free counters


Living the Christian life with Zeal

Greetings All,

     This week's 'thought' comes to you from Daniel Bashta, who grew up on the mission field and has now settled outside Atlanta, Georgia.  He is best known for writing the contemporary worship song, "Like a Lion" -- sung by the David Crowder Band and others.
     This article is found in "Worship Leader Magazine" (September 2013) and deals with the need to live out the Christian life more zealously, wherever we may be. I found it challenging -- especially as one who grew up during the Jesus Movement of the 1960's and 70's, which he references, and could have voiced many of the same sentiments he expresses in this article.  Enjoy.

     "When I was a kid, I remember taking a trip in our old Chrysler wood-paneled minivan. My dad had this giant JVC boombox, the one with all the batteries, and he was playing a box set from this guy named Keith Green. It played for hours and was like nothing I had ever heard. At that age, I didn't really know the difference between worship music and Christian music. But something about this guy's voice completely haunted me. The CD would skip as we hit potholes in the road, but for hours I was captivated by the conviction in that voice.

     I also remember the first time I heard about the Jesus Movement and began to understand the musical connection. My dad and mom would tell me stories about how these hippies found Jesus in a radical way. Then my dad would introduce me to new sounds: Keith, 2nd Chapter of Acts, Phil Keaggy, Larry Norman.  It was a completely new world for me.

     The older I became, the more I realized what a phenomenon this Jesus Movement was -- and still is. Something was birthed that truly changed the world forever. A prophetic voice was unleashed over a generation that was unstoppable. Here was a generation that had indulged in the sea-change freedoms of their culture, yet were left longing for something more, something real. Then, all of a sudden, they collided with this man named Jesus and that collision left them with a desire to know him to the point that their desperation invaded every part of their existence.  Later, when I read 
Melody Green's 'No Compromise' for the first time, it revolutionized my world and left me with the realization that I had lost my faith in seeing the supernatural take place.
     Somewhere along the journey, I think our generation has fallen asleep and lost our astonishment and wonder. This was driven home by another book, Mike Yaconelli's 'Dangerous Wonder,' which left me ruined and convicted. He wrote: 'The most critical issue facing Christians today is not abortion, pornography, the disintegration of the family, moral absolutes, MTV, drugs, racism, sexuality or school prayer. The critical issue 
today is dullness. We have lost our astonishment. The Good News is no longer good news; it is okay news. Christianity is no longer life-changing, it is life-enhancing. Jesus doesn't change people into wild-eyed radicals anymore; he changes them into nice people.' 
     There is an epidemic happening that must be stopped. We have grown so worship-FULL that we no longer have a desperation for the true manifest presence of God. We have grown accustomed to our own productions and agendas. In our evolution of trying to become relevant we have become stagnant and powerless. We have lost our voice and the conviction of wild-eyed radicals. In a culture of mega-churches, mega-production, mega-glitz, mega-Christian brands and mega-egos, I believe we have to go back to the start. We have lost the plot... we have lost our first love.

     In all the madness and in all the chaos and confusion, I do believe there is a stirring and an uprising beginning to brew. There is an awakening that is taking place in this generation longing for stories that are fresh and new. Like them, I'm tired of reading old stories about this thing called the Jesus Movement. I'm ready to be the movement -- ready to be the real Jesus to our generation. I want the world to know that hope is alive and that the body of Jesus is full of dreamers. I want to create and leave a mark on generations to come. 'I repent,' said Keith Green, 'of ever having recorded one single song, and ever having performed one concert, if my music and more importantly my life, has not provoked you into godly jealousy or to sell out more completely to Jesus.' 
     So what will your life provoke? The greatest commandment and ultimate dream commands us to go!  There is no exception, there is no substitution. We are the Jesus movement; so now is the time. Move! Be hope; be love; be life. Be Jesus to the city, the nation, and to the world. Be the difference. For me that is the true Jesus Movement."

     Since I grew up in those times I can still remember how that movement affected me. Their passion and their willingness to be radical, or fanatical for Jesus, still remains in my mind. 
     Did they make mistakes? Yes.  Did their zeal sometimes lack wisdom? Yes.  Could people point to excesses? Yes. Did their behavior sometimes upset people by challenging the widely accepted norms of culture?  Yes.
     Yet isn't that the nature of being radical or fanatical?  Wasn't Jesus, as they correctly pointed out, a 'revolutionary' of sorts? Weren't many of his teachings radical? Didn't he call people to pretty extreme, sacrificial, 'out on a limb,' 'stretch faith to its limits' obedience and discipleship which shocked the middle and upper classes and challenged the status quo?  Weren't Jesus' demands so radical in many cases that people today still can't figure out how to soften them enough to make them fit into the middle class American dream?
     Far from zealous, people in many of today's churches are so balanced, well-adjusted and careful not to be seen as radical (or God forbid, fanatical) that they have become virtually invisible to the culture around them. They blend in without notice.
     They may speak the truth verbally, but have laid aside the willingness to leave all, sell all, and give up all to follow Jesus. In fact, as we look around, it seems the only people willing to be radical are those bent on violence, or determined to shock people with their crudeness and immorality.
     Bashta is surely right -- we could use a little more radicalness in our commitment and a return to our first, sold out love for Jesus. For it is hard to see how we could ever leave an imprint on future generations if we are not a bit more radical in our love for Jesus, and godliness, and our neighbors for whom He died.  As much as they unsettle the mature prim and proper us, a few wild-eyed radicals may be exactly what is needed.  After all, Christ's call is for us to be like liquid that is hot (to warm) or cold (to refresh) and not lukewarm which does neither.

May the God of Grace and Glory stir the hearts of this generation afresh, Pastor Jeff