those men and women who lead our church do not work for you, but for God. Which is ultimately the final characteristic of someone concerned with Kingdom business – someone who is willing to go against your “want” because God has called you to greater things.
Maybe it’s just me, I might be alone in this thought process: but I know that I would attend a church and invite others along with me if I knew that Christ was going to be reflected through it’s message.
Now try and apply that to hiring a new minister at a Church and let me know how that goes… Maybe ask a wife, reference, or old church partner, “Does this person reflect Christ?” “What are the 3 main issues, he/she is concerned with?”
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.