Rolling Stone Theology

Dylan… man, you gotta love the lyrics this genius of music creates! He’s an icon and rightly so… one of his most famous lines…

“How does it feel, how does it feel?
To be on your own, with no direction home
A complete unknown, like a rolling stone” *

We’re tempted to dis-engage with the church. Tempted to walk away and watch things from a safer distance. I get it. Community is a rough and weary commitment, but it’s also a huge strength and support in times of struggle and loss. Mostly… community is important because it’s God’s way of expressing Himself to our world and helping us grow.

Solo living seems easier. It feels safer. Our instincts tell us that we’re better off avoiding the entrapment of shared intimacy and the implied burdens we carry as a group. It would be cleaner and simpler to just have our own stuff to worry about and leave it that. church-e1506439459166.jpg

I believe that’s why Mega-Churches thrive. They provide a place for faith to exist without the intrusion of being noticed. A place to attend when we’re up for it,  church on neutral ground without the weight of accountability and personal responsibility. (please note – Certainly not meant to imply that everyone who attends a large church falls into this category)

But the bible keeps pushing for us to recognize the masters blue-print for our life. The architectural plans have been designed and drawn up, now it’s building time!

As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. (1 Peter 2:4-5 ESV) 

The plans of God include you and I… not as ‘single’ pieces in a puzzle, but us as ‘the” puzzle together! The picture of God’s Kingdom includes the coming together of multiple people – places – and passions. We’re meant to share in the struggle, to walk through the pilgrimage of faith as a tribe. Not simply as solo artists and individual rocks.

We’re not called to be ‘Rolling stones’… we’re called to be part of the wall that makes up a living temple, a testament to God’s majesty and humanity. (i.e. the Local Church)

Bob-Dylan-005

Bob Dylan – Live For Live Music

I shudder to think of what I would be like today if I had just bailed on the concept of being a part of the church after a few ‘dust-ups of misunderstanding and offense.

Parents, we are all tempted to isolate and avoid. But we know the examples we’re setting will impact our kids for a lifetime. If we regularly come home from church venting our frustrations and offenses from our local spiritual family in front of them…and then expect our kids to be enthusiastic about services… we’re sending some mixed signals.

But consider the truth of God’s word… the reality of life without a spiritual anchor or community of faith is uncertain. Your family needs you as a parent to plug-in. Parenting is one of the heaviest burdens we will ever carry, there will be moments when you would give up or walk away… moments that will need encouragement and perspective to stay the course. Others will need your experiences to make it through their struggles… we can’t always figure things out alone. We’re not meant to.

So… my strong encouragement is this; Fight for the relationships God has gifted you with. Don’t walk away… don’t deny the friendships and faithfulness of your brothers and sisters in Christ. People will let us down… they will offend and ignore us, but push through the pain and trust God to bring you through. There is a profound strength that comes from reconciliation and renewal, friendships that have been tested and tried are stronger still.

Don’t do a Dylan… instead let’s strive to be a “Paul” (**see below).

11 And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds[c] and teachers, 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood,to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, 14 so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. 15 Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ,16 from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love. ( Apostle Paul – Letter to the church at Ephesus – Chapter 4: 11-16 ESV) 

** Extra Favorite Scripture reference on the subject of community is this… Colossians 1:15-20: “We look at this Son and see the God who cannot be seen. We look at this Son and see God’s original purpose in everything created. For everything, absolutely everything, above and below, visible and invisible, rank after rank after rank of angels—everything got started in him and finds its purpose in him. He was there before any of it came into existence and holds it all together right up to this moment. And when it comes to the church, he organizes and holds it together, like a head does a body. He was supreme in the beginning and—leading the resurrection parade—he is supreme in the end. From beginning to end he’s there, towering far above everything, everyone. So spacious is he, so roomy, that everything of God finds its proper place in him without crowding. Not only that, but all the broken and dislocated pieces of the universe—people and things, animals and atoms—get properly fixed and fit together in vibrant harmonies, all because of his death, his blood that poured down from the cross.” (MSG)

*(Lyric Source for this blog – Songwriter: Bob Dylan – Like a Rolling Stone lyrics © Bob Dylan Music Co.)

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Take it Back!

Words spoken in anger…

We get frustrated. We say stuff we regret. Harsh words spoken with painful spite, the net effect… a wounded heart. 

Pain from the accusation. Pain from the separation of friends and lovers. Pain from the truth and its bitter sting… pain from a well placed lie and the venom of being misunderstood.

Such little things… words.

Add a mix of social media and instant technology, and the toxic can become catastrophic for relationships.

The Coaching Room

As parents and pastors the field of life is strewn with the corpses of past friends, fellow soldiers for the King and old comrades in arms now fallen.  We see the gross and festering wounds of bitter disappointment and resentment seeping across the hearts of those we minister to… and with.

The culture is sucking us dry. We’re being trained to cut loose our baggage… to move on when things get messy. No relationship is worth our sacrifice and struggle, we exhaust and offend easily, fragile in our self-absorption and pride. 

The gospel of Christ forces us to look beyond self-interest. It re-aligns our hearts to something greater than affirmation and glory. The gospel received awakens something super-natural in us… and true love awakes.

We crave to serve and sacrifice, an unexpected contentment and growing satisfaction in our heart. Our relationships begin to bring us strength, fulfilment, and peace, not the old familiar creep of bitterness and jealous resentent.

Brings to mind an inspired poem that sparked a revival of sorts; “…Whatever it takes they will give: Breaking the rules. Shaking mediocrity from its cosy little hide. Laying down their rights and their precious little wrongs,…” (The Vision Poem

Guys… we must lay down the offenses, forgive the offenders, and take back our words. There’s no other way to reconcile.

Andrea Lystrup Therapy

If you’re struggling with a relationship. If you find yourself distant and isolated, nursing a grudge… it’s time to take it back. Yep… those words of anger and hurt need to be recalled.

Pick up your mobile phone… arrange for some coffee talk and take a risk. Share your regrets and your pain… swallow your pride and fight on dear one. The relationships of life are our only true treasures to keep. 

Peace out- Pastor B.

 

The Flaws of Family…

Every year we gather as families. 

Turkey and Football, Black Friday and Tryptophan Thursday… the family together… In one place… for an extended period of time.

That will create some drama. 

Sometimes it’s good drama (hugs, love, affection, and cheek pinching) and sometimes it’s bad. (arguments, old grudges renewed, hostility and offense) family-thanksgiving-drama-modern-family

The question for each of us, how will we respond?

Of course families have emotional baggage. Of course we struggle to ‘like’ the one’s we love. That’s life. That’s family. Expect it.

Don’t revel in how bad it (family) really is now that you’re back in the thick of the fray. Don’t marvel at how much the past mirrors our present, or how the old habits of your family are like Kryptonite to your Christian testimony of today.

My encouragement, my exhortation… enter the Turkey gates this year with renewed humility and hope.

  1. Humility – accepting your own flaws. Acknowledge and accept that you need as much forgiveness and grace as anyone before arriving…  If you do, you’ll be in a much better position to extend some grace to your annoying whoever… 🙂
  2. Hope – trust that as God is actively at work in changing you… He is also working with those around you. That means… your family can change!

Remember… it’s the mix of good and bad that make it all so interesting. One thing we know for sure as followers of Christ, He expects us to learn to love each other as He loves us. That means to forgive and to be reconciled (*means to make things right) with our families.

Oh… and for those of you who are parents….your kids are watching. 

Happy Thanksgiving!

Pastor B.

 

 

 

It starts with me…

Tired of what your seeing on the news and hearing in the halls at work ? Frustrated with the polarized passion of our culture pushing us into taking a certain side… “for or against” is the only real option we’re given on the issues that matter.

The crisis in Syria, war or restraint ? For or Against ?

Same sex marriage laws ? For or Against ?

Minority rights and prejudiced cops – the Ferguson fiasco ? For or Against ?

Democratic or Republican ? For or Against ?

Common Core education in the public schools ? For or Against ?

Abortion and Mothers right to choose ? For or Against?

Handgun laws and restricted gun laws ? For or Against?

It’s a constant barrage of artificially induced agitation from our media, fueled by special interest groups and political agendas designed to manipulate us into taking a side, to pick and choose who and what we’re going to support from one extreme position or the other. All of it done in a 90 second sound-byte without time to reflect if the truth could very well land us in the middle of a debate.

How can a Christian parent or family biblically navigate these troubled waters and what do we as believers need to be aware of when setting the example for our kids and those who look up to us?

Couple of quick thoughts.

1 – Reconciliation is the heart of God.  First between our heavenly Father and his created children, and then between each other. For the Christian, reconciliation should be in our heartbeat of every day life. A decision we make each and every time to ‘choose’ to forgive, to determination to keep short accounts with God and each other. Reconciliation defuses our isolation and division between brothers and sisters and removes the temptation to prejudge people, circumstances and events from an ‘offended’ life view.

blindgossip.com

blindgossip.com

2- The body of Christ will not successfully impact culture by claiming moral superiority and reasoned debate. It will be our actions as individuals that makes the difference. Our willingness to ‘listen’ and not preach. Our respect of other viewpoints and persuasions is essential for building relationships and not simply proselytizing for new members.

3- Standing firm on principle, but approachable and gentle in spirit. Christian values may offend others, but let the offense be in Christ and not in us. We’re far too often the personality driven tools that force others to choose “For or Against” biblical beliefs, guilty of the very same approach that our secular counterparts use to polarize and divide the masses.

My prayer and hope; that we as individual Christians will decide to cross the gaps in our personal lives. To choose to engage in relationships with those we don’t easily understand or agree with on the surface. To be discontent with our current polarized way of living, to risk being uncomfortable and to drop our defenses long enough to discover the heart of each other.

Blessings,

Pastor B.

Quote from AW Tozer;

“No church is any better or worse than the individual Christians who compose it….

One consequence of our failure to see clearly the true nature of revival is that we wait for years for some supernatural manifestation that never comes, overlooking completely our own individual place in the desired awakening. Whatever God may do for a church must be done in the single unit, the one certain man or woman. Some things can happen only to the isolated, single person; they cannot be experienced en masse…

Three thousand persons were converted at Pentecost, but each one met his sin and his Savior alone. The spiritual birth, like the natural one, is for each one a unique, separate experience shared in by no one. And so with that uprush of resurgent life we call revival. It can come to the individual only.”

From his book, The Size of the Soul, 14-15.

It’s all about the “tone” – confessions of a dumb dad

First up, my wife is a saint.

Second little detail… I’m a doofus.

Let me set the scene… family dinner of dad’s spaghetti surprise, everyone’s had a long day, sharing a meager late dinner. Bleary and fatigued, I heedlessly jump into a delicate and complicated relational issue with one of our kids.

youthservicesslc.com

youthservicesslc.com

Ever do that ?

Of course you have… we all have, “bad timing” would be the ‘only positive spin we could make on such a poor approach.

In my genuine concern, I jumped the gun and dove into a deep problem armed only with my logic and need to resolve the issue before bedtime. Completely missing my wife’s gentle warnings to ease up, I pressed in…. made my point and wounded everyone.

Nice.

The painful truth hovering an inch over the table and squeezing the life out of what I had hoped to be a ‘healing’ conversation, I slowly realized how soundly I had screwed this up. My wife raising her voice deliberately in check (holding back her right to kick my shin in half under the table) as her eyes burned twin holes through my chest.

So it turns out… I needed to be reminded, you can say the right things the wrong way and be completely in the wrong.

After an extra thirty minutes of damage control from my wife, the issue was soothed and smoothed over.

An hour afterwards, I came back to my wife and my kid to apologize. Not just the “I’m sorry’ I said things the wrong way apology…but the I was wrong for speaking to you that way, I am truly sorry for being insensitive and harsh when you needed me to be gentle, patient and kind apology.

Grace was extended, grace was received and in the mess, somewhere and somehow… God’s Kingdom came to my home. 

apaperlesslife.com

apaperlesslife.com

Parents, we’re not going to get it “right’ , but we can ‘make it right’.

Let’s focus on living our faith in ‘front’ of our families and be careful to allow God’s Holy Spirit to guide our every conversation… and guys, please say an extra prayer of thanks for our gracious spouses who offset us knuckleheads!

Pastor B.

Fatherhood Resource for dad’s to check out – by John and Sam Eldridge,

Killing Lions – from Thomas Nelson publishers.

Rush to judgement

As a pastor I deal with lots of diverse personalities, backgrounds and perspectives on Christian life. I hear various and widely polarized views of God, politics and the role of the church in our modern culture. I’ve seen painful issues blow up from minor misunderstandings to a church split, based on a single personal offense.

It’s tragic when we allow ourselves to be manipulated, nudged into fueling turmoil and rumors without all the facts.

We forget of our mortal enemy and his mastery of getting us to think the worst of the other. Subtle demonic encouragement that urges us to assume ill intent from a fellow brother or sister.

We can easily get caught in a ‘knee-jerk’ rush to judgement and say things that we regret.

Let’s be careful to recognize the unrestrained flood of emotion that can ‘mysteriously’ show up in our days.

It clouds minds and hearts and overshadows all the good and true things of our Christian communities. In those dark moments, very few of us have all of our facts sorted out and lined up before we throw down on our fellow Christian. Let’s pull back to Christ before we give in to the temptation to spew whatever we’re feeling all over every one else.

Let’s be careful to not presume the worst, but to have the courage to ask for the facts.

Let’s choose to trust the Christ in each other and not to use each other to simply “affirm” our views. Let’s give up on the option we can hold in reserve, the plan B to simply walk away if our views are ever rejected. We have to deny the lies that whisper….”we’re not wanted” and re- focus on the redemption of God in our hearts,  trusting He does the same in others. We can’t keep simply leaving communities of faith when we get hurt, grinding our teeth and nursing grudges, simmering with bitter resentment that can slow boil for decades.

The problem is… what we ‘feel’ isn’t usually true and if other people are involved in our lives…. we will get hurt eventually. An unavoidable reality of a fallen world. 

The truth is we are all already wounded, scared and angry. We cautiously visit churches, convinced we’ll be rejected before we ever enter the doors… self-sabotaging and primed for defensive measures. Please understand….I get it. I’ve done it. I know how to live frustrated and wary, cynical in my mental isolation.

We need to learn to take a moment to slow things down and really-truly ask our God to show us where HE wants us to belong. Where are we called to plug- into a community of faith? Not where we feel the most ‘fed’ or  the most ‘comfortable’ or  where people all agree with me.

Ask Him to reveal the things in your life that are uniquely ‘yours’ to resolve. Ask Jesus to come. Invite Him to touch your heart and heal the broken spaces, the old issues and fears, frustrations and pains that need to be brought to His healing cross.

christwithin.com

christwithin.com

Wouldn’t it be great if we moved from a Co-Dependent faith that seeks to find only those who agree with us… to a genuine relationship with God in a community of faith that’s bound by covenant of love and shared mission ?

Saints, parents and friends, we must push forward through the turbulence of community life, we have to choose to forgive and grow up together  into Christ, mature and stable, able to discern between good and evil.

Paul says it so much better…

Ephesians 4:11-16 ESV (Biblegateway)

11 And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers,12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, 14 so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. 15 Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, 16 from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.

Love you all, Pastor B.

Reconciliation

Ever felt you had a wall between yourself and a friend? Maybe just a “un-ease” that something wasn’t quite right between you and someone you thought you knew well… something un-spoken and vague, but under the surface it was irritating some deep part of you and the slow fuse of resentment starts to smolder. Maybe you feel that way about God ?
Reading through the book of JOB & 2 Corinthians 5 in preparation for Sunday’s sermon… came across this word “reconciliation“, It seemed right to “linger” a bit …

photo - markspsychiatry.com

photo – markspsychiatry.com

  Reconciliation : (noun) the restoration of friendly relations.
synonyms: reuniting, reunion, bringing together (again), conciliation, reconcilement, rapprochement, fence-mending;pacification, appeasement, placating, mollification

“the reconciliation of the disputants” –resolution, settlement, settling, resolving, mending, remedying – “a reconciliation of their differences” agreement, compromise, understanding, peace;   (Source – GOOGLE)
Lives get sideways… relationships suffer, people drift away and trust is reduced… suspicions grow. Circumstances that were simple “coincidence” become – “planned” in our minds/hearts and the offense of the “imagined” occurs.
Dark and nasty our trust becomes doubt and an imperceptible negative “agreement” occurs, our minds inventing more and more elaborate details to fuel our growing rage at the separation we feel – but can’t define .
Our pride steps in and insists “We Didn’t DO ANYTHING” – that’s all on them. We surround ourselves with defensive facts, designed to justify our anger and we turn our backs… we walk away wounded, but self-justified.
Friendships fade. New ones are sought out to instantly fill the now vacant space in our lives and we quickly move on… desperate to avoid another “betrayal”.  We mumble a quick prayer to God about how “messed up” that old friend was/is and we rarely if ever stop to consider the truth behind the emotional barrier we may have actually constructed.
JOB felt that way about God. He didn’t know exactly what role God had played in his life, but he “sensed” something was out of balance, that God wasn’t telling him the whole story. Instead of “jumping” to the conclusion that God had betrayed him… JOB pushed for a “reconciliation” with his maker, that’s courageous stuff.  Paul clearly challenges the New Testament Christian in his second letter to Corinth, to make “Reconciliation” the ultimate expression of their faith in action.
Ouch.
That means if we are serious about going after Christ, we will have to be honest with how well we’re “reconciling” ourselves with each other and with God. If we play mind games with ourselves and others… the impact of us attempting to ministering to others in Christ’s name… would ring pretty hollow. I believe God wants us to be “quick” to forgive, forget and reconcile. Modeling the life of Jesus to others by the ways in which we cling tenaciously to the friendships and family that God has so graciously gifted us to be with.

2 COR 5:17-20 (ESV – Biblegateway.com) mom-and-daughter-bonding

17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. 18 All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; 19 that is, in Christ God was reconciling  the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. 20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.
Pray about it… ask God to help you identify the people, places and spaces in your life that need to be “reconciled” and then go in faith to make it so….
Love you, Pastor B.