Monday, December 20, 2010

Come and Live

Sharing the Heart of Come&Live! from Come&Live! on Vimeo.

Over the summer, a musician friend of mine shared with me about a non-profit record company called Come and Live.  While a lot of record companies are involuntarily becoming non-profit, I found it interesting that someone would choose such a thing.  I was even more amazed to hear that the record organization gives all of the music away.  They see their bands as missionaries and operate like a mission board that blesses hearers with music.

Something about this ministry amazes me, and it isn't merely their vision (though I think their vision is incredible).  What amazes me is that this is a genuinely new idea.  A follower of Christ sought God and allowed his creativity to operate in the power of the Spirit.  The result was a brand new idea.  Come and Live is not a Christian version of a secular organization.  It is not a re-packaged version of something tried before.  It is a brand new idea from Christians.  Praise God!  I was afraid we had forgotten what that looked like.

I have grown so weary of Christian versions of secular ideas.  I nearly vomited when I heard that someone came up with a Christian version of Twitter.  For so long, we have embarrassed ourselves with timid, unimpressive versions of secular ideas that only serve to keep us and the gospel away from the people who need both so desperately.

We were once the leaders of culture.  For centuries, Christians were at the forefront of philosophy, science and the arts.  I'm not sure why we quit creating and started imitating, but I know how things must change.  Come and Live is something brand new.  Let's start making things new again.

Here are a few thoughts on how:

  • Don't try to copy someone else's idea!  If I see another "Christian version of..." I will throw a case of Testa-mints at you.  
  • Allow the Spirit to lead.  Stay connected to Him all the time (Word, worship, prayer, etc.)
  • Vision first.  What has God laid on your heart?  What burdens you?  What are you passionate about?  Decide on a need first (one there is no answer to yet) and then ask God how He wants to use you to make a difference. 
  • Risk. Don't drop the idea because it seems hard or impossible.  If God gave you the vision, He will provide the resources.  Start the process now.  
  • Believe your critics, but don't believe your critics.  Someone will tell you why it won't work.  If they share your vision and want to help, listen to their thoughts.  If they aren't doing anything about your vision, hear them out and keep moving forward.  
  • Change.  Your idea will have to change a lot.  Keep working it.  You may have to cut away things you have worked on for years.  Keep working.  Lose what doesn't work to focus on what does.  
  • Believe God.  I know it sounds simple, but its true.  If God gave you the idea, He will see it through with you.  Keep moving forward.  

What has God burdened you about?  Do you have a brand new idea?  What is your next step to make it reality?


  1. The idea that Christians are 'at the forefront of science' is a laughable statement. Religion has actively and aggressively used the fact that people do not understand the science behind natural phenomena to instill fear into the ignorant masses.

    Why is Twitter a 'secular' idea? What about it is secular? The concept of Twitter rejects religion? Is that really what you think?

  2. I never said that we "are" at the front. I said that we have been (Newton, Galileo, etc.). I think it would help if you read the post again. I think we are in agreement about this point.

    Truly, some people have tried to use religion to avoid scientific study, but that is not the purpose of Scripture. If God created everything, then He has nothing to fear with scientific. Truth (of any kind) is not afraid to be tested.

    "Secular" does not mean a rejection of religion. It simply means that it is not inherently promoting a particular world view. Secular does not mean evil by any means.

  3. Very interesting that you mention Galileo...he was severely persecuted by the church for his scientific beliefs, resulting in his teachings and books being banned and he himself imprisoned. In fact, he was found guilty of heresy "...for namely of having held the opinions that the Sun lies motionless at the centre of the universe, that the Earth is not at its centre and moves, and that one may hold and defend an opinion as probable after it has been declared contrary to Holy Scripture. He was required to "abjure, curse, and detest" those opinions" That is the direct suppression of science by Christianity, so again, your statement that Christians WERE at the forefront of science is indeed, proven laughable. In fact, they were the exact OPPOSITE of that. Simply because a few forward-thinking individuals may have professed themselves as Christian, does not mean that Christianity was at the forefront of science. The evidence shows quite the contrary.

    This aversion to science sadly continues to this day, as many religious leaders condemn continuing research in promising areas such as stem cell research. They also actively fight to ban the teaching of evolution in public schools, which has been very much the accepted origin of the species among the vast majority of scientific thought. Based on your reply, you seem to agree that Christians are no longer at the forefront of science, so I applaud you for recognizing that.

    The definition of secular is: "of or relating to the doctrine that rejects religion and religious considerations" so yes, secular DOES mean a rejection of religion. Perhaps you didn't mean it that way...

  4. I understand and agree that churches have persecuted scientific study. Keep in mind that even so, Galileo claimed to follow Christ. The fact that some "Christians" oppose certain aspects of science does not mean that they are basing their aversion on the teaching of Scripture. In fact, I would argue that they are running quite contrary to Biblical teaching related to excellence in study. There are Christians on both sides of the issue.

    I think we are going to have to disagree on your first point. I would argue that there have been and in some cases still are many Christians at the forefront of science and culture. However, since we probably differ on what would quantify "many", it may not be worth debating.

    By the way, I share your concern about hindering scientific teaching based on world views. I have seen great success in private schools that teach intelligent design and evolution, presenting research for multiple views and applying philosophical and scientific methods in the process. Just because a few Christians (or even many) oppose a certain teaching does not mean it is runs contrary to Scripture to present it.

    Websters defines "secular" as "not overtly or specifically religious." I was going with Webster's definition, given that it is widely accepted.

  5. Saying that religious institutions have persecuted scientific study, yet were/are at the forefront of science is an inherent contradiction. A few outliers cannot be considered the status-quo.

    I am very happy to hear your aversion to hindering teaching based on the moral views of some people. The recent actions by the Texas Board of Education are incredibly worrying, in my opinion.

    Do you believe that the Bible is the unedited word of God? Do you believe it is absolute truth? I think your answer to these questions is important in interpreting your statement that certain teaching does or does not run contrary to scripture.

    I found the definition of secular, using Google (search term" define: secular") and the first result (pasted in my earlier post) is from Princeton University: I guess both definitions are acceptable.

  6. I'm glad we are getting some clarity. Maybe this will help: I do not believe that the church as an institution always accurately represents the truth of Scripture. The authority for Christian faith should be God as He reveals Himself rather than the flawed people or institutions associated with Him. I did not say that a religious institution was at the forefront of science. I spoke specifically about people who follow Christ who at times have and still lead the charge for progress and creativity in a variety of fields.

    Perhaps the best way for us to understand each other is to differentiate between God, His people, and religious institutions. I do not lump them together as one group.

    I'm not sure what you are asking about the Word of God being "unedited." I think it depends on what you mean by "edited."

  7. For what it is worth I think both of you may be interested in: A great place to see how faith and science can, and should, work together.

  8. Thanks for clarifying, Dan, that you were speaking of Christians and not religious institutions being "at the forefront." For what it's worth, I'd like to also point out the difference between being "at the forefront" and being THE leader or leaders in a field. One doesn't have to look far to find examples of secular (using the Webster's definition) sources that dominated all of these fields.

    I actually had a discussion similar to this once in a theatre history class. A friend of mine in the class made the statement that religion by its very nature stifles art. My response was, what about The Last Supper, the Sistine Chapel, the Pieta, David, Notre Dame, and countless other art inspired by religion? What about the Canterbury Tales and countless Medieval dramas that survive today? Stepping away from Christianity, one can consider the artistic and philosophical advances of ancient Athens, the vast majority of which were religiously motivated, and which have influenced various art forms throughout all of Western Civilization.

    I realize this discussion is primarily about the interaction between religion and science, but I think the basic principle applies. Institutions of any kind, religious or not, tend to stifle thought as their power and rigidity increase. The faith of individuals, on the other hand, tends to inspire a thirst for knowledge and a quest for beauty and perfection.

    It seems like that was the distinction Dan was trying to make. The teachings of Jesus frequently attacked those who held power in religious institutions while simultaneously calling on individuals to allow their faith to inspire them to accomplish good. There have been Christians who have done this and at times some have even had great influence in their fields, but sadly we often let our institutions guide us more than our faith.

    The purpose of the above post was not to point out how clever, creative, or influential Christianity has been, but rather to call Christians to BE clever, creative, and influential. If we follow the teachings of Christ and seek Truth, we will find original, world-changing ideas rather than reusing familiar cliches.

  9. I understand your desire to separate religious institutions, from the individual spiritual beliefs that you and many others carry. Distancing yourself from the numerous atrocities, and the knowledge/learning suppression by religion throughout history. The Catholic church is without question, one of the most evil, manipulative organizations in the history of human civilization. Unfortunately, I don't think you can just dismiss them as a separate entity to what you believe now. This organization is what you inherit all of your core beliefs and teachings from. Why are some of their teachings dismissed, yet some are set in stone as fact? As much as you may reject some of the aspects of today's organized religion, everything you believe has been propagated over time by these same groups, therefore you are forever connected. No matter how much you may want to 'individualize' religion, it has very much, throughout the course of history, been used as a way to control people. Throughout history, the people who controlled the religion, had all the power. Why is religion all of a sudden pure and just? Simply because you are separating yourself from the institutions that carry it forward in the first place? I don't think that is valid.

    What I meant by 'unedited' is whether you believe that man has not changed, altered, distorted misinterpreted or mistranslated the text of the Bible at any point in history. Whether you truly believe the bible is the absolute word of god. For example, do you believe that there was actually a truly virgin girl whom god impregnated, who then gave birth to his son? That belief doesn't sound very scientific to me.

  10. I disagree. My belief system does not align itself according to a particular organization but rather to Scripture.

    I agree that it is a problem when people control religion. That's why I don't accept the premise that I have to acknowledge and support a particular organization that says it represents God. Shouldn't I let God represent himself?

    I don't see the logical justification in associating me with a particular group that I have no connection with. There are plenty of non-religious organizations that committed atrocities in the name of humanity. Should I automatically associate you with them because you may share an aspect of their belief about religion?

    Does the fact that both atheists and theist have committed crimes against humanity make either of them wrong or right? I don't think any belief should be judged by its misuse.

    I certainly believe that men have mistranslated Scripture at times.

    I do believe in a virgin birth. How do you define "science"? Are you familiar with sub-atomic physics at all? I would argue that a virgin birth could be quite scientific given what we have recently observed about the nature of the universe.

    Do you find typed conversations to be slow and cumbersome? How about coffee this week? I'm willing to buy you a cup of coffee for an hour of friendly discussion.

  11. Hmm...I posted a rather lengthy response but it seems your blog commenting system crashed and lost very depressing. Perhaps it was too long?

  12. I think it is a length issue because it took that small comment just fine...

  13. (Continued from above ^^^^^^)

    I actually grew up in an extremely religious and conservative home. A home where I was relentlessly brainwashed into a very narrow view of the world, and I think it’s a crying shame that so many children are raised in this manner. They are raised without ever being given the chance to form their own beliefs and worldview. Thankfully (for me, anyway) as I grew older and more independent, I started to try and figure out for myself what I should and should not believe. In all honesty, the more I studied Christianity and the true origins of religion, the harder and harder I found it to carry on with my parents beliefs. It is dismaying that the most religious people, actually know the least about religion.

    While I appreciate your offer of coffee, I actually do prefer written conversation…it allows me to more cohesively organize my thoughts. ☺ I don’t want to come across as someone trying to harass you or hijack your blog comments, so I guess we can agree to disagree and I will move on. Thank you for participating in this discussion with me. Take care sir.

  14. (Part 1 - Comment above is meant to be read AFTER this one.)

    That is precisely my point! Every single aspect of the scripture which you base your faith off of, was controlled by these organizations. They specifically sought to keep the masses illiterate so only they could read the texts. They decided which texts became canon, and which texts were banished and destroyed. All of this CENTURIES after they were actually written! That is why, even though you claim to distance yourself from these groups, you are forever connected. Every single thing you base your faith off of was controlled by them, propagated by them, and distributed by them.

    Throughout history, no other movement has committed atrocities on the scale of those of which have been done under the guise of religious belief. While you yourself, I am sure, have not been involved in these activities, why would you willingly embrace the teachings and beliefs that do? The Bible itself promotes and allows mass genocide. Every single day rape, genital mutilation and murder are committed around our globe all in the name of Christianity, Islam, Judaism…etc.

    I have no idea why you think sub-atomic physics can prove that a virgin woman could have conceived the son of God…I must admit you have lost me there. The Bible also says that bodies came out of their graves and walked around during Christ’s resurrection. So…zombies. You also believe in zombies. The decree of Caesar Augustus that everyone return to their home town to be counted for a census? The whole reason Joseph and Mary were in Bethlehem? Never happened. There is absolutely zero record of that having ever occurred. Don’t you think that Cesar would have kept track of that if he went through all the trouble of ordering everyone in his kingdom to return to their home town? If you honestly believe in this stuff purely on faith, and recognize that there is no physical or historical evidence of these having ever occurred, then you may continue to do so and I can no longer debate you. However, just recognize that that which can be asserted without proof, can be dismissed without proof. The burden of proof falls on your side of the argument.

  15. I'm sorry we can't get together for coffee, but I understand the value of written communication for clarity. My only concern is that I tend to be frank in this kind of discussion. As long as you understand that my written words would be spoken in a much friendlier manner than they come across in sans serif font.

    It sounds like you have some legitimate frustration about how you were raised. I get the idea that you were forced to believe things based on parents and organizations saying "because I said so." You have a right to be upset about that.

    My experience with faith was much different. My family was an educated family that never forced anything on me. Evidence was presented for a variety of view points. No conversation was off limits. I went to a private school that provided evidence that was discussed and analyzed in open discussion. It wasn't perfect, but I had a great opportunity to decide for myself in matters of origins and faith.

    That said, I would like to explain why I don't accept the decisions of religious institutions for the authority of Scripture. I acutely base my belief about the texts based on the rigors of historical documentation. (See below)

  16. For a historical document to be considered reliable there are a few criteria that must be met:

    Number of Copies--there must be 26 copies. When that many copies of a document can be found it implies that it was widely read and accepted. Many historical documents are accepted with less, but 26 is the standard. The second largest number for copies goes to Homer's The Iliad. We have roughly 600 copies of it. It doesn't hold a candle to the New Testament, for which we have 1,500 manuscripts in Greek and a total of 5,200 if you add the Latin manuscripts. There is no historical document with as much reliability in number than the New Testament.

  17. Variant Readings--there must be a limited number of contradictions. For instance, if one copy says "motnaph32 lives in OH" and another says "motnaph32 doesn't live in OH" that would be a direct variant reading. The Iliad is riddled with variant readings. Many historians accept a moderate amount of variant readings in documents, because it is almost impossible to do history without overcoming them. However, the New Testament manuscripts have almost no variant readings. The very few that exist relate to spelling and numbers and don't affect doctrine in any way.

  18. Date of Writing--the document has to have been written as early as possible. For instance, if a journalist wrote about our conversation 150 years from now (having no connection to either of us), his document would not be considered as reliable as someone who wrote about us today or even 10 years from now. Let me compare Jesus to Tiberius since they were contemporaries.

    For Jesus, we have a total of 40 sources, some of the most promitent (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John) all record eyewitness accounts that show up within a generation of Jesus death (while they were all still alive).

    For Tiberius, we only have 9 sources. The earliest source that writes about him as Caesar (Tacitus) shows up 80 years after his death. The second earliest (Suetonius) shows up 85 years after his death. The next earliest source comes into play 180 years after his death. This is a far cry from the multiple eyewitness accounts for Jesus.

    Consider this, historians don't question the existence of Tiberius. They actually don't question the existence of Jesus either. Consider also the oportunity for checks at this time. There was no organized church. There were only small groups meeting in homes. The eyewitnesses of Jesus were spread abroad writing about Him. They were able to write and affirm one another's writings. The only people "editing" the Bible at this time were fellow eyewitnesses of Jesus. No church existed to pick and choose what would go in. By the Council of Nicaea in 325, the cannon of Scripture had already been affirmed by eyewitnesses, copied and become widely accepted. The only thing the organized church did was run the books through the rigors of historical document checking. They were essentially rubber stamping a cannon that was widely accepted. They were making sure that only the most reliable, well-documented sources were added.

  19. I go on historical documentation trustworthiness rather than on the affirmation of an organized church. Even so, if that wasn't good enough for me, I could go to the writings of Paul. Even critics of the Bible trust many of Paul's writings. Almost all critics recognize that Paul wrote Romans, 1 and 2 Corinthians, Galatians and Philippians. Consider this: in Galatians 1 (recognized by critics as authentic) Paul interviews Peter and James (eyewitnesses of Jesus who claimed He rose from the dead). This would have been about 2 years after Jesus' resurrection. He returns again in chapter 2 to make certain he is teaching the resurrection accurately. This would be a critic-authenticated representation of eyewitnesses of the resurrection.

  20. These are just a few of the reasons why I rely on the New Testament (specifically) as a document. What really takes me from recognition to belief are the martyrs. People are sometimes willing to die for lies that they believe are true. Jonestown is an example. And, every now and then, you might find a mentally deranged person who dies for his own lie (or delusion). But, I can find no record of anyone willing to die for a lie they came up with. If there was only one guy who said that he saw Jesus raised from the dead, I could agree that he might just be crazy. However, for all 11 remaining apostles to separately and willingly accept martyrdom (documented by sources other than the Bible) based on their affirmation that they saw the resurrected Christ is very compelling. That doesn't even take into account the 500+ other eyewitnesses that are not mentioned by name, many of whom were likely among the martyred. Liars don't make martyrs.

  21. By the way, to your previous point I wanted to mention that the census mentioned in Luke 2 is not just documented in the Bible. The first century historian Josephus also mentions the account among other historians.

  22. I really appreciate the friendly discussion. I'm sorry didn't let your full post go up before, but I'm really glad you posted it again. I know what a pain it is when online forums cut me off, sometimes losing my work.

    I know I posted a lot of information. In order to give credit, I wanted to mention that a lot of those discussion points come from Dr. Gary Habermas ( I started to do multiple citations along the way, but it was very cumbersome. If you are looking for more on the existence of Jesus, I recommend his book The Historical Jesus. He points out the historical reality of Jesus existence.

  23. One last thing, I wanted to let you know that I'm not trying to win you over with all this information. You and I may agree that people (unfortunately) base their beliefs a lot more on their experiences than on evidence. While I don't think that's good. I know that recognizing the evidence about Christ is only part of starting a relationship with Him. It sounds like you never got to see real relationship. I'd love to have you hang out with some of us at Open Door. We aren't perfect, but it would give you the chance to see what people are like when they know and love God. The result is that they love people too. A lot of the crap (even the atrocities) that "Christians" do is because they aren't in relationship with God. They're only playing the game. I feel the need to apologize for them. I'm sorry you were abused by people in the name of Christ. It makes me angry, and it makes Him angry. That wasn't Jesus.

    I just wanted to explain where my belief comes from, so that you could see that there are some of us who believe in Christ that really do base belief on evidence. However, the evidence is just icing on the cake, because the real life is about relationship with God.

    I'd love the opportunity to dialogged anytime, even if its not about this. Merry Christmas!

  24. That's "dialog" anytime. Spell check has a mind of its own sometimes.

  25. As I said before, we could go back and forth pretty much forever...since this is your blog I'll leave you with the last word and move along as I had promised.

    To clarify, I do not dispute that a man named Jesus did live. I just do not believe that there is sufficient evidence to show that everything that was written about him was true.

    Thank you for the recommended reading, I will check that out. I also recommend that you read God is Not Great by Christopher Hitchens. I am not opposed to seeing both sides of the argument (I think it's essential, actually) and I would encourage you to do the same.

    Thanks again for the discussion.

  26. Thanks for the kind response. I have read some of Hitchens and Dawkins. I think I have read a portion of the one you mentioned. I'll see if I can get my hands on it soon. I agree that an honest look at both sides of the argument is quite important. Thanks for the recommendation and willingness to look at some of my recommendations.