Archives For theology

PIA

Sunday night was absolutely amazing: My wife and I, along with friends, went to the Poets in autumn tour with spoken word artists Jackie Hill Perry, Preston Perry, Genetics = Janette…ikz, and Ezekiel Azonwu. I had seen them before online over the years and had been hoping I could see them speak live one day. For me it was a surreal experience. It was my anniversary of 18 years of marriage. I was sitting in a room with a few hundred other people and some friends. Then they started speaking… The first piece I had heard before, but live it landed on my ears differently.

I grew up in NY, currently live in RI, but also lived in west coast, midwest and south. I am white. The reason why this matters is twofold.
1. I have never experienced racism in the way some of the poetry spoke towards myself.
2. While I have never experienced it, I have personally experienced prejudice and have seen first hand friends being profiled.

To hear Preston’s lens on racism today, something that makes me sick to my stomach, was mind blowing. I have no tolerance for the kind of hate the world spews out these days. I don’t see color. I see God’s precious creation. I Loved the way preston tackled the issues. He was bold, clear, unashamed and then so full of love and grace. He pointed to Jesus, forgiveness and that all life is sacred.

Sitting in a room with mostly black brothers and sisters in the lord and hearing his testimony broke my heart. I will never know what they have gone through and the hurt some of them have been through. However, I am so glad that Jesus can clean hearts, restore lives and that there is nothing this world can dish out that heaven can’t heal. I found myself in prayer for the great men and women of God in the room that night.

Lord… Take their lives.. make them yours.. use them to heal their city. Use them to break down walls. Make a way where there seems to be no way. Give them a platform and a voice that is greater than they can imagine.
Each artist shared from their heart with a mission to use their life story as a platform to arrest hearts and then step out of the way for the Holy Spirit to move. The stories were heartbreaking. The hope was mesmerizing. The talent was unparalleled.
I had just that morning preached at Ember Church about John the Baptist being a voice in the wilderness. I spoke on our picture of him being warped. He wasn’t a crazy man screaming repentance. He was a gentle yet bold man begging for children to return to their father. I spoke on ensuring that when we speak, much like john, that we need to be mindful if what we say points to Jesus. Clearly John the Baptizer did not water down the gospel. He wasn’t afraid to tackle hard hitting targets. Unlike the crazy doom, sign holding preachers on the street corners, John had a crowd that came out to meet him. He preached repentance and grace instead of judgement a prepared the way for the Lord. 

Sunday night in the middle of Brockton Ma, at Dominion Christian Church; 4 Modern day John the Baptist’s came to speak. They tackled the hard topics: Lust, Molestation, Broken Marriage, Deception of satan, Porn, Passion, Corruption, The word of God, Prayer, Abortion, Spiritual warfare… They were not afraid to speak truth and nothing was off limits. That had us in tears, in wonder, in shock, in self evaluation, in awe…

And then… With the voice of the Lord they prepared the way for the Lord and pointed everything they were and had to Jesus. 

They made sure every person in that room heard one thing. JESUS IS ENOUGH and I was honored to be present for that moment.

lent2

The Lenten season began last week. Lent leads up to Easter in a similar way that Advent leads to Christmas only with a different perspective. The idea around advent is an Expectation of the coming of Jesus on Christmas day. Lent however is a time of self-assessment and surrender to prepare our hearts for the death and resurrection of the King of Kings

There is a reason why Lent begins with ash Wednesday. The ashes that are put on a persons head are a symbolic representation of mourning our sin, a reminder of our mortality, and is usually in the shape of a cross showing we are marked by jesus and share in his resurrection.

We know that Christ died for us while we were yet sinners, but starting lent with an understanding of lament and mourning of our sin is critical. We need to begin this lenten season recognizing that we are dust that God breathed life into. We are little mud men and women who have been given the opportunity of having eternal life because of God’s mercy, kindness and sacrifice.. And in the same way we were formed out of dust we will eventually return to dust. Life is short and Ash Wednesday reminds us of that.

I love the way the NLT says it in:
James 4:14
 New Living Translation
How do you know what your life will be like tomorrow? Your life is like the morning fog–it’s here a little while, then it’s gone

What we do with our short time on this earth matters. What or who we devote our days to shapes who we are.

Last week 21 Coptic Orthodox Christians were martyred or in other words killed because they were followers of Jesus. It is noted that some of their last words before they died was “Lord Jesus Christ, Jesus, Help me”.

My heart was heavy when I heard this news. It is important to note I want you to know that this kind of thing happens ALL the time. Since Jesus walked this earth Followers of Jesus have been persecuted. If you go to Voice of the Martyrs you can read about men and women who are Marked by Jesus and are persecuted or even killed for their faith. 

I am not saying this to get anybody down or cause any fear. I am saying it because with every great move of the church there is Great prayer and Great persecution. I am so thankful we have not been persecuted or threatened like these followers of Jesus.

Our blessings have also made us comfortable about our faith. Because we aren’t concerned for our lives, we feel that God doesn’t need the full control.

Lets now look at Genesis 2:15-17 (ESV)
15 The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it. 16 And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, 17 but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat[a] of it you shall surely die.”

God gave Adam simple instructions… you guys get everything here, but you should not eat from this tree..

Genesis 3:1-7 (ESV)
3 Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You[a] shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” 2 And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, 3 but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’” 4 But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. 5 For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” 6 So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise,[b] she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate. 7 Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths.

So in this scripture a few things happen that lead all of humanity towards a need of reconciliation with God. Adam and Eve not only disobey God but they are tempted and succumb to the temptations of Pride and control. They were told that if they ate of this tree they would be able to see what God could see and they didn’t trust the Creator.

Adam and Eve were given a choice to surrender their control. God says “You shall not” which means it is their choice. He doesn’t say “you can’t”. In those beginning statements We see God’s desire for us to not be robots but to have free will. And we see His grace because not only did they not die after they ate it, but God had a plan to fix this mess by sending Jesus.

We are given this same choice that adam and eve were given every day.

The question is: Will you surrender control to God?

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Julie Rodgers speaks about homosexuality, the Christian faith, celibacy and community. Her Message is about intimacy and sharing each others burdens. I have many friends caught in the “in-between” of this discussion. Many friends in ministry who are scouring the word for answers on how to reconcile things that were so black and white in the church, but now seem to be gray. I love what Julie says here. This is a great speech.

beeching

My friend Vicky Beeching was interviewed for this article yesterday, announcing that she was gay.

I have had the pleasure of working with vicky for a few years now.
She is one of the nicest and smartest (borderline genius…can’t give her a big head) people I know.

This article was heart-wrenching to read and broke my heart for her. I am sorry she had to walk this walk alone and that the “church people’s” labels superseded the truth in Christ over her life…I have seen so much spiritual abuse over the years, “in the name of Jesus”, and it sickens me when the church paints the wrong picture of the gospel.

I am glad to know this woman.

I may not agree with all her opinions on all things, but I don’t have to.

As she said in her article in reference to her parents disagreeing but loving her:

“It’s a picture of what is possible, even when you don’t agree, that love can supersede everything.”

Love has no strings. Grace has no prejudice and I am so glad God pours that out daily for both of us.

I didn’t post about this to start a theology debate on my site, or on facebook for that matter, so if you have the urge to comment like that… Don’t!

Instead go and love like Christ did!

John 13:34-35  A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you,

Go find somebody in the church that has been labeled by something other than Christ….
give them a hug and tell them that Jesus loves them with a NEVER-ENDING LOVE.

Tell them that no matter what hurt or baggage they carry that they are a son/daughter of the King and have a seat at His table of mercy.

Ephesians 3:14 For this reason I kneel before the Father, 15 from whom every family[a] in heaven and on earth derives its name. 16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

 

EmberGF

Good Friday 2014: We spent a ton of time in prayer, as a church leadership, about our first Good friday service. Our hope was to make an invisible God visible to our congregation in a new way. We wanted it be a clear and a stark contrast to Sunday morning and the resurrection. Easter means so much more when you have to walk the road of the cross with Jesus. We ended up writing a script based on our own spin of the stations of the cross based on the Word. What we were left with was mind blowing and heart wrenching.

Here is our script. All the text copyright 2014 Ember Church (Mark Carpender, Adam Fagan-Kela, Joel Klampert, Ed Pichette II), but we want to make this available to any church that wants to use or any part of it for their services. We hope this blesses your congregation and stirs hearts towards Jesus!

Here is the audio from our service. By the end of the night there wasn’t a dry eye in the room.
The Script is below and has songs we used as well.

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