Sunday, March 21, 2010


“But easy street is a dead-end street. Those who live there make their bellies their gods; belches are their praise; all they can think of is their appetites.” - Philippians 3:19

“If you bite and ravage each other, watch out—-- in no time at all you will be annihilating each other, and where will your precious freedom be then?” – Galatians 5:15

My wife Irene and I visited the Hirshhorn Museum at the Smithsonian on The National Mall this past Saturday and stumbled across a short film that was playing there on the basement level entitled Next Floor by Denis Villeneuve. This film was striking, profound, and very well done.

Here is the premise of the film Next Floor according to the web site’s synopsis:

“During an opulent and luxurious banquet, complete with cavalier servers and valets, eleven pampered guests participate in what appears to be a ritualistic gastronomic carnage. In this absurd and grotesque universe, an unexpected sequence of events undermines the endless symphony of abundance.”

As this scene unfolds at this banqueting table of decadence and overconsumption, the bottom literally begins to drop out beneath those at the table. As they eat themselves into oblivion they begin to fall from one floor to the floor below them until they are left falling with no end in sight, as if being sucked into a hellish black hole. Their dark demise is illuminated only as the chandelier falls behind them lighting each floor below until it disappears into nothingness as the film comes to a close.

I was left with my mouth hanging open in disbelief and conviction. All I could think about was Philippians 3:19, “But easy street is a dead-end street. Those who live there make their bellies their gods; belches are their praise; all they can think of is their appetites.” This short film Next Floor, and this picture that Paul paints in Philippians 3:19, is a frightening and realistic social commentary on our gluttonous and over extravagant culture of consumption and greed. We are spoiled rotten.

In Galatians 5:15, Paul warns us that if we bite and ravish one another, in no time we will be annihilating each other. When our appetites get so insatiable that we don’t care who we hurt or step on to get what we want, there is a huge problem. Selfishness and greed have no place in our lives as followers of Jesus. Our god is not our stomachs or our appetites. The culture and the world around us seek selfish gain by taking from others, through selfishness, gluttony, and greed, but we are called to so much more than this as followers of Christ. We are called to give selflessly and to think of others more highly than ourselves and to love our neighbors as ourselves. Material wealth, possessions, and the things of this life are not to be our gods and we are not to look to these to satisfy us or to fill us. Only God can truly satisfy us and fill our longings.

Our consumption can consume us if left unchecked. Our appetites can control us unless we feast on God and allow God to control us. Or stomachs can become our gods unless we make Jesus Lord of all and feed on Him.

May our hunger be for God and may we pray as the Psalmist prayed, “God—you’re my God! I can’t get enough of you! I’ve worked up such hunger and thirst for God, traveling across dry and weary deserts (Psalms 63:1).”



Peterson, Eugene H.: The Message : The Bible in Contemporary Language. Colorado Springs, Colo. : NavPress, 2002, S. Ga 5:15

Peterson, Eugene H.: The Message : The Bible in Contemporary Language. Colorado Springs, Colo. : NavPress, 2002, S. Php 3:18-19

Monday, March 15, 2010

Them Changes

This title, Them Changes, is inspired by a song by Jimmy Hendrix and Buddy Miles, but this has nothing to do with the song. Another great song about change is Change, by Blind Mellon, also not real relevant.

Proverbs 24: 21-22, New American Standard Bible

“My son, fear the Lord and the king; do not associate with those who are given to change, for their calamity will rise suddenly, and who knows the ruin that comes from both of them?”

Proverbs 24: 21-22, The Message

Fear God, dear child—respect your leaders; don’t be defiant or mutinous. Without warning your life can turn upside down, and who knows how or when it might happen?

A German Proverb: “To change and to change for the better are two different things.”

Question: “How many church members does it take to change a light bulb?”

Answer: “Change! Who said anything about change?!”

Change = to make or become different

People either love change, or they hate it. I have rarely seen someone indifferent about change unless they were completely removed or divested from the situation or issue. Change can be necessary and it can be difficult. Either way, change is inevitable. Change can be good, but change is not always good. Some people change for the sake of change, and this is not good. Some change because changes have to be made. They see a need and decisively make adjustments to meet that need. Some people change through a well thought out reasoning and plan, for a specific purpose. These people think and act decisively with intentionality.

Some people change because they are not grounded in their goals and they are unsure of the direction in which they are headed. They are like paper in the wind. These people blow wherever the latest wind takes them. These people are not stable and grounded. Change is too easy for them and does not possess substance. This kind of change is flippant and does not revere God or others. This level of rapid change can be traumatic and does not respect the system on which the change is inflicted. It is this kind of change that is referred to in Proverbs 24:21: “do not associate with those who are given to change.” The idea of change here refers to meddling where you are not supposed to be, or being a restless person, or a busy body. This change is negative and is damaging to everyone involved with it. This type of change is divisive and misuses and abuses people, authority, resources, and leadership.

The Hebrew word used for change that is used in Proverbs 24:21, 8138 שָׁנָה [shanah /shaw·naw/], can mean to repeat, or do again to change, to alter to change, to be repeated to change, or to disguise oneself (Strong). The images I get are “lipstick on a pig,” chameleons, “doing what you have always done and expecting different results,” otherwise known as insanity, and finally, being uprooted. One of the things that you should not do when planting a plant or tree is shocking its root system. If you move a plant too much from one pot to the other or from one place in your yard to the other it will not grow or growth will be stunted. The root system goes into shock and this is very unhealthy for the plant. The plant might even die.

In Proverbs 1:7, the writer of Proverbs states that the Fear of God is the beginning of all understanding. The author of Ecclesiastes says this about the wise man in chapter eight verse one, “Who is like the wise man? Who knows the explanation of things? Wisdom brightens a man’s face and changes its hard appearance.” Wisdom leads to the change that we should be seeking. When we are wise in our knowledge of and fear of the Lord our affect is changed, and we are changed. God does not leave us with the same look on our face. God does not leave us hardened. When we fear the Lord and seek Him, then we begin to truly understand and real change and transformation can take place in us and around us. As 2 Corinthians 3:18 says, “But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.”

Seeking true change in Him,



The Holy Bible : King James Version. electronic ed. of the 1769 edition of the 1611 Authorized Version. Bellingham WA : Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1995, S. 2 Co 3:18

Merriam-Webster, Inc: Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Thesaurus. Springfield, Mass. : Merriam-Webster, 1996, c1988

New American Standard Bible : 1995 Update. LaHabra, CA : The Lockman Foundation, 1995, S. Pr 24:21-22

Peterson, Eugene H.: The Message : The Bible in Contemporary Language. Colorado Springs, Colo. : NavPress, 2002, S. Pr 24:21-22

Strong, James: The Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible : Showing Every Word of the Text of the Common English Version of the Canonical Books, and Every Occurrence of Each Word in Regular Order. electronic ed. Ontario : Woodside Bible Fellowship., 1996, S. H8138

Thursday, March 11, 2010

E.P.I.C. Church and Worship

Romans 12:1-2

“So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.”

Leonard Sweet, in The Gospel According to Starbuck’s, says that the Church should be like Starbuck's in that it should be E.P.I.C., like Starbuck's is E.P.I.C. Sweet says that Starbuck's, “our cultures church,” is Experiential, Participatory, Image Rich, and Communal. Sweet makes the point that the church is supposed to be E.P.I.C. and was E.P.I.C. before Starbuck’s was.

Sweet gets a "bad rap" and is lumped in with the emergent church. I completely understand people’s concerns with and their resistance of the emergent church movement. I would commend Jim Belcher's book Deep Church for a balanced, fair, and orthodox handling of the emergent church movement.

On the flip side, the E.P.I.C. model of the church is very much biblical when you subtract Sweet’s biases out of the equation. Jesus taught experientially, called His followers to participate in His kingdom work, used parables and other imagery in His teaching. Jesus also called the church to deep community as we see throughout the gospels and the book of Acts.

I have been worshiping and serving in the Anglican Church for six years now. The good news is as Anglicans we are offering what many other denominations are not offering in our church services, and that is an E.P.I.C. experience of worship and church. This is what our North American culture is hungry for. We are poised to grow and are offering what people in a post-modern generation and culture are looking for. First, we are offering the good news of Jesus Christ and His salvation, and second, we are offering an E.P.I.C. experience of following, worshiping, and living for Jesus.

The Anglican way is E.P.I.C. Our worship is liturgical. Liturgy simply means the work of the people. Our worship is modeled after Jesus and His disciples and how they worshiped experientially through service and participation, with rich imagery, and in deep community.

We enter into worship as participators, not spectators. We are called by God into great community, see Acts 2:41-47, and this article Community in Discipleship. Our worship is filled with experiential opportunities to participate as we sit, stand, kneel, raise our hands, pray together, sing together, confess our faith together, confess our sins together, participate in communion, view the processional and recessional, hear the word of God, serve God together, offer our offerings, share God’s peace with one another and so on. Everything we do in our worship is full of imagery with deep meaning.

The Gospel of Christ bids us come and die, to give of ourselves fully, as Christ gave himself for us and died for our sins. We are to offer ourselves up as living sacrifices and to fully participate in worship (Romans 12:1-2). This has very real implications for our lives and worship and for our communities. We cannot follow and teach the gospel and live the gospel without E.P.I.C. outcomes.

Following, serving, and worshiping Jesus Epically.



Belcher, Jim. Deep Church. IVP Books. 2009

Peterson, Eugene H.: The Message : The Bible in Contemporary Language. Colorado Springs, Colo. : NavPress, 2002, S. Ro 12:1-2

Sweet, Leonard. The Gospel According to Starbucks. WaterBrook Press. 2007.