Monday, August 29, 2011

Church & Culture Blog | Church and Culture

Interesting post about the announcement from Steve Jobs last week.
Church & Culture Blog | Church and Culture

Making the Most of Mondays

Have you ever had one of those days when everything you do just falls to pieces? Or perhaps nothing seems to work out quite how you envisioned it. That's been my life for the past few days. I guess I would equate it with a person who has a strong disdain for Monday mornings. I am usually not that way, but lately it seems like most days would probably be no worse for the wear if I crawled back in bed and stayed there.

Then I got to thinking about that fact that Mondays don't have to be so bad. In reality they can remind us of God's mercy. The days when everything falls apart is how life would be everyday without God's mercy and grace holding us up. I'm also reminded that in my weakness, yes in spite of my weakness, God triumphs through the darkness of life, hope springs eternal and relentless takes captive my heart and life all over again.

I heard an old Vigilantes of Love song the other day that reminded me of how we will trade away so much of who we are for something that pales in comparison to the love of Christ.
yeah dragging out of bed
got a big noise all in your head
living and the dead run
in the clear light of day
it's amazing what you've sold
always leaves you feeling old
less wiser and more cold
as you try to make your way

People are so hungry for acceptance and love and grace that we will settle for the false sense of those things offered to us in so many hidden devils. In reality what God wants is for us to realize that each day, Monday, Tuesday, Saturday, Sunday are days for God's grace to shine through in manifold ways...sadly we choose our selfish and sinful ways instead, leaving us hollow, empty, and craving even more the riches of a relationship with God.

Monday, August 22, 2011


I caught most of the film Unstoppable starring Denzel Washington this weekend and it made me think about how the church desperately needs to be unstoppable in our pursuit of God. The plot line in the film is a runaway train heading straight for a heavily populated town in southern Pennsylvania. The film follows the train company attempting several times before finally succeeding thanks to the the two heroes to stop the train, but it proves largely unstoppable.

Is your faith unstoppable? Are you passionate about spending time with the Father? Are you determined to live for God in the public arena as well as the private recesses of your heart? To be sure it's not that we as humans are unstoppable in carrying the message of Christ forward, but God is! Our human effort and striving to faithfully proclaim the message of redemption needs to be rooted in the realization that God's promises in his word are not null and void, they will not expire, they do not go bad, they are truth, because he is truth and the gospel will continue to sound forth in this world even though we mess up with our own faith pretty often.

I also finished a book that one of our Student Ministry Leaders gave me entitled When Worlds Collide. It's a great book written by Mike and Daniel Blackaby (Grandson's of Experiencing God author Henry) targeted for students (high school and college) that challenges them to confront the culture head on for the sake of the gospel. Long is the discussion of those who try to insulate themselves from the culture so much so that they never impact the culture for Jesus versus those who try to engage the culture but end up just conforming to the shifting winds. The clarion call is for young men and women to stand out and stand up for the God they profess faith in. The implication is that we need to be unstoppable, like that speeding train in standing out and for the truth of the gospel proclaimed for all to hear and see. We cannot bow to the world, neither can we stick our heads in the sand and pretend not to notice or care about what is going on around us. We must authentically engage the culture not to be cool, not to earn brownie points with lost people, but because we have been changed by a relationship with God and we genuinely want to see other people encounter the God who made them and loves them!


Monday, August 15, 2011

Woodstock Anniversary

Pop culture historians and rock historians have long celebrated the 3 day festival known as Woodstock from August of 1969. There are many things about the festival that could be said but since I wasn't around for it. I will only share my thoughts on the presence of one musician who is considered by many to be one of the greatest guitar heroes of all time, Jimi Hendrix. Hendrix electrified the crowd with his set, most notably his version of the The Star-Spangled Banner that will forever immortalize him in Rock 'N' Roll history.

One of the questions that Woodstock raises for me is the impact on culture and the response or perhaps lack of response by the church in America to engage the people that Woodstock appealed to. How does the Church address issues and concerns on a social level even if the actions and behavior of those concerned is not in keeping with the norms for the Church? Do we quarantine ourselves from the potential for pollution and not engage culture or do we jump into the muck and mire of people's lives and boldly proclaim the Gospel, so that we can make sense of all of the muck and mire surrounding our lives just as the mud surrounded the festival goers 42 years ago.

Hope of Abraham

Even when there was no reason for hope, Abraham kept hoping--believing that he would become the father of many nations. These words from the 4th chapter of Romans are a reminder to us that even when the darkest clouds are in our horizon and there seems to be no reason for hope...keep hoping. The past several years I have clung to the promise of the hope of God, the hope of the resurrection, that through Jesus' life, death, and resurrection this world is not all there is. Through the resurrection present circumstances and situations are not all there is to life.

It is the hope of the resurrection that not only comforts those who face terminal illness or the loss of a loved one, but that gives us the drive each day to see other people cling to the hope of God. Perhaps life is perfect for you right now, it might not always have been...was hope in the midst of a hopeless situation what got you through that ordeal? As I journey in my faith I have come to the conclusion that clinging to the hope in God's promise of his presence, his grace, and his love are the sustaining forces behind the heroes with all their hang-ups of the Bible, of church history, and of the people in my own life.

There is a Frederick Buechner quote that I wrote in a journal years ago that has always stuck with me, that talks about the symbols of some of the religions of the world and how all of them point to hopelessness, yet the great paradox of the Christian faith is that the symbol we most use, a cross, was an instrument of death, it was the nail in the coffin for Christ...except that the resurrection gives us hope that the cross is not the final word on Jesus, nor is it the final word for you and for me. The glorious hope of the resurrection is that final word! Thanks be to God!

Friday, August 12, 2011


I know I write about Bill Mallonee and his music a lot...the title of the blog is from one of his songs, but his work as an artist who authentically tries to embody the Christian faith is such a challenge and encouragement to me. One of his songs, Skin, chronicles the relationship of Vincent Van Gogh and his brother, but it also tells of the greater story of the gospel. I have been listening to a version from a V.O.L. concert at Eddie's Attic in Decatur, GA and this line has been stuck in my head for a few weeks.

yeah you're talking about sin and redemption
well you better wear your thickest skin

Isn't that so true? If one stands in the role of prophet in the interior of the heart or the public square and talks about sin, then we need to be prepared to have our lives dissected by the scalpel of the Holy Spirit. No one wants to deal with sin, we just want to dabble in it. We certainly don't want other people dealing with our sin...we must however allow our hearts to be placed under the microscope of God's grace and allow our sin to be dealt with as only he can, through forgiveness, cleansing, and wholeness.

Of course talking about redemption is just as messy as talking about sin. Why? Because people are less apt to offer redemption and strive to be instruments of redemption when sin is made public or when someone's sin touches our lives. It's all well and good if we receive the redemption found in Jesus Christ for our own sin-sick hearts, but quite another thing to dish redemption out to hurting people the way we dish out the gossip about them. Often times, those who unflinchingly offer redemption to any who seek it are criticized as being soft on sin, or not being truly holy (set apart)...after all that's what Jesus was accused of by the religious leaders of his day, so why should we expect anything less?

How do you talk about sin and redemption? Is it pious and judgmental or is it done realizing that grace is the only thing we have to stake our claim to the gospel on?

New School Year

Towards the end of the summer I was ready for school to start partly because my girls needed the structure and partly because that means that the students I work with are back into their routines and thus I see them more regularly at church. Well school is only 2 weeks into the year and I am worn slap out! This whole being a responsible parent and getting your kids to bed at a decent hour, up, dressed for school, hopefully with their teeth brushed and breakfast is insane! I don't remember it being this difficult when I was going to school! I don't even remember it being this difficult when Cyd and I were in seminary and both had to be up, dressed decently, fed, homework finished and pulling out of the driveway by 6:45 for our hour commute to campus. Call me crazy but I am already ready for summer to be here.

On the other hand, the girls have loved school, although getting up in the morning is not their favorite thing. They do move quicker when bribed with Chick-fil-A! I'm sure that part of the weariness so far for me has been the hectic schedule at work the last few weeks.

We have shown our house to potential buyers twice this week, so that's another positive about school starting.

Tim Tebow: Blasphemer?

Great thoughts on the role of faith in a person's life in the midst of trials and difficulties.
Tim Tebow: Blasphemer?