Tag: Jesus

Sermon: “The Heart of Fire,” April 19th, Hilton Head Campus

Download and Listen to Sermon “The Heart of Fire” Sermon

Hilton Head Campus, Saint Andrew By-The-Sea UMC

Campfire_Pinecone

On Sunday April 19th, I had the opportunity to preach at Saint Andrew By-The-Sea UMC’s Hilton Head Campus on the Gospel of Luke chapter 24:13-35, also known as “The Walk to Emmaus.”  As I studied the text, and experienced how Jesus revealed himself in this very unique story of two men who were “discussing” fervently the loss of hope and possibility, I felt myself in the text and realized that we all have worries and doubts about the future.  As we experience the season of Easter, The risen Christ meets us on the road, and the Holy Spirit blows oxygen onto the spark igniting the fuel, Christ’s presence, that unleashes the Kingdom of God among us now, in anticipation of the fullness of it, when Christ returns.

(Here is the Original Transcript of “Heart of Fire”)

Sermon: The Heart of Fire

Daniel Griswold

Main Idea: “Life is like fire, we need fuel, which is the presence of Jesus Christ.”

Scripture: Luke 24:13-35 (NRSV)

The Walk to Emmaus

13 Now on that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, 14 and talking with each other about all these things that had happened. 15 While they were talking and discussing, Jesus himself came near and went with them, 16 but their eyes were kept from recognizing him. 17 And he said to them, “What are you discussing with each other while you walk along?” They stood still, looking sad.  18 Then one of them, whose name was Cleopas, answered him, “Are you the only stranger in Jerusalem who does not know the things that have taken place there in these days?” 19 He asked them, “What things?” They replied, “The things about Jesus of Nazareth, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, 20 and how our chief priests and leaders handed him over to be condemned to death and crucified him. 21 But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel.  Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things took place. 22 Moreover, some women of our group astounded us. They were at the tomb early this morning, 23 and when they did not find his body there, they came back and told us that they had indeed seen a vision of angels who said that he was alive. 24 Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said; but they did not see him.” 25 Then he said to them, “Oh, how foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have declared! 26 Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and then enter into his glory?” 27 Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them the things about himself in all the scriptures.

28 As they came near the village to which they were going, he walked ahead as if he were going on.29 But they urged him strongly, saying, “Stay with us, because it is almost evening and the day is now nearly over.” So he went in to stay with them. 30 When he was at the table with them, he took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. 31 Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him; and he vanished from their sight. 32 They said to each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he was talking to us on the road, while he was opening the scriptures to us?” 33 That same hour they got up and returned to Jerusalem; and they found the eleven and their companions gathered together. 34 They were saying, “The Lord has risen indeed, and he has appeared to Simon!” 35 Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he had been made known to them in the breaking of the bread.

(The Word of God for the People of God – Thanks Be to God)

Prayer: (Let us Pray) “Open our ears, O Lord, to hear your word and know your voice. Speak to our hearts and strengthen our wills, that we may serve you today, now, and always. Amen.”

Illustration: Have you ever just stared into a campfire? I have. I’ve noticed at camping trips that when the sticks are gathered, a small teepee with kindling is set, and the flicker of smoke wisps upward, people begin to gather. A glow begins to catch and the fire maker puffs a bit to allow oxygen to fuel the flame, and that’s when the big logs of wood are brought out. That’s when people get really serious, and if everyone isn’t there yet, they are when the flames begin to stretch upward and the sound of popping and cracking begins. Twilight descends into darkness, and there is only one light illuminating the faces of those who have circled around the warmth of this burning wonder. Across all cultures, a good flame brings warmth and light to those who gather. Stories are told, songs are sung, friendships are bonded, and the spirit of God often inspires like the people of Israel below the flames of Mount Sainai; but at the center of the campfires are simple things: paper, sticks, logs, (maybe lighter fluid – if you’re a bit crazy) and oxygen; in other words – A good fire needs fuel; And so do we!

On the Text: In the gospel of Luke, we heard the story of two men, disciples of Jesus who had just been crucified, who were now walking on the road from Jerusalem to a village called Emmaus. We’re not quite sure of the exact location of Emmaus, but we know it was seven miles outside of the city, which is a good long walk; and these two men had plenty to talk about. It seems from the language of the text, that they weren’t just having an ordinary conversation, but there may have been a bit of a frenzy to it – a frustration. They were not just talking, they were “Talking AND Discussing,” which may be a way of saying they were deeply invested in what had happened in Jerusalem.

Jesus, the one they’d hoped would save them from Roman rule and a corrupt religious system, who had been talked of as a prophet and a king and perhaps their Savior/Messiah – well, he had just been crucified.   They couldn’t believe what had happened, they didn’t know what to think, their hearts were heavy and full of doubts about the future; and in that they were just like us.

Over the last six years, as I’ve prayed and cared for all our families here at Saint Andrew, I’ve noticed that there is something that all of us have in common, and it is that we all worry about something, Often we are anxious and believe the fear that everything is going downhill, because we don’t know the future. Our hearts are heavy when the world turns in the opposite way we’d hoped for – everything seems lost and we don’t understand – how could this have happened to me? To us? To us all? If Jesus were to come next to us to speak new life into our souls, would we be able to recognize it? (PAUSE)

The two on the road to Emmaus didn’t recognize it at first, when Jesus Christ, newly risen from the dead, came alongside them on the road. I suppose they weren’t expecting him, which is a problem. But Jesus tries to get a pulse on their situation,  saying something so ordinarily wonderful – “What are you discussing with each other while you walk along?” Their response? “They stood still, looking sad.”

Like a little league baseball team that just lost the match 20 to nothing, they stood there as if they’d about lost it all. Maybe we just ought to fall into the dust and die. The pit of the stomach aches, and we all know that very soon the coach has to tell a really inspiring speech in a really soothing tone to get everyone to rise again for the next game, and the team chaplain’s got a big prayer ahead. Somehow they’ll need to rise from the ashes.

“They stood still and looked sad.” Jesus asked them, what’s wrong? And one of the two, named Cleopas, snapped:

Are you the only one who doesn’t know what happened in Jerusalem? Jesus of Nazareth did miraculous things, and they killed him! We thought he was going to redeem Israel. But he’s been dead three days, and now women have gone nuts telling us he’s not in the tomb, but guess what – it’s true – one of our guys went and his body isn’t there. The whole world is upside down and we don’t know what to make of it.”

That’s my paraphrase, but you can tell, these guys were in the train wreck of their lives and they’d. Just. Stopped.

I’d like to say that Jesus was kind and gentle with these two in their darkest moment, but something else happened. – Jesus called them out. How foolish and slow of heart, don’t you understand what the prophets had spoken? Hmmm. Fair enough. They’d definitely lost the plot. BUT thankfully the story doesn’t end there. After a good slap to the senses, Jesus began to explain the scriptures to them starting with Moses and pointing them towards a renewed hope that the Savoir had to suffer, that he would rise, and salvation was at hand.

So slowly they began walking again, and before they knew it they were in Emmaus inviting this teacher (remember that they didn’t yet know it was Jesus), to stay the night and to eat and drink with them. And as they started the meal, Jesus broke the bread and their eyes were opened – Jesus was with them all along.  And as quickly as he came, he was gone from their site. When they realized that they were with the Lord, their Savior, who had been the subject of all their hopes and fears, and then hopes again, they exclaimed:

“Were not our hearts burning within us while he was talking to us on the road, while he was opening the scriptures to us?” 

Their hearts were pumping again – they were not still – his presence fueled the rejuvenation of their breath and passion so much so that they ran that day all the way back to Jerusalem (7 MILES!!) to tell the other disciples, and in doing so were some of the first witnesses to the risen and living Lord, Jesus Christ. Their hearts burned with a living fire This new beginning is something amazing, and there’s something here for each of us seeking the same kind of renewal. We need fuel for the fire – but where is that fuel?

Illustration: Saint Andrew By-The-Sea UMC is a church in the Methodist tradition of being disciples of Jesus Christ. John Wesley, the founder of the movement, once had a crisis of faith much like the two we’ve already met on the road. John, however, had just experienced a failure all his own after a brief few years as the minister and missionary to the natives for Governor Oglethorp. As a minister he would have too heavy a hand with the parishioners who were not ready for his intense methodical religion. It was after a relationship with a woman he loved deeply had ended and she married another, he eventually denied her communion. Her father, the magistrate of Savannah stirred up charges against Wesley, who was forced to leave covertly or else be arrested. Having been run out of Savannah; Wesley returned to England feeling the weight of his failure, but also feeling spiritually dead and he said in his journal at this time “This, then, have I learned in the ends of the earth, that I ‘ am fallen short of the glory of God ;’ that my whole heart is ‘altogether corrupt and abominable;’ . . . that my own works, my own sufferings, my own righteousness, are so far from reconciling me to an offended God, that the most specious of them need an atonement themselves; . . . that, ‘having the sentence of death’ in my heart, . : I have no hope . . . but that if I seek, I shall find Christ, and ‘be found in him, not having my own righteousness, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith.'”

Despite his depression, he was still seeking the assurance that he was truly saved. Like the two travelers, he looked sad, he was still, and the weight of his sin and the world’s guilt pushed his hope into the ground. But that would not last, because Christ comes near in many ways. On May 24th, 1738 Wesley wrote, “In the evening I went very unwilling to a society in Aldersgate Street, where one was reading Luther’s preface to the Epistle to the Romans. About a quarter before nine, while he was describing the change which God works in the heart through faith in Christ, I felt my heart strangely warmed. I felt I did trust in Christ, Christ alone, for salvation; and an assurance was given me that He had taken away my sins, even mine, and saved me from the law of sin and death.”  

Application: What had happened to him? John Wesley encountered the presence of Christ in that room, and he felt the fire of God’s spirit revive him. And those words, “I felt my heart strangely warmed,” have inspired millions to seek that same presence, the same presence that those travelers on the road to Emmaus experienced as they exclaimed, “Were our hearts not burning!” Their hearts ignited and the scriptures were opened up in new and exciting ways. We too can be people who experience the real presence of Christ – in fact He is with us here. We can ask Him to open up understanding and wisdom as we study and pray. As we come together as the community of faith – as His very body, we are His members and He is here.

We all want to hear good news, and there is no better news than to see what was once dead come back to life. Jesus Christ died, defeated death, and rose again so that through Him we could become the people of new life. His presence is the fuel like a mighty campfire that never goes out. He is with us, and always will be, and he lifts our eyes to the heavens. Let us experence that walk not as a text of two legendary figures, but let us walk with Jesus ourselves, and in His power, we become conduits of life and grace to a world in desperate need of warmth. “He is alive, He is my fire, and I want to be with Him forever.” Amen.

Waiting for Miracles? Consider Some Already Done

20080716 Sacred text

Rather than waiting for a sign of God’s existence, turn to the Bible, where his miracles are well-documented.

HARKER — McClatchy-Tribune News Service

Waiting for Miracles? Consider Jesus’ Resurrection

danielgriswold@Gmail.com

Originally Published: April 1, 2014 in the Bluffton Edition of The Island Packet

In reading Matthew 12, there are two verses that have bothered my soul. Jesus goes around performing miracles and refuting critics who are plotting to kill him and he amazes the crowd constantly. In the midst of this, in verses 38 and 39, someone states, “Teacher, we want you to show us a sign.” Jesus responds quickly and doesn’t perform a miracle on demand. In paraphrase, he says, “Come on people, you’re being terrible, you’ve turned away from God. Your only sign will be the sign of the prophet Jonah.”

Jonah sat in the belly of a large sea creature for three days, and Jesus is foreshadowing his future death and resurrection. He refuses to give into being the entertainment and centerpiece of the story. Yes, Jesus is the Son of God. Yes, he has done many miracles. But he is about to do something so much more important than make y’all say, “Wow.” Lastly, he’s going to rise from the belly of death and open the doors to a greater work of our father. That’s big stuff.

I was once like a member of the crowd calling out for more signs and miracles. In fact, I still like to ask God to show me he is real. I have hardly ever received a moment like Gideon, who asked God to place dew on a fleece in the book of Judges in order to determine God’s purpose and agency. I’ve had to build a trust with Him over time, and have had to mature beyond the need for “mountaintop” experiences every Sunday and every retreat to remain engaged with God.

As a child, I thought of church and altar calls (a minister calling those who seek repentance and a filling of the holy spirit to come forward and receive God’s presence, forgiveness and otherworldly touch) as an end in religion, and I fully expected to see miracles to prove my faith.

I wanted to see with my own eyes the physical and scientific reality of the God who created the universe. I didn’t want to trust the testimony of the millennia, because I’m new, the world is new, and certainly things have changed. The spirit behind my curiosity was, “God, show me something now.” Much like a sports fan saying a prayer for his team to win the current game, I wanted to have a story that would change my life.

I didn’t understand that that story had already been lived out. And in this scene, returning to Matthew chapter 12, we have a crowd that wanted an immediate sign, and Jesus said, something bigger than you can imagine is coming. Have patience; just wait.

How many walked away that day saying, “Man, Jesus was a disappointment”? He called them bad people; he didn’t create matter from nothing to prove his claims as a prophet; and he passed the buck to a future event. How can he be trusted?

Today we have the story of the gospel, we have the testimony of the apostles recorded for our discernment, the traditions of the church passed down and, even better, the living holy spirit working among us and binding us as believers in Christ, who calls us into ministry as the people of God.

God’s love has already been shown, and yet we still want a further sign. We are simply impatient to wait to see what God is about to do.

In this season of Lent, perhaps we can take a breath and remember that our time is not God’s time. The miracle we are looking for may be soon to come — it may have already occurred and we refuse to trust in it. As a community of faith, let us spend time in prayer and contemplation, giving God a place to do something even better than what we are asking for.

Columnist Daniel Griswold is the director of youth at St. Andrew By-the-Sea United Methodist Church. Follow him at twitter.com/dannonhill. Read his blog atwww.danielgriswold.wordpress.com.

(Read more @ The Island Packet)

 

The Transfiguration: Sufjan Stevens and the Miracle

A while back I was asked to speak in a series on the amazing events of Jesus’s life, particularly the Transfiguration.  Since that talk, this song has really impacted me, and helped me feel the wonder of that moment.  It is five minutes, to make sure you have a moment, or come back to view later.  Here is the video, and below is my talk outline.  Enjoy:

God’s Glory: Jesus’ Transfiguration

by Daniel Griswold

Introduction: Cultural Points

*Spell of Transfiguration

In Harry Potter, it is a spell from which one thing is turned into something else bound by certain rules such as the rule that food cannot be made out of thin air.

*trans·fig·u·ra·tion 

n. A marked change in form or appearance; a metamorphosis.

-A change that glorifies or exalts.

-Bible The sudden emanation of radiance from the person of Jesus that occurred on a mountain.

-The Christian feast commemorating this event, observed on August 6 in the Roman Catholic and Anglican Churches, on August 19 in the Eastern Orthodox Church, and on the Sunday before Lent in most Protestant churches.

*From the Greek:

(metemorfw¿qh), meta, denoting change or transfer

*Kafka’s Metamorphosis

A book about a man who is radically transformed into a millipede and who is quickly hidden by his family in a small dark room due to the shame and fear of such a large insect in their home.

Basically, a Transfiguration is a drastic change from one state to another.

Why would something need to transform?

1) Protection (Insects change their shape to hide from enemies)

2) New Function (Software must transform in order to perform new tasks for industry, ex: DOS/Windows)

3) By mere accident (suddenly going bald – like myself)

4) To Reveal Something Unknown (Revealing one’s face from a cloak)

Scripture to Read:  Mark 9:1-9, Matthew 17:1-9, Luke 9:28-36

From the Disciples Perspectives:

1) They went to pray on a mountain

(Moses: Exodus 12-13) (Elijah: 1 Kings 10:11)

2) Jesus transforms during prayer into a glowing white figure

denotes the promise of the return of Christ (Revelation 1:12-20)

3) Jesus is talking to two guys: Moses and Elijah, about Jesus’ coming death

4) They offer to build three tabernacles

(They were ready as warriors to usher in God’s kingdom right there)

5) A cloud overshadowed them and they entered it

(God’s Glory Cloud: Exodus 15-18)

6)  God’s voice comes from the cloud stating Jesus’ position as God’s Son and gives him authority.

Application:

Prayer – Beginnings of communication with God

Observation – Seeing What God is Doing

Respects – Offering what you can do to God

Response – Entering God’s Glory and Obeying what God tells us

 

What does Jesus’ Transformation do?

For the three Disciples – Gave them a glimpse into the future, where Christ is glorified and is the head of the eternal church, in beauty and in strength.  Though they wished the kingdom to come any moment, the whispers of a coming departure/exodus signaled that there was more work to be done, and it would be a great time of struggle.  The reality became the disciples becoming Apostles spreading the word of the Risen Christ after his death, and the message of hope and salvation was spread even to the point of martyrdom.

For Us – As we seek out God and observe this world, we see that things are not always the way we wish them to be, but it is from the Transfiguration, the moment of Hope and Beauty, that we can see a glimpse of what things will be like one day when we will live in the true City of God.  Until that day, we must respect God by offering our hands and hearts to His good work in this world that seems to have so much good, but yet so much wrong overwhelming it.   By obeying God, we can be in tune with His will and ensure that our lives are not part of a miniscule individual plan, but rather a Greater and Divinely conceived plan that encompasses all time beginning in the moments before Creation, up through the History of Israel from Abraham to the time of the Kings, to the Fall of Israel’s worldly kingdom, the eventual rise of Rome, the birth of Christ, and our current era which is marked by the work of the body of Christ.  Have previous generations stepped up?  Yes, some have.  But can we do better and give everything to our God?  Absolutely, Yes!

Song for Thought and Reapplication of Scripture:

Sufjan Stevens – Transfiguration from the Album “Swan Song”

 

Music, Youth Group, and Theology: The Development of My Adolescent Theology

I have a confession to make, and it delves into my former self.  When I first became a Christian (a personal decision at age 15), my understandings of God were primordial.  If theology is the study of God, I did not have any, at least not intentionally.  Despite the prodding of my parents, Sunday School teachers, when I became a teen, the only book of the Bible I had read was “Daniel” – because that is my name.  I read it a few times actually, but I’d never read through a Gospel.

Why didn’t I have a theology, or even conceive of a need for God in my life at that time?  To answer that you really need to look at what was important to me around the time I was going from childhood to the teen years.

I was primarily concerned with (1) Making a few good friends, (2) becoming an artist/graphic designer/cartoonist, and (3) finding some good music that I could listen to that expressed how I felt (usually punk and various forms of rock ranging from hardcore to classic).  

It is interesting too, how my goals intertwined.  Music helped me find friends.  Art was usually accompanied by good music.  Friends introduced me to new music.

It was also my desire to make new friends (and peer pressure) that got me involved in our church’s youth group.  I remember the worship, I remember standing on the edge of pre-made friend circles hoping stand side by side in the circle rather than squeezing a small spot to listen to the conversation.  It was through some of my new youth group friends that I ended up going to a huge youth conference in MA (Acquire the Fire), that I saw Christian music that appealed to me for the first time in music video form.  It was POD, SuperChick and a few others.  I was soon led to the local Christian bookstore, where I began listening to the hundreds of cd’s there in a database and deciding that there were Christians who made amazing music…music I could share with my friends in youth group and at school.

It was at that point that my adolescent theology actually began to develop.  In the music, they often pulled from the words of scripture.  At youth group I was hearing scripture, but didn’t have enough unction to actually look them up.  With the music in my head, I suddenly felt the desire to fill in gaps.  Because of bands like DC Talk, Newsboys, and Audio Adrenaline – I was trying to understand God.  A general awaken in my heart simultaneously occurred at a Youth Retreat at a small chapel in New Hampshire and I accepted Christ as Lord.  That blew me away.  I still remember the congratulations afterward from some of the older kids in youth group.  Things were rolling in my faith, and the music drove me on the highway of faith, and I began to see Christ through the art, the words, the people who made the music as they gave testimonies.

A big boon to my early theology was the “Inside Out Soul” Festival in New Hampshire, where I went with my good friends from youth group and we had free reign to listen to about 100 Christian bands who came to play.  We started going to concerts and our youth leaders seemed to be excited that we wanted to do these events (though they often didn’t like getting anywhere near the stage – or mosh pit).

As I continue to grow in faith today, there is often a song or a band that is in accompaniment.  I’ve continued through college and seminary, and now through the ordination process, and having good music playing that speaks theology (though often simple) is important to me.  In fact, when I hear a song on Christian radio (here in the South) that has theology that doesn’t make sense, I get angry – because the words on the medium of music have power.  Music is important to faith development. That is why we sing.

To conclude, here is a list of some of the most influential bands in my early theological development that I felt helped grow me as a disciple.  Perhaps you are looking for some good music yourself, or are just starting out on a quest, or want to share some good music with someone who is searching.  I hope this helps.

Rock/Pop

DC TALK – Their albums Supernatural and Jesus Freak instilled a passion for Christ while dealing with the issues of the world/culture boldly.  Great writing, and three voices that melded well.  All three are now in other bands.  Toby Mac (rapper), Kevin Max (poetry/art rock), Micheal Tate (now lead singer for Newsboys).

NEWSBOYS – Step Up to The Microphone and Take Me To Your Leader are some of the best albums I’ve heard.  Entertaining Angels was absolutely beautiful, and the australian sound got me thinking differently.  They’re still releasing great music today.

JARS OF CLAY – Much Afraid is so beautifully written it is almost like poetry.  The music (and the concerts) are heart wrenching and so well done, it is hard not to enjoy and be transported.  “Crazy Times” music video was probably one of the first Christian music videos I ever related to.

THIRD DAY – All these southern rockers make is good.  Their worship albums are some of the only ones I can listen to and actually worship.  The rock albums are challenging and light a fire of faith in the heart, and the concerts are so tight. Great band.

AUDIO ADRENALINE – These guys were fun, and had lots of energy.  I had all their albums, and each one was different to me.  Bloom helped me appreciate clean rock.  Some Kind of Zombie was more electric and twinged the ear and talked about eternal life.  Underdog seemed more evangelistic and missions oriented.  They’re still around today, though much of the band has changed up.

Heavier Rock

P.O.D. “Payable on Death” – When I heard POD for the first time, I felt something inside me (perhaps some holy anger) come forward, and I felt a different element of God.  It was about survival and thankfulness to God for life every day you are alive.  “SouthTown” is still one of the best albums I have ever heard, and their newer album “Testify” is well crafted.  These guys are solid and their concerts (though I can’t keep up in the mosh pit anymore) are some of the best experiences of my youth.

PROJECT 86 – These guys know how to rock, and their lead singer has the heaviest most constant vocals I’ve ever heard.  Those who like battle music would do well with Project.  Their heavy sound blows you away, and their main themes seem to be about Angst and fighting deception.  Definitely good for those teens who are struggling and want to get pumped up.

SPOKEN – The Echoes of the Spirit Still Dwell is an album with both reverence and awe for God, written with the sounds and stories of Scripture, and had some of the best screams/heavy sound that I was looking for while I was continuing to grow as a young Christian.  Their new self-titled album has matured them quite a bit, and I highly recommend to those who like Screamo, though it is more than that.  Their concerts are amazing and they have a good fanbase.  I hope they don’t go away.  This is a favorite of mine right now.

SKILLET – This band started as a four piece standard rock set, and now they are one of the primiere power bands, with hits like “Hero” being used by the NFL, and having album after album of heavy hitting electro-rock.  The lead singer is also a pastor, and they have never compromised their message.  Well worth the listen.

SWITCHFOOT – This California band isn’t as heavy as the others, but their impact is.  Their song “Meant to Live” is one I show at youth group from time to time because it is a reminder that we are meant to live far beyond how we are currently living.  Their music is sonically pleasing, but challenges your heart and mind.  The lead vocal is unique and they are still touring popularly.  Great music.

THRICE – This band has a song, “Image of the Invisible” which blew my mind in college.  It is on the Imago Dei, or image of God, and reminded me of the impetus of Social Justice in the Bible.  God’s saving grace that leads towards a revolution of dignity for captives, prisoners, and those in darkness.  The struggle comes through the heavy sound in this very tight band.

Ska/Punk:

FIVE IRON FRENZY – My friend Mark loved FIF and I held off for a while, but slowly warmed to them as extremely talented musicians.  Their sense of humor is something that lightens the load of the listener, but the Christian message of growth through struggle, resonated, especially in the post-Columbine age.  They broke up for a time but have reunited and will start touring soon.  They are primarily a ska band with lots of brass, but stand on their own on rock tours.

SUPERTONES – These guys wrote ska that we could dance to and listen to to grow as disciples.  Their writing was almost rapping, and their themes were about Orange Country discipleship.  Having no exposure to California culture, these guys made us move and they were like sunshine in a dark arena.  Uplifting and unique through and through.  They aren’t together, but their albums are solid.

RELIENT K – These guys are still very popular, and had a silly sense of humor, but could get serious as well.  I find that they talk about relationships more than faith much of the time, but I found that ok.  Their stories were about just trying to make it through teen life despite the embarrassments, and to do it with a good laugh.  Their music was tight, and their irony often taught me about the Christian life and pop culture as well.  I recommend their first album highly.

THE DINGEES – This punk/ska band had an album “The Crucial Conspiracy”, that turned me upside down.  Their music was different, but had a way of lifting the spiritual world to your eyes, sometimes without even saying a word.  Their songs about “Latchkey kids” and about the end of things unnerved me, but I found myself soothed as well.  Hard to explain these guys, because they went from Punk to Ska to Reggae pretty fast.  Check it out.

Other/Older:

KEITH GREEN – I read Keith’s wife’s Biography of his life “No Compromise” and my life was changed forever.  His call to go and do the work of God without wasting a moment of life or a moment of your capacity to give to others inspired me and my ministry.  I doubt that he would be seen as current or cool these days, and I actually resisted my mom who gave me his albums, but after reading that book, I cannot get enough of his music.  His work is pure scripture, and he hung out with Bob Dylan, c’mon.  Well worth a try, even if just to listen to spirit of God in the music.

That’s a start, perhaps I’ll return again with some more.  This is just the tip of the iceberg.  By the time I left college I had 300 cds.  Funny, since I now have most of it on my iphone now.  So glad we don’t have to carry around our media like that.  What is nice, is that we can worship through music and appreciate the art of music and theology anytime.  I appreciate that, and I hope folks take advantage of it.  Peace.

Christian? – “Y You No Meme?” Translation – I’ve Been Searching For Wholesome Christian Memes – Found Some

I don’t know if Christians are aware of a conversation taking place on the internet.  The conversation is primarily visual, involves lots of laughter, is challenging and often evokes gut reactions, and is often denigrating to believers of Christ.  I did notice, however that these conversations are full of misunderstandings and misconceptions, and if there are no Christians involved in the conversation, and providing a voice of love and compassion in this world, there will be no gains or healing.  This conversation is done in the form of MEMES.

Memes are humor based one or two liners that are associated with an image that grabs attention.  Our culture is becoming incredibly visual in the internet age.  The person who said an image is worth a thousand words is probably understating their importance today.  The visual is the message in these cases.  They evoke an emotion or a feeling or a familiarity associated with pop culture.  The consumer reads the image and wants to learn more, so they read the words – placed in often unattractive yet attention grabbing white fonts.

If you still don’t know what a meme is, check out the lolcat memes at http://icanhascheezburger.com/. That is a generally inoffensive meme place, where people share funny photos of cats saying funny things.  There really is no point but entertainment there.

My point comes into play at the philosophical level, where young people, adept at using computers, are using their time to make arguments using memes – and these memes spread on social media sites, or are googled, etc.  They go viral, and people nod their heads in laugh, but they’re only seeing one side of the argument.  In fact, I’ve found that in their mini-debates, fallacy in argument seems to be the rule.  If you build up a “straw man” enemy (the weakest argument by your weakest opponent), and tear it down easily, you win.

I do wonder, if there were more intelligent (yet humorous) Christian memes out there, speaking truth in clever ways, would the dialogue change towards (1) Honest Dialogue (2) More Truth Seeking (3) A Spirit of Charity (4) Less Vulgarity on the interwebs?  I wonder.  Though I’m not holding my breath, and I have found it hard to sit down myself and think through appropriate yet insightful memes, I have found some interesting ones that talk to the Christian Experience, or communicate old messages in new ways (in the gallery below – feel free to click through).  I have found them all through the net and many of them have no attributions, so I apologize for not linking.  They have been passed around quite a bit.

In my thoughts I have struggled with the question, “Why don’t Christian’s Laugh?”  – as much, especially when it comes to our own failures in faith.  I understand that our walks are serious, and as Christians we have a huge amount of responsibility (in which we have often failed), but in all honesty, God made us as humans ‘like’ God, not as gods.  We err, and for some reason, laughter is a form of healing which we need, and often breaks the ice for more serious discussion and growth.

It is a hard subject though, because pop images and modern assumptions are not evenly spread in the minds of people.  Not everyone gets a reference to emo glasses used in images, or of Indiana Jones or Chuck Norris quotes being used as propellants for a hidden truth.  There is the possibility of offense, so I do walk lightly here.  The intention of all this is not to offend, but to get people thinking about what is already going on.

I do not recommend just googling “Christian Meme” without you realizing that most memes out there are people who have obviously taken a strong anti-Christian stance and often communicate it in vile and venomous ways.  It is a wild west kind of culture, and there are literally no rules right now.  That is because it comes out of the “trolling” anonymity of the internet.

But that is why I believe that good, well written and made Christian memes could add a new dimension, and perhaps one day eclipse the ridiculousness of the culture. Speak truth in love,  in a way that others will understand, and perhaps you will see God move in the hearts of people.  And you may see discipleship start with a few chuckles, as long as we point to the depth of understanding and wisdom that a life devoted truly to Christ can offer.

Here are some that I’ve found.  Let me know your thoughts in the comments below. 

Pass It On: “It’s a Trap” General Akbar tries to warn Jesus – Honey, Jesus already knows

I believe that Christian’s should be allowed to laugh from time to time.  Consider it a Theology of Humor.  Here is something a fellow minister shared with me, and I chuckled.  I thought I would share it:

Quick Explanation: General Akbar is warning Jesus about Judas’ betrayal.  Quite endearing, even if he is from the Star Wars universe.

Source: A friend on Facebook

Pass It On: When Asked Why Jesus Saw Only One Set of Footprints in the Sand, Jesus replied: The Sand People Walk Single File In Order to Hide Their Numbers

Sometimes something just hits me the right way.  I’ve been reading the “Footprints in the Sand” picture of Jesus carrying us on his shoulders all my life – I’ve also been a big Star Wars fan.  I believe that if Jesus came back to live with us here today he might have some fun with this one.  Love it:

This was found on Facebook.