Wearing a Robe Dipped in Blood

I turned to see who was talking to me. When I turned I saw a Son of Man. He was dressed like a dignitary, in a long robe with a golden sash. His head and hair were white like wool or snow. His eyes were burning like a blazing fire. His feet left blazing marks on the land as if melted bronze had been poured out on it. His voice was like the noise of a roaring flood of water. He held seven angels that looked like radiant stars in his right hand, and his words were like a wicked sharp sword, full of power. Looking at him was like looking straight into the Sun at its brightest time.
 

When I saw him I fell at his feet and laid still with fear.

He put his hand on me and said, “I am the first and the last. I am the One who lives; I was dead, but look, I am alive forever and ever! And I hold the keys to death and to the place of the dead. But do not be afraid because I am on your side. “
 
Oh. My. God.
 
Later, I saw Heaven open up and there before me was a white horse. The rider on the horse is called Faithful and True and his decisions on what is right or wrong and when to make war or make peace are righteous. His eyes are blazing flames and he is crowned the King of Everything. He has a name written on him that is too much for anyone to understand or know. He is dressed in a robe, but this time it is dipped in blood because it is time for the judgement.
 
He is known as the Word of God.
 
The armies of Heaven are following him on white horses, dressed for battle in white robes signifying purity. Out of the rider’s mouth comes words filled with power, like a wicked sharp sword, that he will use to make war. At his mere words, the rulers of the Earth will be stricken down and then he will rule the world with his iron staff. But first he will crush the empires of the world beneath his feet like someone crushing grapes to make wine.
 
This is how angry God is! God the All-Powerful! This is his terrible wrath!
 
On his blood stained robe this was written: King of Kings and Lord of Lords.
 
Oh. My. God.After the battle, I saw all the Universe unmade and then remade in peace and harmony with God. I saw a new city, Jerusalem, coming down from Heaven with God. I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, “Behold! Now God will dwell with his people! God himself will be with them. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes and there will be no more death, sadness, crying or pain because those ways are gone and done.”

The One sitting on the throne said, “Look! I have made everything new! It is finished! I am the first and the last, the beginning and the end. I will give water from the spring of eternal life to anyone who is thirsty.”
 
He said, “These things will come to pass when I come back. And I am coming soon.”
 
Oh! My! God!
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What’s Wrong With Me?

This has happened before. (No, not like Battlestar Galactica. I mean, at least not as far as I know.)

 
I’ve been here. After trying to do a “good work” and feeling like all I did was an “ok work.”
 
At church today, Bruce Coble, the missions pastor, was preaching and one of the things that caught my attention and stuck with me was a comment he made about approaching people to help them when we feel the stirring to do so. He said, “I’ve gotten in the habit of telling them, ‘God told me to help you.’ So that they know it was from God and not just me.”
 
I think, if I do a good deed but don’t tell the person I am doing it because my faith in God or because God loves them then person has no possible outlet for their gratitude other than me. And good works should direct people to God.
 
Driving home today after church I see a guy on a motorcycle. He is pushing it, the thing is clearly dead. I drive past him but I keep looking back. It looked like he was out of gas.
 
As I continued on several things popped into my mind:
 
I have time before I have to go to work today. I could help him.
He’ll have to walk a long way to get gas. That would suck.
I’m alone so I wouldn’t be putting anyone in my family at risk.And then the big one:

I was created by God to do good works for his glory.That one got me. So I turned around and went back. I found him and called out, “Hey Dude,” because I speak surfer, “Do you need gas?”

He said, “No it’s dead. Do you have jumper cables?”
 
I took out the cables and plugged them in. I told him, “I passed you and but I kept thinking of you. At church we just talked about this so I came back.”
 
After he drove off I couldn’t help but run through the whole event again and again. This had happened before. And like that time, I just wasn’t prepared.
 
I choked.
 
I know some of you are thinking that I did good. That’s because we Christians have set the bar so low. I mean, I appreciate your encourgament but in reality I didn’t do what I should have.
 
Let me prove it: what is this?
 
Can’t answer? Well then how is the guy supposed to know what this is that we were talking about at church?
 
I want to be the kind of Christian who will speak the truth with boldness; not choke-ness. I want to be so comfortable talking about God that it’s second nature. I want to do good works but I also want people to be moved towards God because of them.
 
In the end, I want a, “Well done my good and faithful servant!”
 
Not a, “Good effort.”
 
Know what I mean?

Leading Worship

Something that’s been on my heart for some time that I struggle to find the words for is the relationship of worship leader to their personal worship. If you are confused so far then I’ve made my point.I was challenged by a conversation I had with Ronnie Meek while we were talking about what a worship leader does. He said, “Sometimes [the people on stage] are leading worship exactly the same way they would if they were in the audience with the congregation or alone worshiping.” I remember thinking, isn’t this exactly how it should be?

But he continued, “But a worship leaders job is to get the congregation to worship.”

At church, during service, I tend to watch the singers, musicians and dancers.

I’m looking for authenticity. I love watching someone worship!

What I see from Wayne Berry, and am confused about, is someone who is not singing along with the rest of us a lot of the time. That’s confusing because my preconceived idea of a worship leader is one who leads by example. I think, why isn’t Wayne singing?

And why is he so happy not singing?

(Please don’t misunderstand what I am about to say. I am by no means demeaning the singers or musicians who have the courage to get up in front of the church body and worship in front of us.)

What I’ve determined (so far, I haven’t got this figured out yet!) is that there are worship leaders and there are artists. But many times they are not the same person on the stage.

When I see the singers and musicians on the stage I recognize that they are worshiping God through their voices and instruments. But a worship leader does not worship God through their voice or instrument.

They worship God through us. We are their instrument.

Watching Wayne after the conversation with Ronnie has opened my eyes. I see Wayne and his job differently now.

I imagine him standing before the Lord, one of a thousand thousand worship leaders in the audience room described in Revelation.

I see Wayne bringing us and our praise as his offering.

And I see the Lord smile.

Then I see Wayne again at SA in front of the body of believers. I see him eyes closed, smiling, with tears flowing. I see him not singing.

And I am certain he is worshiping.

That’s what I think a worship leader does.

Wild at Brain

A friend of mine lent me Wild at Heart by John Eldredge. He said, on a post-it note, “Didn’t know if you had this. Another good read.” Coming so highly recommended as it did I had to jump in right away! (Right after I finished Rob Bell’s Jesus Wants to Save Christians, get through a few more pages of Terry Pratchett’s Thief of Time and start in on Chazown by Craig Groeschel. Oh, and I’m working through D.A. Carson’s Becoming Conversant with the Emergent Church. Oh and then there is that other book on Rethinking Small Groups or something by someone. Anyway, I was eager to start!)I haven’t finished the book yet. I can’t, in fact. I am too busy wrestling with the ideas the book inspired in me. (I say “wrestling” because it’s manly. I’m trying to be manly. Tell me what you think, OK?)

I’ve been wrestling… no… tackling-with-fierce-intent some really interesting ideas that Eldredge brought up. For instance, I didn’t know “Little girls do not invent games where large numbers of people die” (p10). What next? Boys aren’t supposed to play with Strawberry Shortcake dolls because they smell good? Yeah right!

As I grappled-with-enormous-animosity the comments that Eldredge was making it dawned on me: I wasn’t dressed for this kind of book! I put the book down and went upstairs to my room. In my drawer (that holds my drawers, ha! I am so frakkin funny!) I found what I was looking for: a Mexican wrestling mask. I donned the dangerous accoutrement and went back to reading.

(In fact, while my co-workers and family think it odd, I have still to take it off! Wild at Heart indeed!)

I was surprised to find out that Eldredge thinks men think Jesus is “meek and mild” (p22). I personally think this is because of communion. Wafers with no taste and watered down grape juice? Gimme a break! If communion was served with better tasting body and blood I bet men wouldn’t think of Jesus as such a wimp.

Seriously, if a guy tastes like buffalo wings and vodka he had to have been one bad man!

On page 29, Eldredge says that men are supposed to swim with pods of killer whales and get bull moosesmeese? mad at you. Even though I’m wearing a wrestling mask, red and black and all danger no less, and pouncing-like-a-mad-gorilla-that-is-really-angry over these thoughts I have to admit it. To myself and to you.

I am not a man.

I mean, I’ve never once said to myself, “Self, we need to get a bull moose mad at us today. Adventure! YeeHaa!” Have you?

Probably not, non-man.

(To feel more manly, I just put on an eye patch and ripped my shirt so it looks tattered. Maybe from a fight with a mad iguana or perhaps caused by the scream of a banshee.)

(Also, I’m gonna talk in pirate from this point on. Matey. I be a bad mama-jama. Yar!)

On page 41, Eldredge spouts through his lame non-pirate mouth that yonder men who wear trousers don’t look like passionate, fierce, wild at heart men! Arrgh! I like wearing me pants! But to prove I be more of a man than ye, I’ll go without!

So here I stand, matey! Talking pirate, wearing a Mexican wrestling mask and eye patch, with a ripped shirt, and now no trousers! Argh! I be a fierce and wild at heart man now, eye? Eiyaiy.. aye?

By yon time that Eldredge the non-man (argh, he be a writer, right?) says that Adam was ashamed because he be naked (p52) me mind starts to hammer-punch-a-donkey-in-the-kidneys-with-me-pirate-hook (I cut off me hand and had yon hook installed to prove me manliness) and I says to meself, “Self Pirate, Ye be nakid too! Shant you feel… Shunt ye feel… whatever. Shouldn’t I be ashamed?”

I give up on the pirate accent, I take off my mask and my eye patch. I’ll probably have to toss the shirt. I get real with myself.

Am I a man? Have I traded my dreams of adventure for the reality of a keyboard? Has this affected my relationship with my wife? Is she not pursued and loved romantically and passionately like she should be? Has this affected my view of God and Jesus? Meek and mild and “all impotent God” as I once heard sung.

Maybe so.

On the inside, I see myself as buff and sexy and strong and out-doorsy. On the inside.

So I resolved to do something handy and out-doorsy. I am going to design a play-set for me and my boy(s) to dress up with swords and shields and water guns and “kill” each other to save the beauty!

I’ll get started on my days off. But now, I have to go to work!

It’s only at the time that I walk into work and pass my reps desks that I realize I never put my trousers back on.

Del Taco and Dusty Sandals

Every six months or so we have a shift bid at my work and then re-align the teams (representatives and managers) to each other based on the bid results. This last week I got a new team and have slowly been getting to know them. I love this time because I always find out that many of them are Christians!Of course, in my experience after having hundreds of people reporting to me, almost everyone is a Christian. Which explains world peace and how no one is hungry in Africa anymore.

It comes up like this:

“Hi” I say, “I had a great day yesterday! My pastor said some really good stuff like, [insert fake good stuff here]!”

We laugh at my ability to retell fake jokes. Then I look both ways for HR and once assured that we are clear say, “Are you religious? I hope it doesn’t offend you that I am. I mean, I’m cool with you not loving God and going to Hell. That’s your prerogative. Dust off my sandals and all that.”

They laugh some more because I’m frakkin hilarious! After wiping away the laughter tears, they say, “I’m a Christian.”

Elated, I say, “Sweet! Where do you go to church?”

They look at me, sadly, probably thinking about how baby seals get clubbed in the head by seal abusers. They snap out of their sad memories long enough to say, “I know I should go but I haven’t been for a while.” Then they get sad again. I understand. Baby seals are so cute!

So I say, “I know how hard it can be to find a church in the greater Nashville area. Especially now that Obama has shut them all down,” referring to the tell-on-your-neighbor 800# initiative that Obama put into place to root out the religious zealots who don’t like to have their parents told that they should die because they cost too much to keep fixing them. It’s what we do with old cars, right? (I wonder what I could get for my dad. Probably less on account of him not having legs anymore.)

They say, “Yeah. I just moved here.”

I say, “Wow. How long have you been here?”

They say, “Three years. But I visit home a lot because I love tacos and you just can’t get good Mexican food here anymore now that the illegals have gone home because of the high unemployment rate.”

I nod. Tacos are worth travelling for.

My stomach growls, probably complaining that there are no Del Tacos in Tennessee. I ignore it, “So how about LifeChurch.tv or a radio or TV preacher? Ever listen to them?”

They look at me quizzically -it’s the only word that fits- and answer, “Why would I trust someone on the Internet, TV or the radio when there are so many churches that I could just go to and get to know the pastors in there? I would hate to be given heresy and false teaching! That could totally mess me up and I could lose my salvation because I’m not Baptist.”

After sorting out their oddly constructed response, I say, “Surely, you must read the Word a lot then, right?”

They answer, “How can I read a word? What is this a practical joke?” They laugh. I don’t though, because I’m the only one allowed to tell jokes. It’s in my boss’ contract. “No I haven’t been reading the Bible much.” they admit.

My mind opens up and I have a vision of demons sitting on the reps shoulder, taunting me with Del Taco green burritos hot and melty with cheddar cheese and extra green sauce. I left my wand at home so I ignore them for now.

But I get it. My rep claims to be a Christian but doesn’t go to church, listen to teachers, read the Bible or share her demons’ Del Taco with me. Clearly, this is a divine appointment. I know what I have to do.

I have to travel to a state with Del Taco. After all, there isn’t anything I can do for “Christians” like this.

The worst part? My frakkin sandals are dusty again.

Shock-N-Awe!

“If you are a citizen of an empire that has the most powerful army in the history of humanity and is currently on the way to spending a trillion dollars on a war, passages about those who accumulate chariots and horses from Egypt are about you and your people.” Rob Bell, Jesus Wants to Save Christians, 128

“What?” said a friend? I’ll tell you.

Moses warned those fleeing from Egypt against becoming like Egypt (something Solomon did.) The Psalmist said, “Some trust in chariots… I trust in the Lord.” There is a clear either-or differentiation here.

Rob Bell makes the case (well) that America is an empire and as such it is all about protecting its wealth and prosperity through economic (horses) and military (chariots) might.

(Notice the differentiation again. If America is using horses and chariots, where is its trust? Not in the Lord?)

I know that many of you won’t like this because you don’t like America to be called an empire. Yet, I know deep down inside many people actually do like to think of America as an empire. How often do we hear about how amazing our military is? How we are the only “superpower?” We take pride in it. We put our trust in it.

Uh-oh.

I know many like to think of America as a Christian nation. I see this as a cake-and-eat-it-too scenario. We want to think of ourselves as holy and chosen and at the same time retain our military and economic supremacy.

Just in case God doesn’t come through, or what?

America is blessed. But the Bible says we are blessed to be blessing. I don’t see it.