Last Saturday, one of the parents of my former students, asked me to participate in a “right of passage” ceremony for his son. As one of four individuals charged with speaking into the life of this young man, I was asked to address the topic of “faith.” What follows below is a transcript of our time together. With this young man’s permission, I now share these remarks with you. Read the rest of this entry »
Tag Archives: faith
The shadow cast off by the Elephant Room 2 is beginning to expand as Harvest Bible Chapel – New Lenox has just announced its decision to publicly become the third church to officially separate from the Harvest Bible Fellowship. As you may recall, back in January of 2012, Pastor James MacDonald of Harvest Bible Chapel and Pastor Mark Driscoll of Mars Hill Church hosted a gathering of pastors that included the well-known and controversial Bishop T.D. Jakes. While some have applauded the efforts of the two hosts, others seem to be deeply concerned by their failure to fully and publicly address Bishop Jakes’ unconventional theology. To date the following churches have left the hosts’ respective church planting ministries:
Acts 29 Network:
Harvest Bible Fellowship:
Harvest Bible Church (formerly Harvest Bible Chapel – Detroit, MI)
Harvest Bible Chapel – Prescott, AZ
Harvest Bible Chapel – New Lenox, IL (soon to revert back to its intial name, Cornerstone Church)
So the question we must now begin to ask is this: are we looking at a few statistical outliers amongst the 70+ churches planted by Harvest Bible Fellowship, or are we witnessing a snowball near the top of a mountain as it is starting to pick up speed?
* * * * * * * * * * * *
Additional resources on James MacDonald, Harvest Bible Chapel and the Elephant Room 2 can be found at:
How to explain a Terence Malick film to someone who has never seen one? All at once, they are poetic, rapturous, maddening, illuminating, and even, perhaps, in a few choice moments, a bit pretentious. But one thing is for sure. No matter what else you one might be tempted to say about a film by this man, you can never say that it is … expected. Enter Malick’s latest offering: The Tree of Life. Lacking anything that could be conventionally described as a clear or linear storyline, the director, instead, seems utterly content to film a visual meditation on the themes of creation and evolution, fathers and sons, faith and doubt. It is a story about a particular family rooted in a particular culture, but it’s larger than that, more ambitious in its reach. Perhaps the best way to say it is to say that while this is the story of a family set in the 1950s, it is also the timeless story of humanity and its’ God.
In his book entitled Faith of the Fatherless: The Psychology of Atheism, psychologist Paul Vitz puts forth an argument in which he suggests that severe disappointment with one’s biological father often leads to an individual rejecting the concept of a heavenly Father. Tracing both the histories of prominent atheists as well as prominent theists, Vitz turns Freud’s projection theory of religion on its head, as he makes a compelling case for a correlation between our willingness to conceive of a God that cares and our experiences with fathers that may or may not.
In many ways, The Tree of Life is an almost prayerful examination of Vitz’s central thesis, filled with wondrous moments of staggering beauty and wrenching snapshots of belittling pain. And in the end, you can almost hear the words of the Apostle Paul echoing through the narrated voiceover: “There are two ways in life: the way of nature and the way of grace. You have to choose which one you’ll follow.”
I highly recommend The Tree of Life as one of the most audacious and profound films released in this new millennium.
This film has been rated PG-13 for thematic material and brief language.
In my first post in this series , I attempted to unpack the lyrics of U2′s classic track, “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For.” I began there because it was in the lyrics of that song that I found my way back to a faith in the atoning work of Jesus the Christ; and because it seems to me that we need to open this discussion of doubt amongst believers. Having said that, there is a genuine danger in allowing the reader to falsely conclude that all doubt, such as that expressed by U2, is a search on a long, heroic quest. While that may be true to the experience of some believers in some circumstances, there is another, darker side of that coin that I suspect is behind most of the doubts that overwhelm us. To help me illustrate my point, I want to introduce you to a song called “Get Me Right” by Dashboard Confessional. Might I suggest you play the video as you read through the lyrics that follow.
Much like the opening verses of “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For,” the narrator of this song is on a journey. Only here, he’s not looking for Jesus Himself, he’s looking for someone else that can point the way to Jesus. And this, of course, brings me to my first point. How often, in the midst of doubt, do we find ourselves unable to actually engage the one we doubt? How often do we go looking for all sorts of other places were we can talk about our doubt, but not actually deal with it in a one to one fashion. It’s as if a wife suspects her husband of marital infidelity, but instead of approaching him, she runs to all her friends asking them if they’ve seen anything? At the core of our being, we were designed for relationship; and at the core of any relationship lies the ability to effectively communicate. When we make the decision not to talk directly to the source of our doubts, we make a choice for ruptured communication, which almost inevitably leads towards a further fracturing of the relationship itself.
Now look towards the end of the song. Do you see how the writer has shifted away from describing the journey and talking to his friend? Do you see how he now begins to talk directly with Jesus? Look at the difference in the lyrics. In the first half of the song, the singer is building up the courage to talk, nervously commenting about the woods and the stairs leading up to the house and his friend’s recent hair cut. But when he actually engages in prayer, the lyrics ascend to new heights of transparency. Now, face-to-face with the one he doubts, he can unleash everything he is feeling.
What do you think? Do you think that doubt can be lessened by talking directly to the One that you doubt? Or is that asking too much of the individual who is struggling to believe?