Race Redeemed – We Are One

Race Redeemed - We Are One

Recovering biblical anthropology and the true meaning of race

The word and concept of ‘race’ has been distorted over the last 150 years.

Christians have adopted a concept of race that is completely antithetical to God’s definition in Scripture.

The consequences of this redefinition have been devastating to our societies, culture and Christian witness. When those who claim to uphold biblical truths and live by them adopt foreign man-centered definitions and concepts and then import them into their theology, massive worldview implications ensue. Ideas always have consequences and bad ideas have victims.

The Bible is clear, there is only ONE race – the human race.

Race, Not Races:
The Bible is also clear that the one human race takes on a variety of beautiful physical features and expressions. The Bible speaks of tongues, tribes, peoples and nations. It speaks to the prismatic qualities of the individual and the diverse qualities of different people from different places. Like fields of flowers or oceans of fish, the world is full of the human race in all its fullness, variety, and beauty.

Nations – Ethnos:
Recovering the language and meaning of the truths rooted in scripture is extremely important. Words and meaning form and shape how we understand and interact with reality. The word ’Nations’ in the Bible comes from the Greek, “Ethnos” which is where we get the word ‘ethnicity’ and ‘ethnicities’. We are ONE race but many nations or ethnicities. That is the language of the Bible!

The Christian must understand that the modern concept of race does not find any foundational support in the Bible. ‘Race’ does not mean different ’nations’ or ‘ethnicities’ as modern Christians might assume. It actually is rooted in the (bad) idea that the human race is made up of many species of humans. We must ask, is that true? And what are the ramifications of a false premise or presupposition? How do meanings of words impact reality and our lives?

The language of the Bible is clear and unifying all humans are of one race. To argue otherwise is to introduce foreign secular sociological and anthropological concepts into biblical theology, sociology, and biblical anthropology. The consequence is that this importation of foreign concepts distort the meaning of the Bible and our worldview. This bad idea ends up creating moral confusion and division among people. We are witnessing this in this cultural moment.

Races – Samuel Morton, Scientific Racism and Craniometry:

“Samuel George Morton is often thought of as the originator of “American School” ethnography, a school of thought in antebellum American science that claimed the difference between humans was one of species rather than variety and is seen by some as the origin of scientific racism.

Morton argued against the single creation story of the Bible (monogenism) and instead supported a theory of multiple racial creations (polygenism). Morton claimed the Bible supported polygenism, and within working in a biblical framework his theory held that each race had been created separately and each was given specific, irrevocable characteristics.

Morton claimed that he could define the intellectual ability of a race by the skull capacity. A large volume meant a large brain and high intellectual capacity, and a small skull indicated a small brain and decreased intellectual capacity. He was reputed to hold the largest collection of skulls, on which he based his research. He claimed that each race had a separate origin, and that a descending order of intelligence could be discerned that placed Caucasians at the pinnacle and Negroes at the lowest point, with various other race groups in between.” (source)

 

“Morton was heavily influenced in his thinking by the 19th century practice of phrenology (the now abandoned field of study which used the shape of the skull to determine personality traits) and the theories of hereditarianism (a school of thought that saw heredity playing a major role in determining traits such as intelligence and personality) and polygenism (a school of thought that saw human races as created separately and unequal).” (source)

Morton’s theory had an influence on Charles Darwin and his theory of evolution in “On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life.” Darwin bought into Morton’s presupposition that some species of humans were superior to others. The ramifications of this type of thinking continues to be seen in our current day.

In the final analysis, the modern concept of ‘race’ and ‘races’ is divisive at its root. Even when people of goodwill speak of races in a positive light, the term is divisive. Why? Because the modern concept of race was created to divide humans based on physical qualitative attributes. Everything that flows from the presupposition made by Morton and Darwin divides and destroys the unifying vision of one race established by God. Therefore, terms like racism, racist, etc. divide even when used to call out evil. Modern science has proven that there is NO scientific / genetic basis for different races (see National Geographic Article here)

Bible Words – A Better Way:
In order to clear up confusion and bring unity, we must recover the language of the Bible. Words matter. Words and language are important to God so they must be important to us. After all, God’s primary revelation is His Word (the Bible). By design, human culture and society is structured around language. When language is confused or the meaning of words are distorted, chaos ensues.

Meaning Matters – What do you mean by that?
If by ‘racism’ you mean ‘ethnic hatred’ or ‘ethnic prejudice’ then the Christian can ground a distorted concept of race in truth and bring it into the full light of God’s word. The Bible states, hatred of any kind is a sin equivalent to murder. We must understand that ‘racism’ as a modern concept is foreign to the Bible. The Christian must recover and redeem words – grounding them in the Christian worldview.

Moving Forward – Reordering Disorder
I’ve been attempting to use the language of the Bible to clarify conversations and public discourse. This is not been without difficultly because I have imbibed the language of modern culture as well. However, I have found that using biblical language like ‘ethnicity’, ‘ethnic superiority’, ‘ethnic prejudice’, ‘ethnic bias’ and ‘ethnic hatred’ help people think clearly and move dialog into a unifying direction. I stay away from using modern sociological constructs and language like ‘races’, ‘racial superiority’ and ‘racism’ because those words and concepts obscure the full meaning of what people are trying to communicate. Based on my background in anthropology, study of sociology and my analysis of culture, it is clear that many academic activists intentionally obscure meaning and redefine words. So, beware and be discerning.

The thinking Christian must understand that the fall and sin have disordered the world and culture. Then, we must reorder things back to God’s original vision (recovering and restoring)

Recovering A Biblical Anthropology and Meaning:
The Christian vision begins with a Biblical Anthropology of what it means to be human – what it means to be created in the image of God (image bearer) – what it means to be male and female – what it means to be a fallen (sinful) image bearer in a broken (sinful) world – what does it mean for every human being to have dignity and value. What would this world be like if every human looked the same – if no ethnicities existed?

By design, human beings search for meaning in life. When we attempt to create our own meaning or identity outside of God’s vision of human life, we end up creating massive problems individually and culturally. However, when we ground our identity in God’s design as His image-bearers, we see human flourishing. We experience unity in the diversity of individual image-bearers as one race – the human race.

Again, the Bible speaks to the prismatic qualities of the individual and the diverse qualities of different people from different places ALL made in His image. Though we live in a broken world, we see God’s goodness and glory through frosted glass but we see it nonetheless reflected in the multifaceted human race of image-bearers.

Race is a unifying vision of all human beings – wrought by God and born of one womb.

“So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” Genesis 1:27

And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place,” Acts 17:26

The Bible declares that all people of all ethnicities (nations) in all of history in every place on earth bear the image of God.

We are ONE race – the human race. That is the truth.

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What is the First Responsibility of a Leader?

What is the First Responsibility of a Leader?

The number one thing missing in our culture is LEADERSHIP. What should a leader do first?

In a cultural moment where leadership is lacking, good leaders must do this one thing first.

When we discuss great leaders who did great things, we tend to focus on the character qualities and accomplishments of great leaders without noticing the first duty of a leader.

While it is good to cultivate good character qualities of great leaders, I think we must focus on first principles.

Take a moment to answer this question, “What is the first duty of a leader?

Vision-casting and accomplishments along with humility, courage, creativity, integrity, wisdom, and intelligence are good things but they are NOT the first duty of a leader.

Max Dupree stated, “The first responsibility (duty) of a leader is to define reality.”

This simple statement is true.

What does it mean for a leader ‘to define reality?’

First, a leader must ground themselves in reality by seeing the world as it is in its current state. This is what Francis Schaefer would call “real reality.” If a leader does not see things as they really are, that leader’s vision for what can be will be distorted. Second, a leader must define reality for those he leads. Only then can the leader cast a vision for the future.

When God created the world and everything in it, He defined reality. When man fell into sin, that reality was distorted. The redemption we have in Christ grounds us in reality anew and orients us toward God. One day, He will restore all things – including a restored final reality.

Your first duty is a leader – your first responsibility is to see things as they truly are. That includes the good, the bad, the beautiful and the ugly. You must accept present reality as it is. Then, you must define reality for your people. After grounding yourself and your people in reality, you can cast a vision and develop a mission for the future.

Defining reality is a discipline and skill that must be learned and actuated by every leader who desires to lead well.

Dupree states, “We must teach ourselves to see things the way they ARE.”
Only then can we “cast a vision for what CAN BE” Dupree concludes.

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Don’t Be a Coward – Creating Communities of Courage

Don't Be A Coward

Creating Communities of Courage

Cowardice has no place in the life of the Christian or Christ’s Church.

A faith that bows before cultural coercion is not biblical faith. When the individual Christian or church acquiesce to the zeitgeist (the spirit of the age), we are being cowards – we are fearing man over God. Humans worship what they fear. When Christians take their cues from the culture, we are cowards (period) – we are worshipping what we fear – the culture (man).

Throughout scripture, God repeatedly calls his servants, his people to be courageous. True courage is properly grounded in fear of the Lord. When we fear what people might say, think or how they may respond, we are not fearing God but man. If our fear is rooted in the fear of man, the fruit is always cowardice. Christian cowardice has always led to spiritual, societal and cultural decay – and the rise of barbarism (ie. the silent church in Nazi Germany). If on the other hand, our fear is rooted in the fear of the Lord, the fruit will be courage. Not only courage but wisdom, righteousness, love and reflections of God’s attributes.

God’s commands carry blessing for those who obey. The command to “be courageous” is not a suggestion, it is a command to follow obediently. And God, like a loving father, blesses our obedience.

In the face of social pressure or coercion or violence, we sometimes think that backing down or appeasing the enemies of truth will give us relief or buy us peace. That is a lie. Don’t believe a lie and don’t disobey God’s command to be courageous.

The secular zeitgeist is a bully. How does one face down and defeat a bully?
First, you must stand up to the bully knowing that he’s weak and filled with folly. It’s all show.
Second, you fight back. Bullies only pick on people they think are weak. When you demonstrate that you are not going to put up with their crap and push back, they back down. Finally, when the bully backs down, their passive and active support vanishes in a mist of humiliation. But, the church must be careful not to become a bully either.

Both cowardice and courage are contagious.

The Christian must choose. All it takes is one Christian to stand up and others will follow. This is the catalyst that creates communities of courage.

The Church needs a commitment to the truth of Scripture and vibrant communities of courage where the people of God stand against a dark culture. When the redeemed in Christ can truly claim, “we’re in this together”, we have become a community of courage. Christianity is a “Public” faith. We have a public theology. We courageously think, speak and live by truth as Christ demonstrated in his earthly ministry.

Need help in developing courage?

Check out this video: Thinking Out Loud “Courage in a Culture of Chaos”

Feel free to share your thoughts and commend below this post…

 

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The Chosen Tree – a short story

The Chosen Tree

A Short Story

Before time began, the Great King beheld a vision of a particular tree – a Chosen Tree.

In the shadows before history, the Great King launched into his song and with every word, great things came forth. Majestic light shown all about. Stars, planets, and moons moved with grace upon the sky as spheres riding on the waves of music. Upon the earth, his song shaped deep oceans, rivers, saintly mountains, valleys, quiet hollows, sweeping plains and magnificent vistas. He formed abundant and manifold flora and fauna. It all was beautiful and good. Then the King brought forth his subjects from the ground . The breath of the King’s song entered man and his first sight was of the Great King and his earthly palace.

One cloudy day, man would choose to break away from the Great King – seeking his own kingship where death would reign. It would be known through the land as ‘The Sunder.’

But, the forest remained – an echo of the Great King’s beautiful song. For generations, ancestors of a Chosen Tree seeded, grew and died in a quiet forrest just beyond the City of the Great King. One morning a breeze blew from the east, loosening a tree fruit that fell to the earth. Many days passed and the fruit died, it’s seeds sank deep under the surface of the soil. In the darkness, one by one the seeds succumbed to thirst in their hardened shells, forgotten.

Then, the King sent rains from above. There lay one Chosen Seed, dead in it’s thirst. A droplet of the King’s rain met with the seed deep beneath the earth. In a moment, the seed burst forth with life.

The little tree struggled and rose from the earth – reaching for the sun far above, embracing the glorious light that shone forth on the tiny patch of ground chosen for this Chosen Tree.

Some days, the Great King sent strong winds and storms that made the tree grow stronger. Other days, gentle rains to quench thirst – in all days the King gave light. This tree was different from all other trees in the forest. He was set apart – Chosen. He grew in stature and strength. Ravens and song birds would nest in his limbs. He grew so tall that he would be the first to see the sunrise over the City of the Great King.

The Chosen Tree heard the quiet voice of the Great King in the gentle wind at night, “You are Chosen to be great among all trees of the forest.” The Chosen Tree dreamed that perhaps he would provide shade for the King in the heat of the day. Or maybe he would be fashioned into the King’s banquet table. “Ahhh!” he thought, the Chosen Tree would make a sturdy throne for the Great King – overlaid with gold, silver and fine jewels. The tree wondered, as he did not know for what royal purpose he was born.

Ages passed as the Chosen Tree remained in the quiet forest. Some days, the Tree would glimpse the Son of the Great King – the Prince walking on the road leading to the Great City.

One day there was trouble in the land. Since The Sunder, men’s hearts turned into dark pits into which they fell – transforming some men into Rogues. They were ruthless creatures bent on poisoning and enslaving everything on earth for their own pleasure. One day a dreadful Rogue came into the forest and stood before the Chosen Tree. His sinister mind slithered like a serpent with venomous thoughts. His eyes were as poison. His axe was ancient and sharp. The Rogue leered at the Chosen Tree for a long time. He murmured wicked poetry as a twisted grin crept across his hideous face. The chill of his dark presence caused the Chosen Tree to quiver.

The Rogue laughed as he leveled the first blow to the tree with his blade. Like a flash of lightening, pain bolted from roots to leaves. With every strike – agony.

“This wasn’t the way it was supposed to be,” the tree thought as he shook under the mighty blows. He was a Chosen Tree – to be employed for noble work. He was destined for the palace – the throne! Remember? “There must be some mistake!” the tree cried in silence.

In the afternoon sun, the tree’s leaves shook and limbs grew colder with every strike. The Rogue’s fiendish laugh echoed and began to fade into silence. The tree of the Great King’s vision from before the beginning of time, swayed as if the world and the King forgot him. At twilight, a gentle breeze blew and the Chosen Tree fell toward the Great King’s City. In the evening shadows, the forest grew quiet – sadness and hopelessness descended like fog – wetting the entire forest like tears.

The Rogue dragged the Tree from the forrest and hewed him into beams. He was left rugged for meager and lowly use – not royal use. The Chosen Tree was left alone for many days. The tree thought, “This is not my purpose. I was to be a great tree – chosen by the Great King! Why did he let this become my fate?”

One morning, there was a great commotion in the King’s City. The dreadful Rogue dragged the Chosen Tree into the City. The gates swung open and the pulsating crowd was pressed back by Rogues. Suddenly a man was cast into the center of the crowd and told to take up the Chosen Tree upon his back. Some mocked him and others spit on him. The Tree thought, “this was the Poorest Man the world ever knew.” He was bloodied, bruised and full of sorrows. “What had he done to deserve such treatment?” he thought. Heaving for breath, back torn by whips – the man looked upon the Chosen Tree as tears streamed down his face. The Chosen Tree suddenly remembered seeing the man before. His memories took him back to the forest and watching this man walk on the road toward the Great City. The Poorest Man was the Great King’s son -the Prince! The Chosen Tree wondered why the Great King would forsake his Chosen Tree and now his only Son. What had he done so terribly wrong? Why such a man be born to a King?

The crowd thundered and cried out as the Poorest Man took the Chosen Tree upon his torn back. “If only I was a lighter burden”, thought the Tree. As the man gasped under the weight, the tree felt his blood soaking into his fibers. With his face pressed against the tree, tears wetted the bark – tears more innocent than the freshest dew or whitest downy flake.

In the midst of the jeering crowd, there was a quiet stillness between the Chosen Tree and the Poorest Man. The man whispered to the tree, “You must help me, please. You must do for me what no other tree can do. Help me finish my quest.” The Tree promised and they went together.

When the sun was at its zenith, the Tree was thrown on the ground and the man was lashed to him. As iron thorns were driven through his hands and feet – his body revolted in pain. His screams shook the earth and split the heavens. The tree’s strong fibers held the iron thorns fast. Then the Chosen Tree was lifted up before the crowds. The Poorest Man said in a rustled breath, “Hold me here. I must take my stand in this horrible place.” And with those words, the Chosen Tree had his strength renewed. He stood tall on that terrible hill outside the Great King’s City. He held up the bloody arms of the Poorest Man in defiance of the Rogues and hate-filled crowds. The Chosen Tree was one with the man.

The tree’s past dreams of greatness and honor faded like stars at dawn – darkness crept upon that cursed hill. With every labored breath, the tree heard the man murmur, “I love you” to the hate filled mob that now stood in darkness. It was quiet. The Poorest Man’s breath became shallow but the tree could feel his heartbeat as if it was thunder.

Finally, the Poorest Man proclaimed to the crowd and to the heavens, “My work is done!” As his last breath left his battered body – in the stillness of that dim moment, the poor man gently sighed, “Thank you, thank you Chosen Tree – you have done well. I will never forget you.” The Poorest Man (the King’s Son – the Prince) died on that day in darkness. The earth shook under the weight of a dead prince’s love. The Chosen Tree had served his purpose – for which he was born. Promised kept, he was cold and saddened that this was his fate. He had been twisted into an instrument of death. The crowd left that horrible place. All but one Rogue. He stood and stared at the dead prince on the tree. In the darkness a tear fell from that dreadful Rogue’s eye.

The Chosen Tree was cast beyond the border of the city in a rubbish heap.

The tree wondered why the Great King’s vision never came to pass. He began to dream of the quiet forest of his youth – the gentle rain and light breezes that rustled his leaves – the magnificent sunlight of dawn and the sight of the King’s City. He faded into deep sleep in that place of refuse. Under the starry hosts, the Chosen Tree died.

“Wake up… wake up” a familiar voice whispered softly in song. The quiet sound of his voice reverberated throughout the forest. A hand gently touched his mighty trunk causing the tree to tremble. Again, the voice said, “wake up my friend.”

As the Chosen Tree stirred under the thundering whisper of the voice, a familiar light and warmth spread from his leaves to limbs, down through his trunk into the roots that lay deep in the earth. A pleasant breeze enveloped him. “What happened?” the tree thought. “What was that horrible nightmare?”

The Chosen Tree slowly recognized the man standing beneath him as rays of sunlight reflected and refracted off the dew all about the forest like tiny prisms. It was the King’s Son!

The Tree cried out, “I had a horrible dream dear Prince!” The Chosen Tree recounted the entire horrible tale. The tree told the Prince about the Great King’s vision. The tree shook with great grief as he told of the death of the Poorest Man.

In a soft voice, the King’s Son began to speak. “My dearest Chosen Tree, it was not a dream. It was all very real.” “I was the Poorest Man who carried you to that horrible hill.” The Tree remembered that dark time when the world sunk beneath the weight of night. The Prince continued, “You then carried me and held me as I needed to complete my Father’s work.” “The song that the Great King sang in the beginning of time planted you for the greatest purpose of all. If you had not been strong, you would not have held me.” With that, the Prince held up his hands. There were the Poorest Man’s scars where the Rogues had driven the iron thorns. “But you died – I was thrown outside the Great City and I died too” said the tree, confused.

The King’s Son began to laugh. “We did die!” he exclaimed. “But that was our purpose.” Just then, a little boy was running past in the forest. The child stopped suddenly and bowed to the Prince. The Tree vaguely recalled the little boy’s face. It was so familiar. The Prince lifted the child in his arms toward the Tree. A light came into the child’s eyes as he looked upon the Tree. “Is this the Chosen Tree you speak of, my Prince?” “Yes, my child” the King’s Son replied. “Do you remember him?” asked the Prince. “Why, yes I do! I do!” the child exclaimed. “I was there when he held you on that horrible hill.”

All of the sudden, the Tree remembered the boy. But, the boy on that horrible hill was a Rogue – a man of evil. A man who took part in the King’s Son’s death. This was the Rogue who threw the Chosen Tree outside the King’s City like rubbish. Now the Rogue was a little boy – full of joy.

The Prince set the child upon the ground beneath the mighty Tree. “Run and play, my child” he said with a grin. The little boy bowed before the Prince and turned to run and play. Then, the boy paused and walked toward the tree. He placed his little hand and head upon his trunk. He whispered, “Thank you, Chosen Tree – you were the throne I saw in the sky on that horrible hill on that dark day. The Prince saw me that day and I was sorry for what I had done.” The little boy quietly said, “I woke up here too.”

The boy bowed to the Prince again and waved at the Chosen Tree before joyfully running toward the King’s City.

The Tree realized that he was back in the forest. A perfect most beautiful forest. He could see the King’s City in the distance. It was bigger and more magnificent than ever. Light shone forth from its center. He could here songs echoing from inside its walls and rising to the heavens like smoke.

The Tree noticed the Prince looking at the City. Then, his gaze fell upon the Chosen Tree again and a cool breeze blew through his leaves.

The Prince smiled and said, “There is only one tree like you. You were planted to hold me in the darkness before evil men in order that they would not perish. You were chosen to carry me to my throne. Now, I have planted you here. I restored you in peace in this beloved forest. This is the home I made for you.”

The Prince departed and walked toward the Great City as the singing grew louder. He turned and whispered in a voice that sounded like an ocean, “Home Forever.”

Moral Imagination Grounded in Revelation 21

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Recovering GRIT in the Church

Recovering GRIT in the Church

While the secular world has its own vision of GRIT, I think True GRIT is rooted in who we are called to be as Christians.

There is something missing in the church today.

When I read my Bible and the biographies of good Christians of history, I notice that the modern church is missing something. The First Testament prophets and Second Testament disciples had character traits that we moderns seem to be lacking, particularly in the west. Given, there are exceptions but for the most part – something is missing. And when something is missing, the void is inevitably filled by something else.

I have been pondering the question, “what is missing?” for a couple years. It goes without saying that the church in the West is lacking in several areas. I am lacking in several areas. But, I keep landing on the same thing – the same answer to the question of what is missing.

G.R.I.T. is missing from the church both corporately and in the lives of individual Christ-followers. Of course, if you know me very well you are asking one of my favorite questions, “what do you mean by that?”

GRIT is an acronym for Guts, Resilience, Integrity and Tenacity. While the secular world has its own vision of GRIT, I think True GRIT is rooted in who we are called to be as Christians. I decided to provide my own simple definitions to help me remember what GRIT means and provide a few characters in the Bible who demonstrate some of those traits.

Guts:

Courage in the face of adversity, moral fortitude and fearlessness (David, Noah, Moses, Gideon, Esther, Stephen, Paul)

Resilience:

Ability to bounce back from failure, loss and/or setbacks. (David, Joseph, Mary Magdalene, Peter)

Integrity:

Consistent and uncompromising commitment to moral convictions and principles in private and public life – inner consistency. (Enoch, Joshua, Esther, Ruth, Nehemiah, Paul)

Tenacity:

Perseverance over time, determination – will-power. Never giving in. (Noah, Nehemiah, Elijah, David, Job, Daniel, Paul)

Throughout Christian history, we see people who demonstrated GRIT. Martin Luther, John Knox, William Wilberforce, Mother Theresa, Jackie Robinson, Joni Erickson-Tada, Corrie ten Boom, Rosa Parks, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Frederick Douglass and Elisabeth Elliot are just a handful of names that come to mind when I think about good old-fashioned Christian GRIT.

We saw the Clapham Sect in England and the Abolitionists in the States work to end slavery. The White Rose Resistance defied Hitler and the Nazis. In Roman times, Christians rescued unwanted Roman female infants thrown into dumps because girls were seen as worthless. During the Plague, Christians ran to the bedsides of the sick and dying. GRIT is a part of our Christian heritage!

Today, I see fear masquerading as courage and the pride-filled cowardice of online virtue-signaling. The pulse of popularity polls have overtaken the powerful pulse of Christ’s call to His church. The winds of culture are driving the church rather than the winds of God’s spirit. The result of the lack of Christian GRIT over the last 100 years has devastated our witness and contributed to the decay of culture.

The Great Recovery

Every great awakening and revival begins with a series of cultural convulsions. The Church is shaken out of its slumber by some great series of tribulations. Then a recovery begins. It begins with recovering God’s truth and renewing a commitment to follow Christ. This means we will come in direct conflict with the world and culture. We come to understand the sharp words of Christ when he says, “The world will hate you, because it hated me first.” To be Christian is be to a counter-cultural force of light and truth in the midst of darkness and lies.

I’m calling this the “Great Recovery”. I don’t know where or with whom this idea originated. However, the more I read my Bible, pray, talk with other committed Christians and attempt to “understand the times” (like the men of Issachar), I am convinced we must embark on a “Great Recovery”. While, I’ll discuss more in the future, let us begin with GRIT.

Whatever the committed Christ-follower who has counted the cost of discipleship and taken up his/her cross to follow Him may be, they must have GRIT. The days of microwave entertainment-based emotionally-driven cultural Christianity are over. Pastor Douglas Wilson said, “The church has gone from feeding the sheep to entertaining the goats.” Those words sting because they are true in a general sense. Not all churches are guilty but a good many are. We must repent of that and move on to walk with obedience and courage.

Every one of us will pay a price in the face of the zeitgeist (the spirit of the age). We need to pray and encourage each other in the faith and ask God for spirit-filled GRIT as we create Christian friction with a dark culture that hates the light.

We need to recover GRIT.

“Choose this day whom you will serve…” Christ or the zeitgeist.

There is no middle-ground. Christ does not allow for it. He spits from His mouth the lukewarm water of the Church in Laodicea. He separates the sheep from the goats and the wheat from the tares.

To truly proclaim, “But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord!” will require Godly GRIT rooted in Christ’s power undergirded by Biblical truth.

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The Music in My Head – DJing, Raves and Redemptive Vision

The Music in My Head - DJing, Raves and Redemptive Vision

As I sit in my home office, I am surrounded by music that connects with the old raver, the old man – the DJ. I see it all through new redeemed eyes and a new heart.

Do you ever reflect on the past and think to yourself, “I have lived many lives”? That happens to me quite often.

We moved into a new house a few months ago. Every time we move, I pack about 500-600 vinyl records in boxes for the journey to our new home. The other day I was rearranging my new home office and reorganizing my record collection. At the height of my collection, I had over 5000 records. Over the years I sold off some and gave away the rest. I’ve kept my favorites – the ones I’ve esteemed as “classics.” Some are one-of-a-kind acetates – which are single cut records that were once used to test new songs in live environments. Some in my collection are ‘test-pressings’ which are limited to 25-100 copies.  The rest of my collection are just records I love.

How did I end up with so much vinyl? Well, that is a long story. I don’t have time to share the journey in its entirety at this time – it would require a book. I will share that many moons ago, in a galaxy far far away, I was a DJ. Now, some of you remember “Lance the DJ – the raver.” That may be your last and most prominent memory. Mind you, I may also remember YOU as the raver because of time and distance that is the last memory I have of you. Others may have more recent perceptions of me – a financial advisor or more recently (last 7 years), a pastor. I’m the same Lance but also a different Lance in a very real sense. Often times, I think to myself, “I have lived many lives.” Perhaps when you reflect on your life you feel the same way. We’re very much the same person we once were but at the same time we’re different. Life is so bizarre and yet strangely beautiful in this respect.

(Note: a “rave” is a massive all-night party centered around, friends, electronic music, dancing, drinking and drugs. “Ravers” are the folks that comprise the community centered around these events. At the time I considered myself a ‘sophisticated club-kid’ but let’s be honest – I was a raver.)

Every time I unpack and shelve my vinyl collection, I go on a journey. I don’t have a photographic memory but for some reason I can look at a record and remember where I played it and who was there. In fact, I have dozens of “white labels” that have no markings whatsoever. However, I can remove them from their sleeves and look at the grooves cut into the vinyl – the music in those tiny grooves pops into my mind. I may not be able to tell you the name of the track, but I can tell you what it sounds like and where I played it. Again, this is both bizarre and beautiful – that the mind can make such strong connections across the expanse of time and space.

Within every sleeve lies not just a slice of vinyl but a piece of music – a story – connecting to something beyond itself. There is a gift-nature to it all.

Think about it, 25 years ago, a producer had a vision – an idea for a song in his mind. In the audio studio – ex nihilo, he brings forth sound out of silence. He plays the music in his head and it manifests in reality. He creates, forms and shapes sounds into a song. The producer thinks to himself, “Hey, this is good – I’ll record it for the world to hear!” So, he records his beautiful song and sends the tape to the record press. From there an acetate is cut, a plater makes a mold of the acetate in silver with electro-plated nickel. Then the plate is placed on a stamper where the vinyl is pressed. The end result is music neatly embedded on a vinyl record – the finest analog playback in the world, I might add.

I was a professional DJ and producer in what seems like a different life long ago. Much of my time and money was invested in music. I would seek out those vinyl gems to play at raves and club events each week. I would lug of hundreds records in flight cases to various venues around Austin, Dallas, Orlando, Miami, Charlotte, Chicago, New York, Montreal, Chihuahua, Juarez and the rest of North America. I was welcomed into people’s homes and lives.

Perched in the DJ booth, with music thundering and people dancing – I would find the right track and gently place the record on the turntable. Then, I would place the needle (stylus) where the groove on the vinyl began – matching the beats of the previous song. At the precise time with the tempos in sync, I would add upward pressure on the volume control on the mixer. And like being a pilot of an aircraft, I would throttle the volume higher – keeping the beats in sync with the pitch control, monitoring the EQ and ensuring the two tracks being played at once stayed in key. Once mixed, we were “wheels up” and full volume! I’d check the dance floor below to see how that producer’s idea – the music that was once in his head was effecting the crowd. Then, I would repeat that process hundreds of times – taking people on a journey. If you take a moment to think about it, this entire process is so rich and powerful.

I have thousands of those visions lining my shelves of my office. Every record is linked to memories. I look at a record and I can hear the music in my head. I see the faces of the people. I see old friends and my mind is flooded with more and more memories. It as if I’m right there with them again – even if it is just for a moment. Some of those people are no longer on the earth. Like my good friend and DJ partner-in-crime, Jamon – gone. I preached at his funeral a few years ago. Other old faces I’ve lost track of. Time and distance separates us. Some of the songs on my shelves are attached to long time friendships that exist today. It is all so very prismatic and beautiful – kind of like a spinning disco ball. Even the darkness and brokenness of the DJ / raver lifestyle can be brought into the light and transformed
– redeemed.

Nearly 15 years have passed since I hung up my headphones. But even as I look at the records around me and all that has passed by in the river of life, I have come to realize the goodness and beauty of God working.

I see how he created us in his image with the ability to bring forth an idea – transforming music in someone’s head into music that somehow connects to the hearts of others. Then, stories, memories and lives are given a soundtrack. This is a thing of goodness, a reflection of the creative nature infused into the human creature by his Creator. Whether you are the producer, the DJ, the raver or the gal on a jog – we are listening to art that has in some way contributed to our lives. Sometimes silence is beautiful and good. Other times, we bring forth music and song into our little worlds. I mean, imagine a world without music? Given, not all music is good, beneficial or life-giving. Some music (if you want to call it music) brings out the worst in people. Perhaps we need to stop listening to that kind of music and play a new song.

As I sit in my home office, I am surrounded by music that connects with the old raver, the old man – the DJ. I see it all through new redeemed eyes and a new heart. I hear the music without even playing it. I close my eyes and see the gift-nature of it all – even as it is distorted in this broken world. I see the old friends and the times we shared. The fact that I had the privilege to entertain, meet and know so many incredible people in my many lives is deeply moving, particularly as I get older. As the memories fade as one song ends, I pray for those faces – many who I can’t even remember their names. I put that memory on the shelf…. and in true DJ fashion, I reach for the next memory dust it off and play the music in my head..

We can see the qualities of God’s beauty and goodness that He has lovingly infused into His image-bearers in the domain of human experience. This is the truth. Take it from a redeemed raver peering into the past with redeemed eyes – reaching for the next memory – just one more time before the night is over.

Author’s Note:
My wife recently shared with me a story about two college-age guys who shared the Gospel at a rave in Tennessee. Over 400 rave-goers placed their trust in Jesus Christ as their Savior and most are being discipled today. That is an extraordinary story of faith and how God even pursues ravers at raves. It is interesting to think that even in my dark days as a DJ, He was working to redeem and restore one who would become a pastor – from death to life. When I hear about the guys in Tennessee, if brought back memories and inspired the story above.

For those interested in listening to some of the music I was playing back then. Below is a link to a compilation album I released for Proton Radio in 2004 entitled “The Sound” (named after my radio show on 93.3FM in Austin and ProtonRadio.com)

Lance Cashion ‘The Sound’ Disc 1

Lance Cashion ‘The Sound’ Disc 2

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