Maybe you read my blog the other day about special music not being special. I admit, I have an odd way of looking at things, but I have another question that goes along with it. I guess this is the sequel.
Why do we clap after the special music, which may or may not be so special, is over?
Who are we clapping for? What are we clapping for?
Listen, I understand wanting to express joy and happiness over a song. But what are we really doing when we clap for an individual performance? Are we celebrating their skill in singing the song? Are we happy that it’s over because it really wasn’t such special music? Are we clapping because the song drew us closer to God?
I don’t really want to sound like a contrarian all of the time, but when was the last time you gave your pastor a big hand after he delivered a sermon? I know that there is always someone in traditional churches that will say, “Amen!!!” at a certain point. How about at contemporary churches? Are people allowed to say, “Amen!!!” Does it happen? Do the deacons show up to escort the troublemaker out? I really want to know. How should we respond to the music and worship in our church services? David got so excited over the ark entering Jerusalem that he stripped naked and boogied in the streets. That would give a whole new connotation to bewaring of the naked preacher. Or anyone else for that matter.
How about you? Do you clap? Should we clap? If so, when? And what should our response to worship be?
The most recent episode of Doctor Who was about clones. The Doctor and crew landed in the year 2020, I believe, and encounterd a group of people and their clones. I won’t go into all of the details, but if you’ve watched enough sci-fi you understand that nothing good comes of having a bunch of clones around. Look at the Star Wars movie Attack of the Clones from a few years ago or any other movie or TV show involving clones. Whenever you have clones, you have trouble.
This all leads me to think about the Steven Taylor song from several years back I Want To Be A Clone. This song talks about how the people in our churches don’t want individuality, but really want clones. They want you to mimic them and learn from them. In reality, they want you to learn how to toe the party line, not cause any trouble and eventually you get your shot to teach other people how to be clones. It’s a very satirical look at what happens when we come to Christ and join the church. It’s sad, really.
What is the result of having a bunch of clones in the church? Just like a sci-fi movie or show, nothing good. You may have some relative peace. You may have a bunch of people who don’t rock the boat. You may have a bunch of Yes People. But, is that a good thing? What you really get is a perversion of what the Church is all about.
In the Doctor Who episode that I referenced, the clones turn on the originals and are determined to destroy them. I think something similar happens in the church. When individuals are recognized for who they are, they will turn on the establishment. When people are pressed to conform and be just like everyone else, they will balk. They will rebel (The Doctor Who episode I refer is entitled The Rebel Flesh. I could really do a whole post on that title alone.) I’m not saying I condone this behavior. I’m just speaking to the reality of it. The would be clones in the church will either cause trouble or leave and begin another church.
What should happen? Our churches should be places where all different types of people are welcome. These differences should be celebrated. After all, different people have been joining the Church since the beginning. Jew. Greek. Slave. Free. Man. Woman. Instead of setting up these differences, let’s celebrate what we have in common. One Savior. Oneness in Christ. Let’s build each other up and encourage each other to use our differences to honor, magnify and glorify Christ.
How about you? Do you ever feel pressured to be a clone? Do you ever pressure anyone to be a clone?
We have all heard the saying, “Cleanliness is next to Godliness.” I wonder how many people have searched the Bible in vain, looking for this saying in, perhaps, Proverbs. It sounds like something that Solomon would have written, doesn’t it? If may even possible be true, but based on what I see and hear in the Christian community I live in, I wonder if most people don’t think that Godliness is next to Patriotism?
Don’t get me wrong, I am patriotic. I love the fact that I live in the United States. I want the United States to win in any competition that it competes in against foreign competition. I love to watch fireworks on the 4th of July. I have a hawkish bent when it comes to the military. I love the Star Spangled Banner. A huge part of me was as excited about “getting” bin Laden, as I was when we captured Saddam Hussein.
I was sitting in church yesterday. Our traditional Salute The Troops musical number was done where we recognized everyone who had served in the military with the song of each branch of the military. We sang America The Beautiful and Mine Eyes Have Seen The Glory. Our sermon was about God executing His vengeance through the government and military. The underlying insinuation was that when America does something, it is doing it for God and it’s right. Being patriotic is godly. Or Godliness is next to Patriotism.
I think that this is really sort of a thought that has been around for a few hundred years now. As a former pastor of mine put it once, he asked a man if he was a Christian. The man replied, “I’m an American, ain’t I?”
This kind of thinking bothers me a little. I mean, I’m proud to be an American. After all, it’s where at least I know I’m free. It’s just that when I got to church services where we sing these songs and emphasize our patriotism, I wonder what our focus is when we’re there. Are we focused on Christ or America. And which are people more excited, emotional and proud of?
That being said, is it possible to be a Christian and a patriot at the same time? Certainly. I love to attend our local July 4th celebration and watch the fireworks. I used to got to the Veteran’s Day parades in my hometown with my grandpa. I love to hear stories about what we did as a nation during World War II. I just would prefer to not have my faith in Christ or my church services wrapped up in the red, white and blue.
How about you? Does it bother you to have your faith wrapped up with the flag? Or are you for it? I would love to know. I’m figuring this stuff out as I go.
I want to begin today’s post with a picture. I’ll be back with you in just a moment.
I saw this sign as I was running with my daughter on Friday. At first I chuckled about how cheap the sign looked. As I continued past it, though, I couldn’t get this sign out of my mind. Slowly, I began to see the genius of it. Then I thought about it in terms of my faith in Christ and realized that it was a great picture of what Christ has done with me.
FREE!!! The gift of life that Christ gives us is free…..to us. It cost Him His life, but for us the gift of God, eternal life, is free. That is much better that gaining the wages of sin, Death, isn’t it?
LIVE!!! Christ came to give us life. Not just any old life. Eternal life. Abundant life. That means that life is lot more, well, LIVE now. It doesn’t mean that I just got my ticket punched for heaven. It means that everything is more LIVE here now. Faith? Live. Family? Live. Football? Live. Foolishness? Live. It’s all LIVE now.
MUSIC!!! In Ephesians, Paul said that we should speak to each other in psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. We should talk to each other in music. A group of friends and I who used to go to break together would sometimes break out in spontaneous hymns or gospel songs. I thought it was strange at first. I’ve come to realize that this is how we, as believers, are wired. To sing songs about our Lord to each other. It doesn’t matter if we can sing well or not. We should just be singing the new song He has placed within our hearts.
Now, here is the best thing. The sign above said that the Free Live Music was from 8:00 to 11:00. Our Free Live Music doesn’t stop. It’s eternal. It never stops.
Do you have Free Live Music in your life? Do you know someone who needs it?
Every two weeks, like clockwork, my wife gives me a haircut. As a matter of fact, I will be getting my hairs cut this weekend. Depending on which side of a full moon the haircut takes place, there is more hair or less. Once I had a dream that I went to get my haircut in a barber shop. Sitting there were several writers whose work I admire.
Stephen King was there. We talked about The Stand. I told him that I read his book on writing and that it was an inspiration.
John Grisham was there. I told him that I really liked The Testament and told him how this novel had an impact on my life once upon a time.
Ann Lamott is there. I’m not sure why she’s there since she has dreads and she’s a lady. Most barber shops that I go to are men only. In fact, women weren’t allowed in barbershops not too long ago, just like men should never be allowed in beauty shops.
Stephen Lawhead is there. I’m not sure why he’s come all the way from England to get a haircut. We talk about the Pendragon Cycle, the King Raven series and the Endless Knot series.
There are some other writers sitting around. After a while, they look at me and say, “What have you written?”
Now some might be intimidated by such heavy hitters asking that question. Not me. I’m secure in my little musings and ramblings. I have no fear in answering them. I’m proud of what I do.
I’m a blogger.
I’m sure that most of you who read my blog remember the DC Talk song from a few years back called Jesus Freak. It was this song that made it cool to combine rock, rap and Jesus music. DC Talk sang about being somene who is totally sold out to Jesus to the point of being labeled a freak. It describes a radical lifestyle. However, they really missed out on a demographic in the Christian community that I would like to rectify. That’s right, I’m talking about the Jesus Geek.
Maybe you’ve seen the Jesus Geek. He is the one who quickly answers all of the questions in Sunday School ( or Life Group, Cell Group or some other term if you go to a “with it” church). He never gives anyone a chance to answer any questions in his attempt to show everyone what he learned when got up at 4 a.m. that morning to read fifty chapters of his Bible. You will also get to hear how he cross-referenced his Strong’s Concordance for an hour or two.
This guy still has all of his Promise Keepers paraphenelia (ok, I’m not trying to leave you ladies out. Exchange Promise Keepers for Beth Moore Live or Joyce Meyer event if you are a lady). He wears a Jesus Is The Real Thing shirt that looks like a Coca-Cola shirt with pride. Of course, he’s wearing this one because his Jesus shirt that looks like a Reese’s peanut butter cup shirt and says Jesus is dirty.
This guy isn’t satisfied with a Jesus fish on the back of his car. His fish is swallowing the Darwin fish parody. There’s a good chance there is a Pro-Life bumper sticker on the back of his car. There may also be a gun rights bumper sticker too, because he read somewhere in those earlier fifty chapters that Christians must be strong Second Amendment rights defenders. Or maybe he heard that on a local Christian AM radio station. He can’t really remember and can’t be bothered with those details.
I could go on, but I think I’ll stop. If you recognize yourself in any of this, please don’t take offense. I can only talk about this because I’ve either done or considered all of these things
After all, I am Jesus Geek.
What would people say if they knew I was a Jesus Geek? What would people say if they knew it was true?
How about you? Are you a Jesus Geek? Do you know and love one?
It’s summer movie season, so it is time for blockbuster movies. I don’t actuall go to the theaters often, but I am looking forward to several of these movies coming to DVD later in the year. Below I will list the movies I want to see, along with some possibly humorous comments.
1. Thor. I’m a comic book geek. I don’t actually buy comic books anymore. Have you priced them lately? I used to have a monthly habit of around $80 worth of comic books a month. That would probably translate to $200 today. So, I love any comic book movie, even the bad ones. This one is about Marvel’s Norse god of thunder. I had to use a little g there because I am a Christian and would never give Thor, or any other mythological god, a big G. I hear this movie is good and look forward to seeing it soon.
2. X-Men First Class. Another comic book movie, this one is about the X-Men. Obviously there have been three movies about these mutants already, plus the Wolverine film. This one is about their beginning, when Charles Xavier and Magneto were friend, and Xavier had hair. January Jones plays Emma Frost, the White Queen, which will fulfill many adolescent boys (and a few adult boys) comic book fantasies.
3. Super 8. All I know about this movie is that it is directed by J.J. Abrams and there is a train wreck that let’s loose some sort of creature that wreaks havoc on a town. I don’t know if this creature is the one from Cloverfield (raise your hand if you watched this movie). Maybe, somehow the Smoke Monster from Lost survived and made it to the U.S. looking for the folks that made it off the Island. It doesn’t matter. Abrams makes a great movie and I’m an Abrams geek.
4. Cowboys&Aliens. I like Westerns. I like aliens. Put them together in a movie directed by Jon Favreau (director of Elf and the two Iron Man movies) and you have an anticipated movie. It doesn’t hurt to have James Bond and Indiana Jones/Han Solo in it either.
5. The First Avenger: Captain America. The title is a mouthful and I didn’t really need the prompt for next years The Avengers movie. This one is about Cap’s origin in WWII. You will have Nazis and the Red Skull. It ought to be a lot of fun. I wonder how it will do in Germany?
6. Green Lantern. Movies based on DC comics characters other than Superman and Batman simply don’t really exist (see I told you I was a comic book geek). I hope this one gets the ball rolling. DC has so many great characters. With Green Lantern you have cosmic space superhero goodness. I guess it doesn’t hurt to have 2010′s sexiest man alive in Ryan Reynolds to star in it, though I thought he was Deadpool from the Wolverine movie.
I just finished a book called Born To Run. It’s a true story about a guy who developed a pain in his foot. His search for a cure led him to the Tarahamura Indians in Mexico. These Indians will run incredible distances in breechcloth and sandals fueled by a concoction they call iskiate. I’m sure that if analyzed it would show up on all endurance sports’ banned substance lists.
I’m not finished with the book yet, but one of the things that stood out to me was what a college running coach discovered. This gentleman, upon watching the Tarahmurans run discovered their true secret. He found out how and why they are able to run incredible distances day after day. It isn’t just their lifestyle. It isn’t just their diet of iskiate. What he realized was that they ran with a childlike joy.
Think about that for a minute. Think back to when you were a child. Did anyone ever tell to get to running? Probably not. More than likely you were told to slow down or quit running in the house. When you were a kid you ran. Why? Because you loved to run. You were free. When I went to my grandma’s house, I would have her time me as I ran around the house. Why? Because I loved to run fast around her house. I ran for no other reason than that.
This made me think of what Jesus said when he said that to enter the kingdom of heaven one needed to become like children. How would you approach Jesus? Most of us would slink to Him. How would a child? A child would run and jump into his arms, just like your children probably have done to you or you did to your parents.
At the end of 1 John 2, John says that we should approach Him confidently. Why? Because we are His children. What does that mean? I think it means running to him as hard as possible, chasing Him around the house, jumping, squealing with exuberant joy. Just like you used to run as child, running like children to the Savior and to the Father.
If you are a follower of Jesus, how do you think you should approach Jesus? Do you run to Him with childlike joy?
It’s Twitter-like Thursday, where I write 14o words or less about a subject.
I am a runner. If I didn’t know better, I would say that I came out of the womb running. I have been a runner all of my life. I hope that I go out running. How much do I love running? Let me count the ways:
1. I love to read magazines about running.
2. I love to read books about running.
3. I love to watch running on TV, whether it’s track meets or marathons.
4. I love to watch movies about running.
5. I tweet about running.
6. I love to go to cross-country meets, track meets and road races just to watch.
What is something that you love that you would love to write approximately 140 words about?
I bought a truck two Saturdays ago. Before you start congratulating me, understand that I now have a new monthly payment that I didn’t have. I’m not sure that is worth congratulating someone over. If you haven’t bought a vehicle lately, I can’t begin to tell you what a stressful situation that I find the process. I spent that day driving to one dealership only to find myself driving to another, then another and another and another again and finally to the final one. However, it was one encounter that I really want to talk about here on.
I found myself at one dealership in my reasonably local area. I was looking at some trucks when a salesman finally came out to see me. I asked him how much the truck cost. He asked me to come into the dealership to discuss it, which I found a bit odd. We went in and he began asking me a lot of questions. How much did I want my payment to be? Would I trade a vehicle? How much would I put down? Finally, he asked for my social security numbers so he could pull my credit. At this point I asked him why he needed this to give me a price for the truck. He acted like he wanted to dictate to me which truck I would buy. He got the cart before the horse.
Instead, I went down the road, test drove a truck, got a price, made an offer and bought a truck.
So, what does that have to do with anything and why would I talk about it on this very important blog that you are reading?
We do the same thing in the church.
We profile people when they come in. We identify them by what they are wearing or the car they drive. We profile them by the way they act or how their children behave. We decide how spiritual they are and if they’re “right” with Jesus by how many times they come through the doors each week. We decide there must be something wrong with their relationship with Christ by looking at their “countenance”. Just by looking at them and sizing them up, we decide what they can do in the church. You name it and that’s how we profile them. And do you know what we want?
We want them to come in clean. Perfect. Mature. We don’t want to deal with that messy stuff. Bring them in. Set them down all nice and pretty with a bow tied on them, ready to be productive, tithing, three times a week church members.
Don’t tell me that doesn’t go on.
You either do it, have done it or you’ve had it done to you. How do I know? I’ve had it done to me and I’ve done it.
I’ve gotten the cart before the horse.
What about you? Has someone gotten the cart before the horse regarding you? Have you gotten the cart before the horse?