Monday, January 16, 2012
When this video by Jefferson Bethke hit the internet last week my Facebook account was lit up with comments from friends, friends of friends and so many other people that combined collectively said, "Yeah, right on! "You go boy! Tell em' like it is! Preach it brother!" Right away I too found my flesh getting that desire to chime in with these sentiments. Even found myself looking out the window thinking, "Yeah, finally somebody is taking The Church head on" and even included a bite of my lip and a little Billy Idol-esque "Grrrrrrrr" resonating outta my gut.
Then before I knew it hit me I suddenly thought, "Why do I like this video all of a sudden? What was it about what he said that made me feel the way I did?" I drew upon thoughts of my parents telling me as a young man - when I'd made not-so-wise choices - "Kurt it takes one - to know one" then listening to my parents share with me why they knew why I'd fallen short in front of them - because they too - had fallen short at times in in their lives. My parents could relate to my troubles, and it gave them the capacity to then lift me up by letting me know I didn't need to stay in whatever rut I'd found myself in.
The reason I quickly resonated with Jefferson's video was, at some point in my life, I too was/is/and or are disappointed in things I see going on/in/around The Church. I too have felt some of the things this young man says and have harbored them in my heart for quite some time. His passion struck a nerve that got my own passion all bubbled up again for things I dream The Church, the body of Christ to be doing.
Yet, as soon as those thoughts were stirred in the arm of my flesh, other thoughts were right there beside them, quietly at first telling me something was wrong with this video, something wasn't right. While he's passionate, is his theology correct? Did Jesus really hate religion? Is Jefferson correct with this and other claims he's making?
Right next to the Spirit of Passion that was bubbling up in me was also the Spirit of Critique and also my former Teacher of the Law mentality which began to pick apart what this man was saying. Like so many people pick apart what I say as a friend and ministry leader. Out of my wounded soul I began to treat his poem like so many people within the Kingdom of God treat me and also treat others with that same Spirit of Critique and Teacher of the Law mentality. It haunted me to remember what so many people say about Christianity - "We do a great job of eating our own, eating our wounded."
I ran to my Facebook account and lobbed the discussion bombs into the fray starting a pool of discussion on this man's video. In typical Facebook fashion I helped establish sides of FOR and AGAINST quickly. The debate was on.
No sooner than I had started the discussion I learned through a fellow minister whom I respect, Voddie Bauchum, that in the course of the week, with this video causing division that Jefferson had rethought his position and as Voddie wrote, "The poet, Jeff Bethke, who's 'spoken word' piece, "Jesus>Religion" has caused such a firestorm has spoken openly about it on his 'twitter' account. HE SAYS HIS CRITICS ARE "SPOT ON," and he will be more careful with his words. He understands the importance of being more precise in matters like this, and in theological discussions in general. Praise God for his humility and teachability. Ironically, there are still many Christians defending the very content he, himself, recognizes as being off base. Theology matters!"
What? I could not believe my eyes. Could it be, that this young man is teaching me, teaching us, through the prism of sharing his heart of one of the simple truths of who we are in Christ? That is to say:
1 Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. 3 Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. (Romans 5:1-5 NIV)
Could it be through putting yourself out there, so passionately like Jefferson did, sharing in your heart things you know to be true - even with a little hint of incorrect theology - even with a little hint of semantically challenged prose - that you could open the doors of Christiandom here on earth like you did, to get non-believers and believers talking the way you did, take their ridicule as God ordained critique and see it as a blessing and not a cursing?
The answer was "YES" my friends. I read Jeffersons Tweets over the weekend and was blown away to discover this man knows he's justified through Jesus like he is.
What a testament to all of us as believers in Jesus Christ to remember who we are - WE ARE JUSTIFIED - AND CAN HAVE PEACE - AND CAN STAND - AND CAN BOAST - AND WILL SUFFER - AND CAN PERSEVERE - BUILD CHARACTER - AND DELIVER HOPE.
Till next time,
Thursday, January 5, 2012
I'd be lying to you if I did not admit to you that I have a favorite portion of scripture. A place in God's word that I can find myself resting is for good long periods of time.
Is it safe for me to say in times like this, days like these, that while I cherish the whole Word of God, that yes indeed I have a place marked where I enjoy it and cherish it the most? A hiding place, a refuge a sort of 'mine and Jesus' spot only? Is that allowed, knowing we're to revere every word from God and meditate on it day and night?
I am going to take an educated guess with those questions and launch my own physical E.M.P. and say "yes" to them all.
The place I find myself going to, time and time again isthe Gospel of John Chapter 15.
From the ESV, read with me:
12 “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command you. 15 No longer do I call you servants,[a] for the servant[b] does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. 17 These things I command you, so that you will love one another.I don't know what your personal relationship with Jesus is, however I can tell you I often imagine myself in that room. As a disciple of Jesus, hearing these words, especially these words, "No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you".
If it were me, following Jesus those days as a disciple I truly would feel there was a distance between me and Him. In my heart of hearts, hearing His every word, witnessing His every miracle I would judge myself. In my woundedness I'd begin to compare myself to Him and my sins would crush me under their weight. Yet, as the disciples grew in strength and immunity under Christ's teaching there came a time to pivot, a time to transition - and Jesus nailed it quite well.
Knowing what was in their hearts, the fears they had, the concerns they left unvoiced and the general sense of uneasiness with their calling - He took them aside and man-to-man acknowledged their relationship for what it was. He immediately referred to them as servants "No longer do I call your servants" even sharing a servant does not know it's master business to set their hearts up for what was next:
"But I have called you friends."
Stop right there. "Wait a minute, back the fish truck up, you mean to tell me Jesus - I, me, Kurt Ramspott am your friend?"
I can see me and Him now in that room and the look He'd have on his face as only the Savior could pull off looking back at me saying, "Yes silly [PAUSE] you're my friend." Then me, starting to see spots, getting all woozy starting to go down with the other disciples catching me, reviving me and Jesus coming into view last as I wake up from almost fainting laughing with uproariously prolonged bursts of belly laughter with the other disciples having fun and all joining in.
Brother/sister if you want to know who you are in Christ, I'll tell you: As a disciple - YOU ARE - Jesus' friend (John 15:15).
Now go live like it!
Till next time,
Guys For Life and Kurt's Korner of Who You Are is adapted from: Victory Over the Darkness: Realizing the Power of Your Identity in Christ by Neil T. Anderson
Image of Jesus from the DVD "The Gospel According to Matthew" Bruce Marchiano as Jesus
Monday, January 2, 2012
Welcome to 2012! Baby New Year is only a few hours old. Such a cute adorable year with such potential. Can't you just see it in his eyes and his endearing grin?
So many of us had that same potential when we were born. A promising future, the potential to move mountains, help hundreds, impact thousands - you name it. The world was our oyster.
Then we grew up.
With that came frustration, anxiety, anger and boredom and a whole host of other distractions. For some of us we started achieving our goals in life, reaching our true potential and then, something happened. Life took a turn and possibly the road we thought we'd take had a detour.
With our heads and hearts looking one way, circumstances pulled us another.
For some, not all, we've lost that cute adorable vision of potential like when were were babes. Some of our hearts have grown discontent, hurt or a myriad of other feelings, all not that good. Maybe we blame ourselves, maybe we blame God.
Maybe, just maybe, we've lost sight of something for those of us claiming to be Christians. maybe we've lost sight of who we really are.
"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
There was a man sent from God whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all might believe. He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light.
The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God. John 1:1-13 (NIV)
For those of us claiming to be Christian, even acting as His disciples serving others in our free time or ministry to forget who we are - is all too common.
Many a time I have made mistakes, spoken incorrectly or neglected something important only to have my heart question who I really am. Am I a good son in my Daddy's [Gods] eyes, am I really the husband I claim to be, as a Father am I all that my children need, as a Ministry Leader do I really have peoples hearts like I think?
Yours could be faith, family work, fill in the blank, you name it.
If you've ever been there, maybe even now at the beginning of 2012 questioning who you really are, take a breath and remember the first thing above all things is this, "You are a child of God". As such there is great comfort, great assurance in your future as you rest in this first fact.
Only an orphan - spiritually or physically - does not know it's parents.
Is this you? Are you acting like I have in the past, as a spiritual orphan? If so, what could lead you to do so and forget your heritage in God?
This may not be the first blog you want to read for the New Year but maybe it's the right one.
If you are questioning who you are in Christ, drop me a note. I'd enjoy lovingly reminding you as your friend who you really are - I've been there too.
Call it a Galatians 6:2 kinda thing...
Till next time,
KurtGuys For Life and Kurt's Korner of Who You Are is adapted from: Victory Over the Darkness: Realizing the Power of Your Identity in Christ by Neil T. Anderson