March 1, 2008 § 3 Comments
This morning, Matt told me about Larry Norman’s passing last week. For those of you who don’t know who this incredible man was, Larry Norman was a pioneer of Christian music in the 20th Century. He brought “religious music” out of the old-timey hymns and saccharine sweet New Christie era into an era of rock and roll and made faith accessible to a generation that couldn’t relate to, and rejected anything offered by, anyone over 30.
Called a rebel and scoffed at by the Establishment, he along with such groups and musicians as Keith Green, the Resurrection Band, Phil Keaggy, and many many more helped cement the Jesus Movement of the 70’s. Songs like “Why Should the Devil Have All the Good Music” and “I Wish We’d All Been Ready” awakened and inspired a generation of young people hungry for righteousness and something good and new.
The Gen Xer’s out there, and the subsequent generations owe a debt of gratitude to Larry and his generation for bringing our music out if the dark ages, and into a form of art that is at once inspirational, informative, convicting, fun, worshipful and prophetic.
God bless you, Brother Larry, and we hope to see you soon along with Keith, and Rich and all our brothers and sisters on the other side. Welcome home.
FYI, not all of the artists featured in this video have passed on, just so you know. 😉
July 16, 2007 § 6 Comments
Hello folks! I have created a community for those individuals interested in Church history, and how it impacts us today. It is called earlychurch. I want to invite all of you to join, and if you do, to also post this invite into your own journal to your Christian filter (should you have such a thing!)
The focus of this group is to study the writings of our earliest brethren from the first couple of centuries– the pre-Nicene writings of such as Tertullian, Justin, Irenaeus, Clement and the like. The purpose of our discussions is to explore how their writings might inform our understanding of Scripture. It is important that they not supersede Scripture, but be used as a tool to better understand how those of the first two or three centuries lived the faith that was handed down to them by the Apostles, and see how (and if) we measure up in our faith today.
Some sites to visit for more information of what the earliest believers actually believed and practiced are Scroll Publishing, which also has links to local churches that are attempting to get back to this primitive faith and practice; The Guide to Early Church Documents; The Works of Tertullian; Earlychurch.com; and a link to the first 10 volumes of the Ante-Nicene Writings.
Some other sites of interest are: Blueprint for a Revolution by Reed Merino, Nonresistance.org which has writings from Christians and non-Christians about the peace witness. Tread carefully, many of the writings are still wed to the world.
I do not expect that everyone will agree with what they will find in the early writings, nor are all of the writings in perfect accord with Scripture. But overwhelmingly, the farther back one goes in examining them, the closer to a literal understanding of Christ’s words, and those of His Apostles, one finds. It is my hope that a dialogue may be opened to explore where we are today, how we got here, whether we could be in a better place, and how that might be accomplished. I’m praying for open hearts and open minds.
My desire is to promote unity in the Body of Christ, and my hope is that we may grow in ever greater surrender to our Lord and Master through a deeper understanding of what His expectations of us may be, that our love for Him and one another may grow and that our joy may be made full.
Please join me for discussion!
September 18, 2006 § 2 Comments
Reading pifactorial‘s latest drama has me reminding myself of my commitment to peace. I so dearly want to tell some people “You, sir, are a great big jerk and if you were here, I would smack you about the head soundly.”
But I know that this is the wrong attitude, especially against so much hate. But I want to rush to pi’s defense. I know that’s not my place. And i know I am not allowed to call anyone a big jerk, nor am I to smack anyone about the head– or anywhere else.
That some folks can accuse others of being hateful through a barrage of profanity and blasphemous cursings without batting an eye just slays me. Um, ironic much?
What we have here is a failure to communicate. See, Jesus came and preached Love. Love of God, love of neighbor. But this was a love that He made very clear was a Love that was sure to rip you to pieces, if you surrendered to it, and actually practiced it.
This Love was not merely doing nice things for folks and being your average philanthropist. This love actually required that you give till it really hurt. It meant that if your neighbor was naked, you went cold so that they were clothed, if your neighbor was hungry, you didn’t eat till they had been filled. It meant you trusted that your God was going to provide you with everything you needed, and that anything you had was a gift from Him to be given freely.
It meant that you Loved Jesus so much that you would be willing to turn your whole lifestyle over to His hands, and walk wherever He walked and speak whatever words He spoke. It meant hating sin, but loving the sinner. It meant letting the Great Surgeon dissect you and tear you down– shaping you into a new creation in His own image. It meant walking the path to perfection.
Jesus was hated and reviled for His sermons. He was tortured and killed for His Message. A Message of Love Incomprehensible. A demanding Love that was free for all, yet cost so much.
His first followers were called “Christians” by the unbelievers around them– it wasn’t a name they chose for themselves, but a name they were given– an honor– “little Christs.” Because they looked like Him, acted like Him, Loved like Him. They came out from their previous lifestyles and denied their flesh, and learned to see things from their Creator’s perspective. It didn’t matter what you had done before, if you loved God, you stopped, and turned away from former passions and cleaved to the Savior Who Loved.
Today, so many clamor to apply a title for themselves that once had been bestowed by others. I wonder why? Why does one want to be known by a name that they cannot even agree with; that they cannot follow without dying to all they hold most dear? It’s very odd to me.
August 25, 2006 § 10 Comments
So, yeah, I was a tad emotional in last night’s post as judetherat gently pointed out. I suppose every time i start to post on the issue of doctrine and Christianity today, I become overwhelmed by the hugeness of the issue, and end up becoming frustrated and emotionally distraught. I suppose I need to break things down into smaller issues, and go at them one at a time, only they all seems so inter-connected to me. And of course, once someone starts pointing out problems, they are called upon to offer solutions or explanations or to defend one’s POV.
It’s difficult for me, because this is probably the issue about which I am most passionate, and yet have the most difficulty expressing in any effective manner. The Dissolution and Drifting of the Church from what she is suppose to be. I think that most folks would agree with me that the church of today doesn’t look a whole lot like what she did in the first century. And i think that most folks would agree that with so many denominations, someone has to be wrong about something.
Lately, I have felt like the little dutch boy, trying to plug holes in an increasingly leaky dyke. Everytime i see a doctrine that has gone awry or hear a teaching that is blatant heresy, my instinct is to correct it. But those are merely the symptoms of the bigger problem. A failure to actually trust and submit to this Man Jesus.
Christians today look almost identical to the world. It is easy to call oneself a Christian today, because it no longer requires the commitment it once did. A commitment to actual obedience and a life changed. Anyone can say “I am born again” and then it is never questioned whether they are “saved.” “Once saved always saved, now pass me a cold one, the game’s almost on.” People go about their daily lives, never changed by Christ, never moved by His Spirit, never dying to self, never knowing the transforming love of the God Who created them.
The fact is, Jesus asks for all of ourselves– our heart mind soul and strength. We are called to turn our whole being over to Him. We are called to obey Him. Obedience means we need to know His commands, and the promises are only subject to actual obedience. So many just want the promises but not the work that actually goes into it.
But if we agree that all the denominations out there can’t all be right, who is? How about everybody is; and isn’t. It’s like all these folks out there are holding pieces of the puzzle, but the puzzle pieces are covered in all manner of crap. It is on each of us to actually uncover those pieces– the ones that fit scripture– and put them all together, and actually come together as Christ’s holy bride. When we are all united in love of God and love for our neighbors, and not fighting amongst ourselves over stupid doctrine– because we are subject to Christ alone, and not to traditions of men.
When will we learn that what Jesus means when He tells us to love one another is so much bigger than we have allowed ourselves to understand?
August 24, 2006 § 16 Comments
At least… that’s how it seems. Recently, I revisted a trilogy that was once a fave of mine– The Mark of the Lion Series by Francine Rivers. I’ve never been a big romance fan, but considered this more “historical fiction.” I discovered that I have very low tolerance for any romance in the re-reading. Don’t get me wrong– Ms. Rivers is an excellent writer. I just realized how much I don’t like the stuff personally– it feels intrusive to the story somehow.
I also had previously been quite impressed with how much research she apparently did to accurately portray life during the Roman Empire. However, several years later and much study on my own part revealed to me her total lack of understanding or study of what 1st century Christianity was like. Considering that was the whole blasted point it seems like a mighty HUGE oversite on her part. And it just blew open a whole cans of worms that have been wriggling and niggling at the back of my mind in reference to Christian fiction– or any contemporary Christain writing today.
In stewing over this, I realized that my dissatisfaction cannot simply be with the authors of stuff I find objectionable. It has to be with the root– with what passes for mainstream Christianity today– whether Protestant, Catholic or Anabaptist, Evangelical, Pentecostal, non-denominational, house church or whatever your flavor. There is this unspoken rule of “these are the Essentials that make us all Christians, and we’re ok with that.” Actually, it is commonly attributed to Augustine the saying, “in essentials, unity; in doubtful matters, liberty; in all things, charity.” A quotation, I would like to point out, that does not appear anywhere in scripture but which is pranced out any time someone starts to cast doubt on the way folks are running their churches.
My problem is that there are some big whopping holes in what is being passed off as Christianity– no matter your persuasion. And the holes occur directly in the middle of the words Jesus spoke to His followers. These are holes that become apparent if we compare what our Christianity of today looks like compared to that of the first and second century. Or better yet, even against the solid and irrefutable teachings of Jesus. He told us to turn the other cheek, love our enemy and not resist an evil person. He never tells us that there is an exception to these things. So why do so many Christians feel justified going to war? And that’s just one example of the wrongness of today’s “Church”.
In Ms Rivers’ books, she not only has a first century Christian fighting and killing their “enemies”, she has a character who is a Christian actor– seemingly ignoring the fact that being an actor was on the list of “Things You Cannot Do if You are a Christian” (for which there were many reasons, historical and so forth, but that’s another topic.) I’m sure she must have been unaware of this fact. What she did that irritated me so much was that she simply took modern day Evangelical Protestantism, and stuck it in a place it did not belong– 1st century Rome. Many of the highlights of protestantism today are simply gnostic teachings re-vamped for today’s modern Christian. And your average evangelical doesn’t even realize it.
And I feel like nobody’s talking about these things! It seems that most folks are ignorant of their own faith’s teachings, favoring other peoples’ teachings about the faith. Rather than reading with simple childlike faith what Jesus had to say in, oh, maybe His Sermon on the Mount, and believing that He really meant it, folks seem to put more faith in Luther’s version of things. If we read scripture through someone else’s filter, we aren’t getting the full picture. If we allow our faith to be shaped by the traditions of men, rather than the teachings of Christ, can we truly be sure that we are following Him?
The books I come across out there and the people I talk to reflect this– this watered down, false doctine-riddled mess that hardly lives up to the glory, majesty, power and love that Jesus preached. That Jesus preached. Not Wesley, Luther, Augustine, Swingley, Billy Graham or even Paul himself (not that I am casting aspersions on Paul– but Paul’s teachings without Christ’s teachings are not the whole gospel– this was Luther’s mistake.)
Do we trust that this Man Who called Himself God could communicate His will to those Whom He loves so that we could understand without some theologian telling us what He meant? Or is it ok to just figure that those who first recieved that word from His very lips were so wrong, that only today we have gotten the message right?
It breaks my heart and tears my soul, and I only wish more folks could see what’s wrong. The emperor has no clothes.