Zachary Bright

The Wonder of it All

Chance of Awesome Today: Extreme

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It’s another big day for Jack Lewis, the Bible Study Dog  (BSD), and me because today will feature the Thursday Night Bible Study in our home. Jack and I look forward to this for different reasons.

Another feature today is massive amounts of tunage which Jack and I are listening to all day. Now we are nodding our heads to “Fading West”, the new album by Swtchfoot. We might also listen to something from The Violet Burning or Jesus Culture. By the way, I coined that word “tunage”, meaning tunes, music when I was running a music venue/coffee house a few years ago. I based the word on “signage”, as in, “Dude, our band needs more signage!” So, typically, my ad copy would include something like: “There will be copious amounts of food and massive amounts of tunage.” I am always coming up with words, phrases or themes. Some of them I hear or see people using 6 months or a year later. It’s like I’m tuned in to something that is just ‘in the air’. But sometimes I would print cards with one of my ideas illustrated to give away at shows. For instance: “The devil gets no space on my hard drive!” (more about that later). But “tunage” has not caught on, so that one is still mine. Oh, unless you want it?

Today also features protein for lunch. In various ways Jack has communicated that he prefers the high-protein diet that his ancestors ate on the African savannah. When we first rescued Jack, I would use the BSD for a spoken word piece that I did first at the church, and then other places, on St. Peter’s vision of ‘unclean’ animals coming down from the sky in a sheet, with a voice saying, “What God has made clean, do not call common” (Acts 10:15, ESV), showing that God was inviting all people to hear the Good News of God’s love, grace and acceptance in Jesus and to come together as his Church. Of course Jack’s memory verse was Acts 10:13, ESV: “Rise, kill and eat.” Jack’s application: 1) the prey won’t come to you; you must go and get it; 2) one must kill the prey or it will run away; and 3) eating is the point. The 10 minute routine was meant to be used in mainstream (not necessarily Christian) venues. While I told stories about Jack, I would quickly plant the seed of divine invitation and acceptance.

However, the post you are reading was almost not written. I was wrestling with about 3 or 4 possible posts and rejecting each one for various reasons. One of my reasons is one you might recognize. Have you ever found a sparkling and true thought that you think would be helpful to share, and yet, it’s not the whole truth or it’s only true as far as it goes or it’s open to misapplication? But you don’t want to qualify it so much that it loses it’s punch, the possibility that it might be for someone a sudden insight that would break her loose or help him move forward. Let’s take as an example that Jesus is Lord of all of life, every part of my life.

The central confession of the early Christian Church was that “Jesus is Lord!” We think of the comprehensive authority that Jesus claims when we hear him saying words like, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life.” (John 14:6, ESV) A few more: Jesus is the Good Shepherd (Leader/King) in John 10 and the Bread of Life in John 6. One could go on and on because really a Christian is someone for whom Jesus is everything. Here is a striking and true word with a punch from Abraham Kuyper, Dutch theologian, Prime Minister, journalist and much else, of the late 19th and early 20th centuries: “There is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is Sovereign over all, does not cry, ‘Mine!'” Jesus claims everything in our lives. He is not like a president that one might negotiate one’s degree of obedience or his ownership of every area of one’s life. That’s what Lord and Sovereign mean. But you may have heard the saying: “He is Lord of all or not Lord at all.” That is so true! One cannot hold some part of your life away from Jesus or negotiate with him about your obedience and still call him, “Lord”. And yet, is this really the whole truth about Jesus’ authority in our lives? Does he usually just say, “Jump!”, and we are to only say, “How high?” Doesn’t the Bible show God and Jesus receiving human questions without ‘upbraiding’? God makes his desires our desires over time as we come to be shaped by his character through prayer and Scripture (see the post, “What We Are”). God gives us the dignity of being truly (but unnecessary) agents, working with him. And couldn’t I sincerely declare that Jesus is my Lord, and yet having a limited understanding of some parts of my life, over time grow into a more profound submission to his authority as I attain more self-knowledge? Was Jesus not my Lord until I grew enough? I’ll answer that for you: he was my Lord and now I understand better what that means.

Now, I often say that Jesus cannot be Lord over areas of life that one doesn’t have some growing understanding of. One should make some effort, before God, to understand art, music, film, economics, politics, science and more. This seems obviously true to me. I have an intelligent and capable friend who says she is not interested in politics and that she never votes. My first instinct is to quip that Pericles said something like “Just that you’re not interested in politics, doesn’t mean politics is not interested in you.” I even have this saying imposed on a picture of Nazi soldiers inspecting prisoners that I thought about using in this post, but then I thought I don’t want to do that to my blog. I suppose that art work is meant to remind us that Hitler first was elected and came to power through a democratic political process and later begin to rule gradually by diktats, deceitful maneuvers and thuggery. This should at least be something vaguely familiar from our experience.

However, I settled on the thought that Jesus cannot be Lord over areas of our lives that we make no effort to think about before him. And like I wrote, this seems obvious to me. St. Paul reminds us that Christians are promised the mind of Christ for their lives in this world. We are instructed: “Do not be conformed to this world, don’t let the world press you into its mold, from the outside in. But be transformed, from the inside out, by the renewal of your mind.” (Rom. 12:2, based on the Phillips paraphrase, The Message, ESV and my own translation of two Gk. verbs) Extending this theme of active thinking about life before God, St. Paul wrote: “We destroy arguments and every proud obstacle raised up against the knowledge of God, and we take every thought captive to obey Christ.” (2 Cor. 10:4c-5, NRSV) To have our minds renewed from the inside out and to take every thought captive to obey Christ involves not only study of the Bible but also study of the thoughts to be taken captive and the ways that the world tries to press us into its mold. I envision many Christians studying art, music, philosophy, politics or technology.

Have I created a true saying that is only true as far as it goes? I’m afraid that I have. Christians have different gifts, callings and temperaments. Maybe we should say that we are not all called to study of culture and creation as our primary calling, and those that are, not in the same way at different times in our lives. And yet I feel that most Christians are to make some effort to understand some areas of culture so that they may bring these aspects of their lives as offerings to Christ and also may think well for the extension of God’s kingdom and even out-think the world.

Back to politics: 1) politics is not everything; 2) as Andrew Breitbart used to say, “culture is upstream from politics”, that is, change the culture and the change will last longer and politics will began to change (politics swims in culture and is bounded by it); 3) even Christians called to work in politics will subvert their own side somewhat as they treat politics as relative to God’s kingdom; and 4) politics, like everything created, may become an idol (see my post, “What We Are”).

This post was powered by “Fading West” (2014) by Switchfoot.

Author: Zachary Bright

Until February 2014, I was pastor of Divine Savior Presbyterian Church for about 24 years. I am interested in theology, alternative music, new worship music, culture making, philosophy and dogs. Most of all I am interested in extending the Kingdom of God and its blessings to everyone around me. I am the Director of the Southern CA. C.S. Lewis Society and I am a graduate of Azusa Pacific University and Fuller Theological Seminary. My wife Terry, my dog Jack Lewis and I host a Bible Study in our home on Sunday afternoons.

One thought on “Chance of Awesome Today: Extreme

  1. Responce to “Chance Of Awesome Today” blog

    Your “bloggage” may have been powered by “Fading West” Switchfoot 2014, but this reply was serenaded in the Evans Library’s “Catch Phrase Cafe” by the “tunage” of 77’s 2014 Late Greats Summer Tour Mix; unashamedly co-pestering cafe patrons. Odd looks from little old ladies and perplexed coffee drinkers. But hey, they could have been playing their usual FM audio “baggage,” so I improvised. ~:-{P}. Besides, I got a lot of smiles from hip ladies and other folks too, and the staff didn’t complain either. Consequently, I rock on…, thanks for the “tunage” Zach.

    Now as to the Jack Bible-Study-“Doggage”, or by amelioration—“Jackage” for short, not only provides an entertaining conversational segue into your blog point: “seeds of divine invitation,” but “Rise, (Jack), kill, and eat.” appeals to my inner carnavore; deep down inside. (no no, not going into a Led Zep-Whole Lotta Love allegory) Question, could Jack be channeling Scamp? Whom I recall, also had a git-r-done mentality. In any case, good show Jack BSD.

    Dern, the library cafe is closing, have to finish this after Celebrate Recovery when I get home tonight.

    Back to the bloggage, truthfully, I struggle with Jesus’ “Lordage.” A day doesn’t go by that I don’t have to relinquish some part of my “selfage” to the Lord—after the fact. Ah repentance, “Rise spirit of Tom, kill the flesh and eat fresh manna!” I guess it is a process, but just one day, all day, I’d like to get it right. I suppose by human standards and by outward appearances, I do get it right. But I know that at some point or other a thought has gone astray, or a word spoken under my breath, or a failure to truly be obedient to the will of the Father in my life overall comes creeping in. I’ll tell you what, Matthew 7:21-23 scares the delusions out of me. I want the Lord to be Lord and not in lip service only. I want to be obedient to His will and Do What He Says! I desire to make no mistake about it, and hear in the end, “Welcome home, good and faithful servant, enter into my Father’s rest.” A healthy fear of the Lord drives me to seek His council for the tools I need in yielding myself to His will and wrap myself in Him. By clothing myself in Jesus, like a distinctive and special garb, I am immersing in His grace and covering. Letting Him be my strength and my shield against the waves of adversity and battling principalities. Because if I attempt even for a moment to handle things on my own, I turn His special garb into my “garbage.” Thank God there is His Grace. Even when I fail, I can learn and turn. Daily I am learning and turning back to Him and His incredible redemptive attribute. Dropping off the garbage and putting on that special garb.

    Tom Zachary
    PS hope you didn’t mind me taking “tunage” for a little romp. Heehee.

    Liked by 1 person

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