Category Archives: Culture

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.


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.


Is it “My Religion”?

I have always enjoyed the Christian metal band, Skillet. They have some of the best lyrical content and heart-pounding rhythms in the business.

So, I like Skillet. But I’d like to offer a brief critique of the lyrics to a song off of their most recent album, Rise (2013). While I think that it makes the point that Christ is the source of life and faith, I believe it goes too far and falls headlong into a Christian egocentrism. It certainly leaves that impression.

Here is the song with the lyrics.

I have to say that the song seems very representative of our individualist American culture, especially post-modern religion. It says I don’t need anyone else. I don’t need the church. I don’t belong to a group. I’m an island. It’s just me and Jesus (my faith). I can live apart from an intentional worshipping Christian community. Very popular these days.

Of course we don’t need the traditional trappings of “church” (e.g. stained glass, pews, “high” priests, etc.) to follow Christ. I’ve been through all of that. I get it. And, yes, if people disagree with your beliefs, the important thing is for you to be faithful. Maybe he means that. I’m not sure.

But to say that it “ain’t their business what I wanna believe” is contrary to NT teaching of knowing Christ in community.

The NT teaches that Christians belong to one another and Christ. If the lyrics are suggesting that intentional Body (church) life is unnecessary for discipleship, then I couldn’t disagree more.

Listen to Paul in 1 Corinthians 12:12-13 (MSG):

“By means of his one Spirit, we all said good-bye to our partial and piecemeal lives. We each used to independently call our own shots, but then we entered into a large and integrated life in which he has the final say in everything. (This is what we proclaimed in word and action when we were baptized.) Each of us is now a part of his resurrection body, refreshed and sustained at one fountain—his Spirit—where we all come to drink.”

If the band is even hinting that my faith is simply about me and Jesus, then the song promotes a message that is antithetical to the Gospel which calls us into relationships with one another.

We are “living stones” being built into a spiritual house (1 Pet 2:5).

In my opinion, this song sounds like one more example of a cynical Christian that is fed up with institutional Christianity and jumps clear over the road into the opposite ditch of a nebulous church practice, a me-centered Christianity.

We may feel better singing it, but it does nothing to improve our situation.

We are never to give up on one another or to cease fellowship with the church (Heb 10:25). We belong to one another. It’s not “my religion” (if it’s even religion at all). It’s “our faith” together in Christ.

No matter how much a person has learned about the love and grace of Christ for themselves, if after an extensive period of time you are refusing to gather with believers (for whatever reason) in regular community where you are required to act on that love and grace, then you’re being disobedient.

Be intentional about knowing Christ in community. There is no other religion.

D.D. Flowers, 2014.

Read here for more on the fallacy of the nebulous church idea.


Deep Listening

In the last couple of weeks I have been reminded of the radical polarities within society, culture, and the church. I have especially noticed this when it comes to Christians trying to have conversations about theology and ethics.

We must learn to stop thinking from within the extreme positions of any given issue, and discover a third way. Continually responding to our brothers and sisters as if there are only two camps of thought is dishonest and destructive.

This is the way of politics, but it’s not the way of Jesus. The way out is through the practice of deep listening.

“Answering before listening is both stupid and rude.”  Prov 18:13 MSG

There are many issues today that are threatening to tear the church apart. We can’t hope to overcome these challenges without learning to listen before we speak. This means that we come to the table in order to listen and learn.

We do not come simply to share our own thoughts and convictions, assuming that we know the other person and their journey. This will require humility and a desire to want to understand our neighbor for Christ’s sake.

Let’s remember that while some of us may have (or believe we have) a more pure & authentic understanding of Jesus than our neighbors, no one person or group has the corner market on truth and the fullness of Christ. We serve a multi-faceted, multi-dimensional, cosmic Christ that can’t be contained in your (or my) theology or denomination.

Therefore, we need each other. We belong to each other (Eph 4:1-5). There is NO other way forward. The Kingdom is coming, and will come, through ONE Christ and ONE church (Jn 17:20-24).

After we have listened to the person from across the table, it is possible that we simply disagree on the matter. That’s fine, but at least we listened and sought the good of the other. We’re always seeking the good of the other. I think that’s what the third way of deep listening is all about.

Deep listening should always lead to a greater understanding and love for our neighbor, even if our neighbor turns out to be our enemy.

And in that case, we love them and pray for peace.

D.D. Flowers, 2014.


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