Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Women God and Rock-N-Roll

Jed Brewer's newest album God Quit opens with a track titled "Women God and Rock-N-Roll. Here is the video to the track! Make sure and watch all the way to the end, because the very last few seconnds are a great conclusion to the song!

Jed Brewer - Women, God, and Rock and Roll from Jed Brewer on Vimeo.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Shocked By God

One of the cool honors in my life is to live with two amazing prayer warriors. Although only six, I am often amazed at the things my oldest remembers to pray for. Her prayers often inspire me to be more mindful of the things I consider important in prayer. I am literally floored by her quite regularly when we pray together. This is obviously genetic, because in the few months since my God rescued my wife from her addictions she too has impressed me with the vast depth and urgency to her prayer life. Although God has had a tendency to drop people with a great deal of emotional pain into our path for many years, recently she is learning that God has called her to reach deeply into the wellspring of prayer for people's healing and freedom. She is meticulous and dutiful to pray for the release from bondage of the people God has placed in our lives.

Without revealing any details at all, there is a particular situation between a few people that we both love deeply that seemed to me to be to hopeless for even God. It was not that I did not think God could intervene, I just did not think these friends could choose to respond. Yet God has placed it on my wife's heart to claim bold prayers of deliverance in this situation. I love these friends deeply, and have felt called to join her in claiming release through Christ for their situation. Over the last two to three weeks I would say we have cumulatively spent several hours praying together for redemption.

So the other day when we received a call from one of the people involved, the conversation was humbling. God was healing the situation, and both people knew that God wanted to bring redemption into their mess. The initial reaction was, "I don't know what's going on..." Yet then I was humbled, literally brought to my knees in my daughters room as I realized the foolishness of such a crass statement.

After HOURS of prayer, I would have the ignorance to wonder the reason for the break in the situation. I was shocked! God was answering the very prayer he led us to pray! These were his children, and he wanted to speak healing into them all along! Now here, in this time, in this place, as we responded to his call to prayer, heaven' floodgate was opened, and the holy salve of God's intervention was being shown more powerful than the situation I could only see as hopeless.

I am more inspired, to pray more bold prayers. I want to be a warrior healer, like God has called my wife to be. I now understand just a little more what Jesus means when he says, "On earth as it is in heaven"

Save Me From Myself

There are a list of reasons Brian Welch's memoir would have never made it across my nightstand. The fact that I am not a fan of hard music, so his former carreer in Korn, was not in the least impressive to me and that I am not a memoir guy anyway are two of the most obvious. I had seen the book, but had no interest in it. However, I was asked by a friend to read it because he wanted to discuss it with me, and so I ran over the Borders and picked up my copy.

The book which is divided into two sections was an amazingly easy read from one perspective. Welch has a informal tone that seems conversational most of the time. I read all of the first section in a single setting last night, and then read the second section this afternoon. Though simple in form, it was an emotionally burdensome read. On multiple occasions in the first section I found myself so invested in his situation and addictions I would have to stop reading for a few minutes, just to feel sane. The second section was equally an emotional roller coaster as he shared in the joys and pain of God's sanctifying grace. Though wonderfully amazing throughout most the book, it was emotionally very taxing.

I can not believe how blessed I was to have been given the opportunity to share in this personal account, in all it's genuine vulnerability, of the means God will goto to redeem his prodigals.

Even if your nature would be to write this book off like I did, I sincerely implore you to reconsider, you will be blessed to share this journey.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Jesus For President

David Swanson, of Out of Ur, has spent three blog post doing a very thorough review of Shane Claiborne and Chris Haw's new book Jesus for President.

I loved the quote he quoted from the book in this last review:

Church father Ignatius said that if our church is not marked by caring for the poor, the oppressed, and the hungry, then we are guilty of heresy- and a new reformation is long overdue. Some of us who were pretty discontent with how the church was embezzling money belonging to the poor to build buildings and pay staff began to dream again what it would look like to reimagine tithes and offerings, which God intended to be instruments of a redistributive economy… and we came up with the something beautiful and small- the relational tithe.
So here are the three links to the review, and a link to the book on Amazon:
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
The Book

Jacob, Israel & the Incarnational Church

Jacob, the father of the Hebrew clans, was loved by God. However he was deceptive and arrogant and in need of being humbled. God loved Jacob, but was not content to leave him who we was. God wrestled Jacob, crippled him with a limp, and gave him a new name as a symbol for his true identity. Israel, one who wrestles with God, would become the name of God's tribe on earth.

Through out the prophets God addresses his people by both the name Jacob and the name Israel. Many people ignore this as if they are only synonyms used for literary variety. However, on closer study it becomes clear that God is addressing his people in one of their two states before him. Jacob is the condition of God's people when their mind is set on the carnal things of the kingdom of man. Israel is name used by God to address the heart state of people when their mind is set on the Kingdom of God.

As I was reading Isaiah 9, this idea seemed to break down:
Isaiah 9:8 The Lord has sent a message against Jacob; it will fall on Israel.
At first it seems like both Jacob and Israel are about to receive God's wrath. However after reading and meditating on the chapter several more times, it meaning begins to take shape. There is responsibility placed on Israel for the fulfillment of God's Kingdom on earth.

Let's look first at the 3 promises God gives Isaiah in this prophecy:
Isaiah 9:4 - End of Oppression
Isaiah 9:5 - End of War
Isaiah 9:6-7 - God physical presence on earth

So then did Christ end oppression, end war, and establish an eternal physical presence on earth, or is God a liar? It takes only a very short look at a daily newspaper to know the answer to these questions. Sex Trafficking and the Iraq Conflict stand as testimonies that oppression and war are still among us. As far as Christ physical presence, that is up for debate too. Of course the church is stated to be the physical incarnation of Christ, yet it only seldom seems to reflect the same business and priorities that Christ has in his personal ministry.

This is where verse 8 and following began to make sense. Christ is judgment against all the Kingdoms of man. War, oppression, disease, and poverty are defeated. "It is finished" Christ said in his last words on the cross. Yet as Isaiah 9:9-16 points out the kingdoms of man keep moving onward. Though defeated by God the dark kingdom keeps it's engine spinning, continuing the work that it has always been about. Since we are citizens of a parallel kingdom, this judgment falls on the citizen's of the God's Kingdom to proclaim and act out this defeat in every place we are present. Where Christ is physically present in the words and actions of his church, there is no war, there is no oppression, there is no disease, there is no poverty. The power to be present in healed Kingdom is waiting to be spoken and waiting to be acted upon.

It is our commission to enter the places of filthy darkness. It is our calling to goto the places of disease and oppression. Redemption is realized when we the community of Christ ACTS in the world . Where Christ's church is living out the Kingdom of God, the consequence of sin is redeemed. The church as the incarnational presence of God among the world, is the only hope for darkness to be renewed in light. I want to be living in that Kingdom reality!

Monday, April 14, 2008

Spiritual Warfare - Daily Scripture Memory

Daily_Bible_Promises is a collection of verses to be read out loud with your children as part of their bed time ritual. At least that is my plan for these texts. When Christ met temptation he answered it with scripture. This reading guide is meant to commit key texts to your mind that you will need to combat the lies Satan places into our minds.

Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday readings are the actual scriptural text Neil Anderson uses in his "Who I Am In Christ" material. Thursday and Friday pick up where Dr. Anderson leaves off and are meant to place scripture into our minds that reminds us that God has purpose for our lives. Thursday - I am Called - reminds us that Christ commands to follow him are fully consuming and yet completely freeing. Friday - I am Commissioned - reminds us as to what work God wants to accomplish through us.

Again, these texts are meant to be placed into our minds so that we have the word of God implanted and ready to answer Satan's lies, whether they are about my value or about my calling.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Awareness Test

My wife and I have been talking a lot the last several days about spiritual warfare. We have talked about how when we are numb to the forces of darkness that are waging war over our hearts and minds we can go on numb to their influence. However, once our eyes are opened we see that those forces have been present, and influencing our lives in very real ways.

I saw this video today on Larry James Blog:

I think that it illustrates this point VERY WELL. What task did you focus on, did your intensity focus on the task on counting passes, or were you instead aware of the really significant event going on in the room. Ephesians 6:12 reminds us to not be focused on the seeming priorities of this world, to the point where we miss the significance of what is going on unseen around us.

Let me illustrate this in a way that I personally struggle with. Bob walks into my office and says, "Kevin, you suck! You're the worst IT guy we have ever had. I can't wait till you leave for Africa and we get a person with some competence!" My reaction is to react by raising my voice and illustrating Bob's incompetence and returning his anger with anger. However, our battle is not flesh and blood. Satan wants me to miss out on community with people, Satan wants me to feel insecure as a person. If I see Bob as my enemy I will question myself and dismiss Bob. HOWEVER, if I am looking through the lens of what is REALLY going on in the things that are unseen, I enter into Bob's pain and look to restore him in love! I return anger with love, motivated by the fact that Bob doesn't hate me, Satan hates me! Anger and defensiveness is easy, being open and vulnerable to Bob as a means of restoration is hard. LOVE IS DANGEROUS, because it requires me to see the unseen and focus on the ENTIRE spectrum of events present in the exchange.

God has equipped us with the right tools to see be warrior in the bigger picture. Listen to how Eugene Peterson puts the following verses in The Message.
Ephesians 6:13-18 Be prepared. You're up against far more than you can handle on your own. Take all the help you can get, every weapon God has issued, so that when it's all over but the shouting you'll still be on your feet. Truth, righteousness, peace, faith, and salvation are more than words. Learn how to apply them. You'll need them throughout your life. God's Word is an indispensable weapon. In the same way, prayer is essential in this ongoing warfare. Pray hard and long. Pray for your brothers and sisters. Keep your eyes open. Keep each other's spirits up so that no one falls behind or drops out.

Understanding that we are a united community, working together to keep each other's eyes open. Seeing real truth solution in God's word to encourage and bind each other together, that is passing the Awareness Test in the spiritual realm.

The old adage, "Hate The Sin, Love the Sinner." is wrong because it is a euphemism to masquerade judgment and condemnation. In the light of awareness of the spiritual warfare going on around us, we should "Hate the ENEMY, Pray REDEMPTION into the Sinner." Any action on our part that does not intend to move an individual toward being recreated into the image of Christ, is carnal! Anytime we react rather than interact we have failed the awareness test.

Our struggle in NOT against flesh and blood. Are you watching to be aware of who it is against?

Thursday, April 10, 2008

900 Posts

This is my 900th Blogger post. My very first post using Blogger was December 3rd 2003. My VERY FIRST blog post was on October 16th 2002. Counting those posts I am at 933 posts. It has been a great 5 ½ years!

American Idol Shout to the Lord Thoughts

So I don't watch American Idol and never have. It is not my kind of programming in anyway. However since I know something obviously happened last night that had 1/2 Christendom excited and 1/2 offended, I decided to Google it to try and figure out what it was.

The second result had the contestants singing "Shout to the Lord" while images of humanitarian projects flashed behind them. Ok, so now I knew!

The real fun however was the comments. Although they much like most the blog world were a mix of praise and disgust this one really stood as the bottom line in Self-Righteous Stupidity

Apr 10, 2008 at 5:58 am

have been a big Idol fan, but now, I think I will boycott the show. If I don’t, what kind of example am I setting for my children? Its not lukewarm, it is wolves in sheeps clothing trying to dilute, devalue,re-direct focus, blasphemy……….

Now make sure it's not lost on you. This woman is offended that "Gasp!" A show with the word IDOL in it's title might not be a great viewing for teaching her children to build a life focused on God.

GET A GRIP!!!! Nothing changed last night! It was the same show last night as EVERY episode before it. The title explains the intents and purposes of the show. I am not moralizing here, whether Christian's should or should not watch a show titled "American Idol" I am just stating that this looks nothing like a sheep at all. The wolf has had his fanged grip into the flesh of this kingdom from the very beginning. The KINGDOM OF GOD is at war with every power, authority, and idol of this world! For goodness sake, please do not claim some naivety over the spiritual allegiances of the producers of this show.

Please understand, and I need to stand convicted as well, I watch programming myself that is contrary to the Kingdom. I DO NOT HOWEVER stand in outrage when the citizen's of this kingdom promote things that grow this kingdom! This is their CITIZENRY!!!! So let's stop trying to babysit the TV standards of the enemy's kingdom.

Now back to our regular programming!

UPDATE: Please understand that I am not denouncing the show, or anyone who watches it. I am denouncing the bizarre reaction from the blogging world. The show is called American IDOL!!!

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

A 100 Person Family

  • How do you take a band of 100 orphans or more and turn them into a family?
  • How do you teach a motley crew of ragamuffins to be a house of God?
  • How do you redeem the ignored causalities of a plague into an incarnational tribe of healers?
I don't know the answers to these questions. At least not on a functional level. I do know that through the power of Spirit I will learn the answers to these questions and others as we attempt to build a sense of family into the "orphan village" in Nsoko, Swaziland.

Here is a blog post by Gary Black, about the Nsoko orphan village, where our family will be moving to serve. This place is a haven of food, education, safety, and family for a group of the fatherless we will partner alongside the Swazi moms to knit into a family.

Dreaming big dreams are great to inspire us and set a goal even if their results are never practically realized. I see these orphan villages as being the redemption point of the disease of AIDS.

AIDS is a blood born disease. AIDS is DEATH in the blood. In the word of God BLOOD is always a symbol of life, "there is life in the blood." (Leviticus 17:14) So this epidemic of death is an attack on God's symbolic life. This attack is devastating. One needs not slide far down the slippery slope facing Swaziland and the rest of the southern African continent to see that a nation of orphans will be a people raised with no authority, no moral structure, and no hope. This disease decimates the people of Swaziland physically and also spiritually and emotionally. The very fabric of faith, the future of hope, and the participation in love ceases to exist as there is no example of these truths modeled and instilled into the kingdom's children.

DEATH and AIDS must be REDEEMED in Swaziland. Satan has used this plague to advance his kingdom. Yet, the Blood of Christ waits to make good what Satan has intended for harm. These orphan villages are redemption. Not in a macro way, not now at least, but in the lives of those who can be touched and can be trained, and can be taught to experience REAL ABUNDANT LIFE in Christ: the end of faith, the end of hope, the end of love that Satan intended through this pandemic of death can be reversed. The redemption of the plague of AIDS is when the causalities of it's consequences become the FAMILY of GOD knit together into a new tribe that will be EMPOWERED to take God to the nations.

That is the vision we hold onto, that is the future we claim, that is the truth we believe, though now it may be only hoped for, and in our lives it may remain unseen, we believe it in faith. God will REDEEM this pandemic of AIDS through fostering in these children a new future, a new family, and a new love!

Milton's Poetry Corner

One of my favorite blogs is "Don't Eat Alone" It had a short poem today I just thought needed to be excerpted!
and I am Nicodemus, wondering how we, as
collective Creation can carry all our weight
and worry back into God’s womb and come
forth singing a new song. Biology breaks down
in ways melody does not. We aren’t going
back, but forward, from womb to womb,
Now off with you, go and read the entire poem,

Friday, April 04, 2008

Poverty and Success

Last Friday Karen Gerber posted her thoughts about success and organic churches. I was thinking about that post as I penned this sermon.

Poverty and Success

I really did not go the same direction with these thoughts as she started the discussion, but I think if you listen and read her post, you can see the similarity in the ideals behind the thinking.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Don't Be Nice

In Matthew 16 when Christ talks about building his church he says several things that several theologians have hosted several debates to weigh their several different opinions about. None of these address the significant challenge that is proposed to Peter. It was Rick Atchley in a series on prayer he did a few years ago where I first heard Christ's goad pointed out. Jesus tells Peter that the GATES OF HELL will not prevail against his church.

Gates are a defensive tool. Gates mark owned property. Gates are effective not in claiming new ground, but in persevering old territories. One does not take gates along with them on offensives. Jesus does not tell Peter that the forces of Hell will not prevail against the gates of the church! Instead his challenge is to CRUSADE into the enemies property. It is HELL'S defenses that can not prevail against the onslaught of the Kingdom's advances!

We are called to be an OCCUPATION FORCE. We are to knock down the vestiges of the old regime and stand boldly on the enemy's land. Christ spent little time in religious centers. He instead went into the commerce of the marketplace, the squalor of the leper colonies, the homes of the disreputable, and the weddings of the ill prepared. He was present in the enemies playgrounds. He breeched the walled communities where the enemy's devotees were ensnared.
I believe that, like many of you, I'm God's agent, his tool of restoration and reconciliation on this dark planet. We're at odds with the existing order, citizens of another kingdom by identity, warriors by vocation. We've been dumbed down and domesticated by too many of our churches. Religion has made us nice. We need to re-discover our spiritual vocation. - Seth Barnes
Our nice domesticated Christianity doesn't look anything like that. Our churches act like we are the last fortress of the outer zone. People feel hopeless against the onslaught of secularism so our churches become their walled gardens of retreat. We cower holding onto our last hope for protection from these ancient gates.

Christ's church was never meant to look like this. We are the brigada, the front line militia of a spiritual invasion. Our lives the assault force and our churches the MASH tents of the offensive. Our campaign is a revolution and the gates protecting the old kingdom must be trampled to the ground.

Let's commit together not to "Be Nice", not "Be Scared", not "Be Useless" but instead to BE REVOLUTIONARIES!

lntensional Intentional Attention

It's not the divinity of Christ that I struggle with. It is his humanity. We teach that Christ was both fully God and fully human. Perhaps my problem is that I have never met anyone who was fully human.

The NIV translates John 10:10 to have life "to it's fullest." It's the experience of being fully human that I both desire and doubt. Since we have little record of Adam before the fall the lifestyle of Jesus left to us by the Gospel writers is the only play book for the fully human experience.

So approaching the Gospels with a new set of questions I will seek to learn:

What things did Jesus do?
What things did Jesus desire?

Doing and Desiring these two actions sum up the whole quantity of our time. Even the little decisions of life fall into these categories. What we desire is the philosophical backdrop for what we do. By this I mean what things I DO reveal what things I desire.

Two easy to explore examples of this from my own life are comfort and television:

I desire to be self sacrificial, yet I DO things that expose my greater desire for personal comfort. I desire to find more time for relationship both with people and with God, yet I waste time by watching television, so I expose my greater desire for amusement than for relationship.

Fully Human living requires intensional intentional attention. By this I mean our life must be intensely directed external thinking. Look at the examples of Jesus that demonstrate this. Comments by gospel writers like, "as was his custom" talking about times of prayer; actions like noticing the woman who touched his garment to receive healing; encouragements to Martha to just sit and be with him; decisions like encouraging the sinless to be the adulterous woman's judge. His attentions were CONSTANTLY turned toward intentional interactions.

I think the contrast to this is inattentiveness. Most of my day is spent on matters and issues that appeal to and consume me. This is not because of obession, but more because of laziness. I focus internally and therefore I lack the intentional effort to pay attention to the poverty around me. Jesus was zealous in his effort to constantly keep the poverty of his surroundings at immediate access. Among the poor he saw the poverty of their situation. Among the lepers he saw the poverty of their bodies. Among the tax collectors he saw the poverty of the minds. Among the pharisees he saw the poverty of the spirit. His eyes were always attentive to whatever poverty was present in the people he encountered.

I am not struggling with this as a theorem that must be solved to solidify my faith. Instead I want to look like Jesus! I want my time, and my day to be spent like his time and his day. I want to breathe out life, peace, and community like he did. I want to be healing in people's situations. Poverty is everywhere around me. I can see the starving orphan, the lonely coworker, the fearful student, the broken marriage, the ignored child, the forgotten widow, the addicted acquaintance, the suicidal teen, the ... on and on the list the list can go, right here, right around me, but I must be external.

It's not the divinity of Christ that I struggle with. It is his humanity. Then I guess, it's not so much his humanity, as much as my own humanity. I struggle if I can live out Intensional Intentional Attention. I struggle if I am willing to be Fully Human like Him.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Do You Know Cory Booker?

"I am often told I am unrealistic, I believe this country was formed on unrealistic thoughts." - Cory Booker

Cory Booker is the mayor of Newark, NJ. He was interviewed by Bill Moyers last week. He is a brilliant thinker. I am very sure he and I have different opinions on many policies, however he has a wonderful vision for seeing our country unified as a common people.

He is inspiring, and well worth listening to the interview.

April Fools Fun

So last night at about 10pm I came over to work and had a little April Fools fun. I replaced a replica of the users desktop with a virus notice, disabled all his icons, and then added a batch script to his startup folder to make the computer beep 500 times.

The instructions for making the replica screen with fake virus notification are here.
The batch script is here and needs to be placed in users startup folder.

So have fun!