Feb 21, 2011

I Love Bonhoffer

nothing super long today, just apart of Bonhoffers Life Together. If you don't own this, buy it now.

this is an excerpt from chapter two that really just blew me away a few weeks ago and I was revisiting it today. I will write about it more extensively later, but for now here is text

If we were to learn again something of the praise and adoration that is due the triune God at break of day, God the Father and Creator, who has preserved our life through the dark night and wakened us to a new day, God the Son and Saviour, who conquered death and hell for us and dwells in our midst as Victor, God the Holy Spirit, who pours the bright gleam of God's Word into our hearts at the dawn of day, driving away all the darkness and sin and teaching us to pray aright--then we would also begin to sense something of the joy that comes when night is past and brethren who dwell together in unity come together early in the morning for common praise of their God, common hearing of the Word, and common prayer. Morning does not belong to the individual, it belongs to the Church of the triune God, to the Christian family, to the brotherhood......So the Bohemian Brethren sing at the break of day:
                      The day Does now dark night dispel;
                      Dear Christian, wake and rouse you well,
                          Give glory to God our Lord

                      Once More the daylight shines abroad,
                      O brethren let us praise the Lord,
                      Whose grace and mercy thus have kept
                      The nightly watch while we have slept.

                      We offer up ourselves to Thee,
                       That heart and word and deed may be
                       In all things guided by Thy mind,
                      And in thine eyes acceptance find.

Jan 12, 2011

Rebellious Submission

Hello again interweb friends. I know its self indulgent to think that you missed me these last few months, so if you did i am sorry, and if you didn't then that's ok too.

I posted a blog towards the end of last year about submission and its role in our faith.(see post here) .  I think that I need to expound upon what I mean by that, because I think our view of submission is so one dimensional most of the time. I think I'm going to do this as a series of blogs, so as not to over extend myself/scare you from reading a blog that scrolls for an eternity.

So tonight we'll start, and I don't know where we'll end

Being Right doesn't give you the Right
In the spring of 2009 I was part of a group within our Colleges leadership team that was concerned with the direction we were being lead in. we decided that we would send an email to the Leaders of the ministry and have an open discussion during our next leadership meeting. We were all convinced that what we were doing was in the best interest of the ministry, chain of command be damned.

needless to say things didn't quite turn out the way that we thought. The Leadership at the time lovingly and graciously heard our Demands (they were posed as questions, but in reality they were ultimatums) and then we were basically put in our place. I remember feeling betrayed, feeling misunderstood, and questioning whether I should be involved in such a stubborn ministry.

now that I have aged a bit and had a good amount of experience leading and being led, I feel like God has graciously renewed my mind to what was really going on in my heart. especially between the ages of 20-23(it may go further, but I can't really speak to anything past 23) We believe this very odd argument:

I Believe I am right
My Authorities Disagree
They are wrong
If they are wrong, they shouldn't have the authority
I have a responsibility to rebel

in the situation that I just gave, we Believed that we were absolutely right, and not only did we have the"right" to rebel, but it was our DUTY. this is very American of us, very Declaration of Independence, very Constitution. if your rights are being infringed upon, it is your duty to take your rights back

the only problem with that is that it is not biblical. Authority is not given to the most capable, most intellectual, most brilliant. it is given to those whom god decides to give it to.

1 Peter 2:13
 13 Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, 14or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good. 15For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people. 16 Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants[d] of God. 17 Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor.

Notice that it doesn't qualify what kinds of Human Institutions we are to submit to. not only Just ones, or in this case "Right" ones. it does say what they are sent to do "punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good" but this letter was written by Peter During Nero's Reign as Rome's Emperor. these were people living under the rule of a tyrant, and Paul is telling them to be subject to every human institution? lucky for us peter doesn't leave us hanging. "For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people"

this is something that me and my friends did not understand. first of all, the leaders of our College ministry were Godly people, serving God and doing their best to be obedient to his will. they would be held accountable for there actions. we were far removed from the persecution the church felt under Nero. we would have been far better suited to humbly submit to them, and serve them by asking them why they were doing things the way they were, trying to persuade them as best we could in a respectful manner, but if they decided against us, it was not our obligation to rebel, but our DUTY to submit and serve.

look at the Example of Christ in 1 peter later in chapter 3
 19For this is a gracious thing, when, mindful of God, one endures sorrows while suffering unjustly. 20For what credit is it if, when you sin and are beaten for it, you endure? But if when you do good and suffer for it you endure, this is a gracious thing in the sight of God. 21For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. 22 He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. 23 When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly. 24 He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.

This is True, God honoring Rebellion. instead of rebelling to gain rights and gain good for ourselves, we should be imitators of Christ in this way: We rebel against the selfish desire to be right, to be justified in the eyes of men, knowing that our submitting to suffering for the sake of the Gospel is Justified in the eyes of our father.

Talk about rebellion in ways that aren't small and centered about our own glory, even as human beings collectively, But Rebel against your very nature! Rebel against the desire to be right, against the desire to usurp the authority that God has given to others and, graciously kept from your grasp.

this should certainly teach us that in areas where we are able to choose our authorities, we should choose very wisely. Where we go to church, who we marry, what job we take, these are all situations where we must use wisdom to guard ourselves from being in situations where we will have to submit to unjust authority. what is frustrating is when people who have placed themselves in these unjust or unfair circumstances seek to justify their rebellion. Divorce because of you married a difficult spouse, causing dissension in a church because the teachings are not "doctrinally sound", complaining about a difficult work environment. these are all situations where we willingly place ourselves under the power of unjust authority. God will not honor your rebelling for the sake of your comfort. and these are all instances where we must Trust the Father, that his wisdom is infinitely more valuable than ours.

I am grateful for the grace that was shown to me and my group of friends. the very leaders I was criticizing led me with grace and humility through  a time when I did not show them the respect they deserved. May God be gracious to me and continue to teach me what it looks like to submit to his wisdom and his will.

Nov 22, 2010

"and heaven meets earth like a (CENSORED!!!!!)"

a lot has happened since my last blog. this first segment will be for those who are not involved in my immediate world:

1) I am (finally) Employed. I work for Booster Enterprises, a company that does elementary school fundraising. I get to speak life into kids daily. hand sanitizer is required

2) 4, count them, 4 of my good friends have gotten engaged: Bret Waldrep to Jennifer Waites, Malcolm Reddoch to Sydney Flowers, Eric Parker to Katie Shaddix, and Ashley Breitenstein to Corey Wilkes.

What. the. Heck.

3) CGI Harry Potter and Hermione made out naked?!?!?!?! Poor Innocent Ron

that should get everyone about caught up. 

recently I have had the privilege of leading worship again at my home church in alabaster. Leading worship for middle schoolers and highschoolers is a whole different ball game, especially given the circumstances I came into.  after my first week my drummer informed me that he wouldn't be playing because he was, get this, grounded. these are the kinds of life or death issues I'm dealing with. 
during the first week i played mostly new songs, including How he loves by John Mark McMillan. I've referenced this song in an earlier post (see Post Here) and how much it means to me. now before i even got up there i realized that the infamous Sloppy Wet Kiss line was going to be an issue, but luckily my favorite chipmunk, who sometimes leads worship under the name David Crowder, had covered this song with the line "unforeseen kiss". now why the image of some creeper sneaking a kiss from a girl is better than a sloppy one beats me, but I had determined that this version would be more appropriate. 
Unfortunately, my subconscious had different plans, and when it came time to sing the lyrics in my less abrasive way, something took over and I said that which will forever haunt me in middle school land. 

now i tell this story to illustrate a point, I think. I, personally, resent the idea that we are going to sing different words because the original ones make us uncomfortable. the idea of Gods' love being messy is something that doesn't fit in our neat and pretty view of how we want God to look. but the reason the Gods love is NECESSARILY messy, in my humble opinion, is not because of the bride groom but the bride. 

Listen to the Song. the whole thing is about being emotionally swept away by the fact that even though we are broken, afflicted and continuously unfaithful, God is Jealous for us. for God in all of his Glory to interact with Us in all of our sinfulness, things tend to be sloppy, because he is not surgically precise when he displays his love to us, he LAVISHES US with it! we do not have a portion of his love, we have the fullness of his affection.

I think this scares us, to be honest with you. we are so scared of kids making out with their girlfriends that we try to sterilize our worship, to the point that what happens is we sing a lot of right things, but we aren't moved by them. 

here is why I lead worship: to lead people to the feet of Jesus. the only things that can happen there are Humiliation, Exaltation, or Rejection.

  The Cross will humiliate you if you'll stop trying to clean the blood off of it. it is where the Love and Mercy of God are set on display BY HIS WRATH BEING DISPLACED FROM ME TO JESUS.  the picture of Gods Love is incomplete without an understanding of the weight of what Christ endured. 

Once brought low, you see the magnitude of What Christ has done, and you cannot help but to worship him. He is great, and his greatness is most uniquely and gloriously shown in his love and sacrifice for sinners. 

the last reaction is quite honestly the one that we are most prone towards. its not a rejection of the cross as an idea, because we LOVE the cross as an idea. But if we begin to see it for what it really is we might do something crazy, like give our lives up. and so we insulate ourselves, sing under our breath so no one thinks we're getting "lost in the moment", we may clap to the beat a little bit, but we will NOT make a spectacle of ourselves. "those people" are just trying to get attention. 

I know, there are practical reasons we should sing the verse about sloppy wet kisses to middle schoolers, they're immature and will probably laugh. but if we continue to insulate them, can we really blame them for their immaturity?  

thats whats rolling through my dome right now. i should have more time to blog in the coming weeks. i'll try not to take to long of a hiatus. until next time, stay classy interwebs

Oct 26, 2010

I think, therefore I have no clue

Last week I had a conversation via twitter with a friend about an issue of which was more paramount to salvation: submission or understanding. lets define our terms.

 what I mean by Submission is the act of an individual subjugating himself to the Lordship of Christ. what i mean by understanding is a mental ascent to the knowledge of the truths about Christs Lordship and believing rightly about those things. 

some will say that there is a level of understanding that must be reached before one can submit to Christ and his Lordship. we must understand that he loves us, is worthy of our submission, and that this submission is to lead to our ultimate good. some will balk at the last one, saying that we should submit regardless of whether or not its for our good, but Christ uses our own pleasure and joy as a motivator for submission Matthew16:24-25 for instance....

I will say that I sympathize with this position greatly. it seems harmless enough to think that one must think rightly about these issues before one can truly understand what there submission means.  

but I'm afraid that what we are doing here is placing some extra implications on the Gospel that are simply not in scripture. Paul gives us the two requirements of salvation in Romans 10:9.

"because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved." 

here we see that confession of Christs Lordship(submission) and belief in the resurrection are the two elements that are necessary for salvation. some will surely say that belief in the resurrection is alluding to the understanding that is necessary. but I think that anyone who says this has trapped themselves to believing in a faithless Christianity. 

Quickly, show of hands, who understands the Resurrection from the Dead?.........................anyone?........sweet. I think what is actually shown in the passage from Romans is a Submission WITHOUT understanding. anyone who says they understand what put life back in our saviors body believes in a smallminded Christianity. 

the reason I write this is twofold.

First: we have lost the art of submission in our churches

what I hear all to often in working with church people are musings about what they would do differently if they were in leadership, why the leadership is wrong, and their desire for things to be different. I can't help but wonder what our churches would look like if we understood the place that submission holds in our faith. our entire system is based on submitting to a higher authority that we cannot and will not understand. and yet we refuse to submit to the authorities that have been placed on our churches. 

Second: we are no longer tolerant of mystery, so we have oversimplified our faith

the problem with believing that there is an understanding level that is necessary for submission is that when we come to things in the bible we don't understand, we either disregard it as not important or we reduce it down to something we can handle. we have lost the ability to live in the tension that is the gospel. 

the last, unspoken reason behind all of this conversation is the arrogance that we think we understand anything about our faith in the classical sense. now before you call me a crazy liberal, think for about 2 seconds. are you really arrogant enough to believe that you UNDERSTAND the atonement? the resurrection? the Cross? sure you have a grasp on what scripture says about these things, you may even have a sound theology about them. but to say that you understand the death of Christ is absurd. its incomprehensible. but we MUST believe in it and in what Scripture teaches about it. we can certainly understand  the logical consistences between these truths and the doctrines in scripture, but the foundational truth about all of this is that it is UNBELIEVABLE. this is why we must be born again. we will not believe these truths unless God changes our hearts towards him.

we may not ever understand completely or even marginally understand why we must submit to Christ. we simply have faith that he is who he says he is. the depths of our relationship with Christ are not bound by our ability to understand them. 

I will continue with some more thoughts that i had thinking about this issue in the coming weeks. hope this will hold you over Gail

Oct 5, 2010

that love me for the man I've become not the man that I was....

 I've had some time this week to reflect on my college years, and I have come to the not so novel conclusion that if can be summed up in the relationships that were created through the heat and pressure of my semi-academic career. there are some who will tell you that you need to diversify your friends, and I believe that I was most fortunate to be able to stumble into exactly that.  I have some of the best friends in the world, and even truer still I have gained brothers that I will love for the rest of my life.

 it's strange, but I feel a certain bond with these people unmatched by anything I had in high school. these are the people who watched (and still are waiting) me become the man that I am. I've laughed till I cried with these people. with some of them I've just flat out cried.I've certainly had my ups and downs. There are people who this time last year I considered my friends that i barely speak to anymore. There are people who were little more than acquaintances that I now consider best friends.

I think at the center of this is a need for community. I hate being by myself for longer than a day, I am a relational individual, I process things through interaction with other people. I think on some level we all have a desire to share our lives with others.

The part of this that is most exciting to me is seeing people who i haven't seen in months and being able to share my experiences with them and have them tell me what their life is taking them. I have a friend in Nashville working in a job that he loves, friends in California planting churches, friends in Texas going through leadership development, friends dealing with unemployment, friends finding jobs, friends losing them, and yes, even friends who are still in college.  We are all learning different lessons and growing in different ways, and while we do this separately, when we get together its time that I cherish

Recently I got to spend some time with a few of these people, and while we were all together, it was nothing like old times. in the short 5 months since we were all together our individual lives have changed drastically. we're all in different places, in periods of constant change and "becoming adults". and i wouldn't trade it for anything. i miss these people dearly, but I can't wait till I see them again and get to ask what they're learning, who they're impacting, and what Christ is Teaching them. its in these conversations that i will always have a bond with these people, because through everything they are my brothers ans sisters whom I will always love.

Sep 30, 2010

The Song Inside the Sound of Breaking Down: the lost album

John Mark McMillan is one of my favorite people playing music right now. the title of this post corresponds with Johns independent album released in 2005. I love this album, which is why when i was surfing the interwebs today looking for it to link, i was surprised to find that it was gone, magically erased from the annals of internet history. the only place you can get it, to my knowledge is here where some jerk face is selling a copy for 99$ (if said jerk face comes across this blog and is also John Mark, my apologies. Otherwise, insult intended)

 now i'm sure that there are those of you out there who can find it for free by way of torrent, but it strikes me as Odd that a whole album, one that i purchased on Itunes this time last year, is now unavailable to the general public. This album has a very significant place in my heart, I found it at a time of emotional turmoil, and songs Like Closer, How He Loves(the real version guys) and I Am a Temple were a source of great comfort to me.

Closer, which is adapted from the blind man in Luke 18. This song would play on repeat as I walked across the University of Alabama's campus with my over sized I-Like-Music-More-Than-You-Do headphones, during a season of life where my mind swam through an ocean of self doubt. as my mind tried to tread the water of my emotions, this song became my cry into what I saw as an endless sea, but I soon learned that my little world was nothing compared to the love of God.

I am a Temple is a song that if you happen to be driving next to me when this song graces my ears, then you will hear my voice, through steel and glass and whatever other ill conceived obstacle in its path, not singing but yelling the lyrics. I'm obnoxious like that. sorry to all who have experienced this phenomena. the reason for the decibel level in my singing was the same reason a mother doesn't whisper words of warning to her children as they run into the street. thats called negligence. I have to constantly remind myself that it doesn't matter how filthy I am, how worthless I feel , because the moment I say that I am unworthy is the moment that I devalue the the Cross of Christ. he has made me clean. and I am forever grateful.

I am not even going to quantify the effect that John's Song "How He Loves has impacted my Life, I will simply post his own. I know that its cruel to post how much I love this album, because I can't share it with you. but maybe if you bombard Johns Twitter with requests for the album he'll give in and make it available again, or direct you to where this short sighted individual was to lazy to look.

Sep 24, 2010

and so it begins......again

Hello internet, it seems that we meet again. its been a while since you and I have had a working relationship. I hope this time will find us both more agreeable in nature

I have a habit of starting these and stopping them, but hopefully I will be able to keep this up this time, being unemployed leaves you a lot of time when you're not interviewing for jobs. or watching the price is right thinking "man, Bob Barker has gained some weight!"

this will serve as an outlet to share my thoughts and ideas about things that i'm studying, random current events, and to serve as as some accountability for my Bible Study.

The internet is over saturated with people who think they know everything. I know I don't. Stop laughing Gail

Ok so the truth is that I am just as arrogant as the next guy if not more, but I do know that I am certainly not as smart as I think I am, but I am confident that my friends are collectively the smartest people I know, so hopefully we'll solve a problem or two, maybe global warming, that'd be one for the ages.

So hopefully this will be edifying for you the readers. and will keep me from going insane.

until then, Hide your kids, hide your wife