You are NOT Ordinary

ExcuseLike many young boys I knew, I grew up wishing I were a superhero. Unlike those other boys, my imagination was far more detailed and all-consuming.

My penchant for daydreaming earned me the nickname of “Martian” in elementary school – even the teachers called me that – because I was “always in outer space.”  My fantasy of choice was that a huge storm was bearing down on our school. I would imagine the teacher in front of me, but in my mind – as she was attempting to teach – waters rose up around her ankles, her waist, her shoulder – somehow unaware of the danger that was overtaking her.  I – in my minds eye – would then begin swimming each of the students in my class to safety, one-by-one, until the teacher – in real life – would call on me, and I would be at an absolute loss as to what she had been talking about.  “In outer-space again, Martian?”, and the whole class would giggle.  Even to this day, my favorite movies are Captain America, the Avengers, & Lord of the Rings – give me a hero with special abilities and an incredible call on his or her life and I am IN!

However, life feels so normal – so average – so day-to-day, pushing against the crowd, trying to make something happen.  Is there anything special about that? [Read more…]

The Real Reason we do not Sing

WhyWeDoNotSingThere has been much talk across the blogosphere this week on a topic I’m thankful is being discussed: the struggle to get a church to actually participate in corporate singing.  The conversations was begun – a few months ago – by Jamie Brown in “Are we headed for a Crash?”  Good observations.  Leading to helpful responses by David Santisteven and Dan Wilt, both of whom made some very good points.  More recently, the Kenny Lamm of the North Carolina Baptist association has chimed in on the subject as well. Having led worship in a wide variety of churches – from traditional a cappella hymn singing to free-form, “Spirit-led”, 3 1/2 hour charismatic praise, and everything in between – I’m familiar with the problem.  All it takes is one Sunday morning service with the room staring back at you, uttering not-a-peep, for us to go home contemplative, asking, “What did I do WRONG?”  That said, though they make many good points, I’m not convinced any of the fore-mentioned blogs gets to the heart of the matter.  Here’s why…
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KINGDOM: the King’s Edicts

“The God of the Hebrews, Yahweh, was a king returned for His people – reclaiming His proper territory, proclaiming freedom for the captives, and His rule was FAIR and GOOD”

Last time we talked about the “missing piece” of the Kingdom of God from many believer’s faith. We concluded that LOVE for others is a sure-fire sign of that kingdom. However, we have yet to fully unpack what the kingdom IS. Well, as with any Earthly kingdom, the kingdom of God has it’s own rules. And, O, how we easily misunderstand them!

Most everyone has heard of the 10 Commandments, and many others also the Old Testament Law.  Laws written directly by God’s hands, we assume they must be all-around unique. But, they’re not, and in what way they’re not is incredibly interesting. The style/format would’ve been immediately recognizable to the believers of the day.  All of the Old Testament Law fits neatly within an ancient form of literature called a “Suzerian-Vassal Agreement.”  In ancient times these were penned whenever a King took a new territory: they spelled out the expectations they had of their new subjects, and set forth their promise to watch over them, and the consequences if they did not carry out their side of the bargain. For people who were often ruled by self-serving megalomaniacs – mere humans convinced they were God, who had multiple wives, and harems the size of which would make anyone blush – the rule of this good King – who had freed his people rather than enslaved them – was unique and beautiful. [Read more…]

KINGDOM: Love as a sign of the Kingdom

Your kingdom come – Your will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven.”
– Matthew 6:19

PuzzlePieceKingdomMy middle son, Tucker, used to love puzzles.  Not the simple wood-cut baby puzzles, but a good 100+ piece puzzle that would take anyone at least an hour to complete – he was only 3!  I remember once helping him with one that had him baffled and I have to admit that I, too, was stumped.  Turns out, we were missing two or three significant pieces, which really kept us from getting the bigger picture.

Likewise, the “Kingdom of God”.  Never mind that it’s the backdrop for the entirety of the whole Bible, mentioned no less that 140 times in the New Testament alone – we really don’t ‘get it’.  That’s just to say, the church as a whole hasn’t really committed much time coming to terms with the Kingdom – in many ways, it’s the ‘missing piece’ that makes us miss the big picture of our faith. [Read more…]

Call me Blessed

This is GOOD NEWS!  This isn’t a new set of rules to obey, but freedom to be EXPERIENCED.

Not long ago a blog post entitled “The One Thing Christians should stop Saying” went so viral that it was picked up & re-published by the Huffington Post.  In it, Presbyterian missionary Scott Dannemiller states that Christians should stop saying we’re “blessed.”  Read the blog to see his point.

He makes one.  Personally, I’m not sure – even as he’s using the word “blessed” – that I agree with it… I see his heart, but Matthew 5:45 states that God makes “…the rain fall on the just and the unjust“… [Read more…]