Chris Coleman is our creative director here at Flatirons. Many of you would recognize him as our “announcement guy”, an incredible bass player and one of our front of house sound engineers. On our staff he is known as one of the most creative guys around, incredibly talented and a great husband and father. This is what he shared with our staff on Tuesday of this week, it would be selfish to not share it with you!
I’ve been doing little Bible studies each morning with my family since the beginning of the year. Specifically we’re using a book that helps dissect the Old Testament and spell out how each event—every story—points forward to Jesus. Even though the book is family-oriented, it still gets a bit tedious skipping over the times people “know” each other or “lay down together,” or when I have to figure out kid-friendly ways of saying “Jacob’s wife Rachel stole a teraphim from her dad and sat on it to hide it, but said she couldn’t stand up because she lied about having her period.” Which would then result in my three young boys first asking “what’s a teraphim?” (which of course is an idol) quickly followed by “what’s a period?” (which, until we have “the talk,” is the thing at the end of a sentence.)
All that aside, it is incredibly refreshing to take these sometimes disjointed and seemingly ancient occurrences and see how they perfectly weave together the story of Jesus.
After all, it is all about Jesus, right? We sing about him, we sing to him, we pray in his name, sometimes we shout his name in various unnamed circumstances…and we receive our salvation through his perfect sacrifice; his death, burial, and resurrection. He was, is, fully 100% God.
But this morning I want to look briefly at another angle. Shakespeare is quoted as saying “Brevity is the soul of wit.” Blaise Pascal, a 17th century French mathematician and theologian, in writing a lengthy correspondence to a friend states, “I would have written a shorter letter, but I did not have the time.” The godfather of modern industrial design, Dieter Rams, claims “It’s not about what more you can add, but what else can be taken away.” And early Lockheed head engineer, Kelly Johnson, coined the acronym KISS: “Keep It Simple Stupid.”
That’s why one of my all time favorite verses in scripture is John 11:35, which I don’t even have to look up to recite because it’s “Jesus wept.” That’s it. Jesus. Wept. This verse unfortunately gets the most face time as a throwaway bit of Bible trivia for being short. But for me, it paints the most perfect and poignant picture of Jesus not only being fully God, but wholly human. It’s easy to picture God as happy; smiling, creating, loving, healing, and beautiful beyond words. Less easy is to picture Him with an ugly cry face. But there Jesus was, having lost Lazarus, one of his best friends. In that moment he was not peaceful, he was not serene, he was not staid, he was not stoic. He wept.
How much more profoundly human does it get? Being wrought by emotion to the extent that the only things produced are a wash of blinding tears and the groans and creaks of a soul trying to escape torment by rushing past the vocal cords in violent, uncontrollable waves.
I can count on two fingers the number of times in my life I’ve truly wept; both of them were over my children. The pain of those heartrending moments I don’t wish upon anyone; but the gifts received from them, I wish I could give everyone. It is by those emotional markers I calibrate my response to everything else in this life. It is also in those moments that I so clearly recognized that I, like Jesus, am wholly human…but I, unlike Jesus, am exactly 0% God.
So, I cry out to God to save, help, heal, love, provide, fix, clarify, unbind, rejuvenate, and revive. Though His answer may not always be raising the dead, in His own way He always brings life. And I find comfort in the fact that He listens deeply when we weep, not because of the weeping itself, but because He has been there, too.
Tags: Chris Coleman
There are many reasons my level of excitement continues to increase in regards to our new campus. In case you are a little late to the game on this one, Flatirons has purchased the old Lookout Mountain Church building on I-70 in Golden. Our plan is to open sometime in 2014 between the new year and Easter. Aside from the fact that this will present us with another platform for more people to bump into Jesus in the context of Grace and Truth it will also provide an opportunity for many people to get in the game. I’m excited to see a new generation of folks who haven’t had the time or the margin to serve at Flatirons jump in and serve because this location will cut down on their commute time. I’m excited to see a new generation of people who haven’t been able to attend anything beyond a weekend service at Flatirons be able to engage in ministries like Shift, and student ministries, mission trainings, community development, Bible studies and seminars. I’m excited to see how many people are going to be able to invite their friends and families to come and see and will for the first time get the answer “okay, I’ll give it a try”, because its closer to them. I’m excited to see how we can impact a whole new area in the same way we have impacted Lafayette, the food drive being the most recent example of that. I’m excited to see our Kid’s ministry launch in another location and bring the same creative teaching, loving volunteers and fun environments to kids and families who have never experienced those things in a church context before. I’m excited to see a new crop of volunteers run cameras, play instruments, run sound, help people find their seats and hand out programs all so that people can hear a life changing message about who Jesus is, what He has done and what He can do through you. I’m excited to see what new staff people God brings onto this team. The list goes on and on, and my excitement continues to build. It will not be easy, it will not come without cost, no important thing ever is or ever does. One thing I know is that this is worth it, because God is worth it, and people matter to Him. If we can reach more lost and broken people we should and we’ve been commanded to by Jesus Himself (Matthew 28:18-20). Will it look and feel different than Flatirons does at Lafayette? Of course it will in some ways, there will be many things that are familiar and some things that are new. Flatirons has never been about the building its in, Flatirons has been in Planetariums, gymnasium’s, carpet stores, feed stores, old retail stores and now in an old church building. Locations change, Jesus does not the Word of God doesn’t, Grace and Truth doesn’t, Me Too doesn’t. I can’t wait to see what He is going to do in 2014!
Tags: new campus
In light of the Supreme court proceedings this week, Jim and I have been bombarded by questions from folks in our church about “gay marriage”. Before posting this I circulated this to some close friends of mine who both disagree with me and agree with me and asked for feedback. I was struck by how thoughtful people on both sides were, but of course they are my friends so I didn’t expect anything less. It also strikes me that people who disagreed with me, didn’t label me a “hateful bigot” nor did people who agreed with me express themselves as such. Often it’s the extremes that get all the press, not those who are truly trying to think things through well.
Believe it or not, generally speaking culture wars don’t typically suck me in or gather much of my attention. I typically take the view that I will see and experience many things in my life that I disagree with but I can learn to be a redemptive presence in the midst of the culture I live in. I have however been deeply bothered by the current culture war regarding so called, “gay marriage”. The perceptive among you will already pick up on my unwillingness to refer to “gay marriage” as a reality. Not because I’m trying to close my eyes and pretend something isn’t so, that clearly is on its way to becoming so, but rather because I believe there are some realities we cannot redefine even if we want to, or for that matter vote to. Marriage, I believe is one of those realities. One of the reasons I believe that those who support the historical, traditional view of marriage, also formally known as the “conjugal view” are failing to get their point across is because they are arguing from points of logic and assuming that those logical points should hold some sort of authority. We live in a culture where feelings are the cultural currency that sways decisions. So while many that defend the historical view of marriage make sound points and coherent arguments, it fails to have effect because sound points and coherent arguments are no longer authoritative, feelings are. So it is not uncommon for someone who claims to follow Jesus and believe the Bible to say, “I just feel like God would want people who love one another to experience marriage”. End of argument.
I’m not going to make this a post about all the problems and dangers of moral relativism, not to mention the impracticality of it (literally no one can live that way). What I do want to do is make two fundamental points that I’m hoping to expound on perhaps in a sermon or a seminar later this year.
1) There is an argument to be made for marriage defined as being only available between one man and one woman, totally apart from the Bible. Different people are perfectly willing to deny marriage to all kinds of people. The “right” to be married is one of the most often denied rights in our country. We deny the right to be married to children. We deny the right to be married to groups of people, 3 or more who wish to be married. We deny the right of the polygamist immigrant from another country to be legally married to multiple women in our country. We deny the right of a person to marry an animal or a tree. We deny the right of a bi-sexual to marry a man and a woman. Why? Why do we do this? You might respond with saying “well that’s simply not what marriage is”. I would wholeheartedly agree with you, that is correct. Then I would ask you this, “what exactly is marriage?”. You see that’s what this debate is about. This is about what marriage is. You might begin by saying “marriage is between two people….” And I would ask you, why? Who says? And why do you get to deny the right of people who want to be married to several people their right? You may think my examples are absurd and there is no way we would ever reach a point where we would allow someone to marry multiple people, or animals. Again the question would be, on what grounds would you deny this to people? It was once absurd to think marriage could be anything other than between a man and a woman.
You see people often ask what’s the harm? How will allowing same sex couple’s to marry hurt anyone or anything. Often I hear, “if you don’t like gay marriage, don’t marry a gay person”. I understand the approach but its fatally flawed. You see if we can no longer define marriage, if it ceases to have boundaries and lines, it will cease to exist at all from a legal, civil perspective. The government will be forced to be increasingly involved in all kinds of relationships it was never involved in before because now they will carry the status of “marriages”. So when a gay couple breaks up, now the government has to be involved in divorce proceedings, the division of assets, property and custody issues that may ensue. The same will be true for the inevitable marriages between groups of people. For that matter what is to deny a couple close friends from getting married for the tax benefits. Should we discriminate against those who want to be married but have no sexual relationship with one another, but love one another?
Same sex marriage will inevitably result in more government involvement in marriages, relationship and civil disputes. The question is where do you want to draw the line, and when you choose to draw it, how will you defend why you drew it there. What will be your defense of marriage as it is currently defined then? Once you let go of marital norms such as one man and one woman, why do you have to hold onto marital norms like monogamy, exclusivity, and permanence? Its not a slippery slope argument, there will be no slope to slide down, we will have slid all the way to the bottom.
2) I am a follower of Jesus. People often say that Jesus didn’t have anything to say about homosexuality or sex outside of the context of marriage. This is not true. Jesus talked about what marriage is and who could participate in it. Jesus, when defending marriage against the damage that heterosexuals had done to it in his culture quoted from Genesis when he said “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh? So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let man not separate.” Matthew 19:4-6
For the record I believe that heterosexual’s have done far more damage to the institution of marriage than homosexuals ever have. It began with “no fault” divorce in the 70’s and we are seeing the fruit of it today. At the same time it is undeniable from a Biblical perspective that God created marriage, instituted marriage and defined it as being between one man and one woman. This is why I refer to “gay marriage” as so-called “gay marriage”. I believe based on the Bible, which is my authority for life and the number one value at Flatirons that God defines marriage and no human institution can change that, we can only choose whether we want to acknowledge it or not.
There is much more to say about this and there will be time to say it Lord willing in the coming months. If you want to hear more, you can listen to two sermons that Jim and I have preached over the years. Locked Up: Sexual Bondage part 2 and Behind Closed Doors: Behind Closet Doors. Our views have not changed, because God’s Word has not changed. At Flatirons we try our best to live in the middle of the tension between Grace and Truth. We try our best to lead with Grace and follow with Truth as we see Jesus do time and time again in scripture. I’m sure we don’t always get it right, but this is our aim.
Tags: gay marriage
Friday morning began like most Friday mornings begin for me. I went to the gym worked out, hung around for a few minutes laughing and talking with some good friends then hurried to the grocery store on my way home. Friday’s are my day off which means its “bacon day” in my house. We were out of bacon so I needed to stop off and buy some. I walked into the grocery store at about 7:40 that morning. At the same time on the other side of the country a man shot his way into a school full of children and murdered 20 of them along with 6 adults. As I was buying bacon to go home and enjoy with my 3 kids, 20 families were having their children taken from them. As the news flooded in, it was overwhelming for me it just knocked the wind out of me. All of this 11 days before Christmas. I cannot imagine how difficult every second, every moment of every day is for these parents, much less what Christmas Eve will be like, Christmas morning. Presents undoubtedly sit under trees that will never be opened. I’ve struggled with what to say about all this and I’ve wondered if anything else needed to be said. We’ve had so much of this lately, the theatre shooting, Jessica Ridgeway’s murder and now this, 20 murdered kids and Christmas is coming soon. This is not the first time the birth of Jesus has been closely connected to kids being murdered. Matthew 2:16-18 tells of another unimaginably evil moment in history. Shortly after Jesus’ birth the local puppet “king” Herod in response to his fear of this rumor that another king had been born in Bethlehem and out of rage from being tricked by 3 wise men who were supposed to act as his informants “sent and killed all male children in Bethlehem and in all that region who were two years old or under.” We don’t know how many were killed. Bethlehem was a small town, maybe a dozen or so baby boys? But it also says “in all that region”. Bethlehem is only 5 miles outside of Jerusalem so who knows how many boys were slaughtered on this day. On December 4th I posted a link to John Piper reading his poem “The Innkeeper” not knowing at the time how relevant it would be in ten short days. If you didn’t watch the video then, you will want to now. At Christmas we hang lights and we light candles as a way to remember that Jesus is the light of the world. Light is seen most clearly against a backdrop of darkness. We have one of the darkest moments in our nations history as a backdrop this Christmas. Lets remember this, “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” John 1:5 Darkness has not, nor will it ever overcome the Light of the World, our Savior Jesus, who will redeem all that has been lost, restore all that has been stolen and renew all that has faded away.
Every year leading up to Christmas I make sure to read this poem written by John Piper. This year there is a video of Piper reading this poem. If Christmas is difficult for you because of some sort of loss you’ve experienced then you really should watch this video, The Innkeeper.
Today it was announced that the body discovered in Arvada was that of Jessica Ridgeway. This is what we all had feared had happened since it was announced that she went missing last week. Police are combing our streets and the FBI is working the case. I cannot imagine what her parents are going through right now. As a parent its my worst nightmare. Personally its really difficult to discern how to address this with my children. I don’t want them walking in fear, having nightmares or being paranoid. At the same time I want them to be cautious, wise and discerning. Its made me second guess allowing them to walk to and from the bus stop which is less than a block from my house. Honestly at the end of the day it leaves me angry, really, really angry. Furious may be a better way to put it. On top of that, the anger that I feel, feels right. I’m old enough to know that just because I feel it doesn’t make it right, but as I examine scripture I’m convinced that this falls in the category of righteous anger. In fact God is angry about this, furious even.
When sin came into the world all bets were off. When Adam and Eve decided that God was holding out on them and that they knew a better path to joy the whole world started unraveling. What started with simply eating fruit (Genesis 3:6) spiraled in short order to one brother brutally murdering another (Genesis 4:8). Sin has always grieved God and God has been clear that the wages for sin is death (Romans 6:23). In a day when the reality of hell is debated on blogs, books and film we are very quick to hope and pray that hell is real at least for the kind of person who would brutally murder a little girl. On a day like today we are happy to have a God who has a standard and who punishes sin. On a day like today we want justice. On a day like today we are happy to have a God who says “vengeance is mine” (Deuteronomy 32:35). One of the things that I think is helpful for victims to understand is that God did not miss what was done to them and it will be punished. There are two options either sin was punished in the form of Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross and forgiveness is made available to those who believe in Him (John 3:16-17) or it will be punished (Matthew 25:31-46). When I heard the news that the body was that of Jessica Ridgeway the first two verses that came to mind were Romans 12:15 and Deuteronomy 32:35. This is a time to mourn with those who mourn and to trust that God has not missed this. Unless the person who did this repents and trusts that Jesus died for him while he was still an enemy of God (Romans 5:1-11), that Jesus literally became his sin (2 Corinthians 5:21), then this person will be punished, eternally according to what he has done. God cares, He has not missed this, He is furious and it grieves Him deeply. John 3:36 says it clearly “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on him.” I cannot fathom the grief that Jessica’s parents and family are experiencing right now. I pray that they can trust that whether justice is ever meted out by human hands it either was meted out fully on the cross, or will be meted out fully when this person stands before the one true God.
One of the things I love about being a part of Flatirons is that we are really clear on who we are and what we are about. Our current series, “Unsinkable” marks the seventh time we’ve taught on the same six values. Although we are constantly looking for new ways to express those values, the values have remained the same. Even more importantly our values are Biblical and centered on Jesus, His work in our lives and the kind of work His grace empowers us to do.
If you would like to take a trip down memory lane check out our past values series. Starting way back in July of 2006 here is a list of the value series we’ve done. All of these can be found here
Six Values Flatirons (originally knows as “Six flags” copyright laws are not Jim’s forte)
Are we there yet?
So Far So Good
My inbox has been flooded with people asking me for a few quotes from this past weekends message. Here they are:
“Most people who appear to others to not want to get well actually do, but they are consumed by their powerlessness over their dependency and paralyzing fear of living without the thing that is keeping them sick. It’s not that they don’t want to get well, they just don’t believe that they can live any other way. That doesn’t make sense to most people, but to bring this to a personal level, that was the case for me at one time.
I realize how hard that is for the people around the addict to understand. I know now I always had a choice, but there was a time when I absolutely didn’t believe I did. Everyone around me thought that I was refusing to get well, and that was true for a while, but I very well remember the hopelessness of wanting to make different choices to be well, and failing every time. God saved me from that, and that’s the only reason I am well today.” – Lisa Brandenburg
“I prayed every day that God would take away my thirst for drink, and every day when I woke up my first thought was Jack Daniel’s whiskey. Then one day I realized my craving for drink was the very reason I pray every day. My weakness drives me to God.” -Philip Yancey quoting a friend in his book, “What Good is God?”
In case you missed the announcement video last weekend or simply desire more clarity on why we are not providing NIV Bible’s in the lobby anymore and instead are providing ESV Bibles this blog is for you. The NIV (New International Version) 1984 addition has been widely used by millions of Christians and is one of the most popular english translations being used in churches today. The NIV came out with a new translation in 2011 that has continued to utilize much of the gender neutral language that the now defunct TNIV had a few years ago. Unfortunately along with releasing the 2011 they have decided to stop printing the 1984 version. So the only NIV Bible available to us for distribution is the 2011. We simply cannot embrace this new translation. If you want to have a more extensive explanation of the problems with it you can check out this article here. The English Standard Version that we are now giving out for free is an excellent, faithful translation and the one I use to study from every day. Jim and I will still primarily be teaching out of the NIV84 unless we specify otherwise.
I asked a member of our staff who serves on our missions team, Tracee Rudd to write a short blog about Kony. Here it is.
Stop and Think before you Act
I’m sure by now you have seen the Kony video. Are you passionate to do something about it? Ready to join the campaign? Did you do any research about Kony and Invisible Children before you passed along this very moving video? I must admit-I pushed the share button right away! Then I got to thinking and deleted my “share” until I could look a little deeper into it.
I’m not writing this to share with you my conclusions on whether or not I support the Kony2012 campaign. Instead I am writing to encourage you to stop and think before you blindly jump on any ‘activism bandwagons’.
In just a few days “Make Kony Famous” has raised all kinds of conversations on blogs and in the media. Some people are questioning the organization and/or their tactics. It’s really easy to get lost in all the videos and blogs about this topic. I think it’s exciting that there is so much buzz about topics that are definitely worth talking about; Kony, and what is going on in Central Africa, as well as the who, how and why to support any specific organization.
I’m not writing to tell you what to think. I’m writing to encourage you to think! In a day and age where there are flashy campaigns popping up all over the place, we need to stop and think about the facts and not just go with the emotions that they were able to stir in us through a well done video. We need to stop and think about a couple of very important things: if a project or cause is really helping or if our “help” is actually hurting? Is our money going to what we think it is going to? Is this the best way for me to use my talents and resources to help this cause? Do I fully understand the cause in the first place?
I think an awesome outcome of this viral video “experiment” would be for people to think critically and become smart participants in movements that call to them for involvement. Even better than that would be people surrendering their talents and resources to God and asking him to use them to stop injustices around the world, to bring healing to broken people and to make Jesus famous!
I was in Uganda and South Sudan last fall and saw some of the devastating conditions that the people there exist in every day. I also saw amazing work being done to heal and teach and give hope for future generations. Actually, flatirons has a team on the ground in that part of the world right now. Flatirons was a part of what is going on in Central Africa even before the Kony 2012 campaign trended across the world.
Our team is in South Sudan right now looking at how we can partner there to help the people that have been affected by the wars in their country. Then they will head to Uganda to visit the Musana Childrens Home. Musana is an organization that we partner with and it was formed in response to the devastation that war and poverty has brought on the children of Uganda.
Leah one of the founders of Musana heard about the situation in Uganda and didn’t just buy a t-shirt or bracelet but instead surrendered her life to God and is now a part of a very smart project that is helping the children of Uganda.
I personally have never been a part of a sit in or a protest, but I would consider myself to be an activist. I have dedicated my life to causes. When I was 18 years old I dedicated my life to serving God. He has used my talents and resources to make an impact in big and small ways in different parts of the world. When I see the injustices done in our world I can’t help but want to be a part of ending them. Being involved in stopping injustice and brining healing to broken lives has cost me more than the cost of a bracelet.
Don’t just buy an action pack and wear a bracelet. Educate yourself about what is going on in Central Africa. Pray, and then do something smart to make a difference. Ask God how he wants to use your life to help stop the injustices going on in the world. There are many wonderful organizations out there doing wonderful work before you get involved–stop and think before you act.
The Kony 2012 Video
The New York Times: Topics/Archives, “Lord’s Resistance Army”
Christianity Today – “Deliver Us From Joseph Kony”
Invisible Children – Official Response to Critiques
KONY 2012, viewed critically Visible Children
Christianity Today: Why Joseph Kony is Trending