Happy Reformation Day!

Happy Reformation Day?

Some of you are thinking “What the heck?! It’s halloween! Or maybe at least All Saint’s Eve or All Hallow’s Eve.”

And yes that’s true – but you can find out about that other holiday somewhere else.

Instead – we’ll celebrate Reformation Day around this here blog. Reformation Day is the celebration of the anniversary of Martin Luther posting his 95 Thesis on the church doors of the Whittenberg in Germany.

What was initially posted as a Luther’s hope to start a debate in the things he was learning and reading about as a Biblical professor, started a revolution (reformation) in the church – leading to his excommunication from the church and the protestant movement.

Out of love for the truth and the desire to bring it to light,
the following propositions will be discussed at Wittenberg,
under the presidency of the Reverend Father Martin Luther,
Master of Arts and of Sacred Theology, and Lecturer in
Ordinary on the same at that place. Wherefore he requests that
those who are unable to be present and debate orally with us,
may do so by letter.

I doubt Luther had any idea that his 95 Thesis, posted on Oct. 31, 1517, would end up being spread so rapidly to “the people” with the help of a recent invention of Johann Gutenberg, known as the “printing press.”

Who would have thought that the masses would begin reading, thinking about and debating these “high level theological thoughts” like sacramental penance vs inward repentance, the fallacy of the pope, the remittance of sin by the pope and indulgences used to build sanctuaries for the church? I mean seriously, ordinary folks can debate these kind of things?! “That’s heracy!” — or so the church thought at the time (and many continue to think today).

Imagine what might happen if folks started talking about God and debating theology in the bars and pubs of today? Imagine if there was some sort of medium that might spread these ideas and discussions around the world? Imagine if suddenly our theology stopped coming from trained pastors and priests who study for years at schools of higher education and suddenly started coming from Joe Six Pack at your local pub and was shared with folks via Twitter or Wikipedia or other emerging websites to Joe Plumber who lives in Russia or Idaho? Imagine if theology was debating and discussed and lived out in community rather than simply handed down by one central source?

Yeah we wouldn’t want that to happen today. Far from it.

I heard a couple great thoughts today while listening to some of Martin Luther’s bio today via Tripp Fuller and Craig Atwood (hint – you should listen to this great podcast as well and these are loose quotes from memory) ::

“I came to see Christ as my Savior rather than the hangman.”

“Folks got real nervous when Martin Luther began to take his faith seriously.”

“The priests and religious leaders start to get real nervous when people get excited about religion.”

So today I celebrate Reformation Day. Today I celebrate Priests in the Hood (aka the Priesthood of the believers) and hope you do too.

Here are Martin Luther’s 95 Thesis translated to English (and in the original intention of these thesis, your debate, comments and discussions are welcome here) ::

Continue reading Happy Reformation Day!

emerging worship

Earlier this week blogger Mike Morrell asked “what sould emergent/emerging worship look like and sound like?”

I’m sure everyone has different ideas. Jonny Baker is big into the alt.worship scene. Others like Solomon’s Porch, are big on their community of faith writing their own songs and sharing them together. Others I know could care less what the music looks or sounds like – they’re more interested in the celebration and the sharing of stories/testimonies. They admit that their mind wanders during community singing and they may start thinking about work, home or motorcycles instead.

Either way I believe our worship should be defined as “celebrating what God is doing.”

Michael points to 4 key elements (suggested by Adam Walker Cleveland) that should be a part of “emerging worship” ::

  • gender-inclusive language (esp. in our language for God)
  • a shift from a I-YOU-me & God focus, and a refocusing on the community
  • a passion for the biblical themes of social justice, peace and a desire to speak for the oppressed
  • maybe just some more songs straight from scripture (or from saints and desert fathers), letting God’s work speak for itself, instead of pressing our own interpretation onto it, and onto the congregation that will sing the song

Some may say the words to the songs don’t mean much – but I’m a big believer that they do. When I play an artist like Derek Webb, Bob Dylan or Flobots on my Zune – their lyrics move me to action (or at least increase my desire to do something). U2‘s Sunday Bloody Sunday doesn’t allow me to sit back and ignore the violence going on in the world – it calls me to action.

And likewise, as I and others have said before, when I walk into church and only sing songs about being hungry or thirsty — I’ll probably leave feeling hungry and thirsty. But if the weight of the world is on my shoulders and I can sing songs of How Great Thou Art and How Great is Our God or other songs about the strength and might and love of my God, my burden is lightened and I’m more willing to submit control of my situation to God.

Michael points out one band that is attempting meet these four keys to emerging worship, Zehnder.

I got a copy of their album and it’s definitely a mix of musical styles. A little something for everyone perhaps. (That may be something that’s missing at encounter. We tend to lean more towards the rock or the softer acoustic/unplugged rock sound.)

On Going Up, the Zehnder brothers lyrically fit the 4 points that Michael and Adam point to, while mixing in original tunes as well as a rendition of What Wondrous Love is This. Musically I wasn’t as impressed the first time I listened to the album, but upon further listening and as the words began to sink in I’ve became more and more attracted to the music.

Musically I would say several of the songs are similar in style to Simon and Garfunkle others have more of an upbeat sound with almost a choral backing, especially on the song Rise Up ::

Rise up, feel the change!
The Resurrection comes again!
Rise up, believe the change!
We’ll never be the same again!

Spirit Born seems to have it’s musical and vocal styling influenced by Sting (download the free Mp3).

You know the wind blows, wind blows where it chooses
You hear the sound of it
But you don’t know, don’t know where it comes from
Or where it goes, it goes, it goes
Yeah, you know don’t know, don’t know where it comes from
Or where it goes, it goes, it goes

Blow through me, Wind, breathe on me, Breath, make Spirit born,
All of my soul, make Spirit born, Spirit born.

And Justice Jam could be possibly be confused with a Flobots track using backing strings, a hip-hop beat and heavy social justice lyrics (listen to a sample).

For justice I bust this flow for free
Used to be blind but now I see
Through the eyes of the elders who came before me
Like Malcolm and Martin and I can’t forget Mahatma Gandhi
Take a knee, homey / Hug an old bodhi tree
Realize how to be revolutionary
Destiny is divine when aligned with the truth
That resides deep inside that g-ride of my youth
Now I got proof of insurance and a photo ID
But I choose to tell time by Mayan prophecy – Oo, Let justice roll down…

Overall I think the Zehnder brothers have created an album that challenges us to much greater themes than much of the music you’ll hear on your local “Christian radio station.” It challenges us to think about our faith and how it impacts (or doesn’t impact) our daily lives.

I’m not sure the songs are as singable in a community settings as some that Dave Andrews has written but I definitely wouldn’t object to trying them out in a community setting.

But don’t take my word for it.

Go check out the band’s website ztheband.com and then purchase their CD from CDBaby.

And while you wait for the album to arrive, check out their 2003 rendition of Song of Peace ::

Give the band a listen and let me know what you think.

Friends through adversity

I’m in the midst of reading “If God Disappears” by David Sanford. It’s an interesting read thus far. It hasn’t made it to the top of any of my reading lists yet, but several points he’s made have stood out so far.

As we talk about relationships and our relationship toolboxes, I thought these thoughts lined right up with several aspects Brian’s touched on over the last several weeks.

Over the years, I’ve discovered that whenever someone becomes enraged at me, odds are we’re only two steps away from becoming good friends.
First, because that person is emotionally engaged in our relationship. That’s passion!
Second, because if true Christianity is about anything, it’s about reconciliation. Once a matter is settled, the other person and I are bonded. Sometimes for a while. Sometimes for life.
The same principles apply to a relationship with God. He isn’t defensive or threatened when we feel angry at him. After all, we’re passionate. And he’s equally passionate about being reconciled to us, whether or not we want anything to do with him right now.
God is waiting for us to express our innermost feelings toward him and then ask ourselves, Is that true, or is that how I feel?
Sometimes we’re not angry with God, it turns out. Instead we’re angry at a caricature of God we’ve painted like graffiti on the walls of our psyche.

I can think of a couple times this has played out in my own life. Most of them came from my time working at a newspaper. Many people would write in and be angered about something I or another writer might have written. If handled correctly, we could often get to the bottom of the issue and with understanding and patience, a great friendship and bond grew out of it.

Other times, if one side or the other is firmly set in their way and there’s no chance to agree-to-disagree or build understanding, the relationship may be doomed from the get go.

I hope that I do all I can to avoid being to set in my ways to offer understanding and love to anyone and everyone – regardless of what we may disagree upon.

re: How M. Scott Peck saved my life

Finished Not the Religious Type last week.

My friends are going to hate hearing the stuff that I too to heart from this book. 🙂

Stage 1,2,3,4…

Bounded sets and centered sets…

Living a life where we daily listen to God…

Great stuff!

If you’ve got time today, the author of Not the Religious Type Dave Schmelzer will be chatting online at Abunga.com about his book and views on religion both as a pastor and former atheist today, Oct. 29, from 2-3 p.m. EDT for anyone who wants to join in.

The chat will be held at Abunga.com/AuthorsAtAbunga. More details are available in our news release at: http://alrcnewskitchen.com/abunga/docs/flash/081023_dave_schmelzer.htm.

I also understand that the chat will be archived so folks like me who have to work during that time can check it out at a later point. And… I’m hoping to chat with David in the next week or so for an upcoming episode of the something beautiful podcast.

Check it out and let me know what you think!

re: Better be living it out

Here are the notes I took from Matt Chandlers message “Vision of a church planter

a church on mission ::

understands the centrality of the Gospel

committed to the authoritative, infallible, inherent, inspired all sufficient Scriptures

embraces the calling of God as sent missionaries into our own surroundings

– we’re where we are – to engage the world where we are for the purposes of God

actively seeking to be trained and equipped as missionaries

– doesn’t work programmatically
– how do you reach 20-30 year olds? – get the 50 year olds

dependent upon the Holy Spirit to use us to evangelize the entire world

develops relationships with the lost for the purpose of incarnating the lost for Christ

– leaders in missional church must be willing to die. die to self. die to stuff.

humbly helps others to find Jesus in their own timing rather than forcing them to make superficial decisions for their own glory

is committed to practicing faith in community

worships God in a relational, personal authentic way

– “worship is the enemy of evangelism” is not true

a church on mission is a theologically formed, Gospel centered, Spirit led fellowship who seeks to faithfully incarnate the purposes of Christ

the mission of the church is found in the mission of God who passionately invites us participate in Gods redemption of the world

what are you thinking? listen and see what notes you take and then share them. let’s continue the conversation.