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The Written Burrito

The Written Burrito

I have never been a writer. Nope, never. I remember knowing in first grade that my handwriting was terrible. SO terrible that when I was doing my homework, where I had to write my spelling words three times each, that I had to slow down so immensely that I could hear a clicktrack in my brain in order to write legibly enough for my teacher to read what I was writing. That concept didn’t change until I was in 6th grade. That previous summer my grandaddy had given us his old computer when he had upgraded. It was a Headstart LX 8088. The operating system was DOS, and we installed GeoWorks. For those of you who are computer nerds, this was the first CD-ROM system, and the CDs were loaded in special cases, Windows 3.1 was too advanced for it. Yeah, it was awesome….to me…at the time.

That year we read the book Secret of NIMH, and were assigned our first MLA formatted paper. I chose to write from the viewpoint of the cat, Dragon. I sat down in front of that awesome computer, booted GeoWorks from the 3.5” floppy and started the word processor. I stared at my cat, Jazz, for a solid half hour and tried to put myself into his personality, and thought about the framework of the book. I wrote a one page paper, printed it, and even made a cover page with a cat clipart, put it in one of those clear report covers with the hard plastic spine that slides on and turned it in. My teacher thought it was awesome and gave me an A. It was awesome. Handwriting was for suckers.

I wrote exactly 1 more creative writing pieces throughout the rest of my school career. It was in 8th grade, and it was my riff on the Declaration of Independence for my civics class. Being the kid that came to school in camos and band shirts with a chain attached to my wallet, and played Magic: The Gathering everyday at lunch, I got bullied and picked on quite a bit at school by the popular kids and told how much of a satanist I was by the fairly large population of kids from one particular youth group from the area. So, my independence was declared from “religious extremists”. Yep, at 13 I wrote a manifesto about how much of a jackwagon Christians were. I quoted scripture and song lyrics. My teacher posted it on the wall of the classroom.

Then came High School. 9th grade of course was a blur of stupidity and class skipping, but that summer I started my first real band. We played Metallica, Creed, Nirvana, KoRn, and Limp Bizkit covers and played a show at a chinese buffet restaurant. Then we started writing original tunes. I was writing lyrics as the singer. Yep, writing, and no, I didnt do it on the computer, so yeah, it was handwritten. Then came my student politics career. All of a sudden I was writing speeches. I was speaking in front of the whole school, then hundreds of people as a state officer, followed by thousands of thousands as a national officer. These speeches had to have substance, and I was writing them pretty much weekly.

I wasn’t a writer though. Nope, not in my head. I was a singer, and a speaker, but not a writer. Fast forward about 6 years and I find myself in Youth Ministry, preaching from the pulpit a handful of times a year, where I had to write full sermons on scripture themes and weekly sunday school lessons. Now I was in ministry, but still not a writer. Then it came, I had made some friends on facebook that started a local faith based magazine, and they were gearing up their online content and asked me to write a blog for them. I agreed and started turning out weekly pieces about this thing I called the Holy Burrito. I was writing…on deadline…for a real publication…but still didn’t call myself a writer. Nope, I was a blogger maybe, but a writer? Nah, my writing style was how I talked, and I was steeped in sarcasm, and probably somebody that made grammar police twitch with anger. I started putting all my writing on my personal blog site. Then the guy that was writing the latest book for I Am Second read my blog, and liked it. He asked me to write for the launch campaign of the book.

Holy crap! Was I a writer now? I don’t know. I kept writing after the magazine and book campaign were over though. I just kept going, admittedly less and less as I didn’t have anything concrete to submit to. Here I sit, writing though. So, where’s the tortilla to wrap all of this up? Maybe, it was all rambling and I have no idea what I’m talking about, but I think the point is that through all of this I ignored something that God had placed in my life to excel at as a true gift from Him, and saw it as one big happy coincidence. What an arrogant thought right? I think maybe. So whether I’m a writer or not, I’ writing, and thankful for doing so.

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Posted by on April 26, 2013 in Ramblings

 

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The Un-Fruity Burrito

The Un-Fruity Burrito

The Un-Fruity Burrito

I never remember my dreams. Ever since I was about 13 and had a strange occurrence of a series dream, I can’t recall many if any of the dreams I have had since. The same was true this morning and pretty much all day today, but then, as I was sitting in a state of prayer, my dream from last night overcame me like I was watching it on a television. I had dreamed of having a conversation with myself. There were two of me, and we were having a chat about the fruit of the spirit. I’ve been thinking about and praying about the fruit of the spirit for a while now, and the dream brought it all to fruition (pun sort of intended).

We were in a room I had never seen before, sitting on couches, and I remember saying to my other self “It’s all that has been on my mind, and I know that it’s where my next sermon, or blog, or video, or song, or something will come from…but for the life of me I just can’t put it down on the page!” and I casually turned to myself and said “Well there’s your problem.” Just as quickly as it came to me, it was over. Im not writing about the fruit of the spirit per se in this. Nope, but I needed the fruit of the spirit to get me here.

The question I have today is a tough one, and I’m thinking it really doesn’t have an answer, but let’s ask it anyway shall we? How do you know another person is saved? I mean, let’s break this down. There are lots of loved ones out there that we want to be reassured we will get to see in the New Creation, and we need to preach the Gospel to them in order to ensure they hear it and can get there right? So, is there a red flag of sorts to say “Hey, this one’s good”?

I recently had a conversation with some of my Burrito brothers about something akin to this. I’ve always said that true Christianity is marked by repentance, and in my personal experience, I feel that my salvation has called me to action. A lot of people don’t share that view though. It’s very much just “Accept Jesus, sit back, and experience Grace” type mentality, but what about folks like Solomon. The dude wrote books of the Bible, built the first dwelling place for God that wasn’t a tent, and is considered to be one of the smartest folks to ever walk the planet. However, there’s nothing in our canon that speaks of his repentance once he got off track with chasing all those lady folk.

Of course, when our loved ones get off track and dive into sin, most people jump into Matthew 18 and make it all the way to that whole “treat them as you would a tax collector” part without taking into account the part before that when he calls this dude Levi, who was a tax collector to be one of the 12. Don’t remember hearing about Levi, yeah that’s because he changed his name to Matthew. You know, the guy that wrote the book that has that whole “tax collector” piece in it. He thought that was important to include, but he was a tax collector, so are we missing a divine irony there?

I’m pretty sure we’re JUST called to love people. I’m reminded of a quote I stumbled across recently “Love the sinner, hate the sin? How about: Love the sinner, hate your own sin! I don’t have time to hate your sin. There are too many of you! Hating my sin is a full-time job. How about you hate your sin, I’ll hate my sin and let’s just love each other!”-Mark Lowry. Yeah, I think that sums it up. We just have to love people, we have to forgive them, and we can’t know the deal they’ve got with the Big Guy.

So, what are we to do with “True Christianity is marked by repentance” and “salvation calls me to action” and things of that sort? Well, we keep living by our convictions there, and we keep on loving the rest of these folks, no matter what, and that’s what sucks about this Christian life so often. We can have as much Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Self Control, Gentleness, and Faithfulness as we want and more and when we are attacked, hurt, beaten, broken, bruised, scarred, put down, or just downright mistreated we can show it all the more by loving the folks that are doing it, regardless of circumstance. An audacious, scandalous, and downright scary love that we know because we did all those things and more to Him, and He loved us anyways.

 
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Posted by on September 6, 2012 in Karis

 

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Boycott The Burrito

Boycott The Burrito

http://www.karismag.com/boycott-the-burrito.html

Ladies and gentlemen, how about a little controversy? Maybe you’re used to me by now, and maybe this isn’t as provocative of a position as I think it is, but based on my newsfeed from the past month or so, a whole lot of people are screaming about boycotting or supporting businesses based on positions they’ve taken on particular hot button issues. Now, I don’t have the desire to talk about the issues themselves for this post, so I’m not going to. The question today is a little more broad. Are we responding correctly?

Here’s what I’m seeing from both sides of the recent arguments. What we are doing is responding to what we are perceiving as an incorrect view with the same hate and vitriol that we are perceiving from the other side. Friends you are killing your cause by using the same tactics you are opposing. So, I have said before that we are called to be “Holy” which literally translates to “set apart”, I have even likened the position to being downright strange, but are we any different if we respond to hatred with hatred, or if we respond to immorality with immorality?

To put it extremely simply, If I didn’t shop, eat, listen to, read, play, or visit things/places that I don’t agree with, I’d be sitting naked, in an empty room, reading my Bible 24/7…I’m pretty sure that’s not what God has called us to do regardless of your side of the argument. To further this, if you call the other side wrong, or hateful, or anything to that effect, you’re not a part of the solution to all of this, you are a part of the problem. To put it in internet talk…YOU’RE DOING IT WRONG. Do you remember those posts and emails flooding you a few years ago telling you to boycott gas for a certain day? How well did that work?

To wrap it all up in a burrito here folks, we are to go tell the world about Jesus, and along the way we are going to encounter things we don’t agree with, it happened to Jesus, it’s going to happen to us too. If our first reaction is fear and attack, pack it up now friends, because that “tolerance” you’re looking for, and that “love” you espouse with lip service and status updates, is about as far from your mind as it is from theirs, and if you’re both that far away from love, chances are you’re probably a lot closer to each other than you realize.

Zach is a father, husband, and social media addict that describes his approach to faith as being a “Charismatic, Evangelical, Anabaptist that loves Orthodox tradition, or just a plain old ‘lover of Jesus’ for short. He is the Youth director at Poages Mill Church of the Brethren and hangs out with an odd group he calls the “Holy Burrito Crew”.

 
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Posted by on July 26, 2012 in Karis

 

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The Healing Burrito

The Healing Burrito

The Healing Burrtio

Well, it finally happened. Last week, my daughter was jumping on a trampoline with my sister in-law. After a few minutes, in she comes crying and hollering about how her ankle hurts. My wife and I take a look at it and get some ice on it, followed by a good soak in her usual Sunday evening bath. It didn’t swell and wasn’t discolored, and after the bath she claimed it was just a little sore and was walking on it, so off to bed and ready for her last two days of school. My wife and I took a look at it before we went to bed that night, and as we did, from a dead sleep, my daughter yelped in pain. It was pretty swollen too. So, first thing in the morning, I made an appointment at the pediatrician. Long story short, after about ten hours spent in 3 different medical offices, my daughter was sporting a brand new, bright pink walking cast complete with boot and crutches. Her ankle was fractured, and with only one school day left before her nine weeks of summer began, she was sentenced to six weeks of wearing this cast.

As I was checking my email that night I came across one of my typical devotional type emails I use to reflect on and sometimes tend to inspire these little rambles I call blogs. The scripture was “Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take. Don’t be impressed with your own wisdom. Instead, fear the Lord and turn away from evil. Then you will have healing for your body and strength for your bones.” Proverbs 3:5-8 Of course, there has been a whole lot of conversation lately between me and burrito brethren as well as my good friends and peers here in the world of Karis about exactly how much misinterpretation and heightened expectations we Christian folk can fall into with scriptures like this one. It’s a rocky road to travel for sure.

A lot of Christian denominations consider healing a major tenet of their doctrine, and certain takes on that can point to just how much faith you have determining just how much healing you see. I personally have seen healing take place through the name of Jesus, right in front of my eyes, instantly, in my own body from my own maladies might I add. I believe it’s a real and true experience for sure. I always try to make a habit of praying over my daughter after I put her to bed every night anyways, so of course, the night my wife and I checked her ankle, I prayed for healing though His will and power. However, come the next day, as I mentioned, we still ended up at the orthopedic specialist to get that cast. Why didn’t Jesus heal my daughter? Was I lacking faith? Was my not quite 7 year old lacking faith? Nope

In today’s modern world we don’t rely on God a whole lot.  If we get sick, we head to the doctor. If we are low on money we get a loan or head to a pawn shop. If we get hungry, we head to the fridge to pick out which of the large supply of groceries we’re going to complain about eating for the third day in a row. Now, when we get sick, and the doctor tells us it’s a cold, so he can’t do anything about it, do we just stop going to the doctor altogether? If he prescribes us a medicine that takes a few days or couple of weeks to get rid of the problem, do we get fed up and give up on the world of medicine? Not typically, so why then, when a divine healing doesn’t take place on our schedule or to our liking do we decide its pointless to ask God for intercession?

Now, my wife and myself have never had any broken bones, save for toes and fingers, in our lives. So the whole experience is a learning curve for us, but my daughter’s nickname has never been Grace, and in all honesty, the fact that she made it to almost seven before anything of this nature happening is in itself quite the miracle. She’s taken a fall down a flight of stairs, ran right into a car door as it opens, and missed her target while trying to jump from chair to couch or other furniture on multiple occasions, all with not so much as a bruise, but playing ring around the rosey on a trampoline with a safety net all the way around it that she has been jumping on since she could jump just didn’t work out for her. She had surgery for a birth defect at age 3, and has had just about every bug, virus, and typical sickness a kid can have. So, suffice it to say, prayer has been a primary tool in our arsenal as parents, but nonetheless, her ankle is still broken.

Does God still heal? Do we lack faith, or just understanding? Is there anything in the Bible that would lead us to believe that any of the wonders and amazements that Jesus promised us the Holy Spirit would deliver us from the time of the Pentecost on have ceased to exist in today’s world? If so, why?

Zach is a father, husband, and social media addict that describes his approach to faith as being a “Charismatic, Evangelical, Anabaptist that loves Catholic tradition, or just a plain old ‘lover of Jesus’ for short. He is the Youth director at Poages Mill Church of the Brethren and hangs out with an odd group he calls the “Holy Burrito Crew”.

 
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Posted by on June 12, 2012 in Karis

 

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The Audacious Burrito

The Audacious Burrito

The Audacious Burrito

* Image credit to volpelino at Flickr Creative Commons

So, I’m not gonna be apathetic, what do I do now? Last time we talked about Apathy, this week, I’m going to the opposite end of the spectrum for another “A-word” and in this case, I want you to be ALL about it. I’m talking about Audacity today. You have to Inspire Audacity. Now, right about now, you may be thinking I’ve completely wigged out and gone against what I’ve always stood for here, but the definition of audacity I’m talking about today is “a bold and blatant disregard for normal constraints”. When looking in a thesaurus you will see a couple of different connotations, and depending on which connotation you take as your audacity mantra, you are either going to be doing it totally right, or completely wrong. The first one relates to courage, the second to impudence. The first one is about love, the second is about ego. Guess which one I’m leaning on here?

Now, audacity in our context means that you aren’t afraid to show that love and that energy that Christ has given you, regardless of your current scenario. You can’t shy away from proclaiming your Love and showing your Energy behind your faith. Again, these things are contagious and when others see that you’re not afraid, they’re a lot less likely to hold back as well. In the book of Romans in Chapter 1 verse 16 it says “I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes.” That’s pretty audacious right?

Now, this also means that you are going to have morals or beliefs that don’t agree with everyone, brace yourself its going to happen, because lets face it, morals are VERY subjective and there are a LOT of people out there in that world to process their own personal take on faith and morals. Here’s where being audacious comes into play with that, DON’T APOLOGIZE! Yes, you don’t agree with them or vice-versa but as long as you love them for who they are, just as Christ has asked of you, then you’re on the right track. You should never be sorry for your beliefs, but you should also never criticize someone else for what they believe is different from you. You can always, however, be the person to show the error of a belief they’ve been wronged by, and we all know that’s a huge part of what we need to do these days, but if they’re wrong, you’re going to have to use more than words to get your point across.

Proof. You have to Provide proof. That doesn’t mean you have to show someone proof that God, or Jesus ever existed. You have to show them proof that they exist through you. Put simply in one verse, Galatians 3:11 Clearly no one is justified before God by the law, because, “The righteous will live by faith”. Have you connected the dots yet? You and only you, can show that you believe and The ONLY way you can really show you believe and get others to believe with you is to DO, all the time, but that’s not all of it. Augustine is quoted as saying “Preach the Gospel always, use words when necessary.” What this means to me is that we have to START, with our actions when we are trying to show someone the Gospel, but we also need to remember that if we’re not telling them it’s because of Jesus, then they really aren’t going to get the whole message.

Now I know that it comes down to the fact that we are human and make mistakes, but that is the beauty of it all.  That’s why making mistakes, and getting rejected is AWESOME. Yep, I know, you think I’m crazy again, but stay with me for a minute. Failure may not be the most tasty burrito on the bar, but without it, the perfection of the success burrito starts to become pretty bland. The thing about failing in front of people, is that you can share that moment and you will all grow, they will see you’re genuine, and you will learn how to possibly better approach the situation next time. On top of that, it’s not really a failure because they heard you, they just might not agree. Being heard is the first step there.

One of my favorite quotes of all time is from Thomas Edison “I have not failed! I’ve simply found 10,000 ways that do not work.” In other words, after you get that rejection, regroup, rethink, and try again later.When you make the mistake, don’t hide it. Get out in front of everyone and let them know what you did, why it was wrong, and the fact that all of that is OK, because forgiveness is the built in save-all catch-all clause of our salvation, plus that’s a pretty basic pillar of Christianity, you know, that repentance thing. My favorite book on leadership has a name for these that isn’t quite Ministry friendly, so for the sake of PC, we will call them OW!Ms, which stands for an “Oh, WOW! Moment”. Yeah, putting yourself out in front of everyone is tough, but the more you do it, the more you grow, and growing is the name of the game, whether it’s in your faith, or career, or just as an individual in learning. So what’s your next OW!M look like? Is it going to be because you were out there with Jesus, or is it going to be because you got cheese and salsa all over your shirt?

 

Zach is a father, husband, and social media addict that describes his approach to faith as being a “Charismatic, Evangelical, Anabaptist that loves Catholic tradition, or just a plain old ‘lover of Jesus’ for short. He is the Youth director at Poages Mill Church of the Brethren and hangs out with an odd group he calls the “Holy Burrito Crew”.

 
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Posted by on May 31, 2012 in Karis

 

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The Apathetic Burrito

The Apathetic Burrito

http://www.karismag.com/the-apathetic-burrito.html

This week, I want to talk about something that drives me up the wall. It’s a quality in people that I truly feel is a cancer that can destroy every good thing someone has ever accomplished, Apathy. Apathy is defined as lack of interest in or concern for things that others find moving or exciting. Now, when it comes to worldly things, like certain sports or types of music, or what not, apathy can be acceptable. Simply because no one expects you to be fervent about everything, however, when you take up a cause, such as proclaiming your faith, it should be expected that you act as thought it matters to you.It’s easy to see that myself and my family are avid Alabama football fans. This is obvious by looking at our car, the flag in front of our home, the hair-bows in my daughter’s hair, we even have cups, plates, and forks. That’s because we love Alabama football, and we are not ashamed to proclaim it.

The same is true of our faith. We send our daughter to a Christian school, we read her Bible stories, we frequent Christian clothing and book stores. We talk about it, were not ashamed of it. This is what truly following the cause is about.

Now, there are a whole lot of people that will say they are Christians at church or when they are around other people that share their faith. The hard thing is displaying it outward and openly. Ive said it before in other lessons but it has become less and less “cool” to be Christian. It’s our job to make it ok, and show that you can be virtually any type of person in the world today, and still be a Christian. now, as I ahve said before, we don’t need to be cool, we need to be strange, but in the long run, we need to show people that they belong and are accepted just as much as we are. People that are apathetic about it, go out and do nothing. Not that they consistently go out and sin or consistently trash the faith or anything like that, they simply do nothing. The thing about that is in a lot of cases, that is just as bad or worse than being one of the people that do go out and openly trash faith of any kind. The ones that are apathetic about it do just as much harm. Lets go ahead and go into a Bible verse and pick up to close. Its 2 Timothy 4:3-4

3For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. 4They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.

As illustrated in the verse above, people, when it suits them, will follow a token of faith, when it doesn’t, they will find like minded people and follow that doctrine to suit that cause and feel better about the choice that they are making, and what is seen in a lot of cases, is they don’t want to be told to put action behind it. As a people, we’d much rather just sit around and do nothing.

So, the question lies, are you one to go out and be fervent, be a fan, or be someone that goes out and does nothing. Just remember Apathy accomplishes nothing, and allows anything to come and lay waste to what you have.

Zach is a father, husband, and social media addict that describes his approach to faith as being a “Charismatic, Evangelical, Anabaptist that loves Catholic tradition, or just a plain old ‘lover of Jesus’ for short. He is the Youth director at Poages Mill Church of the Brethren and hangs out with an odd group he calls the “Holy Burrito Crew”.

 
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Posted by on May 24, 2012 in Karis

 

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Lord, Save Us Some Of That Burrito
Cover of "Lord, Save Us From Your Followe...

Cover via Amazon

Lord, Save Us Some Of That Burrito

So, you may have picked up in some of my past writings that I’m a bit of a netflix documentary junky, and I’ve gotta say that I remember well when my neighborhood video store was going out of town I came across a movie called “Lord, Save Us From Your Followers” and was intrigued, but way more interested at the time in picking up that copy of the Friday the 13th remake, plus Jason was two bucks and “Lord, Save Us…” was like 8, and I was heading to lunch afterwards, so money (and burritos) were talking. Fast forward a couple months and the Jason flick had disappointed me (and made me cry everytime I heard the directors name attached to a remake of my fave franchises) and I was flipping through Netflix looking for something to watch when the bumper sticker covered jumpsuit caught my attention again. I watched it and immediately regretted passing up what is probably in my top 5 favorite movies ever, and discovered that there were more people than just me and my Holy Burrito Crew out there trying to start conversations for the sake of Christ. Fast forward again, and one of my Burrito Brethren challenged me to try to contact the filmmaker/bumper sticker guy for an interview, since he was evidently a kindred spirit in the cause of the Burrito. I reckon it was a good idea, because shortly thereafter I was talking to Dan Merchant and gotten the interview. So, without further pontification, what follows is the interview (my first interview) and a product of one of the coolest connections I’ve made in my Ministry career.

1 – Dan, first off, HUGE thanks for being open to an interview. I think the more we can spark discussion the better off we will all be, and that’s why I love “Lord, Save Us From Your Followers” so much. I think you did an awesome job at reinforcing the theme that conversation is what’s going to get us there. So, because of that, I have to ask, where has the conversation taken you since the film released, from the tour that ensued to where you are now?

The conversations that have sprung from Lord, Save Us have been really energizing and encouraging.  My favorite examples have been when disparate groups have come together to screen the film and talk about it.  For example, an Evangelical church in LaJolla, California partnered with the LaJolla Jewish Community Center to present the film and host the Q&A afterwards and the conversation was really positive, healthy and life affirming.  Next week I’ll be at Oregon State University with the film – a guest of the Rainbow Continuum (a Pride group on campus) and Campus Crusade.  Odd partnerships unless we remember that God made us all and loves us all – then it seems pretty obvious that we can be together.  Ha.  Also, the movie has aired on religious TV and the PBS station in Seattle in recent months – two ends of the spectrum again – and the film is received warmly and does it’s thing positively provoking thoughts, questions and conversations.

2 – I’m a big fan of social media (or you could call me an addict or a nerd, whichever) and I think it’s a great resource available to us these days, do you think it’s an important part of the conversation?

I think Social Media is inevitably going to be part of the conversation going forward but it’s not my favorite thing. It does a great job of connecting/introducing people to each other without requiring too much, but the face to face “I’m talking to a real person” thing can get lost pretty quickly when we are really interacting with a screen.  It’s a very different conversation to speak directly with someone, see their expressions change, hear their voice and so on.  It’s interesting to consider that person across from you as a fellow image bearer of God – it’s more difficult to dismiss them when they’re right there in front of you.  It’s not too hard to dismiss a goofy screen name which is banging out misspelled words and using ALL CAPS and lots of !!!!!!!!! to make their points.  Ha ha.  So, I think Social Media is limited but perhaps it will evolve or we’ll figure out a way to focus on it’s strengths.

3 – One of the big things that keeps coming back around in your movie, is that people perceive Christians as the people that are pointing fingers and calling other sinners. Is there a part of the conversation where we address sin, or do we need to keep trying to get rid of the plank in our own eye first?

The way I read the Bible, it seems we all have been given our roles.  God the creator is the judge, the Holy Spirit can convict, Jesus is the reconciler and Christ gave us the job of loving one another.  Our job is assist in reflecting God’s love, living out his commandment’s for the purpose more fulling knowing him and sharing him with those who don’t yet know him.  So, that’s a pretty tall order for us without copping God’s duties or the Holy Spirit’s duties.  I believe that through relationships we create space for the Holy Spirit to work.  I love the story of the Adultering Woman where Jesus faces down the angry mob (who were “right” by the way, they had the law on their side) and he asks them, “Who here is without sin?  They may cast the first stone.”  Jesus was the only one qualified to stone the woman.  Why doesn’t he?  The mob disperses, “Where are those who condemn you?  Neither do I condemn you.”  Huh?  Wha?  If you are the woman, how do you feel right about now?  Thunderstuck, perhaps?  Loved, probably.  Only then does Jesus offer, “Go and sin no more.”  Which, in the context of this story feels like, “Honey, when you behave this way you are only hurting yourself, taking you away from God and the beautiful life he has for you.”  Then she leaves.  We don’t know what happens to her.  What does she choose?  Does she turn her life toward God?  We never find out.  But I think Jesus is giving us the blue print for how to address sin.  Stand up for the person in pain, risk your life before the self-righteous mob if necessary, refuse to judge or condemn this person, and give them a way to God.  Give them something to say “yes” to.  Give them a way out of whatever mess they’re in.  I believe when we approach difficult situations in this way we’re creating room for the Holy Spirit to show up.  Maybe we are given the right words or some certain act to do or maybe the Holy Spirit speaks only to their heart.  I don’t know.  Not my job.  I can tell you that when others have treated my with such loving kindness when I was in the midst of major screw up it absolutely helped me see how real and tangible God can be in my daily life.

4 – What do you see as the most important piece of the conversation today?

I’m not sure there is a single biggest part of the conversation today.  Certainly, the standard political hot buttons are an entry point for many but then so are the amazing outreach and relief efforts going on in the aftermath of natural disasters or whatever.  The most important part, I’d say, is that we need to be willing to have the conversation with those we are around and see what God has for us to do.  I just finished a screenplay about a church that has, in essence, adopted a struggling public high school – because they asked, ‘How can we help?’  I like that conversation.  It’s pretty tough to love our neighbors when we don’t even know them.  So the conversation is just a place to start and then see where God leads.  I see an awful lot of God matching up gifts with people who need that exact gift.  A church in a public school?  No preaching?  No tracts?  Just loving them and meeting as many needs as they can?  Yeah, that sounds like Jesus.  When it gets weird like that I tend to believe God is in the middle of it somehow.

5. Where do you see the biggest opportunity for progress in the U.S. Christian community in the coming years?

I guess I’m seeing some really encouraging movement of the church going from “a big mouth” to “the hands and feet of Christ”.  I see God appearing in the difficult complicated work that comes when we are truly willing to love our neighbors as ourselves.  More please.  This is a tough time in our country, socially and economically, and the opportunities to love and heal are as diverse as every personality reading this interview.  God needs all of us to be obedient and find the way he wants to use us to love others and make real his truth.  That’s a big opportunity for the church especially if we can realize that Sunday morning is 10 or 20 percent of who we should be as a church.  There is lots of work to be done and for so many who will never darken the door of a church this is the language that will communicate God’s truth.  Jesus said our deeds are to bear fruit – that makes sense to me.  If there is no nourishing fruit in your ministry but a lot of yelling and finger pointing then I’m probably going to have some hard questions for you.  Ha.

6. What’s been your favorite piece of feedback you have received about the project so far?

I’m just grateful, as an artist and a believer, that Lord Save Us appeals to virtually everyone.  People connect to the film on a pretty deep level because it’s about important stuff.  Even though I have some wild and light hearted ways to tell the story, people do take the subject matter seriously and seem pleased I made an effort to entertain them along the way and leave the conclusions up to them.  The feedback varies only slightly from group to group, but everyone could see it was sincere effort on my part to do a difficult thing: tell an honest and open story about this intersection know as faith and culture.  Everyone DOES have a dog in this fight and Us and Them are not the only options.  Most people, deep down, sort of like this notion of WE.  Ha ha.  So to learn that I’m not alone in this has been a great relief.  Ha.

7 – In what I can gather from watching the film a couple hundred times so far, it seems you’re a big U2 fan, what other sounds fill your soundtrack these days?

Yeah, I’m a big U2 fan.  Discovered R.E.M. right about the same time (end of high school).  Coming of age in the late 70’s, the hard rock hey day, I have a soft spot for loud guitars.  I’ve been rocking the new Van Halen disc lately, new Rush, live Tragically Hip and a live David Bowie disc from his last tour which is amazing.  Throw in a little alternative country from the Old 97’s and Kathleen Edwards and that new Black Keys disc and I think that fills up most of this weeks tunes.

8 – In the movie, you speak to Rick Santorum about a lot of the issues. Do you think he’s being authentic to those statements now that he’s been in the presidential race?

Yeah, I did receive a lot of email when Rick Santorum was winning primaries.  All I can say is that Rick struck me as a sincere guy, I believe he believes what he says he believes.  As a politician he probably thinks of things more in terms of policy than I have to.  I suppose I would err on the side of the relationship rather than winning a given issue – because regardless of the legislation it’s still a matter of God and an individual and that’s what I’m focused on.  That said, I don’t envy the way politicians have to shoe-horn their beliefs into that political paradigm.  I think Rick was also in the place of trying to differentiate himself as a candidate and so certain, very conservative positions were elevated into the conversation, given more weight than, I suspect, even he would’ve liked.  But that’s politics.  The whole deal is a man-made power structure.  I find it interesting Jesus just didn’t want to play that.  Billy Graham even expressed remorse about dabbling in “temporal issues” with political figures because that participation may have driven people away from God.  Tricky business, trying to do the right thing.  Let me also say I enjoyed visiting with Santorum quite a lot, and that a lengthy conversation (fairly represented in the film, I believe) leaves a very different impression than random sound bites hyped on the news or the odd competition that is a candidate’s debate.

9 –  What’s the hardest question you’ve been asked through this whole process, and how has it affected the way you’ve approached other questions in the conversation?.

The most difficult questions really come from truly conflicted Christians who just can’t quite wrap their heads around the idea that God made everyone, God loves them and the same deal is open to them as was to us.  Sometimes I’ll meet people who seem to feel people need to qualify for our friendship or for God’s love.  Stop doing those, don’t be that, just do this and THEN you can come in to the church or my home or receive my friendship or God’s love or whatever.  We do have a hard time trusting God.  And, at times perhaps, we don’t want to believe we’re really supposed to love one another the way he loves us.  My “proof” is that I can be right about everything WITHOUT GOD but loving the unlovable (my tribe) is something I can only attempt WITH GOD.  That seems like a pretty good clue to me.  Ha.

10.  Finally, I’ve gotta ask you – If someone were to walk up and ask you “Can God make a burrito, so big, and so spicy, that He Himself cannot eat it?” how would you respond?

Scratch that.  The hardest question I’ve been asked is your, “Can God make a burrito so big that he can’t eat it?”  Congrats Zach.  I’ve never been asked this question and I was actually getting comfortable that I’d heard all the questions.  Ha.  Hmmmm.  Yes.  God can make a burrito so big that he can’t eat it but I imagine he’d quarter it eat the massive burrito for lunch over the next few days.  I can probably back that up scripturally but you’ll have to give me a couple days…think there must be something in the Old Testament somewhere that covers this.  Ha.

Thanks for taking the time to answer the questions and help me further the conversation too. Any final thoughts, comments, or favorite burrito recipes?

Lord, Save Us From Your Followers – Deluxe DVD (bonus features, small group videos, music video) is available at http://www.lordsaveusthemovie.com.  The Lord, Save Us book (yes, I wrote a book) is available at amazon.com and most on-line bookstores.  The film is also on Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime.  Join the Lord, Save Us From Your Followers Group page on Facebook.  And you can follow me on Twitter at  LordSaveUs (I think, might be BumperstickerDan – I’m still learning – ha).

Zach is a father, husband, and social media addict that describes his approach to faith as being a “Charismatic, Evangelical, Anabaptist that loves Catholic tradition, or just a plain old ‘lover of Jesus’ for short. He is the Youth director at Poages Mill Church of the Brethren and hangs out with an odd group he calls the “Holy Burrito Crew”.

 
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Posted by on May 8, 2012 in Karis

 

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