Christian Hollywood

12 03 2012

So over the past few years, one topic continues to nag at me more than any either. One area in the American Evangelical Church that seems to eat away at my conscious more than any other issue that can be found. This is the idea of “Christian Hollywood”, which the very term itself is an oxymoron to me, for I do not see how a true believer could idolize anyone other than Christ. However, this thought exists and prevails in our churches today.

Let me first explain what I mean by “Christian Hollywood”. I would describe Christian Hollywood, as putting a speaker, pastor, musician, or any other person for that matter on a high pedestal and calling them a “personality”, or “famous” for performing a ministerial role. This is typically seen at conferences, camps, retreats, and other events, where the person is brought in and paid a hefty sum of money to be a “personality” with the hopes that having that person there will sell tickets and attract a crowd to said event.

Also, here in the beginning let me say, that I do not believe that the musician, speaker, or personality is always to blame for this. Many times I feel that we, the Church, have been the biggest players in creating this Christian Hollywood. I believe, and know, there are many faithful men and women of God who use their art, skill, or gift to truly declare God’s glory, and point the attention to none other than Christ. The problem starts when those individuals begin to sell themselves, so to speak, in order to further their good name, and gain more notoriety in order to perpetuate themselves, and their “ministry”. In the end, what we’re left with is, men and women, who use and sell the Gospel in order  to further their ambitions.

So what would Scripture say to all of this. Well, in Exodus 20 when God gave Moses the Ten Commandments, right out of the gate, was “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. You shall have no other gods before me.” (Exodus 20:2-3 ESV). So from the very get go, as you’ll recall, we see that God is a jealous God, and will take 2nd place to no one. That means at our conferences, camps, and all other events, the only personality to be on display is God! In Luke 14:26, Christ tells a large crowd, that a person can not be a disciple of His unless that person loves Christ so much that it appears as though he does not love his own life. This appears to be inconsistent with many “personalities” pursuing their own notoriety and fame under the guise of “ministry”. (again, not all)

I am not sure that demanding a certain dollar amount and specific luxuries screams, “I want to herald and lift high the glories of my Lord and Savior above all!” I would say that once a worship leader or teacher of Scripture begins to refuse certain events based on a dollar amount or size, they have ceased from doing the very job their title assumes. And I am very aware that Scripture teaches we should take care, financially, of those who lead us and serve us. So I am definitely an advocate of helping support those who serve well. But I would make sure first, that they are truly “ministering” and not just being paid for being “big-time” or “famous”.

So what then? I would admonish those who are planning events first, and say, let us be more careful and particular about how we go about planning events. Yes, big names draw big crowds, that has proven itself time and time again. But ask yourself, who are we drawing a crowd to? If it is Christ, then perhaps you do not need the biggest name you can get, perhaps that money could be better spent doing the ministry God has called the Church to, time and time again: “learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause.” (Isaiah 1:17 ESV; also Micah 6:8 James 1:27)

And finally to my brothers in arms, do we need “Rider’s”? Must we seek the most money we can get from an event? Many have gone before us, who lived off less, and who did not pursue their own good or glory, but only that of our King. When did we start to believe that Christ’s words in Matthew 6 no longer applied to us? Remember when we were just glad to play our guitars and sing for anyone who might let us? When our only payment may have been a meal or t-shirt, if that? So I implore you brothers, lets seek Him and Him only, and follow in the foot steps of the many faithful who went before us who proved God faithful time and time again with their lives.





Hymnody

28 04 2010

inspired from studying the greatness of Isaac Watts, I decided to make an attempt at hymn writing myself…also because I was required to for class, and needed a good grade, soooooo…

There Stood a Savior
Verse 1
We stood condemned, before the Holy King
As children of wrath, at our best still unclean
We could not stand, hopelessly broken
In need of a savior, to bring restoration
Verse 2:
But there stood a savior, spotless and clean
The wrath meant for us, was poured out on Him
He took it all, all our sin and shame
And purchased for us, what we could not gain
Verse 3:
The power of sin, and darkness He broke
When He rose from that tomb, and our hope He awoke
One day He’s coming, to take home His bride
This is our anthem, let our praises arise!

Amen!





What are you singing?

11 03 2010

So today i “tweeted”, (I just said tweeted) “‘how He loves’ great song! But, “we are His portion”? Or is He our portion? Thoughts?…Psalm 73…” and got some great responses!! In tweeting this my plan was not to bring down the song or the song writers, but to hopefully begin good discussion on what we as a church (big C) are singing. What I mean by that is, I feel like much of the time we sing the words and have no clue what we are saying, or why we are saying them. That is a very dangerous thought to me! I feel if we dont know what we’re singing, then chances are we are singing out of pure emotion, because we like the melody or maybe we just enjoy singing. We know from scripture that God desires sincerity of heart in our worship (Isaiah 1:10-20, 29:13; Micah 6:6-8; John 4:23) and not just merely our actions. So the question I ask, is how can we be sincere of heart in our singing, if we are not even aware of what we are singing. I think this happens all the time, not just in church, we tend to think songs are really “pretty” or “romantic” when a deeper look at the lyrics shows a deep sadness from the writer. But I feel it is of great importance to know what we are singing, when we sing as the body! I dont think this means constantly worrying about the songs while we’re singing, but rather being so passionate about the scriptures that when we sing we recognize God’s word in the art and poetry we sing…I hope this makes sense…





Free!!!

3 12 2009

So today was a very new experience for me, one I know thousands can relate to, but I wish none had to.  The experience of losing your job, without having another job in line is terrifying, yet somehow quite freeing.  I first felt like the rug was being pulled out from under me, as millions of thoughts, fears and anxiety’s rushed to my brain. Thoughts like, “how will i pay my electric bill”, “what if i cant pay rent”, “what if i cant find another job in time”, “am i going to lose all my stuff”??? The last question, is where in I found my problem, “my stuff”? Apparently I had somehow come to the conclusion that I deserved all the belongings that were in my possession, and could not believe that they could be in jeopardy of being taken from me! Then I was quickly reminded of Job, specifically his reaction after having everything in his life (which was much more than I shall ever hope to possess), abruptly stripped away, and his response, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.”  (1:21 ESV) It seems as though Job had a good grasp on God’s sovereignty.  It was a tough, yet great reminder that all the “stuff” i was worried about losing, really isn’t mine anyways, so if the Lord chooses to take it all away, then who am I to question? This is such a freeing thought! I am free from being a slave to my stuff, since it isn’t mine to begin with! Hallelujah! I know what your next thought is, but know I didn’t tear my “robe”, or shave my head…yet

“1 In you, O LORD, do I take refuge;
let me never be put to shame;
in your righteousness deliver me!
2Incline your ear to me;
rescue me speedily!
Be a rock of refuge for me,
a strong fortress to save me!
3For you are my rock and my fortress;
and for your name’s sake you lead me and guide me;” Psalm 31:1-3





Words

16 09 2009

454542_40251032Lately God has really been destroying me of the idea that because I get up and lead people in worship through music, that my ministry ends there.  The fact is, is that I was called to something greater, and that is the redemptive work of Christ.  So I sit and ask myself the hard question of who in my life have I shared my faith with and then in turn seen them come to a saving knowledge of Christ? I have been on stage for many a nights and mornings when people have been redeemed through God’s working in a service, but as I said before, it can not end there, I was called to something greater.

Which has lead me to this thought, if after all of our church services and Bible study gatherings, and other events where we gather to encounter and engage with God and then leave and do not see others encounter and engage with God, could it be said that we left said gatherings the same as we entered, meaning we did not truly encounter God.  Let me first say, I strongly believe that God is always, constantly faithful every single day, He never changes! I do also believe that when we encounter God, truly encounter Him, it changes us, and thus changes those around us. It just happens, you can not leave the same way you entered when you encounter God! So what is happening? Perhaps we are not encountering God because we do not enter expecting to encounter God or even seeking to encounter God. Maybe we enter our church services and other gatherings because we desire to be better people or we feel it is the “right thing to do”. Or even scarier, we enter because it is the socially acceptable thing to do, or the “cool” thing to do. Maybe this comes from living in Dallas, and seeing so many churches as “the cool church” to go to or belong to.  Which is a sad statement, since it is not scriptural at all!!! Church should be dangerous (assuming it is a Gospel preaching church), because it should wreck our lives, and shatter our fleshly desires. Yes so many Christians (I include myself, dont worry) seem to have bought into the idea that I can go to church on Sunday, get a little God, then go and be a better person at work, not cuss as much, drink less, and people will see that and that will be my witness.  Unfortunately this is nowhere to be found in scripture.

Enter the ever popular statement “preach the gospel at all times, when necessary use words”.  Most people have accredited St. Francis of Assisi with this statement, but its nowhere in print.  This is a popular idea for many and is a cute idea, that our deeds should speak for themselves.  I agree, our lives should be our faith lived out daily, but for many this statement has become a cop out to get out of ever having to actually speak their faith.  The only problem for this statement is, scripture.  Considering first, that all of the disciples died martyrs deaths for sharing their faith, with their mouths, not just because they were preaching the gospel with their lives.  “Sing praises to the Lord, who sits enthroned in Zion! Tell among the people His deeds”. (Psalm 9:11) Christ Himself, gives us the perfect example in John 4 when He has His encounter with the woman at the well. It wasnt just that He was nice and polite to her, but that He shared with her who He was, and because of this she believed in Him, and “because of the woman who testified” (John 4:39), many of the people in her town also believed! It seems quite obvious to me that we are called to share our faith, daily, and why wouldnt we?  If we truly believe what we say we believe on Sunday mornings, then it should effect such a monumental change in us, that we wouldnt be able to stop sharing!  It is not just the job of the ministers and “professional Christians”.  I love how A.W. Tozer put it in his book The Pursuit of God, when speaking of the difference in the great “heroes of the faith” and the “average believer”, he says “they differed from the average person in that when they felt the inward longing they did something about it.” WOW! So the question is, what are we doing about it???

These were my thoughts for today, I’d love to hear what you think!!! questions or thoughts, I love insight, especially since I tend to just be a rambling thinker…I am Rob’s troubled heart…





Even Now!

15 09 2009

As I prepare for another Sunday morning worship service, I began to think about whether or not the rest of the people who will be joining in worship this Sunday morning have begun to prepare. In my mind I hope they are, but I fear the reality is that most are caught up with the business of life and have yet to think about a worship service that is still 3 days away. I think we have it in our minds that it is the pastors and the “professional” ministers jobs to prepare the services, and the rest simply are just attenders. I feel the church has killed so much ministry here in America, because we believe that the ministers are those people who are hired by the church to preach and teach us how to live good lives. Then Monday through Saturday the non-ministers go about their lives as usual with no empowerment or expectancy to see God move in their lives. This seems to be so contrary from what we see in the Scriptures. Christ says to the woman at the well in John 4:23, “but an hour is coming, and NOW is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers.” God desires us to worship Him in spirit, now, not just on Sundays, and He desires us to worship Him in His truth, now, not just when the pastor is preaching to us. So whatever expectancy we have on Sundays for God to lead us, teach, guide us, heal us, we should walk in that same expectancy day in and day out, even now!!! When we walk in this kind of daily worship it changes everything, it changes our Sunday mornings. Our Sundays then become a time of refreshment where as Paul says in Ephesians 4:12, a time of equipping for the work of service that the Father desires. When we walk in this kind of worship, and see ourselves, all of us, as ministers, we will then begin to see our friends, families, and communities being changed for the glory of Christ Jesus. I pray that we would begin to rid ourselves of the business of this life, and chase after the cross, not just on Sundays, but even now!





Lent

15 09 2009


I realize that tomorrow will officially be one week of Lent, but I decided to go ahead and blog today anyways about what’s been going on. I have already found in only 6 days of focusing completely on Christ and His cross and mercy how much time we waste each and every day doing “stuff”, time that could be spent pressing into God and allowing Him to pour into us. It seems the theme for my life over this past week has been the sufficiency of the cross, and how so much of the time we are asking God to do all these things for us, and we quickly forget that He gave us the most incredible gift anyone could possibly have ever asked for, in spite of the fact that we were so undeserving of even the smallest of gifts. He owed us nothing, and yet gave us everything!!! (Romans 5:8) I heard someone say that they had nothing to be thankful to God for currently because they had not seen God do anything for them recently. I wonder how many of us on a given day think this exact same way, even though we probably would never dare admit it. In a time when our economy and everything seems so uncertain, people (even Christians) are asking this same question to God, “what have you done for me lately?” although maybe in different words. His reply is loud and resounding, “Have you so quickly forgotten my Son? and the cross that He bore because of you?” God owes us absolutely nothing!!!

In America it seems to be a very popular notion that God will somehow reward us with good health and prosperity in this life for the great things we “do” for Him. Although it is clear over and over in Scripture this is NOT the case. Christ, Himself, says very clearly that “If any would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” (Luke 9:23; Mark 8:34; Matthew 16:24) I realize in Christian America today the idea of “taking up a cross” is completely lost. But the disciples new very well what the cross meant, and Christ was telling them, that whoever follows after Christ must be willing to lay down his very life and lay down the dreams and aspirations of this world, in order to find new life and fellowship in Christ. This new life in Christ no longer needs the things of this world, but is content in the cross and in the cross alone. And when the cross alone is sufficient, followers of Christ are never at a loss for anything to praise God for. I am not sure I can even express in a blog how freeing it is to find contentment in the cross…but my prayer is that the cross would be sufficient each and every morning, and we would never lose sight of the priceless treasure our Lord has lavishly poured out on us through His grace and mercy!!!