Month: April 2014

Why Jars of Clay is Still one of My Favorite Bands

  1. Why Jars of Clay is Still one of My Favorite Bands.
  2. Fired Up Logo
  3.  
  4. (Supporting Dan Haseltine’s comments and Christina Love)
  5.  (DISCLAIMER: This is an exhortation, we are all covered in grace, please take it with a grain of salt.) 

            So this week Dan Haseltine of the Christian Super-Star band Jars of Clay took to Twitter to talk about his support of Same Sex Marriage. The comments, as they usually do when someone in the spotlight makes such comments we jump on top of them, call them a heretic and stop buying their books / music / TV shows etc because they have “Abandoned their Christian heritage.” Haseltine faced more abuse in three days then some people do in their entire lifetime, and a lot of it was from the church.

Before I go on though, I want to consider who this man is. In all my years of listening to Jars of Clay, owning 12 of their albums and listing “Who We Are Instead” as one of the top 5 albums of all time I have found the band to be a thinking band. They tend to be up front and honest about life and their honesty is well-thought out. Just listen to the songs “Show you Love” or “Collide” or “Unforgetful You.” Can you tell me those songs did not have a lot of thought put into them. Consider “Collide” (If I left the Zoo), a song about wrestling with a truer, and more refined version of love that comes from the father. The band has always had something to say, in the words of one of my mentors (whose son was a founding member of Jars) “They are all thinkers.” This is evidenced in the band’s music, the depth of their lyrics at times astounds me, makes me wish I wrote that deep all the time.

Yet on a flight home from Australia he started to ask questions, and instead of helping him answer them, we attacked him, called him a heretic, told him that he did not believe in the bible. Some of the things tweeted at the man were abusive. Some of the articles people wrote were atrocious. Just like the World Vision decision I found myself let down by the church, instead of showing grace to a brother, we released articles asking people to “Boycott Jars concerts.”

Honestly this gets old, am I perfect, I do not believe so. Have I been a part of controversies in the past? Yes! Did I leave a mainline denomination over the issue of Same Sex marriage & Ordination? Yes. I will never claim to be perfect, if I do someone please tweet a reminder at me. This is not the point though, this is far from the point.

The point is this: If the church is to engage a secular culture, to encourage social righteousness and even social justice. Then we must first stop engaging in these vain discussions of whether Haseltine was right or wrong and start answering the hard questions that he is asking. Mainly: “By not supporting same-sex marriage am I participating in a form of oppression?”

I believe as a church today we have developed a dangerous and unhelpful infectiveness that has led to a heavy dose of what I call “Corinthian Syndrome.” We like to talk about big issues, or blow small issues out of proportion to make us feel good about the things that we do not want to talk about but know are sins. A while back I was discussing the issue of Homosexuality with one of my brothers in Christ, a man who to this day amazes me with his insights. He said: “All sins are an affront to God, not one is greater than the other, we just make one worse than another.” We make one sin greater than the other, your gluttony is not as bad as your neighbors covetedness, and so on and so forth. Haseltine just so happened to comment on the issue that the church likes to make the focal point of every sermon on sin. Ignoring the root sin (Lust) and going straight for the throat of the gay community instead of acknowledging that Lust is a sin we all have to struggle with.

Is this not contrary to what Christ commanded? Does the commandment of “Love your neighbor” not extend to the gay man who lives down the street? Apparently it does not for some Christians, at one point in my life it did not for me either. Yet as I get older in my faith I have come to realize the damage we are doing to our own witness by attacking Haseltine, not even by not showing the love of Christ to the gay community, but by attacking Haseltine, world Vision, the owner of Chick Fil-A (need I go on). Realize that person is your brother in Christ, Haseltine is your brother in Christ, The director of World Vision is your brother in Christ, I am your brother in Christ. Remember Jesus words in Matthew 5:

 

“You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire.”

(Matthew 5:21-22 ESV)

 

By treating Haseltine and others in a hateful and bitter manner for asking these questions has made us a condemnation all unto ourselves. To the world it looks as though we are fighting another civil war, forgetting that there is a world that needs Christian Love now more than ever. Separated by opinions formed with an understanding of scripture that is neither nourished by grace or dependent on the spirit of God, we fight and eat and drink while some are left out in the spiritual cold. We have adopted the Corinthians way of life, allowing the bitterness rivaling Fred Phelps to seep in towards one another and towards the world.

We need to learn to be the love of Christ again.

And I am not talking about a flowerly, watered down love either. I am talking about a love that is not afraid to ask the tough questions, a love that operates with the intent to bring others into the kingdom. A love that can transform the church, transform the communities, transform the world. I am talking about an accountable love, a tough love. I am talking of Christian Love.

We must know that Christ wants us to be better than this. Regardless of how you feel about gay-marriage attacking another believer for asking questions about it is far from Christian Love. So I support Dan Haseltine because he is asking the questions and wanting to seek answers. He still holds to scriptures, but as far as the world goes he has a point, should Christians not hear the cries of all people, regardless of feelings towards a specific splinter group and show them the love of Christ?

I personally believe if we are to win anyone into the kingdom we must do it through the passionate, truth bearing, life giving love that we were shown on the cross when Jesus died to save us.

 

FOR THE RECORD: This article is not intended to be a commentary on gay rights, for biblical & reasons of consciousness I do not and will not support gay rights in the church. However, that should never stop me from loving those people who God commands us to love, or showing the gay community Christ’s love through my actions. As Christians we are to be above reproach, something we fall short of oh so often, something I fall short of, we are called to glorify God in all that we do, should that not mean how we treat our brothers and sisters in Christ as well as those who do not believe?

Why We Are Not All Called to “Go”

Why We are Not All Called to “Go.”Fired Up Logo

 

(Making Disciples too)

 

 

            “If you are not going to a foreign country, you are not doing missions.”

“But what if I’m not called to go to a foreign country?”

“Mr. Faulkner, the bible says “go” does it not?”

This is how I imagine a conversation would go between some of my peers and I had I explained the view I hold of missions. Especially at a college that highly encourages global missions and even, in some cases, elevates those who go. In this atmosphere it would be hard to explain a view of missions that does not require a person to go to Africa or South America. Now, I fully support those who go to foreign countries, I love the fact that people are so passionate about their faith that they would raise thousands of dollars and go to a foreign country. I think it is really good for college students, but we have to acknowledge that not all of us are going to go, not all of us are called to go, at least by the definition of go that means: “Go to this foreign country and be a missionary, it will change your life.”

 

I mean, look at me, the only country I have ever been to outside the US is Canada, and that was as a tourist. I was not called to go there; I went there to eat a Cheeseburger with my dad’s side of the family and to see Niagara Falls. How selfish of me I know, where there are unbelievers in Canada.

One of the guys I mentor was recently asked: “How are you not called to go?” Easy, he is not, at least not to a foreign country. This particular young man is being trained to teach a Sunday School Class, has the potential to be an incredible mentor and teacher himself, and is starting to realize that potential. He is blooming where he is planted, encouraging others to be godly men and women, seeking to be a godly man himself. His vibrant faith draws others in, his personality encourages others, yet he knows at this point in his life that he is not called to go into all the world.

 

Getting Hung up on the World

            Here’s what I think the problem is: So often we get caught up in the “Go therefore into all the world” bit of Jesus, Great Commission in Mark 16:18 or the “Go” at the beginning of Matthew 28:19 and leave off the second part of both verses. “Making Disciples of all men” says Mark, “Go and Make disciples of all the nations” Says Matthew. Somewhere in translation we lost the fact that when Jesus said “All the World” he was not just simply referring to the places we were not, but the places we are as well. When He said “Making Disciples” He meant “Make disciples everywhere you are.”

If we are caught up on the “world” aspect of the great commission then “Go” must mean go into the world. No need to take care of your home front, no need to minister to your neighbor, unless they are your neighbor in a foreign country.

On one of our city walks in Denver Jeff showed us a house that was owned by two “Mega” evangelists. The home was in disrepair, the yard looked like a junk yard, the home was in the middle of a fairly nice neighborhood, but looked terrible. The family had been asked by their neighbors to clean up the yard but they refused, why should they? they were called to go out into the world. We were asked to consider how this made Christians look? our answer was “pretty bad.”

All too often those who are called to world missions neglect the home front. Then look down on those who are called to stay on the home front, the ones who are called to train those who are going out into the field. I once heard someone say: “He’s not going on a missions trip, he just is not close enough to God.” This is a devastating statement to hear, as a man who has devoted his life to building up and discipling others, this attitude saddens me.

 

“Going” without “Going”

My philosophy of missions is this; we are not all called to go abroad, but we are all called to do something. What do I mean? Right now I am not called to go overseas, I know this, but I am called to disciple, to witness, to share my faith and my story with those around me. I am called to be a witness, a teacher, an exhorter, a man of God. Does this make what I do any less important compared to what the person who goes out into the world does? No, it just means my calling is different from their calling. If everyone was out in the missions field who would stay home and bring up the next generation of missionaries? Would we leave our country to those we trained up? We could, I have been very blessed by foreign missionaries coming here. Yet I firmly believe that we have a responsibility to every single person we encounter, including our neighbors when we are home, to help them grow and know the Lord more.

Angus Buchan, the great African preacher, is considered a missionary, yet his ministry barely reached out of South Africa. He took care of the people around him, taught them the gospel, cared for their needs, both spiritually and physically when he could.

 

Jesus was both, Paul did the same.

If you look at the life of Jesus, Mark 1 being an excellent example of this, we find Jesus did both. Jesus preached and taught, but he also had disciples. He traveled all the way to Philippi to minister and disciple. Paul did the same thing, ministered, established a church and then left people there he had been training to minister and continue the growth of the church. Timothy is probably the best known, but there is also John Mark, Titus, Epaphraditus and many others.

Jesus left the disciples with the great commission, a call to make disciples wherever we go, wherever we are called to go.

Now I am not trying to put down those who are going out into the world. I am trying to point out that there is a need for those who go and a need for those who stay. Those who stay are where they are called, just as you are going where you are called. I am called to work for Sterling College, to educate, train, make disciples and take care of the grounds. To be a light and a witness to those students who do not know Christ. That is my calling right now, so that is what I will do. We all have an important task in the body, but not all of us are the hands, some of us have other functions that are vital to the body being healthy.

So let us go where we are called, even if “go” only means crossing the street.