mad world drama

Mad World//Hosanna Palm Sunday Mash-up

This is a drama we did at Glendale Presbyterian Church on Palm Sunday. One of our members, had the inspiration to mash up Mad World by Tears for Fears with Hosanna, the Hillsong anthem. I thought the result was chilling, sobering and opened a window to Palm Sunday, that hadn’t been opened to me before.

The beginning part is mostly me singing, but the drama awesomeness gets going soon enough.

How do you use drama in your worship gatherings?

Jesus Wife Fragment

Jesus’ Wife: What Does It Mean?

So here’s what happened: Two years ago, a fragment was found with the words, “and Jesus said to his wife.” Ahhhhhh, what does it all mean? Now after two years, the report is in that the parchment is not a fake. Ahhhhhh, what does it all mean?

Jesus Wife Fragment

With the word in on the ‘Jesus’ Wife’ fragment, I can imagine that their are a lot of folks saying, “I actually think it makes sense. It means Jesus was more like me. That makes me feel better.” 

So, since the fragment has been judged as ‘not a fake,’ what does it mean for Jesus’ marital status? Was Jesus married? Or wasn’t he? Here is a post that I wrote when news of the fragment broke nearly two years ago. I think it’s all still valid.

Jesus: Single Jewish Messiah

As I noted in the post, a married Jesus (if he was God, which I believe he was) would be an incestuous God. The Father loves the children, but he doesn’t marry them. The Father creates children, but he doesn’t reproduce with them. 

Since marriage is not a bad thing, in fact just the opposite, if Jesus had gotten married, it would have added chapters to the Gospels. There would have been no need to move toward priestly asceticism. Like, none! And I believe that that would have been some pretty great news. 

These kinds of discoveries (like the Gospels of Thomas and Judas) tell us much more about the authors than the subject. Marriage was still being worked out in the early church movement, i.e. “Is it OK to be married and serve the Church?” It seems archaic to us, but it was very real to the 7th Century Christians.

Jesus: Pretty Much Whoever We Want Him To Be

minotaur I could write something about you. Anything I wanted, in fact. Imagine that I did and that in a thousand years, someone found it and subjected it to linguistic study. Would the thing be authentic? Yes. Would it be true? Not necessarily. I wasn’t even trying to communicate truth, I was trying to explain why you are so stubborn. That’s why I added the bit about you having the head of bull. Should people in the future believe, then, that you were part human, part bull? The ones who want to will. 

The point is, historically, anything can be said about Jesus. We can call him Willy Wonka, but that doesn’t make him a chocolate magnate in search of an heir. Nor would it mean that Oompa Loompas are real. Sorry.

We will continue to ‘find’ manuscripts that say amazing things about Jesus, but that doesn’t make them true. It makes them real, but at some point Christians have to trust the authenticity and authority of the Scriptures that we already have. Otherwise, as we find **new** material, the patchwork Jesus that will emerge will pretty much be whoever we want him to be. And we actually don’t need anything **new** for that to happen. 

Jesus: Just The Facts

I believe that we have to be careful where we piece together our image of Jesus. The facts are what we have in the Bible. There’s absolutely no reason to hide things about Jesus, the man or the God. If he wandered the Indian countryside for 18 years, as some believe, then not only would that be in the Gospels, but India would be dead center in the Christian map. The Bible conspiracies are too conspiratorial for me.  

  • If he were married, then we would have been told. There was no upside to hiding a wedding simply to inspire generations of celibacy (that didn’t even work). 
  • And we don’t need a **new, improved** fragment to prove that women can be disciples. It’s all already there.
  • The desire for there to be secret, supressed information is fun and all of that, but honestly, we have more information already than we know what to do with. 

    The End

    The problem with my opening statement and with those who cling to to the hope that Jesus was ‘just like me,’ is that that is not the point of faith in Him. We are not the center of the Universe. While it’s true that Jesus understands every bit of what it is to be me, he was never just like me. God’s job is not to become more like us. Our job is to become more like Him: the holy, merciful and fully incarnate God that we see an unmarried Jesus.

    How are you responding to the nuptial news?

    Jude Cover Image

    The Gospel Of Jude: Start From The Start

    Gospel Of Jude Start From The Start

    “So I want to remind you, though you already know these things, that Jesus first rescued the nation of Israel from Egypt, but later he destroyed those who did not remain faithful. (Jude 1:5; NLT)

    It all depends on where you start.

    My first entry point into the Bible was Revelation. I wasn’t always a ‘Christian.’ There was a time when I was one of those people that are annoyingly antagonistic to the Church, the Bible, Christians and anything that smacked of religious hypocrisy. You might be one of those.

    The 1970′s were scary. Revelation was a doomsday book that basically meant that I was going to hate the 80′s…or whenever it was that this thing was supposed to take place. There would be blood, it would be mine and that (by any definition) equates to a weird religion.

    i_love_the_80s But then the 80′s happened and they were…RAD! There was no Dragon, no Harlot, no Witnesses, No Bowls, No Lamps. There was Chernobyl, but there was also MTV. My real starting place was in the culture that the 80′s created. I’m all about nostalgia: ALF, Rubik’s Cube, Day Glo, Loverboy, you know… My whole worldview was baked in that decade. There are even books out now describing me to me because of the decade I grew up in.

    While, Jude’s audience was hearing this in the 80′s, it was the actual 80′s. With no 1-9 in front of it. Just 80. Anyway. Jude starts this thought with a powerful word: REMIND. “I want to remind you.” Jude is saying, I know I don’t need to say anything, but what I’m about to lay on you bears repeating. Remember is a powerful word.

    And Jude is about to remind us of three instances (vv. 5-7) of what happens when we don’t obey The Lord.

    So, Remember when you were slaves?

    I don’t know what you were a slave to. Maybe you still are enslaved, but Jude is asking us to think about what it means to be free, the price of being set free from slavery. Jude is reminding us that being set free is part of our story; part of God’s story.

    Jude is reminding the believers about that time when the Hebrews were enslaved in Egypt and Jesus led them out of captivity into freedom…<>…wait a minute! Jude, did you say Jesus did that? Didn’t you mean Moses? I knew that the Bible had mistakes in it!

    trinity knot But wait. See, Jude’s view of God is so whole, so complete, that Jude (Jesus’ brother) knows it wasn’t Moses that did the leading. It was God. God is the one who sets people free. And Jude knows that Jesus is God. So, even though Moses was the instrument God used to lead the Hebrews out of Egypt, it was Jesus that “first rescued the nation of Israel from Egypt,” the house of Pharaoh.

    “But later,” Jude reminds, Jesus “destroyed those who did not remain faithful.” He destroyed all but two, actually. That’s pretty mean, right? But if we stop to look at the word itself, what we find is that the Greek word that is translated “destroyed” doesn’t refer to the being of the people, but their well-being.

    They lived as the people of God without faith. They had the first hand encounters with God and still weren’t able to trust him. Jude reminds us that this kind of non-relationship leaves us in a state where our well-being is destroyed. When we live in the presence of a God we don’t trust, blessing and benefit just isn’t going to be on the menu. Destruction of well-being is simply what is going to happen: the soul thins, the heart shrinks and the force of life becomes anemic.

    People with thin souls, shrunken hearts and anemic lives search for anything and everything that will save them, fill them and strengthen them. Anything other than God enslaves them; thus Jude reminds us that we have been freed by Jesus. It’s a circle…kind of thing.

    So, the question is: where does your circle begin?

    Does it begin with slavery?
    Does it begin with a thin soul?
    Or does it begin with Jesus?

    It matters where we start.
    So…start from the start.

    teachable moments

    World Vision: Teachable Moments

    [This is a quite lengthy commentary on the decisions World Vision made last week that rocked the face of Christianity and why in spite of them, I'm still going to support the mission of World Vision]

    teachable moments

    This week, World Vision US has certainly had an impact, although not the one that they intended. In deciding to amend their hiring policy to include gay, married Christians, the organization distanced themselves from the strength of their conservative partnerships. In reversing that decision two days later, they betrayed the compassion and trust of their progressive supporters. 

    Now, that’s equality.

    At the end of the day, if you ask me, the events of the week have illustrated more about the state of Christianity in the US than about World Vision itself. 

    That so-called Conservative Christians would walk away from their commitments to child sponsorships and team partnership to provide clean water in area development projects is shameful. 

    That so-called Progressive Christians would engage child sponsorships as a reward for the seemingly right decision of the mission organization is embarrassing. 

    The children we sponsor through organizations like World Vision are neither punishments nor rewards. They are people, human beings. However, this week, they looked a lot more like pawns in a political skirmish between combative ideologies.  

    World Vision is an organization that makes it possible for the Church in the US to be transformed through a ministry of The Good Sheep (Matthew 25:31-40).

    Let’s be honest. In our current Christian climate, many of us are pew sitters. The worship service has become for so many what the Lazy Boy is on Football Sunday. We have become arm-chair Christians: criticizing the sermon, talking about what we would have sung if we led the praise band and complaining that ‘they‘ never do enough. If we were in charge, we’d be doing all things that Jesus wants the Church to be doing. But what is that?

    Jesus invites his Church into the ministry of the obvious: to care for those who cannot care for themselves. If we read beyond verse 40, what we find is that there is no reward for not doing it. Jesus doesn’t frame context, he doesn’t say you must not serve the poor with those people or those people. He just says the gift of grace must be given.  World Vision is an organization that helps us give that gift. 

    When we serve the poor in the world, we are not doing something good, something that we can do or not do. We are being obedient to our King who has asked us to respond to the needs of the world. 

    Child Sponsorship, running for clean water, these things are not good deeds that we choose to do out of the goodness of our hearts. They have to serve as a response to a God who believes in us more than we believe in ourselves; who believes that we can make a difference for his Kingdom. 

     

    Kennon Callahan wrote in his book, “Effective Church Leadership: Building on the Twelve Keys,” 

    “God is in the World. When the Church is in the World, God is in the Church. When the Church is not in the World, God is in the World.”

    The Church has to be in the world and World Vision is really good at connecting pews to people. I can’t think of another organization that gets church people to run marathons to get clean water to people who need it. World Vision not a Board that makes decisions, it’s men and women on the ground that do ministry that matters to the heart of Jesus. Yep, we can come to a full stop over hiring policies. Yep, we can abandon and de-commit, but remember the story of the Wedding Party? [Mt 22:1-14]

    A King invited many guests to his home for a wedding feast. On the day of the feast, every one of his guests declined to show up – one can only imagine the range of excuses. So a very disgusted King threw the party for anyone who would come.

    Anyone who would come. 

    The King will care for the poor. He wants to use you to do that. But you are not essential, because, 

    We live in a culture where it’s more convenient to have our personal agendas drive our corporate mission. Child Sponsorship is an opportunity for our corporate mission in the world to tranform our personal agendas.
     
    If hiring policies break your heart, but impoverished children don’t, you might be dealing with a pretty serious compassion problem. If you will excuse me for saying, fair hiring practices are not a Kingdom priority. They are an American one, a political one. Jesus told a parable about it [Mt 20:1-16]. The hero is this story is an unfair hirer.

    Question: Is it possible to have a wrong opinion?

    Is it at least possible that your opinion might separate you from the work God is inviting you into? That’s an important question. Let’s not confuse things. There is no Biblical mandate to blog. 

    We tend to make every decision based upon the right-ness of our opinions. We choose friends, restaurants, churches and missions based upon what aligns to our sense of right. That’s admirable and deepliy individual, but what if your right-ness is not…well, not right? 

    There has to be some way to have our right-ness re-righted. 

    Jesus had a way of doing this. We bring him our love and he points to our enemy. We bring him our bling and he points us to the pawn shop. We bring him our compassion and he points us to the cross.

    Us: But Jesus, don’t you care about the things that I care most about?

    Jesus: Sure.

    Us: That’s it??? I’m on the edge here – using your name the way it was meant to be used: to stand up for what is right!

    Jesus: Right according to whom?

    Us: According to you!

    Jesus: That’s funny…I don’t really remember a time when you asked me, when you really sought out my feelings on I thought was right.

    Us: But I read that passage! You know the one…the one in one of the Gospels. Rob Bell even preached on it. C’mon Jesus, you know that verse.

    Jesus: Is it the one I said?

    Us: You said it or someone said it about you. It’s like the reason I do everything.

    Jesus: Well, I’m here now. Do you want to ask me anything?

    Us: Why are so many things unfair?

    Jesus: Life is complex. It’s murky and non-linear. What is unfair to one person always seems fair to someone else.

    Us: Right! It’s always fair for The Man, the one who has all the power.

    Jesus: Yeah, I address that a lot throughout the Bible.

    Us: But, why did you leave us with so many things unaddressed.

    Jesus: I didn’t.

    Us: You talked about everything?

    Jesus: Yep.

    Us: Well, it sure doesn’t seem like you did.

    Jesus: That’s because you’re only interested if you think it’s about you.

    Us: Who is it about then?

    Jesus: …exactly.

    Because, It’s Not About You

    Maybe we have it backwards. Maybe our agendas aren’t the most important thing. Perhaps, we need to join God in corporate mission and allow that activity, that action, that obedience to re-align, re-inform, our opinions. Sometimes, the Gospel demands that we act without thinking first. Sometimes, the right thing is to listen to the Holy Spirit and ignore our inner voice. 

    Albert Einstein warns about opinions, “Few people are capable of expressing with equanimity opinions which differ from the prejudices of their social environment. Most people are even incapable of forming such opinions.”

    We have to get into the social environment where Jesus is at the center.
    Not an ideology.
    Not an agenda.
    Not a position. 

    When Paul wrote, “Don’t conform yourselves to the patterns of the world around you. Instead, be transformed by the renewing of your mind [Ro 12:2, trans mine],” I imagine he would mean something like this today, “Don’t conform your actions to your opinions regardless of what blog or book helped shape them. Instead allow the power of the Holy Spirit to over rule your self talk and move you into alignment with the kind of God-Instruction that demands radical response.”

    If we want to move forward, to see things change, then it’s time to embrace the perfection of Christ and the fallibility of one another.

    Let’s let Christ be perfect, let organizations make mistakes and hold one another up in the midst of it. There’s too much at stake and things will change regardless of this week. There will be equal hiring policies eventually. That’s as close to a guarantee as I can give, but there are children who are sponsorless and whether they will receive the love, commitment and attention from Christians that hiring equality does, well that’s not guaranteed.

    Not by a long shot.

    Beating-Burnout-Book

    Beating Burnout: A Review of Page 1

    Beating-Burnout-Book I’ve started to work through some burn out oriented issues and I thought that I would use Anne Marie Miller‘s book, Beating Burnout: A 30-Day Guide to Hope and Healthto get me going in the right direction.

    It’s not a long book. Its quite short actually. You could read through it in no time flat, but that’s not the point. In fact, the first page has taken me about 5 weeks to work through.

    That’s right. Five. Weeks.

    You might be saying, “That sure is a long time to spend on one page!” And you’d be right. You might be thinking that I have an incredible slow rate of absorption, and well, you may have a point for some things, but reading isn’t one of them.

    See, my issue is Margin: I don’t have any. I don’t stop to get gas in the car because I’m always in a hurry to the next thing. Unless the empty light is screaming at me, I can’t seem to find the margin to fill up the tank. I used to see movies, but now I don’t have the margin to even read a title. About a year ago, I bought a book called Margin: Restoring Emotional, Physical, Financial, and Time Reserves to Overloaded Lives. Trouble is, I haven’t had the margin to read a book on margin. Margin‘s author, Richard Swenson, defines ‘margin’ as the space between ourselves (what we can do) and our limits (what we can’t do).

    He further writes, “When we have no margin and our limits have been exceeded; when we are besieged by stress and overload; when our relational life is ailing; when it seems the flood of events is beyond our control; then problems take on a different dimension. One at a time they are perhaps manageable. But they just won’t stand in line. Instead, they mound up suddenly and then bury us without warning.”

    Sound like a review of another book? No, Swenson’s book is unpacking the reasons one would turn to Miller’s book.

    So, one page.

    What is on that one page? A simple suggestion to add to your life that will save you from burn out; or at least begin the process of healing from the avalanche of working beyond our limits.

    Sabbath. Rest.

    The instruction of the first page is simply: “Create Sabbath.” Not a minute or an afternoon on Teusday, but a whole day to rest, recreate and renew. Every week.

    It’s been five weeks and I’m just beginning to see how that’s going to be possible. A person can’t go seven days a week and expect to stay sane as a result.

    I’m going to work at this first page until I get it. Until I nail it. Until I knock it out of the park. My whole being cries out for rest and Miller is right, if you can’t fight to get beyond page one, you don’t belong on page two.

    How do you Sabbath? Do you rest? Or is Margin a silly dream that gets in the way of more important things?

    What I Brought Back From Colombia

    Colombia trinkets

    Fresh back from a trip to Bogotà, Colombia, the backs are unpacked and the trinkets are passed out.
    When you get yourself so far out your comfort zone, into the complete unknown, there is no escaping the radical pursuit of God. You can’t get away from him. Things tend to go deep in an environment rich with the things of God’s spirit. My bags were jammed with gifts and my heart is jammed with experiences. So, here I am trying to sift through, “What did I actually bring back from Colombia?” I can think of about a thousand things.

    Stories

    Easily, the most profound things that you receive when you are abroad are the stories of the people who entrust you with them. It’s a rich privilege to walk into a foreign world, meet total strangers and crash land in this place of trust where stories can be shared. There’s nothing quite like it, really! Even with most basic of Spanish skills, I felt like I was stowing away these amazing stories, the ultimate of gifts; one after the other. When you want to know a people, it’s not the products or politicians that bring you closer. It’s the poetry and story.

    A Deeper Understanding Of Who I Am

    So as a result, I learned some important things about myself. First, I want to be collector of stories. I tend to value myself more for the information I can cram in, rather than the stories I revere. If you have ever met a man named Derek Cheung, you know what it is to revere, protect, collect and preserve story. One of the brothers we met while we were in Ibaguè, put it like this on Derek’s wall:

    Freddy's Story Comment

    I love stories. My goal from this point forward is to immerse myself in them. Now if I only knew how to do that without traveling thousands of mile…perhaps, that’s just the way story absorbs into my soul. I have to go get them.

    Another thing that I learned about myself is that I am wired for discomfort. I know that sounds weird, but as I look back over the catalogue of missional moments in my life, I come alive in environments I don’t know and/or understand. My brain loves to figure out the dynamics of people, traffic, language, the senses, atmosphere, time, direction, all smashed together into a gigantic logic puzzle. For me, it’s a place where I have to trust God and God alone.

    A Renewed Sense Of Hope

    While driving from Bogatà to Ibaguè, I got to speak to a Colombian brother about discipleship, church, leadership, life and where the next bathroom was. I asked him, “In a city of eight million people, do you find that people struggle with feelings of insignificance?”

    “Yes,” he said, “and this is the greatest opportunity for the church.”

    He’s right.

    When we visited churches for worship, the welcome we received was so filled with hope. The people understood that with God as our Father, we are family and that family had just travelled 3,500 miles to see them. There was so much hope, “This thing is real!” I got to watch our team jump forward, not shrink back. We dug in without any fear of other, or our differences. The church has a place in the world, but it has to go out into the world to take it there.

    So…to all of you who bring hope into the world, how do you do it? Where do you want to bring it?

    It’s The End Of The Law As We Know It (?)

    It's The End Of The Law As We Know It (?)

    It’s The End Of The Law As We Know It!

    You can have as many gods as you need!
    Did you know that we can hate on our Mom and Dad?
    Murder? All you can manage.
    Oh, and you better start getting your covet on!
    Love the Lord your God with half a heart.
    Love your neighbor when you want to!

    That’s what the Christian faith looks like with no faithfulness to the Law and the Prophets. Sound good? Heck, yeah! Let’s rock that.

    Recently, I’ve been teaching an adult class on Hebrew Worldview and the difference it makes in our approach to the reading and living the Scriptures. You can find the class videos here.

    What makes it interesting, is studying the Law (better put: Torah) in a Christian climate that believes that the Old Testament has been abolished in the ministry of Christ. Of course nothing could be further from the truth…unless, it could.

    You’ll just have to listen to the Bible Beat below and see.

    Play

    Scripture translations: Ephesians 2:15

    “For he is our peace; in his flesh he has made both groups into one and has broken down the dividing wall, that is, the hostility between us. He has abolished the law with its commandments and ordinances, that he might create in himself one new humanity in place of the two, thus making peace, and might reconcile both groups to God in one body through the cross, thus putting to death that hostility through it.” [NRSV]

    “Christ is our peace. He made both Jews and Gentiles into one group. With his body, he broke down the barrier of hatred that divided us. He canceled the detailed rules of the Law so that he could create one new person out of the two groups, making peace. He reconciled them both as one body to God by the cross, which ended the hostility to God.” [CEB]

    “For he himself is our shalom- he has made us both one and has broken down the m’chitzah which divided us by destroying in his own body the enmity occasioned by the Torah, with its commands set forth in the form of ordinances. He did this in order to create in union with himself from the two groups a single new humanity and thus make shalom, and in order to reconcile to God both in a single body by being executed on a stake as a criminal and thus in himself killing that enmity.” [CJB]

    Online Resources:

    Bob Gorelick
    Skip Moen
    Rabbi David Forhman
    G-dcast

    Questions:

    1. In the world, if we reach the end of the law, we get chaos. Why would that be any different in the Christian faith?

    2. Knowing that the Law was never intended as a means of salvation, as in never, and only a way put forward for the people of God to live, does that change your view of what Torah represents in Scripture?

    3. Think about what Christianity would look like without the wisdom of the Ten Commandments? If there were no “Law” what would Jesus, the Jewish Rabbi/Son of God, have taught?

    I’d love to hear some answers/thoughts/musings and meanderings in the comments…

    don't quit

    Three Ways To Not Be Quitter

    The process of change costs comfort. 
    Change sacrifices comfort on the alter of progress, but change can be an investment in future awesomeness. 

    don't quit

    That’s what change means, the loss of comfort, or the embrace of discomfort. Whether you are losing weight, working on a relationship, changing something at work or taking on a new hobby, change can really be difficult to manage.

    But the rewards of change can be incredible. 

    Right now, I’m in a season of change as I lead the church God has called me to. We are a denominational congregation in a post-denominational world. The demographics around us have changed, the culture has shifted and the front doors haven’t had that magnetic pull in a couple of decades. 

    The temptation at this point of the change process is to quit. Whenever I try and lose weight, I want to quit everytime I Girl Scout cookies realize that I can eat that box of Girl Scout cookies. Fasting is an exercise in not quitting, “I can eat now and always fast another time.” Relationship changes are really hard because it always means that you have to change, that you have to find a way to collaborate, sometimes in ways you have absolutely no idea where to start. Resistance sets in and makes things difficult. You start to second guess yourself and wonder if what you wanted to do is worth doing at all. 

    But don’t quit. If you believe in what you are doing, hold on. Hold it down. Keep going. It’s difficult now, but it will be worth it. Here are three things to keep in mind to keep you from becoming a quitter.

    Break Through happens right about the point of Break Down

    Since we can’t see the future, we lose confidence in our ability to keep going. The truth is, right about the point you’re ready to give up, the resistance is about ready to give in. If you are feeling the strain of change, so are the people that the change affects. If you can hang in there, others will begin to see that even though the change is uncomfortable, it’s going to be good. Right about the time where you feel like breaking down, hang in there, in all likelihood you are about to break through!

    Things get worse before they get better

    light saber It’s always darkest before the dawn. The sun doesn’t rise in the middle of the day. Change makes people disoriented. We are creatures of habit and change rearranges the habits. A lot of times, change is a kind of death of an old way and the people going through it have to grieve before they can move on. In other words, if you are trying to move a BIG Vision forward that will make the world a better place and everyone will get to have their own light saber, there’s a funeral to ackknowedge first. The world before, where nobody had a light saber, has to die. Things at their worst often mean that better is right around the corner. 

    If you don’t believe in it, no one will

    Second guessing yourself is totally normal, but it won’t get you where you want to go. Do you believe in the change you are engineering? Do you believe in your vision? Do you believe that when the change happens things will be more like you know they need to be? If the answer is “yes” then don’t waver, don’t back down, don’t second guess. Because guess what? If you don’t believe in what you are doing, how can you expect anyone else to? That person IS going to come forward and tell you that you are messing everything up. They will. They always do. But believe! Become the CBO — Chief Believing Officer, the Boss of Belief. 

    Will things change if you don’t change them? Is “the same” what you want? Is “the way things are” getting the results you are looking for? 

    If you answered “no” to any or all of these questions then change is a necessary step to get you where you need go. 

    So get ready, set, Don’t Quit!

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