Tuesday, May 31, 2016

What Happens on the Road, Stays on the Road

Nothing says 'you're in a band' louder than the proverbial road trip.

This past weekend, the members of Feet First all piled into our respective gear-laden vehicles, and drove to Nakusp in the Kootenay Mountains of British Columbia, for a wild and woolly weekend of rock 'n' roll and assorted shenanigans.
Well, not exactly...

Yes, the band did travel to Nakusp, and played two packed-out gigs at the Leland Hotel, which has been in operation since 1892 and is the oldest hotel/pub in BC. The road trip was awesome all by itself. We live in a province of jaw-dropping natural beauty.

This boat is officially part of the highway. No other options. All aboard!

And yes, the shows rocked -- people were calling their friends during our first set and the word spread. Our second show turned into a four-hour marathon onstage to a boisterously enthusiastic audience.

But please keep in mind, this is a middle-aged classic rock band.

  • No, those weren't "groupies" in the front row -- our wives came with us. We have all been married 30+ years.
  • Overheard at supper Saturday: "Hey, we don't hit the stage for another three hours. We could squeeze a nap in!"
  • Yes, there were drugs involved. All prescribed by our family physicians.
  • Spinal Tap moment: our lead guitarist got lost in the hotel while trying to find the stage. (His wife rescued him.)

suggested by the bartender

There were lots of jokes about "living the rock 'n' roll dream" all throughout the weekend. It's fun being in a band that takes their music very seriously, and themselves very lightly.

But seriously, folks...
A weekend away with Wendy, in the Kootenays, playing with a band of this calibre, relaxing in the beauty of the mountains, with a stunning view of Arrow Lake just outside our hotel window. Wow.
I have a lot to be grateful for.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Awkward Continuationist: Revival ≠ Circus

Now, there's a word that comes pre-loaded with all manner of mental images, assumptions, and expectations.  

photo source: Wikicommons

To be "revived", if we are going to be carefully specific, means that what was once alive, and then died, has been brought to life again. For example, a drowning victim who begins to breathe once more after a lifeguard's intervention.

Or when a patient's heart stops on the operating table, and the next thing you hear is: "Clear!" Kah-CHUNK! beep-beep-beep… "We've got a pulse."

In popular usage, of course, "revive" can also refer to any number of topics beyond the rigid understanding of "life or death".

A Shakespearean play can be "revived" following years of non-performance. An interest in a personal hobby can be "revived" once the demands of our schedules have become better balanced.

Among Christians, of course, the term "revival" is used to refer to anything ranging from a pre-planned series of meetings with invited guest speakers/evangelists, to a sovereign and unexpected move of the Holy Spirit.

But even in these cases, to be "revived" presupposes that you were once alive, but had become spiritually dull, dismissive, or embraced deliberate denial. Revival is not the same as evangelism. When people first become Christians, they are not being brought back to life; they are entering into spiritual life for the first time (Ephesians 2:1-6).
Revival is for believers.
You can see it in the Old Testament, when the people of Israel -- God's chosen people -- have a collective wake-up call regarding the destitute state of their spiritual lives. They respond by renewing their commitment to the Covenant with their heavenly Father. It was typically a time of sombre reflection, repentance, and "coming back".

Examples include when Nehemiah read the Covenant to the people -- who apparently hadn't heard it in a long, long time -- and they responded with tears and repentance (Nehemiah 8:1-12). Likewise, when King Josiah heard the Book of the Covenant for the first time, he responded with deep repentance and "came back", and led his whole nation in corporate repentance as well (2 Kings 22, 23:1-25).

The message of the OT prophets could also be summed up as calling people to "come back" (repent) and follow God with all of their hearts.

Even Jesus' last words in the New Testament -- the letters to the seven churches in Revelation -- echo this same sense of "come back" (Revelation 2 & 3).
Revival has always had a connection to repentance (turning back) and following God whole-heartedly.
Unfortunately in the 21st century, we have all-too-often made 'revival' look more like a three-ring circus than a genuine move of the Holy Spirit. As soon as anyone gets a whiff that God is stirring people, it is only a matter of time before the Traveling Revival Roadshow arrives.

And -- sadly but inevitably -- celebrity leaders attach themselves to this latest "move", the CD's are recorded, the video DVD's are packaged, the claims of miracles and healings are exaggerated (or invented), anyone who exercises discernment is buried alive under a deluge of charis-slogans designed to silence questions, and eventually something causes it all to fall apart (again).

And then people are divided into two groups: (A) the disillusioned who give up, and (B) the die-hards who will just wait for the next circus sideshow anointed event, and do it all over again. (Nothing new under the sun; I wrote about this eight years ago.)
I am praying for a Holy Spirit revival. We desperately need the Real Thing.
Nothing qualifies me as an "awkward continuationist" more than the deep desire for revival -- where Christians are so impacted by the Holy Spirit that they renounce sin in their own lives, are convicted of where they have compromised with the world's thinking, and are emboldened to share their faith in the marketplace as they serve "the least of these".
We don't need another charismania three-ring circus.
We need -- I need -- a Holy Spirit-inspired revival that rocks our world and leads us back to Jesus.