Here's an old post of mine (March'05), being re-posted because of my current "flash-back" mind set. Sorry to those who've already read it, or even remember it.
Jeff Taylor, on his website/blog, listed some songs that he said defined his life, at least up to this point. He asked his readers to come up with their own lists. The only stipulations were: no repeat artists, no worship music, and you could only use 12 songs. It got me thinking about the music of my life, music that would define who I am and I found that a very difficult task. Of course a life is not "defined" by music, but the music is a reflection and description of how we perceive ourselves at the moment – what experiences we are going through now, and in the past, and how those experiences impact our awareness of who we are or want to be.
The lists, both his and mine, also got me thinking about what, and who, "defines" a generation. I didn't recognize many of the artists or songs listed on his list, or those of his 20-something year old readers. And that is the way it should be. Every generation has their own music that they can call their own. But looking at the lists I couldn't tell what defines his generation, at least what they perceive as defining them. Does a generation know at the time that a particular incident or event will impact and change them into who they will become years from now? Or do we only know what influenced us 25, 30 years down the road? Take my generation for instance. (more…)
I say use to because I truly believe you can grow out of the hippie mindset and become "one of them." I became one of them a long time ago, and sometimes I miss my jeans with holes in them (I still have jeans with holes in them but they are now used for painting and working in the yard). I sometimes miss my long hair because now my hair is thin and grey. I sometimes miss the ability to pack all my belongings into the car and move to another city, because now I have to be responsible and work at a job to pay for all the things we've acquired. Don't get me wrong, I don't regret not being a hippie anymore, just sometimes I miss it. There is something deep inside me that stirs my emotions when I see my younger friends (and even some of my older friends) who can still grow their hair long, pulled back into a pony-tail. Today, I would be the one with the earring, and the tattoo, and the long hair. Not spiked or red, just long. My dad hated my hair and music and we almost came to blows several times over it. I was the one who was a non-conformist, in a conformist kind of way – we were all "individuals" who looked alike. We wanted to "find ourselves" and didn't trust anyone over 30. The problem is we were always trying to find ourselves in drugs and sex and music and rebellion and Height-Ashberry hype (if you don't get this last reference you're too young to understand). But some of us never really found ourselves, and some of us are still looking. And we were users. My parent's generation is often called "The Greatest Generation." My generation? The "Me Generation." Says a lot, does it not? It was always about us. When I became a Christian I became a "Jesus Freak." We brought guitars and drums and that rebellious spirit into the church and delighted in the shock and disgust of the older generation. I suppose that's why it has always been difficult for me in the church, difficult being a Christian. I've always tried to make it about me. What could I get out of it. And usually I got nothing. I've tried to conform for such a long time but it never really set well, so I became the kind of Christian who could say all the right things but never really believed any of it, never really lived any of it. Even after I "got saved," I lived life on MY terms. I was called a stoner last night, but that isn't accurate – I was more of social smoker. The drug scene was never really my thing. But I was able to score some good stuff from my friends at church. If my parents and preacher knew what went on in our youth group they would have had a heart attack. (more…)
I like to copy and paste from other people's blogs because it is easy and I don't have to come with anything on my own. That being said, Shaun Groves was writing about how the Christian Church grows through hardships and how comfort will kill it. He came up with these points about comfort in the church in the West:
- Easy instant membership in the local church.
- Low expectations of members by clergy. (Give 10% of your income and show up on Sunday)
- No repercussions for failing to meet already low membership expectations.
- No concept of local church being part of world wide Church – much of which is in tremendous need.
- Consumerism, materialism, greed, temporal success encouraged and rewarded by the local church.
- Abdication of responsibility to care for the poor, sick, orphaned and aging to Caesar. (Welfare etc)
- Adoption of nation as home, resulting in much sacrifice and reverence for Caesar in exchange for his protection and care.
- The ability to be anonymous in large congregations.
- No actual persecution of Christians in the West. (Persecution is being pursued with intent to physically harm or kill)
- Adoption of societal values, lifestyle, possessions, and morality as the church's.
- In three words: conformity without peculiarity.
Read the rest of what he says here.
Read this quote from Brian McLaren today and thought it was interesting:
… too often our churches have become human warehouses, where people are gathered and stored so that they can be delivered after death to heaven with minimum loss, spoilage, rust, rot or breakage. These air-conditioned warehouses are equipped with every comfort – from padded seats to a kind of religious muzak – so that those who enter will be happy and never want to leave until they are shipped to their final destination.
If you like A. W. Tozer, check out these quotes from Gary Means.
And don’t blame it on stress.
53 Fat Grams
18 Fat Grams
I was having what she was having. I’m such a girl.
No, seriously, why are you a Christian? What is it about Christianity that makes a difference, daily, in your life? If you were to take Christianity out of your daily life, would anyone notice any difference? Would you? And is there a difference between being a Christian and being a Christ-follower? The Bible talks about a life-changing experience, but I don't see a lot of change. At least not in my own life. I don't see a lot of difference between the world and my claim to be Christian. Last night I was watching an action movie that was on cable, Cliffhanger with Sylvester Stallone. While it's not a great movie, I sat through it and listened as the characters dropped the F-bomb and G..D… time and time again, and I hardly flinched. Romans talks about us being transformed, but what am I to be transformed into? And what am I to be transformed from? And, more importantly, when does that transformation happen? We Christians love to talk about us "overcoming" the world, but most often it's the world that overcomes us. Instead of us making an impact on our culture, it's the culture that is making an impact on us. Why?
I've started reading a book by Brennan Manning, The Signature of Jesus. In the first chapter he writes about beliefs.
For contemporary Christians, there is an essential difference between belief and faith. Our religious beliefs are the visible expression of our faith, our personal commitment to the person of Jesus. However, if the Christian beliefs inherited from our family and passed on to us by our church tradition are not grounded in a shattering, life-changing experience of Jesus as the Christ, then the chasm between our creedal statements and our faith-experience widens and our witness is worthless. The gospel will persuade no one unless it has so convicted us that we are transformed by it.
In other words, our beliefs must become something more. Our beliefs about Jesus must become a faith in him. Manning writes, "Faith that will force us to pursue the mind of Christ, to embrace a lifestyle of prayer, unselfishness, goodness, and involvement in building his kingdom, not our own." Our beliefs must be more than notional knowledge – "abstract, faraway, largely irrelevant to the gut issues of life, just another trinket in the dusty pawnshop of doctrinal beliefs."
Manning finishes the chapter this way:
In the last analysis, faith is not the sum of our beliefs or a way of speaking or a way of thinking; it is a way of living and can be articulated adequately only in a living practice. To acknowledge Jesus as Savior and Lord is meaningful insofar as we try to live as he lived and to order our lives according to his values. We do not need to theorize about Jesus; we need to make him present in our time, our culture, and our circumstances. Only a true practice of our Christian faith can verify what we believe. (Italics mine – see quote on sidebar)
May the Lord continue to increase your faith and put focus to your beliefs.