Tag Archives: faith and theology

Save the Date

So you’ve seen Mike’s posts about The Lord’s Prayer, and his piece, Our Father Vindicate,  now come hear it live.

From the APU School of Music Calendar:

Jan.22, 2010 Friday: “The Lord’s Prayer” Festival Concert; Stamps Rotunda (Darling Library), 7:30 pm

Men’s Chorale, Chamber Singers, and Alumni Orchestra

Alex Russell, violin    Duane Funderburk, piano

“Enjoy an evening of music dedicated to the most famous prayer in Christendom, featuring new music composed by Professors Phil Shackleton and Michael Lee, as well as new music by contemporary composer Alf Bishai (NYU). ”

I say we make it an event and go out for dinner, celebration afterwards. Whose in?

Charlie Peacock on the Future of CCM

Charlie Peacock wrote a piece for the final print issue of CCM Magazine, on the future of Christian Music. Well worth a read:

In the future, young musicians will think that all Christian music is dated and boring, and they will create something they think is current, relative and exciting. They will say things like: “We just wanna show people that you can be a Christian and have fun, too.” Or, “We’re not gonna hit people over the head with the Bible. We’re not Christian musicians; we’re musicians who are Christians.” Or, “We are totally sold out to Jesus. We don’t write vague, sugar-coated lyrics.”

It will be nothing but retread hubris though. I will roll my eyes and grumble that history is hell-bent on repeating itself.

Read the whole thing here.

(ht: The Black Nail)

Our Daily Bread

Two blessings that pass by without being noted, but for which I am deeply grateful.

  • I am strong and healthy while my children are young. I can lift them and carry them, still sleeping, from the car to the bed.
  • Almost every day, someone will ask me a question that has no simple answer, and so I am invited to spend time just, simply, thinking.

His Dark Materials

Tired of all the hysteria surrounding the release of “The Golden Compass”? Take a few minutes out and read Alan Jacobs’ outstanding, incisive, deeply literate critique of “His Dark Materials”, the original series by Philip Pullman that the film is based on.

I originally ran across this essay as part of a collection of Jacobs’ writings, Shaming the Devil, under the title “The Republic of Heaven”. I was thrilled to (finally) find it reprinted online at FirstThings.com under the title “The Devil’s Party”. It is, probably, the only review from a Christian perspective worth reading about the books and film.

It is a deeply critical look at Pullman’s work, but critical in the best possible way: he takes Pullman to task for squandering his formidable literary ability by delivering a disingenuous editorial pamphlet instead of the substantial work of fiction that his readers deserved. I think Jacobs would find resonance with our own beloved Chad’s critique of The Da Vinci Code: he [Brown, and Pullman] delights in goring the church, and “his delight is his undoing.” (what a great line, Chad). What he really wants to write is a bitter political invective against the church, but people don’t pay $20 to read those. Instead, he couches it in thinly veiled narrative, where the characters are either mimeographed caricatures or leitmotifs, and all suffer under the weight of the agenda.

You can hear Jacobs talking more about Pullman’s book at the Mars Hill Podcast archives.

If you haven’t read anything by Jacobs, this is a good introduction. His has a few collections of essays published, including Shaming the Devil and A Visit to Vanity Fair: Moral Essays on the Present Age. Both make good scotch + bathtub reading.

When Your Kingdom Comes

So, I mentioned in a previous comment a song that Chad and I wrote about 4 years ago. I’ve been trying to dig it up to rearrange for small groups, and finally tracked down the demo. I’m posting it here because, well, this seems to be the only place I can put things where I won’t lose them! We originally did this as a demo for Avalon, based on a request from Jody McBrayer. It made it to the final table cut, but then they pulled it. They told us that they were already committed to a song that sounded similar. Then, the album came out and it turns out they were big stinking liars. And that’s why Chad and I do not drive a matching pair of Lexuses (Lexi? Lexium? Beemers.).

Share and Enjoy!

when-your-kingdom-comes.mp3

When Your Kingdom Comes
by Michael A. Lee and Chad C. Reisser

Bonus points if you can name the guys who played (1) drums, (2) bass, and (3) guitars. Chad, you don’t get to play.

Audio Christmas Card ’07 — Hark This

Well, I told you I’d post it, and here I am a whole week early. In between all the gift giving and receiving and hustle and bustle, we threw this little ditty together to complete our three song homemade gift for family and friends (ya’ll :)

Perhaps you’ve heard about the so-called “War on Christmas.” I, myself, think it’s all a bunch of Christian baiting hype, and I have only one pet peeve, and it’s been going for years and years and years. It’s the fact that when people talk about Christmas Carols, they mean.. Rudolph. Frosty. Sleigh Ride.

Bah Humbug.

What follows, my friends, is a Christmas Carol. This is where theology and poetry intersect with timeless results. It was my hope to draw attention to the staggeringly beautiful lyric while at the same time catapulting the arrangement into another time zone. I’m hoping to clobber you with joy. If you’re hoping for sublime and articulate, I suggest you look elsewhere. :)

Merry Post-Christmas, friends.

hark_thedailies.mp3

Authors note: After many unsuccessful attempts to embed the cool audio thingie in the post without help of the webmaster (who apparantly thinks that it’s alright not to answer his cell phone on Christmas day – BTW, Mike… yeah… that 2nd message, the one where I said I had it figured out… premature) I just did a workaround.

When you read this, Mike… feel free to fix it, delete this, and mock me.

(ed: fixed, snarky comments left intact for posterity)

Oh, and then tell me our track is great.

Audio Christmas Card ’07

Greetings, Christmas participants worldwide.

Mercifully, this blessed season of joy, peace, and early bird specials is drawing to a climax, with the big day just around the corner. This being our first year of Christmas in the post-church-employment era, and consequently also being the first Christmas of the post-regular-paycheck era, Erica and I have decided to augment our gift giving with a couple of homemade goodies.

First, we present Ella. Ella is 4 and a half years old, and we decided that she was old enough to participate. I do not believe I am just speaking from a perspective of proud papa when I say that if you can get through the next 3 minutes without a big, stupid grin on your face, then bah humbug indeed.

go-tell-it-on-the-mountain.mp3

Next, the grownups would like to serenade you about the children.

somechildrenseehim_mix_2.mp3

I have some commentary for the tracks if anyone’s interested. I’ll post in the comments section in time. Tracking a vocal session with a 4 year old? Yes, it was entertaining, thanks for asking.

I’ve actually got a 3rd one cooking and if I can get it done before New Years, I’ll post it for ya’ll. If not, We wish you a very Merry, peaceful Christmas to you and yours in the days to come. I know that I’m trying to reconnect with Jesus in 2008, and I hope the same for you.

The Doubt of the Saints

“Jesus has a very special love for you. As for me, the silence and the emptiness is so great that I look and do not see, listen and do not hear.” — Mother Teresa to the Rev. Michael Van Der Peet, September 1979

Time Magazine came out with a whole slew of “Top 10″ lists this week, from the top 10 moments in sports to the top 10 Middle East stories. At the head of their “Top 10 Religion Stories” list was the publishing of Mother Teresa’s private letters.

If you missed the story when it first broke, a collection of private letters between Mother Teresa and several of her confidants was collected and published by Doubleday, under the title Mother Teresa: Come Be My Light. What made this otherwise innocuous event newsworthy were the passages in which she speaks of deep doubts and confusions, where the Angel of Calcutta professes her long periods of doubt, her struggle to believe that a compassionate God could exist, in the face of such overwhelming suffering. That kind of doubt seemed, to those reporting on it, to be inconsistent with the image of stalwart sainthood so cherished by millions.

Of course, anyone who has pursued the life of faith knows that’s not true. We make peace with our doubts, or we flee them, but we don’t ever outgrow them. The presence of doubt in so great a life as Mother Teresa’s is not evidence that religion and devotion are a sham; they are evidence that faith, once awakened by the intimacy of God, can sustain a lifetime of duty and virtue even in the presence of great doubt.

One of the better reflections on faith and doubt was written by C.S. Lewis in The Screwtape Letters, as quoted by Dallas Willard at the opening of The Divine Conspiracy. Writing as the demon Uncle Screwtape, C.S. Lewis says,

“You must have often wondered why the enemy [God] does not make more use of his power to be sensibly present to human souls in any degree he chooses and at any moment. But you now see that the irresistible and the indisputable are the two weapons which the very nature of his scheme forbids him to use. Merely to over-ride a human will (as his felt presence in any but the faintest and most mitigated degree would certainly do) would be for him useless. He cannot ravish. He can only woo. For his ignoble idea is to eat the cake and have it; the creatures are to be one with him, but yet themselves; merely to cancel them, or assimilate them, will not serve … Sooner or later he withdraws, if not in fact, at least from their conscious experience, all supports and incentive. He leaves the creature to stand up on its own legs – to carry out from the will alone duties which have lost all relish … He cannot “tempt” to virtue as we do to vice. He wants them to learn to walk and must therefore take away his hand … Our cause is never more in danger than when a human, no longer desiring, but still intending, to do our enemy’s will, looks round upon a universe from which every trace of him seems to have vanished, and asks why he has been forsaken, and still obeys.”

Orthodoxy

Gretchen and I went to Universal City Walk last night to celebrate the first night of Hanukkah. Ok, we actually went to hear a FOTB, Rosy, play drums for a Jewish band. I don’t know how I’ve lived in LA this long without getting to hear 300 people rocking out to “The Yarmulke Blues”. We brought Sophia and Josiah with us – Sophia loves all kinds of live music, and especially live music, so she sat on my shoulders, clapped and danced the evening away.

My people are not public dancers, to our detriment, I think. There’s something undeniably joyful about a group of people joining arms and kicking up their legs. Just watching lifted my spirits.

Rosy introduced us to one of the guys in the band. Dark suit, black hat, dressed just like 50% of the people there that night. Rosy introduced me, and I shook his hand, nice to meet you, yada yada. Rosy introduced Gretchen, she stuck out her hand, and with an apologetic look, he said, “I’m sorry, I can’t.”

I was … stunned. I had no idea that it in Orthodox Judaism, it’s prohibited for members of the opposite sex to touch.

On Beowulf and Yoga

After last Friday’s discussion of MoCap, The Uncanny Valley, and 3D filmmaking, I thought it was worth a follow up to discuss my impressions of “Beowulf,” as I saw it in 3D later that very day.

Oh, and I’m going to talk about Yoga, too.

First, Beowulf. Beowulf will go down in history as a film unlike most, in that I loved it and despised it at the same time. I want to go see it again, and I never, ever want to see it again. It’s been a long while since I’ve been so totally transfixed, awed, and downright stupified by the immersion experience of a film… oh, and also hated it.

The look of this movie is done a total injustice by it’s previews, which struck me as only moderately interesting. Visually, the only word that describes Beowulf is “Stunning.” I was wishing they would rewind the opening animated logos for the production companies before the thing even started.

The opening scene is a celebration in the mead hall of King Hroogar, played by Anthony Hopkins. I found myself dashing around the screen, trying to take it all in. The depth of field created by the 3D presentation means that a virtual “prop” like a goblet can be seen in utmost clarity as it reflects the light of a virtual fire roasting a virtual pig.

To get right to one of the questions we posed last Friday, which is, “Do the MoCap characters look better then they did in The Polar Express or Final Fantasy,” and the answer for me is yes and no. For some reason, elderly characters looked “right” to me. Perhaps its the flaws in the skin that make it so.

Anthony Hopkins’ capture is one of the marvels of the film, for my money, leading me to ask the question that Jeremy can perhaps answer, which is, how much, in the brave new world of MoCap, does a great actor influence the final, rendered and realized portrayal? Is Anthony Hopkins just that much more skilled then Ray Winstone, or Robin Wright Penn, that his facial muscles just give more interesting information to the computer?

So, have I painted a picture for you? Remember the first time you saw, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, or Jurassic Park, or more recently The Return of the King, and you just thought to yourself, “I’ve witnessed something wholly new and groudbreaking?” It’s like that.

So why’d I hate it? Well… first of all, Beowulf is one of the most relentlessly violent, downbeat, depressing films I’ve seen a a long while. The PG-13 rating is totally disingenuous. If this film had been live action, it would have been rated a hard R for violence. Limbs ripped, eyes gouged, chests opened, organs cut out, all in the aforementioned crystalline clarity of digitally projected 3D.

But oh no… it’s not just the gore. It’s just… sad. George McFly’s Grendel is awful to behold, in every way. The cast-off bastard son of a demon witch and a drunkard king, murderer and eventual victim of mutilation and violence. Grendel’s Mother is momentarily sympathetic in her grief over her freshly dead spawn, until that is she gets a whiff of Beowulf’s man-scent or some such thing and then I guess she’s cool… or something. We’re subjected to Beowulf himself, in all his masculine emo discontent.

Bleh!

This film is made for teenage boys, and lowbrow teenage boys at that. Calling it an animated film for adults is a mistake, as butt, dick, boob, and even midget jokes are present in spades. Hey look! Beowulf is naked, and a sword is perfectly placed to cover his junk! Get it? Here it is again!!! GET IT?!?!?!?!? DO YOU EFFING GET IT?!?!!?

Yes. I get it.

Our “Hero” is a one dimensional warrior in a three dimensional world. He’s all balls and no brain, and he pays the price. I cared not what happened to him. In fact, the only character I actually cared about was his sidekick, Wiglaf, played by the wonderful Brendon Gleeson. However, the film is such that, quite literally in the final frame, we are robbed of something resembling a completed story arc for his character.

Even the 3D effects danced on the edge of immaturity.  For every shot that could be described as lyrical, there was a shot that screamed, “Hey!  Look at me!  I’m in 3D!”  Hey, filmmakers!  No more spears in the face, right?

Then there are these two really strange bits of dialog dealing with the spread of Christianity through Europe that left me sort of scratching my head. Odd Line #1 – John Malkovich’s character to Anthony Hopkins early in the film, referring to the priests praying to Odin in the wake of Grendel’s attack:

“Shall we also pray to the new God of the Rome, The Christ?” Interesting, I thought.

Fast forward to the 2nd act of the story, set 20 years later, and outta nowhere comes Odd Line #2 – Beowulf to Brenden Gleeson’s character as a band of marauders attempt to invade Beowulf’s kingdom, something like:

“No heros left in the world, the Christ God has killed them all.”

Huh? What? Is there something you’d like to share with the rest of us, Amazing Larry? Aside: if anyone outside of my immediate family gets that obscure dialog reference, you get a gold star.

Beowulf will not be a runaway hit, because Robert Zemeckis is a boy, and he had new toys, and boys with new toys (even boys who are brilliant filmmakers) do not always the wisest decisions make.

*************************

For some reason, this exercise in masculine excess crossed paths with another train of thought in my head, which is that of Yoga, and they both happened to fall on the same weekend.

I’ve been stagnant in my weight loss for weeks. It’s been terribly frustrating. I up my running. No change. My knees ache and pop. No change. 7 miles. Yes, for those of you who knew me as a cheeseburger snarfing lard-ass, 7 miles. No change.

ARGH!

In desperation, Friday morning I followed Erica to the Yoga class at our local gym. I had tried Yoga before in a class setting a few months ago, and I made it about 10 minutes before I bailed. Feeling like a clumsy pig on ice is not my idea of weight-loss recreation. This time, I was desperate. I knew that I simply was not going to finish losing this weight the same way I started, and I was determined to see it through. I stuffed the mental protests from my conservative evangelical upbringing, took off my shoes, aligned my chakras, and went for it.

I loved it. By the end of the hour, I could feel every muscle in my body. The next morning, I REALLY felt every muscle in my body. They felt elongated. I felt as if I had been tested, and passed, albeit with a fair amount of sweating and near-falling. For anyone who thinks that Yoga is for hippies and soccer moms, I’d like to challenge you hold a Warrior 2 pose (considered basic, FYI) for 30 seconds and see how macho you feel.

Yesterday, Monday, I went again, by myself. This time, I wore longer shorts and a looser shirt so that I wouldn’t worry about revealing my junk to the instructor. (I didn’t have a conveniently placed CG sword handy, you see.) I came earlier, so that I could stretch my muscles instead of leaping right in like I had before.

I sat on my little mat for 5 minutes listening to the ludicrous plinky-plunky music and relaxed and prayed. It was the first time in awhile that I had taken 5 minutes to just pray when I wasn’t in immediate need of something, I’m ashamed to say. I think I had forgotten how powerful Jesus is, because He came to meet me in the group classroom at 24 Hour Fitness in Thousand Oaks. He’s cool like that.

Somewhere in between my prayer and the beginning of the class, two young college-aged Beowulfs walked in the room, swords a-clanging, if you know what I mean. They had clearly come upstairs after spending some time lifting weights and ravishing maidens. Their gym shoes squeaked in the erstwhile quiet, and their “Whispers” were audible to all. One of them was clearly dragging the other, who was mocking the whole endeavor. “It’s not as easy as you think…” was the last thing I heard before the instructor started talking to us about finding our center and becoming one with the earth.

“This is going to be awesome,” I thought to myself.

Sure enough, even as I experienced a phenomenal growth from one session to the next in terms of balance and flexibility, our young Beowulfs grunted, strained, squeaked, and cursed their way through the session. I think the rest of us were blessed with a delightful mixture of pity and smugness. No one grew discernibly agitated at them for their disruption, even though the instructor had to spend a majority of her time correcting their poses so they didn’t tear a hamstring. I think they were actually trying, which is always an endearing quality.

They made me feel like I was Madonna. I was centered over the earth. I was balanced in my space., or some crap like that.

Yoga is teaching me something, but I don’t know what. I don’t care that the teacher is a new age, post-modern, post-Oprah, fortune-cookie philosopher. I don’t care. Her spine is straight and she has an appropriate amount of body fat. She can touch her toes.

My spine is still bent at the top from all those years of carrying around a hundred extra pounds. I can see my toes now, but I can’t touch them. My right shoulder is slightly higher than my left. I’m a mess.

I’m reversing two decades of poor physical decisions, and I don’t care that a Hindu meditation art is going to play a part in that process. Jesus is cool like that. When she says find your “self,” I think, “Find who God made you to be.” When she does the relaxation thing at the end and gives a quasi-space-age-sermonette about not letting your family negatively impact your energy over the holiday season, I think, “Honor Thy Father and Mother,” and, “Husbands should love their wives as they love their own bodies.” When she starts talking about modified plank pose, I think to myself, “Oh, the burning!”

You get the idea.

Dear readers, I don’t really have a way to link these experiences together for you in anything resembling a coherent thought, but they’re all connected in some sort of ironic, existential, spiritual cluster – eff.

Weekly Goat Report: 1 Goat!

Well, kids, it’s time for the weekly Goat report here on Addison Road. We finally got our first sale through Operation Christmas Goat. That makes a total of $0.80 raised so far, which Gretchen and I will round up to $75, or one goat.

One goat down, 99 to go. That sounds like a parable.

update: if you’re on facebook, you can join the group. Invite your friends, help promote this thing!

Operation Christmas Goat

Once I thought of the title, I had to follow through and do this thing.

Operation Christmas Goat: Addison Road is going to help you turn your Christmas shopping into World Vision goats for families in developing nations.

I know many of you are book nerds, and even more of you like the convenience of ordering Christmas gifts online. We here in the Lee family are planning on doing almost all of our Christmas shopping at Amazon.com.

amazon logoAmazon.com has something called the “Amazon Associates Program”. If you follow a link from this site to Amazon and buy something from them, a percentage of your sale gets kicked back to us as a referral fee. The percentage changes a bit, based on the total number of items sold, but it ends up being about 7.5% of the sales price. I’ve posted a page here on the site that leads directly to Amazon.com, called the Operation Christmas Goat page. Here’s the link:

addisonrd.com/amazon

It doesn’t matter what you buy on Amazon, new, used, on sale, full price, from Amazon or from their resellers marketplace, books, CDs, DVDs, groceries, electronics, as long as your session at Amazon starts by using the Operation Christmas Goat page, a percentage of everything you buy will be returned to us. And then we will turn that money into goats.

goat girlWorld Vision is an aid organization that provides sustainable local economic and health improvements for communities in developing nations. Their goal is to provide basic services, education, medical care, and economic development for communities, train members of that local community to sustain those developments, and then to leave.

One of the ways they do this is by providing goats to local families. From the World Vision site: “A goat nourishes a family with fresh milk, cheese, and yogurt, and can offer a much-needed income boost by providing offspring and extra dairy products for sale at the market. It even provides fertilizer that can dramatically increase crop yields.”

It’s a donation that can change life for a single family. It moves them from subsistence level to having economic options. They can afford to have a child go to school. They can make improvements to their homes and land. They can begin to thrive.

From November 1st through December 31st, every dollar earned here at Addison Road through the Amazon Associates Program will be donated to World Vision, to provide goats for families that need them.

All you have to do to participate is use the link given, addisonrd.com/amazon, to do your Christmas shopping. Buy whatever you would normally buy, and a percentage of your sales will go to Operation Christmas Goat. On average, every $1000 in sales generated through this site will provide one goat.

If you want more information about World Vision, their mission, and a full disclosure of how they spend their money, you can find it at WorldVision.org. You can also find a link on their site to donate directly to them, without having to do any shopping at Amazon.

Please feel free to spread the word. If you know of someone that you think would like to take part in this, send them an email with a link to this post, or send them straight to the Operation Christmas Goat page (addisonrd.com/amazon).

Operation Christmas Goat is on!

(update: if you’re on facebook, you can join the group. Invite your friends, help promote this thing!)

Seize Him, And Make Him King

Posts in the Sermon Prep: Seize Him series

  1. Seize Him and Make Him King
  2. Inappropriate Zeal
  3. Seize Him, And Make Him King

The service went pretty well this morning. I had a few people come up afterward and take issue with the message, but I think they were, for the most part, reacting to what they thought I was implying, not what I actually said.

Thank you for your help, as always. For those interested, here’s the audio:

Sermon Audio: October 21, 2007

And, if you’d like to follow along, here’s the manuscript. Tons of spelling errors, I know. Oh well.

Sermon Manuscript: Seize Him and Make Him King

Previous in series: Inappropriate Zeal

Inappropriate Zeal

Posts in the Sermon Prep: Seize Him series

  1. Seize Him and Make Him King
  2. Inappropriate Zeal
  3. Seize Him, And Make Him King

I don’t think I’m going to even get past this fist verse for Sunday. The phrase “seize him and make him king” just keeps tripping me up. I’m sorting through what motivated the crowds, what they’re intent was, in part to get at Melody’s question about where they went. It’s hard to sustain a mob whose expectations aren’t being met.

wonder bread

Matthew Henry makes the comment that the motivating passion, the zeal, isn’t in itself bad, it’s just wildly misdirected. These people are experiencing a problem, one with political dimensions, and they see Jesus as a potential rallying point to solve the problem. Nothing inherently wrong with that, except for their misunderstanding of Jesus’ power and purpose.

Three observations:

  1. They’re still wide-eyed from the free meal. A little wonder, a little bread, and the thought that this guy might have a way out of the endless cycle of sowing, tilling, reaping, and baking. That’d be enough to whip up a mob anytime, anywhere. Imagine if Obama kicked off his stump speeches by filling up every gas tank in the parking lot from a miraculous never-ending fuel truck. It wouldn’t be too long before a mob formed up to seize him and make him king. This crowd is acting out of passion and appetite, with a healthy dose of wonder.
  2. The perspective of the crowd is limited to immediate, political solutions. They’re oppressed by the Romans. They’re oppressed by their own priesthood. They’re oppressed by their own leaders, who have colluded with the occupiers to preserve their own power. The thing I find interesting is that the political solution they seek would be a good thing! An independent Israel, one with a restored priesthood, economic viability, and person freedom , this seems like a goal that would fit with Christ’s stated values. So Jesus passes up this good thing because it’s not the most important thing, right now, for him. The people mobbing to seize him can only see the immediate, political reality, and so they diminish the totality of what their messiah has come to do.
  3. They misunderstand the Kingdom of God. Any kingdom with Christ at the head (or at least with Christ as the mascot) is the Kingdom of God, right? Apparently not. Christ resists being seized and placed at the head of some kingdoms, no matter how much we may think he belongs there.

An interesting side note, for all you Left Behind fans out there; the mob of Israelites seem to be suffering from bad end-times theology. Both in their formal rabbinical teaching, and in the populist imagination of the time, there was a highly articulated and detailed picture of what the messiah would look like. This was their end-times prophecy, their expectation of exactly what would occur before the re-establishment of David’s eternal throne. As a result, every time they saw something that looked close, they rose up and declared that person Messiah. The masses, in their ignorance and zeal, did a great deal of violence to the population of Israel in the name of their own end-times prophetic understanding.

I find some disturbing parallels between how 1st Century Jews read Daniel’s revelation, and other prophetic works, and how some in the Evangelical church read John’s Revelation. That kind of step-by-step, precise narrative interpretation seems inappropriate to the text, and can lead to actions that are contrary to the purposes of God.

But, for those who like that kind of thing, here’s a handy timeline you can print out and post on your fridge.

Previous in series: Seize Him and Make Him King

Next in series: Seize Him, And Make Him King

Seize Him and Make Him King

Posts in the Sermon Prep: Seize Him series

  1. Seize Him and Make Him King
  2. Inappropriate Zeal
  3. Seize Him, And Make Him King

I’m preaching this Sunday, and working my way through John 6. Doug spoke about the feeding of the 5 thousand last week, so I’m picking up the story at the Walking on Water section.

As a keep reading through this, the last verse of the feed 5,000 section sticks in my head:

Then Jesus, because he knew they were going to come and seize him by force to make him king, withdrew again up the mountainside alone. John 6:15

They wanted to seize him and make him king. I never made the connection before, but what Jesus later stands in front of Pilate, he says:

Jesus replied, “My kingdom is not from this world. If my kingdom were from this world, my servants would be fighting to keep me from being handed over to the Jewish authorities.” John 18:36

I always assumed he was talking about the 12 disciples, but I think he’s speaking with a little more menace than that – he saying, “There was a time when 15,000 people were ready to take up arms and march on the city, declaring me king. Don’t you think if I wanted your throne I would have taken it then?”

I’m interested in any thoughts you might have about this passage. The message is very un-formed right now, so I’m looking for brainstorms. I think I’m going to spend some time on the “seize him” idea. It seems to speak directly to the tendencies of people who want to make Jesus their mascot, to seize him and make him the spokesperson for their movement, or to appear like they have his political endorsement. Jesus doesn’t seem to tolerate that kind of “seizing”; instead, he withdraws, and then does some majestic, earth-bending thing that demonstrates to those watching that his purposes here are unable to be contained by the petty banners of parochial movements.

Next in series: Inappropriate Zeal

Jesus O’Christ

Posts in the Emerging Church Comics series

  1. Brian McLaren and Nordic Jesus
  2. Purpose Productions Presents …
  3. Bono and Nordic Jesus
  4. The Emergent 23rd
  5. www.EmergentOrNot.com
  6. The PoMo Architecture Review
  7. The Emergent Tom Cruise
  8. Emerging “C” Movement?
  9. Jesus O’Christ

I’m doing sermon prep for this sunday (post coming later!), and I ran across this image of Christ. It struck me as very funny, funny enough to resurrect the Emerging Church Comics. So, here you go:

Jesus O’Christ

Previous in series: Emerging “C” Movement?

Fellow Travellers In The Valley of The Shadow

He who goes by Bill Metanoya emailed me the other day and told me that he was going to hold his breath until I blogged again, that he needed a fix.  I can only hope that he was bluffing.  If not, my most sincere apologies to Becky and Larissa. 

Here’s my blog.  Take a deep breath, Bill, you’re gonna need it.

Sometimes obeying God feels like utter and complete shit, and the thing that pisses me off about most Christians is that they won’t admit it. 

God told me two years ago to do something, and I did it.  I completed the task.  I finished the race.  I fought a good fight.  I can say, without hesitation, that I obeyed Him. 

In the end, at least thus far, it hasn’t gone “My” way, or at least in the direction that I thought it should.  The end result has seemed like it in no way justifies the sweat, blood, and tears that I invested.  I felt like I was at the end of a big fat cosmic, “Eff You!  See ya sucka!”

Most Christians don’t like to hear things like that.  It makes them all twitchy.  The platitudes start flying fast and furious. 

The other night, some friends were over, and we were talking about this chapter in our lives, and this couple named Dan and Jaime listened intently to my story.  They nodded their heads and said things like, ”Yeah… we’ve felt like that before.”   

I told them how I felt like I had been stabbed in the back by The Almighty, and Jaime said something that finally meant something to me. 

It was along the lines of, “Well… you obeyed God and it didn’t feel good.  So what?  Congrats!  You’re now like every prophet in the Scripture.  You’re in good company.  The question is not whether or not it feels good, the question is whether or not you were obedient.”

It put my soul at something resembling peace for the first time in three months. 

Sometimes obeying God feels like shit, and I’m ok with that.  If, in the future, God brings someone into my path who says this to me, I will speak peace and truth and empathy into their lives like Jaime spoke into mine. 

You may now exhale.