Category Archives: Christianity

Was Jesus a Rockstar?

Was Jesus the biggest rockstar of all? Scott Stapp thinks “maybe” so.

Stapp is best known for being founder and frontman of the rock band Creed (1993-2004, 09-12). Creed’s lyrics in their albums My Own Prison (’97) and Human Clay (’99) were reflective of Stapp’s Christian upbringing, but he admits that he lived in rebellion against God for many years.

He says he rebelled against a certain “brand” of Christianity that didn’t look much like Jesus. Religious fundamentalism drove him to the edge.

Stapp became addicted to alcohol and prescription drugs, went through a divorce, and attempted suicide. It seemed he was on a course to join the 27 club. It was through the love and grace of his wife and mother-in-law that Stapp encountered a Christ that loves sinners.

Scott Stapp repented of his sins and chose to walk the Jesus path.

A couple years ago he wrote an uncensored memoir of his journey, called Sinner’s Creed (Tyndale House, 2012). In the last few years Stapp has been furthering his solo career. His latest album, Proof of Life (2013) is evidence that Stapp has adopted a redeeming vision of Jesus.

Listen to the following song, Jesus Was a Rockstar, and you decide.

Was Jesus a rockstar? Just maybe.

Jesus Was a Rockstar

He walked on water man. He made that water wine. And then he drank with people you and me would just cast aside. He did his people good. Just like he said he would. And in the blink of an eye, he gave a blind man sight.

His love was thunder in the sky. His roar was lions in the night. When he spoke he always drew a crowd. His message was his lifestyle. He gave us everything and more. He was the party we’ve been looking for. Maybe, just maybe…. Jesus was rockstar! Can I get a witness?

He brought the dead to life. He rose when called to rise. There was a passion in his eyes and it spread like wildfire.

His love was thunder in the sky. His roar was lions in the night. When he spoke he always drew a crowd. His message was his lifestyle. He gave us everything and more. He was the party we’ve been looking for. Maybe, just maybe…. Jesus was rockstar! Can I get a witness?

Father I have sinned a million sins. Save me from this world you put me in. So come on. Come on. Bring Jesus back again.

His love was thunder in the sky. His roar was lions in the night. When he spoke he always drew a crowd. His message was his lifestyle. He brought the fire and the light. He wrote the songs you can’t deny. He rocked so hard, I can hear him now. He brought the house down!

He gave us everything and more. He was the party we’ve been looking for. Maybe, just maybe. I said maybe, just maybe. Maybe, maybe, maybe… Jesus was a rockstar! Can I get a witness? Jesus was a rockstar!

Can I get a witness?

D.D. Flowers, 2014.


In the Spirit of Lent

As I prepare to preach through Lent to Easter, I’ve been contemplating the meaning of this season. It’s a time of much-needed inner reflection for the church. It couldn’t come at a better time in my own life right now. And I suspect for everyone else as well.

The season of Lent covers the six weeks leading up to Easter Sunday. It’s a time of preparation as the church looks forward to Passion week and celebrating the resurrection of Jesus. This season involves an intentional focus on inner reflection through prayer, repentance, and self-denial. It is when we become acutely aware of our own brokenness and need for salvation.

Why do I need this season? I need it because I’m often tempted to look at others instead of myself. How can I help others? What is wrong with “the world” and how can I can help to transform it? As a pastor and teacher, it’s easy to live in this mode of existence. It’s easy to ignore what’s on the inside.

Also, I have noticed that as Christians we often need a little balance in our lives—equilibrium in our faith and practice. I think it’s possible to live in God’s love and grace, learning to live in freedom, and then forget something that is critical about ourselves and the gospel: we’re sinners saved by grace.

Bonhoeffer said that “cheap grace” is grace without discipleship, grace without repentance and the cross. Costly grace reminds us that practicing self-denial and repenting of sin is the call of every Christian.

Sin isn’t to be taken lightly.

Sin is “missing the mark” of God’s holy and righteous character, which is fully expressed in Christ. It’s a misuse of human energies, a breakdown in divine fellowship, and of human community. Sin is rebellion within the human heart against God’s best for his creation. It’s a spiritual distortion within humanity.

“Dear friends, I urge you, as foreigners and exiles, to abstain from sinful desires, which wage war against your soul.” 1 Peter 2:11 NIV

We can’t be lazy and careless on our journey with Christ in community. We must be intentional in the working out of our salvation (Phil 2:12). We need to remember the sin that is at work in us and the urgency of having it removed from us. This then requires us to look in the mirror, allowing God to chisel away the rough edges. The chiseling may hurt a little.

You can feel it when the cross meets your flesh.

Let us agree with Paul and claim this salvific truth concerning our identity:

“My old self has been crucified with Christ. It’s no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” Gal 2:20 NLT

So what about those sinful inclinations? How are we doing with temptation? Are we, by the power of Christ, overcoming sin at work in our lives? What measures are we taking to stamp out our anger, our lust, our gossip, our greed, and our cynicism? Have we allowed anything to become an idol in our lives?

Are we counting ourselves dead to sin and alive in Christ?

I do believe that Lent is also a good time to reflect on the problem of evil. Things are not as they should be. And if we’re going to walk in God’s love and grace through the purging process, we need to know from whence evil comes, and why we struggle with sin in the first place.

“Consider this: sin entered our world through one man, Adam; and through sin, death followed in hot pursuit. Death spread rapidly to infect all people on the earth as they engaged in sin.” Rom 5:12 VOICE

If we do not accept that the cosmos is not as God intended it to be, as a result of human sin on the earth and angelic (demonic) rebellion in the creative evolutionary processes of the primordial past, then we will inevitably attribute evil to God, instead of acknowledging the culprits who are responsible—ourselves and Satan who is the “god of this world” (2 Cor 4:4; Eph 2:2). Blaming God cuts us off from our only source of strength and salvation.

I submit to you that if there is any place in our hearts that wants to attribute evil to God, including our so-called “natural” proclivities, this makes naming our sins and repenting of them all the more difficult.

We will say things like, “Well, God made me/them this way” or “God is to blame for evil” in my life and the world. But if we accept that Jesus of Nazareth is the God-man, fully human and fully divine, we know the truth about the Creator and his good will for us. Christ reveals the divine will for our broken humanity.

We know that God in Christ is bringing order to the chaos. The good news of the Kingdom is that God has taken responsibility for the free world he created by becoming a human being and experiencing the darkness of our fall. He took up our sin and rebellion and nailed it to the cross (Col 2:13-15).

Jesus was crucified and raised for our sanctification. He calls out a people, a church, to accept this free gift and transform this broken world by the power of his Spirit. He wants us to participate in sorting it all out.

Sin has been rendered powerless. Death has lost its sting! Christ took on the powers of darkness and defeated them through holy living, even unto death. The same Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead has been given to us.

“His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.” 2 Peter 1:3 NIV

What will we do with the Spirit’s power this Lent? Will we quench the Spirit or will we let him have his way in us? The future of the church is wrapped up in the way we respond to the Spirit that is at work in the world, seeking to reconcile all things to God, and bring healing to the nations (Col 1:19-21).

Be strong and courageous. Call sin what it is and repent of it.

Stop looking at the sins of others, and reflect inwardly toward your own need for sanctification. It is there that we will find healing for our souls in this season of renewal. Blessings on the journey.

D.D. Flowers, 2014.


Anabaptism 101 (Sermon Series)

Hello blog readers!

This past Sunday I finished preaching through an exciting 6-week sermon series entitled Anabaptism 101 at Christiansburg Mennonite Fellowship (CMF) in Virginia, where I’ve been pastoring since the first of the year.

The series focuses on the historical roots and current convictions of Anabaptism. As many of you know, I didn’t grow up within an Anabaptist tradition. And since half our congregation didn’t grow up Anabaptist, this sermon series seemed like a good place to begin as pastor.

 

Here is a brief outline of each message in the series:

  1. Beginning of a Movement—A general overview of key persons, events, and issues that led to the “radical” 16th century Anabaptist movement. What does “Anabaptist” mean? Where does the name “Mennonite” come from? Where is Anabaptism going today?
  2. Radical Discipleship—The Anabaptist view of discipleship in detail. What does it mean to follow Jesus? Did Jesus really expect us to follow his teachings from the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7)? What is so different about the Anabaptist view versus the popular evangelical view?
  3. Word Made Flesh—The Anabaptist view of the authority of Scripture, and a Christo-centric hermeneutic (interpretation) of the Old Testament. Do Anabaptists hold a high view of Scripture? What is so different about the Anabaptist view of Scripture versus the popular evangelical view?
  4. Church as Kingdom Community—The Anabaptists saw the church as a missional, counter-cultural family of Kingdom citizens. What is the meaning and purpose of baptism? What is the meaning of communion? Why live a simple life? What does it mean to embrace “the other”?
  5. The Politics of Jesus—The most controversial and oft-misunderstood aspect of Anabaptism: non-violence and the politics of Jesus. In what ways did Jesus resist empire? How far do Anabaptists take Jesus’ message of peace and reconciliation? How do Anabaptists understand church & state? How subversive is the NT?
  6. Triumph of the Lamb—Answers to the most common objections concerning the non-violence of Jesus. Didn’t Jesus come to bring a sword? Didn’t Jesus tell his disciples to buy swords? Finally, does the portrayal of Jesus in Revelation contradict the Jesus of the Gospels? How will the way of the crucified Lamb conquer evil in the end?

You can download and listen to each message by visiting our temporary sermon archive. We will be archiving all sermons on the new church website once it is up and running. Please stay tuned for that.

There was Q&A after each message, but you can only hear it following the Triumph of the Lamb. Our small groups are going through The Naked Anabaptist for further discussion and study. If you’re looking for a good overview of Anabaptism, or Neo-Anabaptism, check out Murray’s book.

If you have questions or comments, please let me hear them here at the blog.

D.D. Flowers, 2014.


Encountering God in Our Pain

It’s the story of many biblical characters.

Just ask Hannah who desperately wanted a child but was barren. Ask Joseph who was sold into slavery by his jealous brothers because he had a coat and a vision they didn’t like so much.

Let a righteous Job tell you what it’s like to have everything you love violently taken away, and then have your best friends tell you that God did it because of some sin you committed. Are you familiar with that sort of pain?

Listen to David’s cry for justice:

“Vindicate me, Lord,
    for I have led a blameless life;
I have trusted in the Lord
    and have not faltered.” Ps. 2:6 NIV

And consider how Jesus, the blameless Son of God, was betrayed by one of his students, and was then abandoned by all of his friends and family in his darkest hour. It was on the cross that he finally cried out in real, agonizing pain, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

Jesus experienced the blackest darkness imaginable—separation from the Father—a fracturing of Trinitarian community.

Just as Jesus understands our temptations (Heb 2:17-18), he also relates to our desire for vindication. Yes, Jesus most especially knows the sense of abandonment that comes as a result of living in a world polluted by evil. That’s what God does. He meets us in our deepest pain. He takes evil head-on.

The cross of Christ will teach us a mysterious truth, that is if we’ll allow it.

It’s when we’re alone in our deepest despair that we’re able to discover that we’re not alone, have never been alone, and will never be alone.

Jesus promised his followers that they would never be alone (Matt 28:20). We can listen to Jesus. He is the first and the last, alpha and omega, the beginning and the end (Rev 22:13). We are not hidden from his sight.

A disfigured world drove Jesus into the darkness of a cold tomb, but he came out transfigured and resurrected for the sake of us all. God vindicated Jesus after his radical obedience, after his total surrender.

Paul wrote, “he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross. Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name” (Phil 2:8,9 NIV). Why does this qualify Jesus for the highest place?

He was exalted because of his willingness to suffer and die. He was given the place of highest honor because of his faithfulness to this way of confronting and defeating evil. He gave up his “rights” and emptied himself.

He would die before swinging at the darkness.

Jesus said you can’t save your life by trying to save your life. You must let it go. Trying to overcome the world in your own power, or even forcing your own vindication, is futile. It’s the way of the world, but not of Christ.

This is the way of Christ: enter the darkness and encounter God there.

Do not resist the powers that have sent you spiraling into an abyss of dark isolation and pain. Let God fight for you. Allow him to vindicate you in his time, in his way—the way of the cross. You will discover the light of justice after evil has exhausted itself. Brothers and sisters, wait for resurrection!

“Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:6-7 NIV

D.D. Flowers, 2014.


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