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  • India Trip Delayed A Few Days

    Due to wintery weather in Newark, our flights have been delayed. After about two hours of working with Delta and Continental this morning, we have rescheduled our flights for Monday, March 19th. Delays are certainly par for the course for mission trips. I learned the missionary proverb from Roland Ashby years ago: BLESSED ARE THE FLEXIBLE, FOR THEY SHALL NOT BREAK.

    So we will be in Americus this weekend and at church on Sunday. And then (hopefully) off to India.

  • Dylan is still asking: “When You Gonna Wake Up?”

    Here is the final video from Dylan’s 1979 SNL appearance. And how timely is this song! Say what you want about Dylan’s voice, the genius in his music is its lasting quality, it’s prophetic edge, it’s ability to speak for a generation and for future generations. Do you think anybody will be singing or thinking about Beyonce’s “Irreplaceable,” which is #1 on Billboard’s Hot 100 list today.
    Give me a break.

    Why is Dylan prophetic?
    Two more Colorado churches have experience moral failures after news of Ted Haggard’s sins became front page news over a month ago. A youth pastorin Greenwood Village was arrested after it was discovered that he “sexually involved” with a 16 year old girl.

    And more recently, Paul Barnes, senior pastor at Grace Chapel in Englewood resigned from his position after 28 years admitting that he has had sexual relationships with men and that “I have struggled with homosexuality since I was a 5-year-old boy….I can’t tell you the number of nights I have cried myself to sleep, begging God to take this away.”

    oh boy….God help us…

    When I was talking with a friend about the Ted Haggard situation, he reminded me that Jesus came with both grace and truth (John 1:8). My response to moral failure continues to be grace and truth. On the side of grace, I have stones to throw. My heart does break for the men, their families and the churches when these thing happen. I was tempted to email one of the churches, just to send them a word of encouragement, like Paul did any many of his epistles. It seems that what is trying to tear the church a part is not persecution and false doctrine that attacked to apostolic church, but sin within church leadership.

    I can hear Dylan ringing in from 1979’s Slow Train Coming. Look at how prophetic these words are. Will we ever wake up???

    When You Gonna Wake Up?
    Bob Dylan

    …Adulterers in churches and pornography in the schools,
    You got gangsters in power and lawbreakers making rules.

    When you gonna wake up, when you gonna wake up
    When you gonna wake up and strengthen the things that remain?

    Spiritual advisors and gurus to guide your every move,
    Instant inner peace and every step you take has got to be approved.

    When you gonna wake up, when you gonna wake up
    When you gonna wake up and strengthen the things that remain?

    Do you ever wonder just what God requires?
    You think He’s just an errand boy to satisfy your wandering desires.

    When you gonna wake up, when you gonna wake up
    When you gonna wake up and strengthen the things that remain?

    There’s a Man up on a cross and He’s been crucified.
    Do you have any idea why or for who He died?

    When you gonna wake up, when you gonna wake up
    When you gonna wake up and strengthen the things that remain?

    Dylan is a bard in the truest sense. [Bard: noun: poet-prophet, declaimer of epic or heroic verse] He is able to go deep and “rip off the lid before its time.” It would seem to me that Dylan’s question is still being asked: When are we gonna wake up and see that God is not there just to satisfy our desires? When are we gonna wake up and see that the way to freedom is through the cross?

  • Bob Dylan “Gonna Serve Somebody” – video

    This video is the second installment of Bob Dylan’s October 1979 appearance on Saturday Night Live. “Gonna Serve Somebody” earned Dylan a Grammy Award in 1980 for Best Male Rock Vocal Performance. This song appears on four later Dylan albums, including Dylan & the Dead (1988), recorded with the Grateful Dead.

    This song also seemed to rub John Lennon the wrong way. Lennon wrote “Serve Yourself,” in obvious mockery of Dylan’s “Gonna Serve Somebody.” Lennon recorded “Serve Yourself” as a demo on November 14, 1980, before his death on December 8th that year. Lennon’s song (which is filled with profanity) was released in 1998 on Lennon Anthology. The song begins: “You say you found Jesus Christ…he’s the only one…you say you found Buddah sittin’ in the sun, you say you found Mohammed facin’ to the east…you say you found Krishna dancin’ in the street. Well, there’s somethin’ missin’ in this god almighty stew and it’s your mother, your mother, don’t forget your mother, lad. You gotta serve yourself… nobody gonna do it for you…you gotta serve yourself nobody gonna do it for you…” Lennon’s song is a pitful rant, but it does underscore the power of poetry that remains in Dylan’s songs. Good poetry evokes emotion. Here are the lyrics if you want to follow along. Enjoy!

    Gonna Serve Somebody
    Bob Dylan

    You may be an ambassador to England or France,
    You may like to gamble, you might like to dance,
    You may be the heavyweight champion of the world,
    You may be a socialite with a long string of pearls

    But you’re gonna have to serve somebody, yes indeed
    You’re gonna have to serve somebody,
    Well, it may be the devil or it may be the Lord
    But you’re gonna have to serve somebody.

    You might be a rock ‘n’ roll addict prancing on the stage,
    You might have drugs at your command, women in a cage,
    You may be a business man or some high degree thief,
    They may call you Doctor or they may call you Chief

    But you’re gonna have to serve somebody, yes indeed
    You’re gonna have to serve somebody,
    Well, it may be the devil or it may be the Lord
    But you’re gonna have to serve somebody.

    You may be a state trooper, you might be a young Turk,
    You may be the head of some big TV network,
    You may be rich or poor, you may be blind or lame,
    You may be living in another country under another name

    But you’re gonna have to serve somebody, yes indeed
    You’re gonna have to serve somebody,
    Well, it may be the devil or it may be the Lord
    But you’re gonna have to serve somebody.

    You may be a construction worker working on a home,
    You may be living in a mansion or you might live in a dome,
    You might own guns and you might even own tanks,
    You might be somebody’s landlord, you might even own banks

    But you’re gonna have to serve somebody, yes indeed
    You’re gonna have to serve somebody,
    Well, it may be the devil or it may be the Lord
    But you’re gonna have to serve somebody.

    You may be a preacher with your spiritual pride,
    You may be a city councilman taking bribes on the side,
    You may be workin’ in a barbershop, you may know how to cut hair,
    You may be somebody’s mistress, may be somebody’s heir

    But you’re gonna have to serve somebody, yes indeed
    You’re gonna have to serve somebody,
    Well, it may be the devil or it may be the Lord
    But you’re gonna have to serve somebody.

    Might like to wear cotton, might like to wear silk,
    Might like to drink whiskey, might like to drink milk,
    You might like to eat caviar, you might like to eat bread,
    You may be sleeping on the floor, sleeping in a king-sized bed

    But you’re gonna have to serve somebody, yes indeed
    You’re gonna have to serve somebody,
    Well, it may be the devil or it may be the Lord
    But you’re gonna have to serve somebody.

    You may call me Terry, you may call me Timmy,
    You may call me Bobby, you may call me Zimmy,
    You may call me R.J., you may call me Ray,
    You may call me anything but no matter what you say

    You’re gonna have to serve somebody, yes indeed
    You’re gonna have to serve somebody.
    Well, it may be the devil or it may be the Lord
    But you’re gonna have to serve somebody.

    Copyright © 1979 Special Rider Music

  • SBC leaders clash over speaking in tongues

    The following is a news report about a Southern Baptist pastor who shared stories during a seminary chapel about praying in tongues. My comments are at the end…

    Raging Tongues at SBC Seminary
    Southwestern Seminary President Paige Patterson has issued an extraordinary rebuke to the Rev. Dwight McKissic, a seminary trustee and prominent Arlington pastor, for acknowledging during a chapel service that he sometimes speaks in tongues when he prays.

    After Tuesday’s chapel service, Patterson issued a statement that the video of McKissic’s sermon will not be posted online nor saved in seminary archives, as are the sermons of all other chapel speakers. Patterson withheld McKissic’s chapel message from the school’s Web site, the statement said, “lest uninformed people believe that Pastor McKissic’s view on the gift of tongues and ‘ecstatic utterance’ is the view of the majority of the people at Southwestern.”

    The rest of the story is at www.mondaymorninginsight.com. Southwestern Seminary went on to release a statement saying, “But “we reserve the right not to disseminate openly views which we fear may be harmful to the churches.”

    Here is the comment that I posted on the mondaymorninginsight.com webpage…

    I thougth the war between the charismatics and the evangelicals was over? I guess the SBC didn’t get the memo that we aren’t fighting over the issue of tongues anymore. I understand McKissic’s frustration and criticism with the IMB exclusion of missionaries who pray in tongues.

    What concerns me is the seminary’s statement: But “we reserve the right not to disseminate openly views which we fear may be harmful to the churches.” First, what are they so afraid of? And second, do they believe that a theology and practice of the gift of tongues as a private prayer language of the Spirit is harmful? I can see the harmful nature of a strict Pentecostal doctrine of initial evidence, but what is the harm in tongues as a part of a Christian’s prayer life?

    I have no problems with the SBC’s theological critique of the prayer language of the Spirit. Too often their prohibition of tongue-speaking is not theological, but cultural. Too often they are allowing a modern, rationally-driven mode of thinking cause them to “fear” tongues because it is non-rational. From my experience, members of the SBC have put their theological heads in the sand and ignore the tongues, instead of dealing with the biblcial material concerning the proper use of tongues.

    What I mean by that is that in my experience Baptist have an underdeveloped theology of spiritual gifts, specifically related to speaking in tongues. They ignore it or they say that it passed away, but they typically do not engage the biblcial texts the talk about speaking in tongues. Furthermore, their theological distance from the issue causes a lack of experience of tongues in their churches. And when a Baptist person speaks in tongues the Baptist leaders do not know how to deal with is. When a Baptist tells me that they disagree with tongues as a prayer language, because 1 Corinthians 14 says that it must be followed with an interpretation, I ask, “Is that the way it happens in your church?”

    I really do think the war between the charismatics and the evangelicals is over. The SBC just needs to get with the program. Shan-da-la-ka!

  • Good Friday

    I am sitting in my office preparing for our Good Friday service which will begin in less than an hour. I was rereading a quote from Will Willimon that I am using in tonight’s message. It is from his new book Sinning Like a Christian and it helps give me a proper perspective on tonight’s focus–the cross of Christ. Will writes,

    Once there was One who came to us, who touched the untouchables, turned his back upon the worlds bright baubles, loved even unto death, and never turned his eyes away from God. And we hated him for it. He came to us with wide-open hands in gracious invitation, seeking us, both patient with us and hotly pursuing us. And thereby he brought out the very worst in us.

    We figured that things between us and God were not all that bad, but when he spoke to us of God, and ourselves, and rubbed our noses in the filthy rags of our presumed righteousness, well, we thought we were good until we met him.

    He called upon us to attempt great moral feats, then watched as we fell flat on our faces. He invited us to join up with this Kingdom, then set that Kingdom’s demands so high that when it came time for us to stand up and show what we were made of, we fled, slithering into the darkness. He said, “Come to me. Take on my yoke.” And we with one voice cried, “Crucify him!

    I left my house this evening alone. I drove to the church alone. There were a few people at the church when I got here, but the building was virtually empty. And now I sit in my office…alone. I guess I feel a little bummed, but then again maybe this is how I should feel tonight. Maybe this should be our tune for the night. I have been meditating on the fact that you cannot experience the joy of the resurrection without going through the sorrow of the cross. This is why the Church for centuries has been celebrating (mourning) Good Friday. It is good, but in a sorrowful way. I am feeling that tonight. I lack the words to adaquately describe how humbled I am by the death of Christ. Such love. Such sacrifice. Such strength. We will end the service tonight with communion and with the simple song:

    O the blood of Jesus,
    O the blood of Jesus,
    O the blood of Jesus
    –it washes white as snow.

    Jesus may you be glorified tonight for your sacrifice, because while sorrow last for the night, joy comes in the morning.

  • The dissertation proposal hearing

    A hearing sounds so ominous…but that is what it was. Yesterday was my proposal hearing at Asbury Seminary regarding my doctor of ministry dissertation. I have been writing and researching for 14 months on the subject of spirituality and leadership. The “proposal” was comprised of the first three chapters of my dissertation—85 pages worth. I am happy to report that the committee did approve my proposal and so I have the green light to proceed with my dissertation project, which will consist of interviewing pastors. The group gave me great feedback–including some areas of my dissertation that I need to expand. Their comments will only make my writing better. I shared with them that I have an idea for a popular book that I would like to write when the dissertation is done. They encouraged me to continue writing…