Contextualization and the Bible

Scrollb Contextualization – "dynamic process of seeing the message of the Gospel interact with the specificity of the human situation". 

I attempted to illustrate to a group of friends the other night how important it is to know the language of the "land"/culture as we attempt to interpret the bible.  In other words, in order to fully understand what the original writer meant, we have to have a keen awareness of the people, traditions, habits, and lifestyle issues of the audience to which it was written.  It is also the same for those of us who attempt to immerse ourselves in the lives of real people with the presence of the Kingdom of God in/through us. 

We need to interact with culture NOT as an outsider (i.e. judge, critic, finger-pointer) but as one who embodies (incarnates) the Gospel in the midst of reality.  Any other strategy is actually contrary to the way that God has historically and consistently acted in love…when God's power, presence and love is activated in world, it is incarnated and contextualized.  You can see it and experience it with your senses because it is not overly "spiritualized" or mysterious.  As the Apostle Paul says, "God has revealed the mysteries of His will in and through the action/person of Jesus Christ…He will of uniting everyone in Him and with each other is made perfectly clear for all to see, behold and grasp" (see Ephesians 1).  That's the amazing aspect of living and embracing God's mission – to share with someone about the invisible God, we make the Kingdom plainly visible and real in and through our lives, words, and actions.  Contextualization…big word but an important one to understand and to live. 

Don’t settle for the Aquarium when God created you for the Big Blue

Nemo For years, I had aquariums in my home.  Not only did my kids like watching the fish but because we had moved away from the ocean, the aquarium always reminded me of the beach.  I started out with the aquarium habit like most…fresh water and then the big move to salt water. 

I would love sitting in the family room and simply watching the peacefulness of the fish swimming around the aquarium.  I thought to myself what a wonderful humanitarian I was for giving these sea creatures a safe place to live their days.  Then one day, I bought what someone told me was a “pigmy” lion fish…they said it would not grow to be very large.  But over the weeks, it simply became HUGE.  In fact, the larger it grew, the more it had to eat…at first, it would eat one goldfish and then two.  Then after 6 months, it started to eat the other fish in the tank.  Before I knew it, I had a gigantic lion fish who had eaten close to $400 of other fish.  He alone was in the tank as king.

I imagine that this lion fish would thrive in the ocean…the ocean is a dangerous place but it is his natural habitat.  The Lord Jesus reminds us that we have been called to live an adventure…he says, “I have called you as sheep among wolves”.  Never does Jesus say we are called to some peaceful existence…rather we are gifted, loved, called and challenge to live our days as ambassadors of the Kingdom of God in the midst of the reality of life.  So many opt out for the safety of the aquarium life…unfortunately, that's not our "home"…our home is the Big Blue…living in the midst of an often risky world with the promise of God's Spirit dwelling in us and working through us.  Don't settle for an aquarium…swim with the rest of the fish!

Confusingly important to feel

Lolcats-funny-pictures-questionmark I'm confused…and that's good!  After a week with my 92 year old Great Aunt, preparing for the inevitable, talking about her financial woes, dealing with a house that is beyond description, trying to find a way to emotionally reconcile the reality in which she lives, as well as attempting to make sense of it all in a manner that I can continue to live without carrying around excess angst, I'm returning home with confusion – and that's OK.  I didn't expect to arrive at home with all the answers…I rather have new questions that can be addressed and other issues that simply have to be let alone to brew.  I read Job again and was reminded that I don't know everything…will never know anything…can never even dream of knowing everything…and that's got to be OK.  God is God and that is that…I don't say that in a fatalistic, Calvinistic sense but rather in a position of simply acknowledging that I have to let go of some aspects of like that I would LOVE to control but will not and can not.  And that's simply has to be…so, I'm confused and that is important to know, admit and feel.  How about that?

Just when you think you have it together…

Patience_small1 Me and my big mouth…as usual, I was talking to a group of people about the fruit of the Spirit the other day.  EVERY TIME I DO THAT, I take a few moments and do a "ruthless moral inventory" of character issues within me…oh yes…and then I feel pretty good about myself.  I think while I'm talking, "hey, compared to these people, I'm doing OK". 

Well, I really don't think that, but you know what I mean…truthfully and humbly, when I read Galatians 5, I set up on a piece of paper what looks like a group of gas gauges and I ask myself, "how am I doing lately on these Christ-like character traits?"  In other words, am I more loving than I have been over the past few weeks…exhibiting a growing sense of goodness…being positively stretched in faithfulness…you get the picture.  Well, to make a LONG story short…I was feeling pretty good about my "patient quotient" lately UNTIL I was on an airplane yesterday trying to get to Detroit.  After the captain informed us that the cabin pressurization equipment was failing and the temperature in the plane rose to about 110; then having to fly to Utah instead of Detroit, waiting in a 3 hour line for rebooking, etc., I found my patience severely under the microscope.  I should have known…as soon as I pat my self on the back, BAM!  I saw that pic above and I immediately said, "yes, now that I can relate to".  Oh well…I really didn't lose it…just kind of fumed on the inside and prayed…then had to read Romans 2 last night about some thing called pride.  You would think I would learn.  So, now that I've bored you with a snippet of my exciting life, I gotta go and wait in another line.  Yippee!  Grrrrrrrr!

My new favorite blog – Guitar for Worship

 Guitar for Worship – The dude probably doesn't even know who "el kabong" is but it is amazing to mElkabong-731106e how much I am enjoying his blog.  The mysterious Karl on Guitar for Worship (I say mysterious because I can fine NO pic of him anywhere…not on his blog, church website, google search, nothing!).  The blog is not only informative but entertaining…unless of course, you are not a musician or guitar player…then it is simply mindless babble or dribble. 

Otherwise, Karl reviews equipment, makes pithy comments, responds to EVERY post that his readers place on the blog and generally does one thing – promote good tone and good musicianship – all for the glory of God. 

The only thing, and I say this with tongue in cheek, that I don't like is that he is causing me to look seriously at my credit card.  I try to avoid a growing relationship with my card…in fact, I stick my card in hidden places so that I am not tempted to get into a serious relationship with it.  But lately, thanks to Karl, my credit card is beckoning to me…it wants to be used and abused.  If it wasn't for the fact that I have to have serious accountability with my wife and son because I suffer from a serious psychological disorder called, "G.A.S." (gear aquisition syndome), I would be sunk.  I'd be dropping tons of bucks and my credit card would be warm with joy because of use.  So, musicians, be warned.

Otherwise, here is a sample of Karl's work – he is either brilliant or has way too much time on his hands…of course, he is a MUSIC MINISTER – what else does he have to do but play a few songs a look cool on Sundays!  Oh, and buy great amps and pedals…I want to be him when I grow up!

You know you’re a worship leader when…

  • when you schedule a bass player on the team each weekend because
    all the cool worship bands have a bass player; but you’re not entirely
    sure what it is a bass player does
  • when you don’t wear shoes, because the stage is ‘holy ground’
  • when you insist on having reverb in your monitor
  • when you don’t know what type of guitar you play, because you just
    walked into Guitar Center and said, ‘I want the worship leader guitar’,
    and the sales guy handed you one. (And just so you know, you play a
  • when you insist on being cranked in everyone’s monitor, and insist
    on playing your acoustic during the bass solo, and then can’t figure
    out why the drummer can’t follow the bass player over your acoustic
    ‘filling in the dead space’
  • when your current style of hair is directly concurrent to Lincoln Brewster’s current style of hair
  • and if you’re really on the edge, it’s Jon Foreman’s style of hair
  • when you refuse to say Switchfoot, and must refer to their singer as Jon Foreman
  • when you’ve already watched the youtube clips of the opening night
    of the U2 360 tour, and are seriously thinking about putting the
    worship team in the middle of the sanctuary this weekend
  • when you don’t bring an mp3 of the new song you threw into the set
    that morning, but are insistent that the drummer will be able to tell
    from your words, ‘The intro goes like, da da DA, do da-da-da DA!’
  • when you have an effects board because your lead guitarist has one
    and he looks really cool with it, but you’re not exactly sure what to
    do with it, and your electric guitarist ends up plugging it in for you
    each week
  • when you bring sheet music in G, and then say, ‘We’re going to capo this on 3,4,5, or 6…I’m not sure yet’
  • and when your bass player looks at you with the ‘there’s no way you
    seriously just said that’ look, you say, ‘What, you can’t transpose?’
  • when you sing the lyrics to ‘With or Without You’ during the
    ‘Majesty’ chorus because you just heard the brand new and ultra-hip
    band Third Day do it
  • when you sing the ‘With or Without You’ lyrics wrong
  • when you get ticked off at the computer person for not being able
    to follow you on the slides and backgrounds when you sang said ‘With or
    Without You’ lyrics…wrongly
  • when you can literally make an argument in your head for how ‘With or Without You’ can actually have a Christian meaning
  • when you can’t literally make an argument in your head for how
    ‘With or Without You’ can actually have a Christian meaning, but you
    still want to sing it anyway, so you change the lyrics to, ‘I can
    live……with or wi-i-ith You’
  • when you don’t run a tuner on stage for your guitar, but then always look at everyone else when something sounds out of tune
  • when you ask the guitarist to play ‘that crunchy space-sounding thing that ‘Dave’ who played last weekend did on this song’
  • when all your ‘gigs’ listed on your myspace music homepage are all
    curiously listed at 10 AM on Sunday, at the same location each week
  • when you ask the keyboardist if he’s sure he’s in tune
  • when you cycle through 27 background vocalists because no one
    ‘blends well’ with you, before thinking that maybe you’re the one
  • when the keyboardist asks if the F#m you wrote on the sheet music might actually be a D/F#, and you say, ‘Same thing.’
  • when you raise the key on Phil Wickham songs
  • when you insist on the drummer being on a click track, but don’t
    like one in your ears, but then still want to start every song yourself
  • when you play the 17 minute epic rock-opera Mutemath song that no
    one’s ever heard, start it ambient and a-tempo, don’t play ‘exactly’ in
    tempo with the backing loop, repeat the ending chorus 33.5 times of
    accapella, and then when the congregation gives you the blank stare
    instead of singing, you say, ‘They just don’t understand worship.’
  • when you choose your worship setlists in accordance with what will look the coolest on your blog
  • when you’ve desperately searched everywhere for the last 10 years
    to try to find a definition of ‘post-modern’ because you’ve heard every
    worship leader in existence talk about it, but you’ve never really
    heard what it actually means and how to be it
  • when you finally realize that all you have to do to be post-modern
    is to describe yourself as such……oh, and to think that Lifehouse is
    still edgy and relevant


Old friend, John Fischer…with his take on missional living

Johnfischer2 Old friend, John Fischer…musician, poet, author, communicator, and friend for over 30 years…writes columns and articles for a number of publications and movements.  This article is from the Home Church/Simple Church network and explains well the lifestyle of a child of the Kingdom of God.  Enjoy!

Coming Alongside by John Fischer (more on the Fischtank)

I am normally not a fan of ten steps to this or five ways to do that. But for one of my recent talks I came up with these six things to remember about being around those who may not yet be Christians, and thought some of you might find it useful.

1) Assume everyone is searching for God. Why? Because everyone is. We were created this way. God has purposely frustrated humanity by creating us with eternity in our hearts, yet with an inability to fathom what that is or what it means (Ecclesiastes 3:10-11). He has done this so that we might reach out for him and find him though He is not far from any of us for in Him we live and move and have our being (Acts 17:27-28).

2) Come alongside. This is really the crux of it all. Just walk alongside people and enter into their lives. Listen. Talk. Laugh. Cry. Find out where you can contribute and what you can learn. There's something to give and something to receive in every relationship.

3) Point. You don't tell someone what the truth is; you point to it. "There it is over there," or "Here it is in my life." This is why we need to learn to identify truth in the context of the world around us. Truth isn't religious. You don't have to get into a certain posture to see it. It's not something that hasn't been there all along.

4) Find out what people already know before you set out to tell them anything. Don't ever think you have to clear the table and start over. This is why it's so important to listen first. Find out what's already on the table that you can use.

5) You don't have to tell everything you know. Just the next thing.

6) You don't have to correct everything someone says that is wrong. You are not the protector and defender of truth. You don't have to decide where to draw the line. You don't even have to be concerned if someone may be walking away with the wrong idea. You are not that smart anyway because you don't know what's in someone's head. As long as they have something to think about, that's a good thing.

And now here's the one final thing that makes all this possible. It is the most important of all. (This is the one thing that makes all six of these make sense.) We don't save anybody, convince anybody, "win" anybody to Christ or close the deal. All that is God's business. The Holy Spirit is doing this all on His own terms and timetable. We are not salesmen, marketing reps, counselors or prosecutors. We are just friends who come alongside.

Playing with launches

Fire Eater Sets High ‘Tech Integrity’ Bar for Teens

Nationally recognized tech teacher by day, fire eater by night, takes on issues of technological integrity with his new resource Playin’ With  Fort Collins, CO – Fire-eating tech teacher Mark Schreiber has created a new resource, Playin' With, to help parents and teens discuss issues of technological integrity.

Founded by nationally recognized Milken Educator Mark Schreiber, Playin’ With Fire strives to open up the discussion between teens, mentors, and parents on teen tech integrity issues with the use of vivid fiery images, video clips, and discussion-starting questions.  It’s Schreiber’s second resource on his quest to help digital natives, i.e. teens, and digital immigrants i.e. parents, see eye to eye. 

Schreiber has a two prong strategy, teach parents how to use teen technologies and teach teens how to use them wisely. “Teens and parents have a huge gap in their knowledge and use of technology.  Parents assume that their kids are being safe because they are so versed in technology or they over-react and try to take it all away. Neither way is good parenting.  They need to develop a trusting and open relationship and talk about the heart of these issues with their kids.” said Schreiber.  Even if they know 10 times the tech, teens still need the wisdom that their parents and mentors provide. invites teens to take a step in that direction by watching the preview video, taking the challenge to act the same online and off, and then to signing the wall to say that they will live with integrity online and off.

“I’m not just talking about porn or online predators,” Schreiber says in his video clip, “I’m talking about who you are while you’re connected?  What flames are you flirting with in this area?”

The full 10 minute video, ‘Confessions of a Fireater’, is slated to come out this fall with enough fire eating, tech integrity talk, and burning computers,  to get teens engaged on this important topic.

About Mark Schreiber

Mark Schreiber (M.S. Colorado State University) is founder of Playin’ With and No Parent Left as well as a teacher/technology integrator at Frontier Academy in Greeley, CO.  He has received many prestigious education awards such as the ING Unsung Hero Award (08), as well as the Milken National Educator Award (05), which is often toted as the “Grammy of teaching awards”.  Mark Schreiber currently resides in Fort Collins, Colorado and has been teaching technology and fire eating for over 10 years.

Mark Schreiber <> <;

Just about ready to say “bye bye” birdie!

Twitter-logo I was on Twitter again today…I had at least "ten" people who wanted to "follow" me.  At first, celebration…THEN, I checked out (very quickly I might add) who these people are…all were women "looking" for me to follow.  All of them had provocative photos and statements for me to "consider"…all of them had links for me to check out (which I did NOT) that would have ushered me into the porn world. 

Another indication of what's going on in culture?  Yes!  But more than that, it shows anyone how temptation lingers and is subversive in its desire to hook us in unsuspecting ways.  So, I'm praying through the day about whether to dump Twitter.  I've grown fond of Facebook because you can monitor those who join your relational circle.  You can do that with Twitter to a point…so "bye bye birdie"?  More to come….