Every time I play Chance the Rapper for my girls, I get to have a reminder of some theological truths.
Every once in a while, I come upon an obsession. More often than not, that obsession is a music artist or spoken word artist. For years, my favorite band has been the Counting Crows. While they may remain my all-time favorite, it is possible they are being replaced as my favorite artists. They are being replaced by Beautiful Eulogy. Listen, I realize hip-hop as a genre is not for everyone. There is one radio station here in Sacramento whose entire tagline is "All of todays hits without the rap". (There IS a difference between "rap" and "hip-hop" but that is for another post). Even if you do not especially enjoy hip-hop, you still ought to give Beautiful Eulogy a shot for a few diffferent reasons.
1. Theologically Rich (not watered down truth)
"The beautiful lyrical theology is the driving force of the group's music. They have taken the approach of presenting 'meaty' theological truths and addressing biblical concepts, imploring listeners to join them on the journey of growing in understanding and in love with the one true God." - Christianity Today
2. Talent Rich (not "crappy Christian" art)
An enormous pet peeve is watching Christians create art that is only a crappy carbon copy of the art being produced in the culture outside the faith. As those created in the image of the ultimate creator, those with a relationship with Him ought to be creating great art. Beautiful Eulogy would kill it in the market if they were not speaking such solid theological truth. They are that great at what they do.
3. You don't have to be rich (its free)
All the artists on the Humble Beast label give their albums for free on their website. You can get both of Beautiful Eulogy's albums for free at the website, and while you're there, check into all the other artists. I could affix these same praises to every other artist at Humble Beast.
Below are two great Beautiful Eulogy videos for you to check out:
Release Me From This Snare (most recently released video) [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YggGjJfUONA&w=640&h=360]
Beautiful Eulogy [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gz09EF4obYQ&w=640&h=360]
When I wrestlewith my kids, I hold back my strength so they can win
Each year of ministry has come with its share of lessons learned. Currently, I am learning something with an impact for sustainable ministry into the future. Allow me to share this personal lesson in an address to other pastors and ministry leaders.
Never neglect the reality that you just might not be sent to this congregation to change them, but that perhaps God is using this congregation to change you.
Each leader has his inadequacies and weakness. Each ministry leader has her insecurities and doubts. Each pastor has his holes through which perfection leaks right out of grasp, and a congregation you engage with and truly shepherd will have an incredible knack for revealing those things.
This is not an attack, nor is it an especially intentional action of the congregation. This is the way of congregation. It is the way of koinonia. It is the way of the Holy Spirit doing his work in the life of a pastor and ministry leader called to this very place.
If you will allow, God will change you, ministry leader. He will do so with and through the people you thought you were here to fix, save, and change.
It is my understanding that a chord is made up of three notes. Chords are based off of scale of 1-7. So a major chord is when 1,3,and 5 are played at the same time. For instance: a G Chord is made of the notes G(1),B(3), and D(5) being played at the same time.
Have I lost you? Hopefully not; you do not have to really understand what I just said, stick with me.
Have you ever had a difficult time understanding or explaining realities of the trinity? One God, three persons Father, Son, Holy Spirit; each distinct yet not a part of the whole, but each a whole
If I sat at a piano and played the note, G The sound would fill the room we sat in. The note alone could fill the entire space with its sound. That note never changes. That G is always G. Same with a B and D.
But if I play these three distinct notes at the exact same time they make one whole Chord that is beautiful and it also fills the entire space we are in with its sound while each of these three notes also fills the entire space with their sound
You can sit and think about this all day. I have...several days.
Recently I have read a few amazing books on prayer that have challenged me. It challenged my view of God. God is a spiritual being, and he is not flesh like us. We are flesh, but God created us flesh and souls with spirits. I cannot be theological enough here to say I know how that all works out (the diagram above is created by Dallas Willard, and has served me greatly).
Sometimes, I try relating to God awaiting the right feeling and emotion, and it always fails. I just know that I too often try relating to God while starting with my emotions, and I fail. Then I try relating to God with my mind, and that humorously fails. Then I just try to learn more about the spirit, and that spirit is what was made perfect and blameless by God on the cross. Now if that is the only part of me that is blameless, I have to learn how to come to grips with it.
I do not know how to describe that, but I do know it takes a lot of trust (faith); like more trust than anything in my life has ever required before. As I strive to learn, I do know that when my spirit is engaged (another thing I don't have space to define here), I THEN feel closer to the heart of God. That is because he is a spiritual being and that is the only way to be relational to him. This is why I said that when I come to him in spirit, it often forms, changes, and engages my mind, my emotions and my flesh.
There is no way I have clarified anything for you. So what say you?
There is common reminder that Jesus was not the messiah they expected to see, but not much has changed in history. So many people have an idea of what they think a king, a god, a messiah should look like and do.
Even while Jesus hung on the cross in Matthew 27, people passed by "hurling abuse at HIm, wagging their heads and saying, 'You who are going to destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, save Yourself! If You are the Son of God, come down from the cross." So when Jesus is doing all those things in a different way than they think He should, they deny Him as king and true God.
IT is still the same today. They mock and ridicule Jesus for not being what they assume He should be. We do not get to define what Jesus should be or do. Yet, this is what believers and non-believers alike will consistently do. We need only accept Christ as He has presented himself to us in Scripture.
What you read on these pages will not always reflect perfectly my life's actions. Thus the struggle of living out the way we wish we could. Thus the fight to do what we want to do instead of doing what we do not want to do, and what we do not want to do...this we do.
I am a writer. This means I love to write. This means I express well through written (typed) word. But I am also a daily-broken human being with imperfect feelings, hurts, pains, angers and frustrations. I resound the words of Phillip Yancey, "I soon discover that I write about spiritual disciplines far better than I practice them." The concepts I write about, valid as they may be, are nevertheless hard to live. Does this mean I do not WANT to live them? Of course not, but I suck at it. The reason righteousness is so hard is simply because I suck at it.
This challenges my comment toward pastors, teachers and Christians, "Practice what you preach." Who am I to say they are not trying to practice what they preach, but like me, remain children of an Abba who understands they are humans who cannot wish themselves into perfect and righteous action. They who struggle to do what they wish they would, but it does not and should not take away from their exhausting desire to fight for righteousness and holiness and unconditional love received and given.
Reconciliation has to begin with me approaching myself with the willingness to change. Reconciliation will NEVER happen if I expect the other person to change. Changing myself starts reconciliation. Changing the other person (if it were even possible) is control and only spawns more distance and hostility between the two parties.
This does not mean I should be willing to change myself and expect them to change in return. It means changing myself simply because I don't want it to be this way in MY heart. I can only change my own heart and HOPE for a willing change in theirs, but not EXPECT a change.
More and more, I am reminded that prayer is my relationship with God. It is not an element or part of my relationship. It is the largest challenge to my heart right now. I need prayer to be a much larger priority than it is.
Prayer is when my heart, mind, and soul are all focused on God instead of all the things of life I do not control anyway. Because of that focus, prayer is when I truly know and love God. Prayer is when I can be close to God, my Abba and my Lord. Prayer is when and where I can be the beloved one of God.
I realize when I choose to make little time for prayer, I am saying to God I am not truly committed to this relationship. I also realize every life that is greatly used by God throughout all of history and present have a common denominator of a dynamic, fervent, prayer life, and I really want my life to be used greatly by God to bring Him glory and bring more people to know His love and His hope.
Satan fears the power of a praying person (2 Cor. 10:3-5, 7; Eph. 6:10-17), but my flesh is weak and resists the fervent discipline (Matt. 26:40-41; Rom. 7:14-18). There is power in a fervent daily prayer life that is very different from our world's idea of power.
My God, my Abba, help me make our relationship the greatest priority in my life. Help my heart, mind, and soul paint a stark picture of how absolutely ridiculous it is to pursue anything else more. Help me place nothing, even good things, above you and our relationship. Fill me with desire to be devoted to prayer. Help me entangle with you so that Jesus may live His life through me all the more each day. Grant me a hunger for you. I do not want to neglect our relationship. I need it so desperately.
The word passion means "to be affected by" [Tweet That] Think of the things you are passionate about.
You are passionate about those things you are most affected by, and that may be just about anything. When I think of the picture of my life and its passions, I want to create a picture of how ridiculous it is to be more passionate about anything other than Jesus Christ and his presence, his love, his grace, and his Spirit.
Does prayer affect me? When I pray, do I come from a place where my heart is affected and affectionate, or are they words without thoughts?
Does my time in God's word affect me? Do I read the things I read wanting to allow myself to actually be affected by what I read, or am I just reading words without thoughts?
Is my life affected by the love of God today? Not effected, but affected. The former I do not control, the latter I do. Do I allow my heart and life to be affected by the gospel? Am I truly passionate about my life with Christ? Does it affect me today? Do I allow his grace to affect my emotion, my choices, and my thirst for MORE?
These are the true questions of passion.