the Mozart Easter Story

Heard a great sermon on XM Radio’s family talk channel. The preacher shared on Mozart, who was quoted in his life to say…The secret to life, is accepting death“. (my paraphrase)

The story goes, that Mozart attributed his amazing life of musical genius and prolific creativity to the understanding that he would die, could die at anytime and that he was completely surrendered to that. He was excited to squeeze the life out of every second of every day that he had, without fear or doubt. He had settled the issue of his passing long before it came up.

Recent controversy with Pastor Rob Bell’s book… “Love Wins” has riled up the talking heads and the blogosphere with accusations of heresy, name calling and polarizing posturing from many Christian camps. His book explores the reality of what the Bible says specifically about Hell, Heaven and life after we die. I’m not here to comment on that other than to say.. I’m more concerned for this blog, in how I live this life, right now.

His understanding of death, released Mozart to live a most remarkable life.

As a believer in Christ, I have theoretically the same belief, that my death will only lead to life. But do I live that waySpecifically…not in the great beyond, or in the great eternity of the unknown…but here and now. Today. Am I living with a clear understanding of the truth behind those words ?

Jesus said, I am come that they might have life…and have it to the fullest. I don’t believe that he was just commenting for us on an inconceivable endless heaven after earth reality. I believe it means life for us here, now. When we surrender our need to be in control of our destiny, we find life. When we let go of our preferences, our endless fears for our kids, the mortgage or the test results just in from the doctor…. we renew our days with something extra-ordinary, a “Jesus” kind of perspective to our day that has the intensity of true and vibrant life in it.

Our kids are watching us as we live, we can teach and preach and do devotions until we’re blue in the face. We can drag them to church every Sunday, youth groups, missions trips or summer camps…but in the end they are watching US to determine what they are going to really believe.

When we live from the reality that we have already”died” to ourselves and to our preferences, we can embrace whatever God directs us towards… determined to live  fearlessly in the face of whatever comes. I believe that kind of life speaks louder than any other effort we can intellectually make to win their trust and hope and belief in Jesus. Our day-to-day understanding of the precious and priceless gift of life that has been given to us in Jesus, provide us with a remarkable weapon of Hope and Healing and Help. We become life-givers to those who are literally and metaphorically dying… Son Rise Cross

So this Easterlet go, allow your own stuff to die. The baggage of worry, fear and frustration that keeps us bound from really living…Please, know that until you surrender the stubborn parts of you that insist on being “right”, or “getting your way”…you’re not really dead yet. So go ahead and die to all of you…So that your and your family can really enthusiastically LIVE.

Fellow Parents,…It’s worth the struggle, and it’s worth the freedom to push through this Easter and not settle for anything less than real life. It’s time to consider a Mozart Easter tradition to begin in your home.

A life of really living… a life with hope and renewed vibrancy…in the beauty of TODAY. After all, we have something and someone truly remarkable to be living for.

Peace out my friends, “Keeping it on the road and in between the lines of Life”

brad.

Rob Bell…heretic or hero ?

Rob Bell, the charismatic founder of the Mars Hill Bible Church in Grand Rapids, MI. Known as an innovative speaker, pastor, teacher, lecturer and author. Deemed by some to be a hero, and to others a heretic. Pastor Bell’s book, “Love Wins” is in the middle of all out debate online, in print, on tv and among Christian theologians on the nature of Hell…he is as controversial as radioactive baby food. Is he a Heretic ? Or is he a Hero?

The Question I believe is actually deeper than that… instead of focusing on the media fire storm around the book, what about the actual discussion on the ideas in the book? For me, one detail has emerged far and above the rest, and that does not involve a discussion on Hell, but what about our understanding of “Heaven”?

Is it possible that we have been over-simplifying and under-emphasising the Hope of the gospel ?

After reading the book… (which to discuss intelligently is a MUST) I believe you will find yourself agreeing with and dis-agreeing with Mr. Bell on several issues. His avoidance of the significant issue of what Judgement is, or could be or will be for souls after death is notable in the book. So for now, the confidence to label the man a HERETIC is off the table for me.

As far as calling him a HERO… I’m not willing to go that far…yet. Jury is still out. For now, I’ll say no. (See Francis Chan’s Video Commentary on this… His comments are precisely what I felt but couldn’t articulate after reading Rob’s book… http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qnrJVTSYLr8 )

But what about Heaven ?

That is the most fascinating question, the critical “take away” reminder that Rob Bell brings to us from his book. As Christians in a culture of media and marketing and canned infomercial styled faith, we may be guilty of missing the point.  What if the gospel wasn’t just a “get out of jail” card for our soul after death, but a solution for life, practical and available in the “here and now” ? What if Eternal life, was describing what life was meant to be like, and is now possible for those who embrace Jesus as the savior he claimed to be?

What if the whole perspective on our lives was meant to be lived with the reality that everything old was made new, and that everything broken was to be made whole and that every loss redeemed? That the power of the cross was sufficient to re-birth our lives as they were meant to be lived. A fresh start, a radical transformation. Then, the punishment for those who reject that gospel of new life would have to be… old life. Dying… Hopelessness, brokeness, despair… Hell.

That’s fascinating, even likely. But not the point.

Does our understanding of the bible and Jesus then rule out the existence of Hell ? I do not belive so. Rob seems to imply he might go there… ?Not my concern, its debatable, unknowable and brilliant faithful Christian minds for over a thousand years have raised the same question with similar results.

In the end, for me its to some degree irrelevant, my concern is living my life now. I believe that Rob is right in this portion of his reasoning… God has provided us all with the option to “Choose” to live from a “New” source of life that is available only in a re-united relationship with God (Jesus). To choose not to do that is our freedom… and our responsibility. To reject that life leads to Hell.

To accept that leads to salvation… Such a “New” saved life should explode with vibrant and relentless love, hope and peace. That life would influence everyone around it, and that witness would provide to the poor, the dying and the oppressed of the tangible evidence that there is a savior. It would reek of Jesus and it would be impossible to deny that a life in Christ was literally like living as though we were in heaven now.

What I see instead for most of us professing Christians… is something closer to simple survival.

Rob Bell in his controversy, I believe is providing us all with a very powerful platform for further study… forget the issue of whether Hell is a literal or figurative concept. What about “Heaven”? Have you actually considered that the life Jesus promised for us all, is more than a harp and some blue sky… it might be right in front of you now, waiting for you to discover, today ?

In the end, you need to read the book and you need to read it with an open bible. Search the scriptures, find out if what you think you believe is what it really says. You might be surprised at what you find… I was.

Bit of departure from our usual parenting fare today, but I thought it was worth the time, and curious as to your own observations on this controversial subject.

Peace out,

brad.

A Critique of Rob Bell’s book…”Love Wins”

 I just finished reading Rob Bell’s controversial book, “Love Wins“. I came away with mixed emotions, but strangely stirred to consider carefully the suggestions his book asserts about what I “think I know”, rather than what the bible actually says.

As a parent, this book engages me to review my way of raising kids biblically and to apply the portions of the book that I believe have real merit for us and to discard the portions that I believe are a pure opinion. As a pastor I feel strongly that Rob has raised a very real and serious concern about how we as Christian’s present the “gospel” of Jesus Christ to our world.

For a fair and balance review of Rob’s book, I would refer you to a post from Christian Today. I believe theologian Derek Tidball has captured my own observations, considerations and concerns almost verbatim.

For real life faith and family issues, read on….

Parents, Rob Bell’s book raises some key elements about our understanding of our Lord and Savior Jesus. He uses in particular the parable of the prodigal son as a powerful metaphor for understanding the viewpoint that God Himself has on both those who fail and repent and those who appear to be faithful and reliable servants. His observation that God see’s both sons as separated by their individual sins is a great parenting truth.

So often one of our children are easily identified as the “black sheep” of our families, always pushing boundaries, always the first to get in trouble and the first to talk back… and in converse there will be one sibling who is extra-ordinarily compliant. It’s easy to pre-determine the actions and reactions of each to our instructions and to pre-judge their actions as “good” and “bad” respectively.

Not so fast.

What about the conditions of the hearts of our children? I mean, are we carefully looking into their hearts before we draw our conclusions about their actions ? If so, we need to step back a bit and reconsider.

God judges from the heart, man from the outward appearance. If we are training our kids to simply model our faith, in time they will learn to simply “pretend” their way through childhood and adolescence. By adulthood, they will have mastered the art of deception and risk the tragedy of living out their lives in public as respectable and self-disciplined fakes. It strikes me that many of our churches are full of such individuals.

If we take the time to actually look a bit under the surface of their behavior, we may find that our compliant kids are actually more at risk for connecting with their faith in a genuine way than our “black sheep” are.  The honesty of rebellion is something that we need to actually cherish as we work with them to consider that mom and dad might know what they are talking about, and that the bible could actually be important to their own lives… 🙂

Tomorrow’s blog will consider the issues of this book and its impact on the church from the perspective of a pastor.

Until then, God bless you as you like me… “seek to keep your family in between the lines and on the road of life”!

Peace out,

brad.