Love is Not a Bullhorn Pt. 2

A few days ago I made a post called Love is Not a Bullhorn which was about a story I read in the news. The basic gist was this:

  • A church has been protesting at a strip club and now the strip club is protesting at the church.

My critique was on how this church was acting. The basic gist of what I said was this:

There is a very delicate balance to what you preach. It’s not all law. It’s not all sin. There is the incredibly important aspect of forgiveness that one man died for. You also might recall that He died silently and not with a bullhorn.

The post I made was short, but was also, I feel, important. You can read it here. Anyways, I bring this back up because the story has come back into the news. Now typically, when we hear of a story about a church, it’s a bad thing. The media obviously focuses on the crap that happens in the world because that sells money. But somehow this story has come back into the news and now there’s hope that this church could fix the situation. Here’s what YAHOO said on the matter.

They [the strip club owner and the pastor of the church] say they’ll negotiate for the first time Wednesday.The decision came after two women from ministries that evangelize to adult-entertainment industry workers spoke during Sunday’s sermon at the church in Warsaw, 60 miles northeast of Columbus.

San Diego resident Sheri Brown and Grand Rapids, Mich., resident Anny Donewald say the congregation should just love the strippers and “let the Holy Spirit draw them out.”

The Columbus Dispatch newspaper says women who attended the church service apologized to strippers who had traveled from nearby Newcastle to protest outside.

This is good news! Not only did this church allow people outside of their congregation to come in and critique them, but they also listened! That is much, much harder to do than you might think. It’s obvious to me that the Spirit was at work in those who apologized.

To the rest of Christians, let’s keep this church in prayer. They are, after all, as much a part of the body as the rest of us. God is already mending some wounds and this meeting between the pastor and strip club owner could be an epic moment of healing. Not just between the church and the strip club, but between the church and every person who read the original article.

Ohio Strip Club Owner, Pastor to Meet over Feud – Yahoo! News.” The Top News Headlines on Current Events from Yahoo! News – Yahoo! News. Web. 16 Aug. 2010. <http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20100815/ap_on_fe_st/us_odd_strippers_protest_church&gt;.

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Love is Not a Bullhorn

Let’s get something straight here church: you were called to love people and give them God’s life, NOT to speak hell and death over them. Sadly, it’s always our mistakes that make the news:

The owner of an Ohio strip club and some of his dancers have been protesting at a church that has done the same to them for four years…They [the church] come armed with bullhorns, signs and video cameras for posting customers’ license plate numbers online.

There is a very delicate balance to what you preach. It’s not all law. It’s not all sin. There is the incredibly important aspect of forgiveness that one man died for. You also might recall that He died silently and not with a bullhorn.

Jesus never even needed a bullhorn anyways. Why? Because He showed people love so perfectly that crowds would not leave Him alone! They had to have more of Him! They hung on His every word.

Jodi read me an amazing story out of Orson Scott Card’s, “Speaker for the Dead” just the other day. I think it applies well to this situation:

A Great Rabbi stands, teaching in the marketplace. It happens that a husband finds proof that morning of his wife’s adultery, and a mob carries her to the marketplace to stone her to death.

There is a familiar version of this story, but a friend of mine – a Speaker for the Dead – has told me of two other Rabbis that faced the same situation. Those are the ones I’m going to tell you.

The Rabbi walks forward and stands beside the woman. Out of respect for him the mob forbears and waits with the stones heavy in their hands. ‘Is there any man here,’ he says to them, ‘who has not desired another man’s wife, another woman’s husband?’

They murmur and say, ‘We all know the desire, but Rabbi none of us has acted on it.’

The Rabbi says, ‘Then kneel down and give thanks that God has made you strong.’ He takes the woman by the hand and leads her out of the market. Just before he lets her go, he whispers to her, ‘Tell the Lord Magistrate who saved his mistress, then he’ll know I am his loyal servant.’

So the woman lives because the community is too corrupt to protect itself from disorder.

Another Rabbi. Another city. He goes to her and stops the mob as in the other story and says, ‘Which of you is without sin? Let him cast the first stone.’

The people are abashed, and they forget their unity of purpose in the memory of their own individual sins. ‘Someday,’ they think, ‘I may be like this woman. And I’ll hope for forgiveness and another chance. I should treat her as I wish to be treated.’

As they opened their hands and let their stones fall to the ground, the Rabbi picks up one of the fallen stones, lifts it high over the woman’s head and throws it straight down with all his might it crushes her skull and dashes her brain among the cobblestones. ‘Nor am I without sins,’ he says to the people, ‘but if we allow only perfect people to enforce the law, the law will soon be dead – and our city with it.’

So the woman died because her community was too rigid to endure her deviance.

The famous version of this story is noteworthy because it is so startlingly rare in our experience. Most communities lurch between decay and rigor mortis and when they veer too far they die. Only one Rabbi dared to expect of us such a perfect balance that we could preserve the law and still forgive the deviation.

So of course, we killed him.

Works Cited:

Bullhorn Guy. Perf. Rob Bell. NOOMA. DVD.

Card, Orson Scott. Speaker for the Dead. New York, NY: TOR, 1986. Print.”

Dancers from Ohio Strip Club Protest at Church – Yahoo! News.” The Top News Headlines on Current Events from Yahoo! News – Yahoo! News. Web. 10 Aug. 2010. <http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20100810/ap_on_fe_st/us_odd_strippers_protest_church&gt;.

Silence and Awkwardness

You can listen to my audio post by clicking the play button:

Come Expecting

I had mentioned the other day that I had returned to my youth group back in Chelsea to help with a worship service. There were quite a few memories that returned to me while I was there, but one of the memories extended back quite a ways to some of my visits to Somerset Beach Campground.

It was there than I learned what worship looked like. I had been a Christian for a long time, but it wasn’t until I was old enough to get into the youth tent that I ever saw one hand raised in the air. The church I attended at this time just didn’t express themselves in any physical way. And so now to see all of these hands in the air was incredibly odd to me. Why were they doing that?

And then the worship leader that week had everyone in the tent turn around and kneel on their chairs. Perhaps this was the first time I ever engaged expression in my worship. I believe he also had us all raise our hands in the air again, which was another first to me.

I felt a little foolish about it, but there was something freeing about it; powerful, yet odd. I didn’t know what it was, but I felt like I was actually engaging God.

A few years later I found myself back at this tent with one of my best friends. Pastor Jason, who would be my future youth pastor in Chelsea, was leading the worship with his youth band. If I remember correctly, he used a distortion pedal on his acoustic guitar, which may have been one of the coolest things I had ever seen.

That week  had some of the most powerful worship I had ever experienced. My friend and I found ourselves doing things that were incredibly unusual to us. We were reaching out to the sky, emphasizing every word of every song with our hands. We were on our faces before God, praying and praying.

But it wasn’t like this at home. Sure, we still worshiped, but this was more extreme than usual. What was it about being at this campground; this community; that made worship what it was?

Well, I think a big part of it was that we came expecting. We knew that God was going to meet us there that week with all of those people and so we came with that expectation. Perhaps we knew this because we had seen it before, or perhaps it was simply simply a feeling God had given us to go off of.

How ever it was that we knew it, we came with expectation, and God met us there. And it’s not that He met us in any charismatic or crazy way (although I’m sure there were people who were weirded out by those emotional guys up front), but He simply met us where we were at and silently worked in us.

And that’s one of my problems as of late. I don’t always come expecting, and for that reason, I feel that I make it more difficult for Him to meet me where I’m at. I’m not alert to the fact that He wants to do a new thing in me and so I don’t come expecting.

And on top of that, now that I’m at a very, very expressive church, I expect that that’s what God looks like when He comes. Which is true, God does often times look and sound like a party, but He also at times stays invisible and works silently within us.

And sometimes that silence becomes so noticeable that God becomes visible in it. I learned that at SLR this past year. It was the first time I had ever been to one of these Spring Arbor Spiritual Life Retreats, and we saw God invade worship perhaps more powerfully than ever before in the SAU community. And it wasn’t in the music that He invaded worship.

It was in the silence.

We finished a song and then there was nothing. Nothing but pure silence.

The band was silent.
The speaker was silent.
The people were silent.
Everyone was silent.
Only the loud hum of the air conditioning could be heard.

But was anything happening? Was God working in this silence?

Well, many, many minutes of silence later a girl broke into tears and prayer. When she stopped, yet another person prayed aloud. Prayer after prayer; person after person; God showed how powerfully He worked in the silence.

So now, we relearn how to come to worship with expectation, despite the mood we might be in at the time.

Whether party
-or silence-
we come expecting.

The Silent Blackout

Apparently some guy drove his car into an electric pole in the middle of Chelsea, Michigan today and took out all the surrounding power. First off, congratulations guy. That takes true talent on a 25 mph road. Secondly, it has made me uncomfortable. And thirdly, I have oddly enough managed to find comfort in this discomfort.

It’s always a surprise to humanity when the power goes out. It’s as if life as we know it has come to an end and we’re sure that within the upcoming hours, death is sure to follow. How can we survive without computers, video games and television? Parents suggest we go read a book, yet we’re unsure as to what exactly a book even is!

Face it. Advanced technology rules our lives hardcore.

Which reminds me: I read something today about some kid taking forever to find out there was another side to a cassette tape as he knew there was more to listen to, but didn’t know how to do so. This raises two issues:

1. How do you not know that?
2. Am I really that old!?

Man, if it wasn’t for my iTouch right now, I wouldn’t even be punching in this blog entry! After all paper is far to archaic and unethical to use :P

So here I sit in the basement, itouch in hand, and a smellish green candle illuminating the room, curious as to what to do with myself, yet comfortable with this absence. There’s no roar of a fridge, high pitched noise of a TV, guns of a video game, typing on a keyboard, music in the background, cars driving by, lights emitting noise, or anything else.

It’s just silence. I actually heard that if you were put in a totally sound proof room, all you would hear is the high pitched noise of your brain at work. It’s about that quiet now. Or maybe it just seems that quiet due to how loud it normally is. (This coming from the guy that used to be rocked to sleep by POD every night.)

Speaking of silence, that reminds me of something I may need to do in the future…

There are no street lights to hold back the glow of the stars and other than candlelight, Chelsea is officially an unilluminated ghost town. Except for those living 6 blocks away who mysteriously have power… Smells like conspiracy to me…

But right now it just feels like God and I are just chillin’. The electronic world of humans has been stripped from my life for a couple hours, and now God can intervene. Quite sad, actually. Perhaps I should run into electric poles more often! Smells like conspiracy!

I’m actually a long time power outage veteran as I was one of the survivors of the Blackout of 2003. I guess it wasn’t that long ago but it feels like it… Man, I am old…

Either way, I’d you don’t remember, a big price of America lost power for quite a while. I believe ours was gone for a week, but it seemed so much longer! The weird part though, is that it made for quite a memorable time. Myself, my brother Jaron, and my friend Stefan found ourselves out on the back porch playing monopoly tom daylight to candlelight. Jaron got ticked at the game as Stefan practiced his expert abilities to rock any game that requires skils to handle money. (Seriously, you gotta see the guy play Lemonade Tycoon.) Too bad he is not so good at handlng money in real life. This seriously made a memorable moment in my life. It’s amazing what can happen when the power goes out and life is back to its unradiated state.

So again, here I sit in pure silence like Elijah, waiting to hear God ask me what’s up. You oughta try it sometime.

Check out my new video blog on youtube.

Questions in Silence

I wrote a song with my band The Newfangled Sequence awhile back called Questions in Silence which was inspired out of spending time in silence to hear the voice of God. I found that it was really hard to quiet my voice. Anyways, here’s the song that came out of it, I thought you might enjoy watching it (lyrics below):

 

 

What’s in this silence that I can’t handle?

Why won’t my body just sit still?

Why is my mind violently screaming?

Is it the Voice that gives me chills?

Wait a second, what have I become?

Questions in silence, now Your voice has won

Here in this silence, You speak so softly

Whispering questions, to answer my own

Where is my head at? What is my motive?

Did I start sleeping while on the phone?

Wait a second, what have I become?

Questions in Silence, now Your voice has won

I’ve got a question, what have we become?

Just one question, what have I become?

What have I become?

Pursuing the Whisper

Silence…

Why is it so hard?
Why does it seem that we can’t surround ourselves with silence?

Now, I’m not just talking about finding time to sit back and relax. Half the time we’re not silent when we relax anyways. We love noise. It makes us feel comfortable.

And why does it matter anyways? So what if I’m not silent? So what if I’m obsessed with noise? That’s what I used to think anyways. As if it was a crime to be loud.

And then go figure, it ends up that silence is actually a key component to learning God’s voice.

In 1 Kings 19 we see an awesome example of why silence is important to knowing God.

This chapter is the story of Elijah getting the chance to experience God Himself because He is about to “pass by.” This almighty, all powerful, creator-of-the-world, God is about to “pass by.” What a frightening thing to think about.

Were told that a powerful wind sweeps by and totally rips apart the mountain. Try to imagine that. The most intense wind you have ever felt sweeps past you and rents a mountain. Rocks are falling everywhere, crashing to the ground.

Now get this-
That wind wasn’t God.

Perhaps that mountain-tearing-wind just wasn’t enough to prove God’s glory and power. Perhaps, when God enters the scene His presence will be even more powerful than this.

How about an earthquake then? Yes! That would probably do the trick! And that is what happens next- the earth shakes.

And then go figure, God wasn’t in that either. I imagine that Elijah is probably freaking out by now. After all, if God wasn’t in either of those, then it’s hard to imagine what kind of extreme way an all powerful God will show up.

How about a fire then? Yeah, that’s not a bad way to show up. Sure, it’s no earthquake, but what an amazing sight a fire can be. Yes, that would still be a great way for an almighty God to show up. After all, third time’s a charm. And a fire does happen.

But once again, God is not in that natural disaster either. So now what? How much more powerful could it get?

Monsoon?
Hurricane?
Thunder storm?
Tornado?
All of the above?

And then came the answer…

Elijah hears a

still

small

whisper

gentle…

The almighty, all powerful God has arrived with the most simple of entrances.

A whisper.
Still and small.
Gentle.

This brings out God’s feminine side because we often think of a man pursuing a woman and it stands out to me in this story that God wants to be pursued. He didn’t make His presence obvious, or for that matter even visual!

You can see mountains being torn apart. You can watch the earth shake. You can see a blazing fire from afar. But you can’t see a whisper.

You can feel the mountains being torn apart by the wind sweeping by your face. You can feel an earthquake shake apart all that you know. But you can’t feel anymore than the warm breath of a whisper.

A whisper is audible- and on top of that it’s not very loud. If you want to find God then He wants to first persued.

Romanced.

He doesn’t want to make His presence entirely obvious. He doesn’t want to shake the earth apart in order to get your attention.

Too often we get it backwards. We’re always waiting for God to show up and we’d rather not turn our relationship into something that’s mutual. “Just do stuff for me,” we pray, never expecting to give anything back in return.

We’re parasites.

Do you want to hear a still, small whisper? Then don’t expect to hear it in the everlasting hum of our society. Find some time to break away from life and pursue the whisper. It takes time to learn what the whisper sounds like, but at least you’ll begin to hear it.

It’s a tad bit risky too. Surrounding yourself in silence in order to pursue God means that there will be questions. You’ll have to face convictions that you often times cover up with the noise of the world, and for the most part that noise does a pretty good job of paralyzing our brains.

Maybe that’s why we’re so busy. Perhaps the more we do the less we have to calm down and listen. Maybe that’s why we’re addicted to noise. It numbs us.

If you’re like me then you may have a hard time even sleeping without background noise! I have slept with a fan nearly every night since I was a child. Then I went through a phase of having to sleep with music on. Now I nearly fall asleep to cartoons every night.

It’s kind of ironic actually. James W. Goll points out in his book “Dream Language” that perhaps God speaks through visions and dreams so often because there’s finally no distractions in our sleep. Perhaps we’ve finally quieted down enough for God to whisper. And yet I can’t even sleep in the quiet half the time!

Silence is hard. I’m no expert on it. I’m trying to work on it myself. But I think it’s about time we break the cycle of our parasitical God relationships to actually learn what God’s whisper sounds like. Think of what we could all do when we actually know His voice.

Think of the change we could make.