Posts tagged ‘Jesus’

Proverbs 12 – Words Matter

There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts,
but the tongue of the wise brings healing.
~ Proverbs 12:18

I have often been this guy.  I’m not sure if I’ve actually hurt other people with my words, but many times I know that I could have said things in a better way to “bring healing” instead of causing strife.

And of course it’s always those closest to me, like my wife, who catch the brunt of it.  And its’ something that I need to be constantly reminded of.

Words matter, they carry emotion, they carry what we believe about the world, they carry what we believe about God.  When we take stabs at people we betray the anger and hurt that is in our own heart.

What anger and hurt do I have in my heart?  I need to examine it until I am aware of what it causing it so that I can become whole and bring healing to others instead of more pain

Proverbs 4 – cheat codes for wisdom

Get wisdom; get insight;
do not forget, and do not turn away from the words of my mouth.
Do not forsake her, and she will keep you;
love her, and she will guard you.
~Proverbs 4:5-6 

One of the saddest things about reading Proverbs is considering that Solomon, known as the wisest man to have ever lived, and perhaps the richest, forsook his wisdom toward the end of his life and forsook the God who so blessed him with that wisdom. (see 1 Kings 11)

When does a person have enough wisdom that they can rest on what they’ve done and achieved in the past?

My tendency is to be lazy and lax, both spiritually and otherwise, so the continual action of going after wisdom is probably the biggest part of being wise.

Getting started is the hardest part f most activities.  Once I start doing it I dont want to stop. If I clean and organize my closet I want to do all the closets.  When I go out and weed the flowerbed I feel good and I want to do it everyday.

But when I go a long time without doing something I dread doing it.  I havent played guitar since the end of November and I know I’m probably going to lead worship next month and I’m dreading getting my stuff out and working on it.  I just dont feel like it.

And so it is with desiring and finding wisdom.  And ultimately it is a gift from God to even realize that you even need wisdom.

Proverbs 3 – The low road of punk rock

English: Members hardcore punk rock band Minor...

Toward the scorners he is scornful, but to the humble he gives favor.
The wise will inherit honor, but fools get disgrace.
~ Proverbs 3:34, 35

I was initially attracted to the Skateboarding and Punk Rock sub-cultures because it was a place where misfits could be accepted and thought of as cool.  Boy was in for a rude awakening.  Once I got a little older and started reading publications I found out real quick there were plenty of scorners.

It seemed that there were plenty of people with opinions of how Rock and Roll ought to be done, and however you were doing it was wrong.

When I became a Christian back in 1997 it was a similar event.  At first everything was great.  For many years it was great!  And then I started noticing that there were plenty of scorners here too.  Christians constantly criticizing the Church because she isnt standing up to whatever ideal image they have.  Sometimes it was quite vicious.  And for a while I joined them, it gave me a sort of righteousness (a self-righteousness).

And I dont know how I transitioned, but its like one day I woke up and realized that Jesus is in control, he’s not wringing his hands worried about his plan or his Church.  He’s not angry that we havent gotten it right yet, that we have the wrong ecclesiology, or  wrong theodicy.

I think there are so many people angry with the Church for the same reason there are people angry with Punk Rock, they’re just cantankerous and angry people.

When I look out at the world (or the church, or the state of Rock music) and I see so much wrong, I need to take a moment and look at myself and ask where is it that I’m being hypocritical?

It’s not everyone else that needs to change, but me.  Maybe then I can help someone else

How can I expect change or condemn the world for wrong when I have plenty of wrong in my life?

When I take the low and humble road, and I am honest with whatever shortcomings I have, and going through that process of turning from that enables me to help other people overcome and conquer their shortcomings.

Proverbs 1 – Am I an idiot?

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.

– Proverbs 1:7

It seems that mankind’s’ knowledge is increasing at a much more rapid rate than our wisdom.  Knowledge being our understanding of world and ourselves, and wisdom being the correct application of that knowledge.

Reflection and meditation upon the character and nature of God should bring a person to greater reverence and humility.  More specifically, considering Jesus; his life, and death, and resurrection, and his coming back to right all wrongs, should bring a deeper sense of awe and wonder.

If a person would meditate on Jesus sacrifice, naturally they should not want to take part in anything that caused his crucifixion, or to bring harm to humanity and creation.  If a person can do such things without remorse or regret then perhaps they havent seriously considered Jesus, and they might want to re-evaluate whether they are a Christian or just a one in name only.

I wonder if I’ve shied away from this phrase, “The fear of the Lord”, out of fear of what people will think of me?  Have I more regard for what people think about me, most of whom I dont know, than for holding true to scripture and letting it’s insight bring me closer to Jesus?

Do I think I’m more knowledgeable than the generations before me who embraced the idea that a Christian can either live a life pleasing to God, or one that brings both him and the Church, and all of humanity dishonor?

Have a Missional Easter!

Easter is all about the resurrection of Jesus.  Easter is the greatest holiday of the Christian year.  It is the single most important event in history.  But because of our culture and some of our traditions, this fact has often obstructed me from seeing Easter as the greatest day of the year.

However once I learned that many of our traditions, The Easter Bunny, and Easter Egg, even wearing new white clothes, were actually at one time symbols of the new life in Christ and the Resurrection, then my eyes were more clearly able to focus on Jesus and his mission.

Let me explain, but first a bit of history.

The Easter Hare first appears in history in the 1500’s in Germany.  Painted eggs were first recorded in the 13th century, also around Germany.  Cultures around the world and throughout history have always been excited to celebrate the new life of Springtime.  Many have used these and similar symbols in artistic ways to show their love for life.

In the 6th century Pope Gregory the Great (540-604) sent missionaries into northern Europe and the British Isles who were trained to find cultural symbols and traditions that could be used in preaching the gospel and thus winning the lost.  He wrote, “Since the people are accustomed, when they assemble for sacrifice, to kill many oxen in sacrifice to the devils, it seems reasonable to appoint a festival for the people by way of exchange. The people must learn to slay their cattle not in honor of the devil, but in honor of God and for their own food…”

In a sense this is what we do today.  We have taken guitars, drums, and keyboards, that have been used to glorify man and sin, and we use them as vehicles of worship to glorify God.  Not only has God redeemed instruments but you and I.  Don’t forget that we were once lost.  We were once self serving, self pleasing, and by doing so we were serving Satan, God’s enemy, and destined for wrath.  God is in the redeeming business.

And to early cultures that were more in tune with nature and the seasons, eggs and hares were symbols of joy and life.  They were symbols that represented Winter was over, the sun was out, trees were budding, grass was growing, flowers blooming, the earth was being warmed and life was everywhere.  Naturally missionaries saw these symbols and festivals that coincided with the Christian Passover and adapted them in order to relate more fully to the cultures around them.  It’s almost as if God had ingrained those ancient cultures with seeds of the Gospel.

Of course these symbols have lost their meaning to us today because of historical and cultural differences in with they were first used, and today’s marketing ploys.  And although these symbols and traditions may not speak to us today of the Gospel or the Resurrection, we can see them as remnants of efforts to reach the lost.  Relics of the past, tools that were once used to reach people right where they were, stuck in their ways, stuck in their culture, stuck in their sin, serving themselves and Satan.

They can remind us to look for ways to relate, seeds of the Gospel, that have been planted beforehand in peoples lives.  Perhaps you know someone who engages in humanitarian work but doesn’t know Jesus.  And while many people do good for selfish reasons, at least part of this desire, even if it gets distorted, comes from God.  It’s not just bad situations that God uses to reach people.  My own testimony proves this.

In a time when evangelism is at record low, and we have silly examples of Christians on tv sitting in huge gold chairs, or that our greatest aspiration is to join the bless me club.  The lost see that stuff and think if Jesus could see that he’d roll over in his grave.  We need a fresh wave of missionaries, we need both you and I to go out and bring the Gospel to work, to our home, to school, the gym, our neighborhood, even the grocery store and the mall.  We are never on vacation.  Satan never takes a break.  The only break he took is when Jesus broke his skull with his foot, by going to the cross.

I want to encourage you to live as though you have a purpose, live as though you are here for a reason, not just to go to work and make a living, and raise a family.  Those are all awesome and fulfilling things in themselves.  But there’s more.

Live with your eyes open and aware, you might just find an Easter Egg

facits of the Eucharist

For the Institute Of Contemporary And Emerging Worship Studies, St. Stephens University.Essentials Red Online Worship Theology Course with Dan Wilt

The Cross has been said to be the multi-faceted jewel that remains at the crux of all of Christan faith.  And in ignoring or over emphasizing even just one of these facets brings with it imbalance in our spiritual life and our community.  Likewise the Eucharist is a multifaceted jewel, and like the facets of the Cross, this jewel is best understood by examining the different aspects and perspectives that it emphasizes.

The Eucharist, ideally, should resonate with most (if not all) of specific instances it is used in the New Testament.  Dan Wilt puts it this way:

  1. Commemorates that God has acted as Savior to penetrate all of human history, from creation, through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, through our present, and to the final consummation (Acts 2:46-47).

  2. Reminds us that we are part of the Communion of saints in the family of God (1 Cor 10:16)

  3. Persuades us that a sacrifice has occurred to right the world (John 1:29)

  4. Speaks of the presence of Christ among us (John 6:51-58)

  5. Welcomes us to experience the work of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor 12:13)

  6. Looks forward to the eschaton (1 Cor 11:26) (1)

Obviously we dont have a full understanding of everything the Last Supper entails and the full meaning.  It is by applying and utilizing these various ideas put forth in scripture about the Eucharist that can help to bring people along in maturity and to get busy “doing the stuff”.

When I first came across this list of scripture references of the Eucharist I was a bit taken back.  In my experience with Communion there has been an emphasis on roughly half of what this list speaks of.  It is no wonder often I have had trouble focusing on the one or two aspects of it that were being stressed.

By seeing the ordinance of Communion as part of our worship we are free to experience Christ among us, just as when we sing worship and praises.  Also as worship we focus on the Holy Spirit and experience his power and love.

There is also an eschatological dimension which, although expressed in the last scripture, permeates and penetrates all the others.  It is this awareness of the ‘already, but not yet’ of the Kingdom of God that explains to us how a holy God can take a part in our unholy lives.  Somehow we are made holy in the present, even though we still continue to sin.

All in all, it is by embracing the multi-faceted jewel of the Eucharist that we can best appreciate it’s beauty.  What would a jewel be without its facets?  When light passes through it is refracted it breaks up into a spectral display of color and beauty.  In the same way we can see different aspects of Gods attributes and worship him appropriately through the Eucharist.

a pilgrims regress

For the Institute Of Contemporary And Emerging Worship Studies, St. Stephens University.Essentials Red Online Worship Theology Course with Dan Wilt

What is it that makes a person a Christian? Merriam-Webster defines it as:  1 a: one who professes belief in the teachings of Jesus Christ b (1): disciple 2 (2): a member of one of the Churches of Christ separating from the Disciples of Christ in 1906 (3): a member of the Christian denomination having part in the union of the United Church of Christ concluded in 1961  2: the hero in Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress

Although I do love Pilgrims Progress, I want to focus on the first definition of the word, one who professes belief in the teaching of Jesus Christ.  The teaching of Jesus are found in the New Testament, and has roots and is based on the Old Testament.  Everything we know about Jesus we know from the Bible.  There are very few references to Jesus outside of scripture historically, enough to know he existed, but not enough to build a theology.

In other words without scripture we wouldn’t know what it was to be a Christian.  Our faith would probably look a lot like the other great religions of the world, and we wouldn’t have the diverse unity that we have today.  Without the Bible everything would be different.

I don’t want to say that the teaching of the word is the most important thing in our faith.  There are many equally important things that need to be stressed as well at theology, such as worship, prayer, Eucharist.  The teaching and the ensuing theology are very vital and everything else hinges on that.  Without theology we wouldn’t have worship, prayer, or Eucharist.

I know there are myriad ways of teaching the word.  One way is to preach through the entire Bible in a three year span.  Another more ancient way called the Christian Year, focuses on the life and ministry of Jesus, and incorporates much of scripture and covers the “bigger story”, the grand narrative, of the Bible.

One of my favorite preachers, Mark Driscoll, spends months and months going through the Bible book by book.  He did a sermon series on Genesis that took 9 months to complete.  All in all, he says it’ll take him around 33 years to go through the entire Bible.

As a kid, I grew up in an Assemblies of God Church.  It really was a great Church and the people loved God and loved people.  It was a little less restrictive in the preaching and teaching.  A lot of times there were no series, the pastor would pray each week and God would lay a certain subject or scripture passage on his heart.  The result a sense that God still speaks to each of us today, and that God can and does use anyone.  He can give you a message as well.

I’m sure there are many more ways to preach and teach God’s word.  Each has strengths and weaknesses, but ideally there should be a place to take the best of ideas and incorporate them into something new and fresh.
Growing up in a more of a charismatic or evangelical church atmosphere, I’m more inclined to learn more about the past, to take a road I’ve never been down.  In my past church traditions it seems that we broke from the past in regard to tradition and liturgy.  And as I learn more about the past, the more I’m intrigued and attracted to the ancient roots.  But not to go back, to be propelled into the future.
Robert Webber writes in his book Ancient-Future Time:  “the road to the future runs through the past.”  We are not “enslaved to history”, as Ben Weasel mistakenly puts it in his song The Science of Myth (although I can see how it might seem that way).  But the idea is to examine where we’ve been, and take a look at culture today, and with the Holy Spirits leading, and use what ever we need to in order to move forward with the Gospel and the Kingdom of God.
Personally I like the idea of the Christian Year.  Since I’m not a pastor, but a worship leader, and I do have a home group, so I think we’re going to look into that and see how it goes.  I look forward to it.