Resurrected Living
"What are you going to do with your new resurrected life? This is the heroic question." Richard Rohr

Mar
27

In this new video series, I will be examining the theological message behind popular songs. This week I take a look at Turn Off the News (Build a Garden) by Lukas Nelson and Promise of the Real.

Mar
01

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We find ourselves in challenging times. Our culture is growing more and more secular. Christianity is shrinking in America. Many churches are in decline or are dying. Younger generations are leaving the faith. The fastest-growing group in America are the nones. These are people who claim no religious affiliation at all. We look around us and it is difficult to know just what to do. It is going to take leadership if we are going to make it. It is not going to be easy to navigate these waters, but this is the challenge before us. We cannot turn away. We cannot ignore it. We must be faithful in the moment in this moment.

We need to be prepared for what we face, so here are four keys to leading the church in the 21st Century. 

SOULS OVER TRADITION: We must care more about souls than our traditions. Every congregation has traditions. You meet at a certain time. You have a particular order of worship. You may have some type of dress code whether it is spoken or unspoken. You do things a certain way at your congregation and that’s ok. There’s nothing wrong with tradition. Churches cannot exist without tradition. A decision is made one day about this or that and before you know it, your church has been doing it that way for 30 years. This is often how traditions get started. Most traditions are harmless, but we must understand that souls are of much greater value than traditions. It is not even close. If one soul can be won by giving up or altering a tradition, then do it. We are called to win souls and we should not allow a tradition to stand in our way.  

Most people understand this but it can be hard because we get comfortable with things the way they are. We like using hymnals rather than a projector. We get used to having midweek Bible study at a certain time. We like our minister to wear a suit. We don’t like change. This is human nature. We want to keep things as they are. This is ok when we are talking about Bible things, but when we’re talking about traditions, we need to be willing to change if it is going to help bring someone to Christ.  

TRUTH OVER CULTURE: We are born into a world that has been corrupted by sin. We are immersed in a culture that is often contrary to the ways of Christ. We have to deal with cultural forces from a very early age. They are all around us and we are influenced by them more than we realize. Why is the church facing the challenges it is facing? Why have things changed so rapidly? It is because of the culture in which we live. The culture is telling us one thing and the Bible is telling us something else. This causes friction. It causes friction in our lives, in our families, and in the communities to which we belong. We cannot escape unscathed. We are all going to feel it.  

We must choose truth over culture. We must stand with the word of God. We must stick with the Biblical answer on gender and sexuality. The Bible should form our morals and ethics. We must choose Jesus over the divisiveness of politics. We must choose the lamb over the donkey or the elephant. The people in the world need to know us as Jesus people above all else. The culture will disappoint, but Jesus will never disappoint. The culture will tell you lies, but Jesus never lies. The culture will lead you down a destructive path, but Jesus saves. Jesus is the truth. We must choose Jesus over culture. The church must decide to be a counter-cultural community that looks like Jesus, acts like Jesus, and talks like Jesus. We are the body of Christ and because of this Jesus should matter more than anything else.

LOVE OVER PREFERENCES: Jesus says,

“By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:35)

Many of us know this verse, but I’m not sure we always do a good job of following it. This verse should be hung in our buildings. It should be taught to our children. It should be professed regularly from the pulpit. Jesus says love is what Christians will be identified by. Love is what is going to set us apart from other groups and movements. People should look at us and be amazed by how we love. I’m not sure this is always the case. I’m afraid we often make a big deal of other things and love gets pushed to the side.

Why is this? I think it is because love is hard. Jesus defines love for us when he gives us the story of the good Samaritan in Luke 10. This story begins with a discussion between Jesus and a lawyer. They are talking about what it means to love your neighbor. This discussion leads Jesus to tell the story of the good Samaritan. Jesus is defining two things for the lawyer. He is defining “Who is my neighbor?” Jesus says our neighbor can be anyone, even someone we hate. Jesus also defines what it means to love. Love costs us something. It cost the Samaritan his time, his resources, and his money. He risked his life by stopping and helping the man. He used his oil and wine to care for the man. He placed him on his donkey. He took him to an inn and he took care of the bill.  

Love is sacrificial. Too often, we just give off the top and call it love. We go through our closets and we give away whatever we weren’t going to wear anyways. We see a homeless man on the street and we give him the loose change we have in our cupholder. This is not love. It’s a nice gesture. It’s a good deed, but it is not what Jesus defines as love. Love comes with a cost. We cannot just give off the top and call it love.

In Philippians 2:3, Paul writes,

“Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.” (Phil. 2:3)

This is what we are to strive for. We are to love one another. We shouldn’t be arguing over whether to sing new songs or old songs. Why? Because we love one another. We shouldn’t be fighting about what special days a person or church observes. Why? Because we love one another. We shouldn’t be concerned with what a person does with his hands in worship. Why? Because we love one another. If we’re going to take Jesus seriously, then we need to let go of our preferences and get serious about loving one another.  

MISSION OVER COMFORT: We are a church on mission. Do our congregations know this? Do they understand that God has entrusted us with a mission? Church is more than just what we do inside the walls of our buildings. Our mission goes beyond our walls and out into the world. If the doors of your congregation closed tomorrow, would your community know it? If not, then you should think about your mission in your town. We are called to be a light to our community and if our communities don’t know we exist, then we are not properly shining our light.

If our congregations are going to survive in the 21st century, then we must get serious about mission. This is going to be hard for some of us because we have grown comfortable with the status quo. Some members only attend Sunday morning and this is because that is all that is expected of them. Sometimes in leadership meetings, we can become overly concerned about what happens at our building and never once talk about our mission to our neighbors. If we are more concerned with our comfort than our mission, then our churches are doomed. We will not make it.  

Jesus calls us to take up our cross and follow him. This is not a call to comfort. It is a call to sacrifice. Our goal is not to live the most comfortable life we can on earth. Our goal is to share the gospel with as many people as we can. This is what will change the world.  

We face great challenges in the days ahead, but we must remember that God has placed us in this moment and he has given us everything that we need to succeed. It is not about our strengths. It is about our reliance on God. We must turn to him. We must look to God for guidance in all that we do. We need to be focused on being a people shaped by the cross. The world is a confusing place, but if we show people the cross, then we can give them hope. We can be a light in a dark world. We can be a community marked by the love of Christ that offers a true alternative to the chaos in the world.

Jan
29

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Bible class should be the place where people act most Christlike, but this isn’t always the case. Heated discussions can take place right in the middle of a Bible study. People say things they shouldn’t say. Comments that should be made privately are made publicly. If you have ever witnessed an incident like this, then you know it is uncomfortable. You can feel the tension in the room. Everyone’s attention is taken off of God and his word and people are now focused on the disagreement taking place before them.

Many of these moments are avoidable if we would simply follow some basic principles. Here is what to do if you disagree with something said in Bible class.

Ask for clarification – We don’t always hear what we think we heard. Many disagreements in church and life could be easily settled if we simply asked for clarification. Rather than make a comment based on an assumption, repeat back to the teacher what you think they said and ask if you heard correctly. If you still disagree, ask the teacher to explain his position. Seek clarification before you comment.

Give them the benefit of the doubt – Every teacher is human. We all make mistakes. We don’t always communicate our messages as we intended to communicate them. It is sad when fellow Christians are eagerly waiting to pounce on any mistake. Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 13 that love is patient and kind. Love gives others the benefit of the doubt.

Go home and study – A misspoken word or differing interpretation does not always need to be corrected right away. The teacher has likely given much thought to what he or she had to say and you should do the same. If you find yourself disagreeing with a position a teacher takes or their interpretation of a passage, then go home and study it and pray about it. You will be better equipped to discuss it afterwards and you may save yourself from looking foolish in Bible class.

Set up a one on one meeting – Rather than distract from the focus of the class, go to the teacher and set up a meeting for a later date. Meet for breakfast, lunch, or a cup of coffee. Your conversation with the teacher will go much better if you address your concerns outside of class. If you cannot make time in your life to meet with the teacher outside of a church setting, then you have no business commenting in class.

Remember the visitors and new Christians – When you comment in class, you are doing so in front of others. Consider who is there. Are there visitors in the room? Are there new Christians present? Will your comment encourage them? Will it help them to know Christ or strengthen their relationship with Christ? Teachers are responsible for what they say in front of others, but so are the people in the pews.

Respect and appreciate those who have offered to teach – Teaching is not easy. Churches have a difficult time finding teachers. The person who is teaching may have worked a 40-hour work week, mowed the yard, helped their sick parents, took their kids to baseball practice, and stayed up late to study for class only to have someone challenge them on something they said. It is no wonder why churches have a hard time finding teachers. Be considerate of those who teach. Encourage them. Take them out to dinner. If you show you love them, then they are going to be more than willing to talk about any concern you might have.

Practice the discipline of silence – Not everything that pops into a person’s head needs to be said in a Bible class. Remember the setting. Ask yourself these questions: Is my comment edifying? Is it encouraging? Will it add to the class or take away from it? Do others need to hear it? It could be what you want to say, doesn’t need to be said at all.

Treat others as you would like to be treated – We all know the golden rule, but we don’t always follow it. Before you comment, consider the words of Jesus and treat others as you would like to be treated.

Jan
28

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“It is more blessed to give than to receive.” – Jesus

For much of my adult life, I have been in debt. I had student loans, credit card debt, medical bills, car payments, and more. Being in debt is not fun. It is a burden. You are literally a slave to the debt you owe. There is little or no freedom when you are in debt. You cannot always do what you want to do. You have to make certain sacrifices to pay off your debt. Much of the debt my wife and I incurred was when we were in college and did not realize the full ramifications of our choices. It has taken many years to free ourselves from this weight we have carried.

As we have begun to experience financial freedom, it has allowed us to give. Before we could not give even if we desperately wanted to. Debt robbed us of the joy of giving and it is a true joy. I never imagined the simple act of giving would bless my life as it has. I regret that I missed out on it for so many years. I am thankful we are now able to support our friends who are missionaries in Ethiopia. We are more than just financial supporters. We are partners with them in the work they are doing. I love being able to give more to my church. Our church is involved in so many great works and it is wonderful to witness firsthand the fruit of our labor. It is great to be able to help people in need and give to the causes we care about. You don’t know the blessing of giving until you do it.

God wants us to be givers. He wants us to experience the blessing of giving. He wants us to be a blessing to others. Sadly, many people in church never experience this blessing. Often this is because of the situation my wife and I were in for many years. People are unable to give because of debt. What is even sadder is that we rarely talk about this problem that many people face. There is a shame associated with debt. We want to keep up appearances. We don’t want anyone knowing our true financial situation. We don’t want to let on that we are living paycheck to paycheck. We continue to live above our means and just put it on the credit card and go even further in debt. We have believed the lie that our finances have nothing to do with our spiritual health, and churches have helped this lie spread because most of them have remained silent.

Every week, people who are in deep financial debt and people who have made wise financial decisions sit on the same church pews. They could help one another, but the family in debt feels shame because of the situation they are in, and the family who has made wise financial decisions does not want to meddle. Both families avoid the subject, and the problem only gets worse.

What can we do? We can learn to act more like a family which the church is. We need to be more open about the struggles we all face. We need to create an environment where people feel comfortable sharing sensitive information with others. We need to strengthen the relationships within our congregations. We need to not get defensive if a church leader addresses a subject such as finances. We need to understand they are not trying to meddle. They are simply trying to help us spiritually. Churches need to encourage older members to mentor younger members. The church should be a place where wisdom is shared and passed on to the next generation.

It is truly a blessing to give, but many Christians will never experience this blessing if we don’t start acting as the church ought to act.

Jan
23

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It’s not unusual nowadays to hear about congregations having to close their doors. We don’t like to talk about it but churches die. Jesus promised in Matthew 16:18 that his church would never die. In that passage, Jesus was speaking of the global church. This means that his church will always exist somewhere and we know this to be true. While churches struggle to survive in Europe and North America, Christianity is exploding in Africa and Asia. Sadly, having to wrestle with when and how to close a church is a reality more and more have had to face in the United States.

No one wants to see a church die. People want to belong to thriving congregations. They want to know there will be a church for their children and grandchildren to attend. The key to saving a church from dying is recognizing the signs of decline before it is too late. Too often, members of a congregation will wait until the church has reached a tipping point before they act. In our day and age, we cannot wait that long. Swift action is required if a declining church is to be saved.

Here are five signs to look for and address so your church doesn’t reach a tipping point.

No Youth – If your congregation doesn’t have any youth, then it doesn’t have a future. Part of God’s plan is for us to instill faith in other generations (2 Tim. 2:2). We are to teach our children to love the Lord (Deut. 6:5-7). Not every child will grow up to be a faithful follower of God, but if an entire church loses its youth, then something has gone wrong. It could be the youth were neglected. It could be the church did not present a healthy Christ-honoring environment for children to be raised. If children grow up in a church that spends more time fighting and bickering than loving and serving, then we shouldn’t be surprised when they walk away. It could be they were never converted to Christ. Sometimes churches will focus all their energy on petty issues and fail to preach Christ crucified. A healthy congregation will welcome children and their parents. They will love them and do everything they can to instill a love for God in them.

No Leaders – The church needs someone to lead them whether it be a group of elders who love the church or a minister who is dedicated to seeing it grow. Without leaders, churches falter and eventually die. If a church has no leaders, it has no direction. A lack of leadership presents an opportunity for toxic individuals to step in and do damage. The void that is left from not having leaders is often filled by an individual or individuals who have no business leading a church. If a church cannot find healthy leaders to guide her and shepherd her, then it should consider other options. Look for another congregation nearby to join. Don’t get caught up in material things or nostalgia. The church is not a building. Buildings are nice, but our mission is not to maintain a building. You will best serve the church under a healthy eldership and if that means leaving a building, then so be it. Churches need to be preparing now for the future. They need to be identifying potential leaders and training them so that one day the church will not be left without good leaders.

No Workers – A church without workers cannot carry out the mission of the church. We are called to go into the world and proclaim the gospel. This means we are called to go into our neighborhoods and community and share the good news. We are called to serve people in need and to be a light to the people around us. A church without workers cannot do these things and is therefore a dying church. There are various reasons why people within a church might refuse to work. Maybe they think they have paid their dues and it is time for someone else to step up. Although retirement is something ingrained in our culture, it is not an idea we find in Scripture. We do not retire from the work of the Lord. We work until he calls us home. It could be that members do not feel called to the work of the church or they are letting other allegiances distract them from the mission of God. Whatever it is, a church without workers will not survive.

No Givers – In Romans 12:8, Paul lists giving among other gifts. The money that a church collects is to be used for the work of the church. The church does not take up a collection to save it or spend it on exuberant items. The church uses these funds to help the poor and spread the gospel. Without generous givers, it makes it more difficult to do the work of the church. It is not impossible, but it will limit what a church can do. God envisioned giving as being a part of the church, so much so that it is listed as a spiritual gift in Romans 12. This does not mean that every church needs wealthy donors. It does mean that every member should be willing to make sacrifices to see the mission of God accomplished. A church that is unwilling to give is a church in danger of dying.

No Growth – The church’s mission is to share the gospel with others. A church that is committed to the mission of God will hopefully welcome new Christians into the fold on a regular basis. Churches who take the mission of God seriously will be attentive to visitors. They will talk to their friends and neighbors about God. They will invite people to worship. Not every church will experience an equal amount of growth, but a church that is not committed to the mission of God will not experience any growth and a church that is not growing is either just maintaining or dying.

Jan
15

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“But even Titus, who was with me, was not forced to be circumcised, though he was a Greek.” (Galatians 2:3)

It would be easy for a modern reader to skip over a verse like this one. Circumcision is not a religious issue today. This seems to be a particular problem among 1st-century churches. Why should modern readers care about a 2,000-year-old controversy? Actually, there are some very good reasons why we should care about such an issue.

Bible study at times takes some work. Upon a first reading of the text, it may not be clear why we should care about a circumcision controversy among the churches of Galatia. It seems foreign to us, but after further study, it should become clear that such an issue is quite relevant to our circumstances.

In the letter to the Galatians, Paul is opposing a false teaching that said one must be circumcised to be saved. This same issue was addressed at the Jerusalem council in Acts 15. The book of Galatians is about salvation. How is one saved? Are we saved by works of the law (e.g. circumcision), or are we saved faith in Jesus Christ? Paul adamantly denies that a person can be saved by works of the law. He says to teach such would mean that “Christ died for no purpose” (Gal. 2:21).

So then, if we are not saved by works of the law, we should not be circumcised. Not so fast. Titus was not circumcised because he did not need to be circumcised to be saved, but we learn in Acts 16:3 that Paul has Timothy circumcised. The issue is not circumcision. The issue is what one teaches about circumcision. What Paul opposes is anyone who teaches that circumcision is necessary for salvation.

Immediately after Galatians 2:3 which says Titus “was not forced to be circumcised” Paul mentions “our freedom that we have in Christ Jesus.” As long as a person understands that circumcision has nothing to do with salvation, then we have the freedom to be circumcised or not to be circumcised. This same principle applies to many other issues as well. It applies to other aspects of the law. It applies to holidays. We have freedom in Christ!

Most people understand nowadays that the Mosaic law is no longer binding upon us. This is not a salvation issue in any modern church that I am aware of. But, what if someone wanted to follow an aspect of the law without binding it upon fellow believers? What if an individual wanted to follow the dietary laws? What if a congregation wanted to observe a Passover meal? Some Christians might say you can’t do that because we are no longer under that law. Although the law is no longer binding, according to Paul in Galatians, we have the freedom to follow it or not follow it as we please.

The freedom in Christ principle would apply to other issues as well. I cannot say that a person must celebrate Easter to be saved, but neither can a person say it is wrong to celebrate Easter and people should not do it. Our salvation is in Jesus Christ, not in whether we celebrate a religious holiday or not. This idea was certainly shocking to some Jewish Christians in the first century. It is equally shocking to some Christians today because it means our lives and our congregations might look a little different because of this freedom. However, we should not fear this freedom. We should welcome it and always be thankful that Jesus came to give us such freedom.

Jan
09

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The Bible is God’s revelation. This means that God reveals himself and his will in this written word that has been passed down to us. If we want to know God better, then we need to spend time in his word.

People can find the Bible challenging. When reading Scripture, we sometimes encounter words, names, and places that are unfamiliar to us. If you find yourself confused by a passage, know you are not alone. There are things you can do to make your Bible reading more meaningful. Here are a few.

Keep reading – Don’t give up. Press on even if you don’t fully understand what you are reading. Another book or passage might shed some light on the passage you didn’t fully comprehend.

Read it again – Many people don’t grasp the meaning of a passage the first time they read it. They have to read it multiple times before it becomes clear. Try this. Read the passage over and over again.

Read the context – The context can be the first few verses before or after the passage. It can also be the chapter or book it comes from. Context brings clarity. The more you know about the verses near the passage, the better you will be able to understand it.

Use a dictionary – If you are unfamiliar with words in the passage, then don’t be afraid to look them up. If you are struggling with people and places, then invest in a Bible dictionary. Understanding the meaning of a word might make all the difference.

Ask someone who knows – In Acts 8, when Philip asked the Ethiopian eunuch if he understood what he was reading he said: “How can I unless someone guides me?” Sometimes we need someone skilled in Bible knowledge to guide us. A conversation with a preacher or teacher might be the boost in your Bible study that you are looking for.

Jan
07

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Refusing to adapt to your surroundings – We live in a rapidly changing society. A neighborhood can drastically change in as little as ten years. If a congregation was established fifty years ago, it is certain the area it serves is quite different from when it was established. This is inevitable and congregations must decide whether they will adapt or die. Will a congregation that was first established to serve upper middle class people adapt to serve the poor and homeless as the area they are located changes? Questions like these must be considered if congregations want to survive.

Allowing the walls of your church to become a fortress – Buildings are nice but they can also be the death of a congregation. A church can become so consumed with its own members that it fails to reach out to its neighbors. The vision of an inward focused church is all about what happens inside the church building. Churches with this mindset can do well for many years, but eventually they will experience the graying of the flock. As the congregation grows older, it will be more difficult to reach out to singles and young families. Decisions made years earlier will lead to the decline of the congregation.

Making it difficult on seekers – An important discussion takes place in Acts 15 regarding what to do about Gentiles who are converting to Christianity. One of the most significant conclusions comes in verse 19 when James says, “we should not trouble those of the Gentiles who turn to God.” All churches need to heed this advice. If churches are not careful, they can create unspoken rules that turn people away. We never want to send the impression that you have to dress a certain way or belong to a certain social class in order to feel welcome at a congregation. We need to make sure we are not requiring more than God requires when it comes to becoming a Christian.

Becoming comfortable with the status quo – Some churches shrink because they get comfortable. Perhaps, many of the members have been Christians for years. They show up to worship and that is it. They don’t want anything to change. They don’t want anyone to disrupt their routine. They like things how they are and they will do whatever they can to protect it. They don’t want to be challenged. They don’t want to start a new ministry. They are a dying church. They just don’t know it yet.

Lack of passion – Life is hard and sometimes people are simply tired and weary. They have tried evangelism before. They have volunteered for more VBS’s than the number of years you have been alive. They have been a part of numerous food programs and friend’s days. It’s all been done before and the drive is all gone. They wouldn’t mind seeing the church grow but there is no passion. We can all understand the challenges life brings, but we must not grow weary in doing the Lord’s work. 

Lead by fear rather than faith – A church will only grow if its leaders lead by faith. Leading by fear will quickly kill a church. Fear cripples. Inaction is often the result of fear. Leaders refuse to do anything or try anything because they are afraid. They may be afraid of failure. They may be afraid of new members and the changes they bring. Growth always creates challenges. Faithful leaders will embrace the challenges. Fearful leaders will find ways to sabotage growth. 

Thinking people will find you – If your growth plan is waiting on people to find you, then you need a new growth plan. Not only is it a terrible plan, it is not the model we find in Scripture. We are called to go. We must reach out to people. We must be proactive. We cannot expect people to find us.

Caring more about traditions than people – Every church has traditions. There is nothing wrong with traditions. In fact, it is impossible to be a church without them. What Jesus condemns in Scripture is our attitude towards traditions. When we value traditions more than people, we are doomed. Sometimes it is necessary to alter a tradition or even get rid of it in order to better reach the people around us. This is not easy because we grow fond of our traditions, but it is an essential attitude for Christians. People are always to be valued over traditions.

Dec
09

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Likely, you have never heard of Franz Jagerstatter. This unfamiliarity with the central character is where the newest film by Terrence Malick gets its name. It is taken from a quote by George Eliot.

“..for the growing good of the world is partly dependent on unhistoric acts; and that things are not so ill with you and me as they might have been, is half owing to the number who lived faithfully a hidden life, and rest in unvisited tombs.”

For anyone familiar with the films of Terrence Malick, the style of A Hidden Life will be quite familiar. It is a film with spectacular cinematography and sparse dialogue. Like some of his other films, it is a work of beauty that demands careful attention from the viewer.

A Hidden Life presents the story of Franz Jagerstatter an Austrian citizen who opposed World War II and refused to take the Hitler Oath. The reason for his opposition was religious and this is made clear in the film. Stories like Jagerstatter’s are incredible, but they are not unique. There are others like his. People view these stories in different ways. If a major studio in Hollywood was given this script, it would likely become the next Hacksaw Ridge. This is because stories of heroism are wildly popular. Thankfully, Malick resists the urge to sell lots of tickets and chooses instead to reflect on why someone would choose to become a martyr.

Rather than heroism, the focus of A Hidden Life is on faithfulness. Because of this, it is one of the most Christian films one will see. Like the writings of Bonhoeffer, whose life had several things in common with Jagerstatter, it asks us to count the cost of discipleship. Although the dialogue is sparse, it is purposeful. Every sentence is packed with meaning. This is clear in one line from the film reflecting on the status of Christians. “We create admirers. We don’t create followers.” The dialogue in A Hidden Life is not there just to fill space. It is there to penetrate hearts and minds and cause people to reflect on their own lives.

For some, A Hidden Life may be a challenge to take in since it is unlike most films. It is long. It is not filled with action or dialogue. It is not designed for people with short attention spans. Instead, it is a work of art that must be contemplated. It is not just the content of the film that is counter-cultural, it is the film itself. In a busy world that seeks to distract us every second, A Hidden Life invites us to turn off our phones and pay attention to the beauty that is right in front of us.

 

Oct
28

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Your response to Kanye West’s new album says more about you than it does about Kanye.

It is not as surprising as people think that Kanye has made an explicitly Christian album. Hip hop probably includes more references to God, Jesus, and Christianity than any other modern genre of music. Kanye has rapped about his faith in the past.

Kanye has undergone a major transformation within the last year. This is evident in the interviews he has done and in the lyrics of his new album. What happened? In a way, Kanye’s life mirrors the lives of many others. He had no problem talking about Jesus before but his life did not reflect that of a Christian. He was saying one thing and doing another. Now, he is all in. Jesus has taken hold of him. This is the danger of living in a “Christian nation.” Some of us embrace a cultural Jesus that is powerless and has no effect on our lives. We are not truly saved/transformed until we encounter the risen Christ.

There are so many great lines from the album, but here is one we should pay attention to. Kanye is one of the biggest artists in the world and he has announced he is going to do nothing but Christian music from now on. One would anticipate the world being very critical of this decision just as they were when Bob Dylan did a similar thing in the 1970’s, but Kanye is not worried about what the world thinks. He is worried about what Christians think. He correctly anticipates that some Christians will not take his conversion seriously and judge him for it. What does this say about us? Whenever someone does something like what Kanye has done, we should be the first to rejoice.

Said I’m finna do a gospel album
What have you been hearin’ from the Christians?
They’ll be the first one to judge me
Make it feel like nobody love me
Told people God was my mission
What have you been hearin’ from the Christians?
They’ll be the first one to judge me
Make it feel like nobody love me

Kanye takes on the culture of our day in Closed on Sunday. The poets were prophets and Kanye is offering a prophetic word to the masses. I everyone is listening.

Closed on Sunday, you’re my Chick-fil-A
Closed on Sunday, you my Chick-fil-A
Hold the selfies, put the ‘Gram away
Get your family, y’all hold hands and pray
When you got daughters, always keep ’em safe
Watch out for vipers, don’t let them indoctrinate
Closed on Sunday, you my Chick-fil-A
You’re my number one, with the lemonade
Raise our sons, train them in the faith
Through temptations, make sure they’re wide awake
Follow Jesus, listen and obey
No more livin’ for the culture, we nobody’s slave

Included in one song is a prayer. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to learn of people from all over the world praying this prayer?

Jesus, flow through us
Jesus, heal the bruises
Jesus, clean the music
Jesus, please use us
Jesus, please help
Jesus, please heal
Jesus, please forgive
Jesus, please reveal
Jesus, give us strength
Jesus, make us well
Jesus, help us live
Jesus, give us wealth
Jesus is our safe
Jesus is our rock
Jesus, give us grace
Jesus, keep us safe

There are many dark and evil things in our culture. Kanye’s album is a light. It is something to be celebrated. I hope and pray it will point people to the true King of kings and lives will be transformed, not because of Kanye, but because of Jesus.