Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Derek Webb, Part II

I continue to be moved by the music of Derek Webb. I thought I would post the lyrics to another song (for lyrics are the meat of the song. If the music is the wrapping, the lyrics are the package). In this song, entitled Rich Young Ruler, a very intreaging title, to say the least, Webb talks about poverty and how it is all around us. His heart for the poor is unmatched, and he shares a similar concern that I do: that Christians do not care for the poor, the oppressed, and the outcasts like they should. He cuts through the red tape and makes a point about American christians. May we continually get better at loving everyone.

Poverty is so hard to see
when it’s only on your tv and twenty miles across town
where we’re all living so good
that we moved out of Jesus’ neighborhood
where he’s hungry and not feeling so good
from going through our trash
he says, more than just your cash and coin
I want your time, I want your voice
I want the things you just can’t give me

So what must we do?
Here in the west we want to follow you
we speak the language and we keep all the rules
even a few we made up
come on and follow me
but sell your house, sell your SUV
sell your stocks, sell your security
and give it to the poor
what is this, hey what’s the deal
I don’t sleep around and i don’t steal
I want the things you just can’t give me

Because what you do to the least of these
my brother’s, you have done it to me
because I want the things you just can’t give me

It makes you check yourself as to the things you are and aren't willing to give God. Thanks Derek.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

My Enemies Are Men Like Me

As I continue to ponder this idea of war and what my stance on it is (or is becoming), I feel compelled to offer some insite from Derek Webb. By the way, if you haven't yet heard, you can download Derek's new album for free. It is very worth it ;). It has been out for a very long time now. Derek offers deep thoughts set to music about our world, a lot of them related to injustice. This one really got me thinking. I am not saying that I agree whole heartedly with him, but I think we have to agree that he makes a good point. Here are the lyrics to "My enemies Are Men Like Me."

I have come to give you life
and to show you how to live it
I have come to make things right
to heal their ears and show you how to forgive them

Because i would rather die
I would rather die
I would rather die
than to take your life

How can i kill the ones i’m supposed to love?
My enemies are men like me
So I will protest the sword if it’s not wielded well
My enemies are men like me

Peace by way of war
is like purity by way of fornication
It’s like telling someone murder is wrong
and then showing them by way of execution

Quote by Martin Luther King Jr.

"Non-violence is the answer to the crucial political and moral questions of our time...the need for men to overcome oppression and violence with out resorting to violence and oppression."

When justice is bought and sold
just like weapons of war
the ones who always pay
are the poorest of the poor

Monday, October 16, 2006

More on Books

I go through phases with reading. I just came off of a month where I was reading a ton. I am now on a down phase...perhaps because I'm so busy. Anywho, since I am not reading as much, I am going to write about reading. Make sense? Here is a thing I stole off of Eric Peters' site. (By the way, Eric came to the Harbor for a concert yesterday and was awesome. If you have not checked out Eric Peters, do it!) It is a hodge podge of questions about different books you, or in this case, I, have read. Maybe I will encourage someone to read one of these by my posting this.

1. One book that changed your life:
See below to my last post. It is essentially this questioned answered in a very lengthy fashion.

2. One book that you’ve read more than once:
The first one that comes to mind is No Wonder They Call Him the Savior by Max Lucado. From my senior year in high school to my freshman year in college I went on a big Lucado kick. This was one of the 2 best that I read. I have read this several times. It is about the last week of Jesus life. It is one I should read every year the month before Easter just to get a grasp of that amazing last week.

3. One book you’d want on a desert island:
The typical answers here are survival guides. I don't want to copy everyone else, so I will go for my own, original cliche. The Bible. I know that that is the dorky Christian, Bible-nerd that I am answer, bit it really is true. I don't think I would get sick of it for a long time.

4. One book that made you laugh:
The hardest i can remember laughing recently at a book are the first chapters of both Searching for God Knows What and To Own a Dragon bu Donald Miller. He absolutely had me splitting at the side on each of these. It is witty humor, which I love.

5. One book that made you cry:
Hmmmm. I'm not much of a cryer, nor do I read many sad books. Although my heart went out in Searching for God Knows What for the boy Miller describes in his class as a kid. That has put me the closest in awhile.

6. One book that you wish had been written:
How I put an End to World Poverty, Hunger, and Disease by Nick Fox

7. One book you wish had never been written:
Probably one of the super boring ones I had to read in college. There were not too many, but a few. It would be great if one of those hadn't been around back then.

8. One book you’re currently reading:
Several, actually. I am one of those people that will have many books going at one time. Here they are:

The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand
This is a philosophical novel written a long time ago that tells why the worship of self is the best way of life. Very anti-Christian, but interesting views nontheless.

Bono by Michka Assayas
This is just an interview with Bono. It is interesting to learn more about his life and history.

The Search to Belong by Joshua Myers
We are reading this as a staff at the Harbor. It is teaching me a lot about the different circles of intimacy that people share, and what is appropriate in each. unfortunately the church has not done well in the past in this area.

9. One book you’ve been meaning to read:
I have The Life of Pi which comes highly reccomended from my friend Eric. It is on my list as soon as I finish one of these others I am working on.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Top 5 Books that Shaped My Life

Christianity today came out with their Top 50 Books that Shaped Evangelicals (regards Tim Ellsworth). I went through the list and had heard of almost half of them, and had read six. I reflected on this...and wondered whether I was a bad Christian and a slacker or if the list was flawed. I think it is somewhere in the middle. I read a ton, but it is more current stuff rather than the "classics," which are mostly on this list.

This list got me thinking, though, what are the most influential books in my life? I thought I would share with you a top 5 and explain a little about each. I did not count the Bible, because that would be a bit unfair. Here we go:

5. Searching for God Knows What Donald Miller
I read this book over the summer, and it was amazing. I didn't end up having time to blog about it on here because I was super busy, but this book was so great. He talks about God in story, and how we must always resist boiling God down to a step by step formula. He spends a great deal of time talking about "lifeboat theory," which I had decided before I was dedicating my life to stopping in my own life and in any other way I could. This book gave me the words and focus to do that. This is a must read.

4. Courageous Leadership Bill Hybels
I read this book when I was in Thailand doing missions work for a summer. What is unique about that is that the entire summer turned into a leadership development summer for me, and this book was a big part of it, in addition to the great people with whom I worked. This book taught me some important lessons in leadership and got me thinking and praying intentionally about the leadership in my own life. The timing was great, because a year later I would be up here in Minnesota serving in a full time leadership role at a church. This book was exactly what I needed and I am thankful God used it the way he did.

3. The Life Giving Church Ted Haggard
I read this book my senior year in high school when I was doing an internship at my home church, and then again right before my 2nd year in college. This book, as did Courageous Leadership, gave me a great love for the church, that has a lot to do with what I am doing today. Haggard separates out Religion and a Relationship with Christ and talks about how churches can foster those cultures. His thoughts on legalism versus life (he uses different words, but that is how I interpret them)early in the book remain with me, and I think on them regularly.

2. Blue Like Jazz Donald Miller
I read this book early this year, and if you read this blog much, you know that I have written about it a ton (here, here, and
). I have thought about it a lot recently as I met Donald last month and talked with him about this book. It really has been very influential in my life. I think before I read this book I was a "blind conservative." After reading it, I would still call myself a conservative, but I feel I am much more God centered in my thinking than before. Donald points out a lot of the problems that are giving Christians a bad name. Many of these have to do with religion. It was very refreshing for me, and has shaped my thinking in a huge way.

1. Mere Christianity C.S. Lewis
Finally, a classic made the list. I have read this many times. I put this number one because I give this book credit for me changing my thinking to more like a philosopher, to thinking things through and exploring them for myself. I think every person goes through that at some point in their life, and this book at a lot to do with that phase in mine. That may be one of the most important changes a person will go through. God wants us to be thinkers, and Lewis provides a great example of this.

Hidden Sin

I have been thinking a lot about sin recently. There are many reasons. The topic we are discussing in our series on Wednesday nights to the Students, the stuff I am reading, the struggles people I know are going through, sin in my own life. From all of this, I have come to a very specific conclusion:

Sin is not a big deal to us.

We see sin as if it were on a credit card...that we can spend whatever we want without worrying about it. We sin staggeringly often, but are seldom arrested in our hearts to change our ways. I am talking to myself as much as anyone else. I notice this all the time. It boils down, again to my point, that Sin is not a big deal to us.

I think there are pretty much 2 reasons that this is the case in our world today. First, that we know the outcome: Jesus paid our debt. If all of our sin is covered, why is it such a big deal? We would never be so crass as to verbalize it as I am now, but I think it is what we tell ourselves. The scary thing is that Paul warns against this very idea. He writes in Romans 6:1-2 "What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?" Great question, Paul. And yet so many of us, I believe, are doing exactly what he describes, "Living in Sin." Sin is a way of life; a rut, if you will, that we have apparently no plans to get out of. Have you noticed how trendy it is to lie nowadays, even for Christians? Have you noticed how common it is for Christians to use profanity? Do you realize that according to youthpastor.com, 60% of youth pastors admit to having viewed pornography in the past month? Friends, sin is a major issue, and we need to do all we can to remove it from our lives. The problem, as I return to my point, is that we view it as already taken care of. What if it were harder? What if we still had to sacrifice a goat to gain forgiveness every time we sinned? What would that cost us financially? Would it change things?

The second reason I think that we view sin as no big deal, is that sin is primarily hidden in our lives. Sure, sin happens publicly on a regular basis on TV and the radio blah blah blah. But I mean in our personal lives, sin is so often hidden. What if we still practiced confession? The Roman Catholics did that for over 1000 years until it became legalistic and corrupt. The result is that we almost never confess anymore, and that leads to very little accountability on our part to change. When asked whether confession was necessary, C.S. Lewis stated that he wasn't sure confession was absolutely necessary, but that a man should at the very least make a list of his sins. We don't even get real and face our sins any more. What if we started confession again? And what if we no longer felt that we needed to hide our sin from everyone? I for one am sick of feeling like I need to pretend I have it all together. I am ready to throw in the towel on hypocritical perfection.

What do we have to do to make sin a big deal again? It is a huge deal for God, that is for sure. Allow me, while I am here, to make a few comments to add balance to this discussion. I am not promoting legalistic perfection or condemnation. God is a God of grace, that is for sure. But, as in everything, there is a middle ground that is healthy, with ditches on either side. I fear that we may have fallen into the "grace ditch," and no longer view sin as a big deal. My intention is not to urge us (or myself) into the other ditch, the "legalism ditch." What I do hope is that those who are serious about God will get their lives in order, that they will do whatever they have to do to remove deeply rooted sinful behavior from their lives. Don't wait until later; get it done now. I realize that this view is very unpopular because of the discomfort and shame that results (but honestly, after several of my blogs in the past, do you think popularity is my goal?). However, I think God is calling me (and maybe you) to a higher level of obedience and sacrifice for him. To a more serious view of sin and a declaration to not live a lie any longer. May God help us as we journey on this road of righteousness together.

As I continue these thoughts, I intend to go back to The Cost of Discipleship by Dietrich Bonhoeffer and his reflections on "Cheap Grace" versus "Costly Grace." Feel free to join me as I continue this voyage to better understand what God is saying to me.