PC 15 The Cape

PC-15-CapeWhat good hero set in a period time would be complete without a cape. In this cut of the cut of the established cultural fabric the hero ties his cape around his neck. The idea is to make a bold statement and give the established cultural norms something to think about.

Y’all have fun,
Richard

PC 14 The Mask

PC-14-Mask I hope it is clear this is the first of three images. The fox is also Zorro, and this tiny series is depicting the change from being a care free red fox to that vigilante all dressed in black and helping the people. Keep checking back this week to see the rest of the transformation.

Y’all have fun,
Richard

The Streak!

Sermon Script: 2Sam 6:14-23; John 14:1-6
Sermon Purpose: Our allegiance to God should shape all the pieces of our lives.
Sermon Title: “Rebellious Allegiance”

Let’s have a show of hands this morning. Have you ever done something crazy or embarrassing for God? No? Nobody? How ’bout some examples to help y’all think of something you might have done. Some people get embarrassed at the idea of putting one of those fish stickers on the back of their car, or of raising their hands to honor God during worship. Some people don’t like to read their Bible in public. It could be embarrassing if people started asking questions. Others get embarrassed or uncomfortable when we start talking about tithing. Heaven forbid someone admits they give the full tithe in church. Talk about arguments among family members. But you see that’s how culture works. It’s like peer pressure. To keep a society civil we put all of these pressures on each other. The pressures are meant to keep people from doing things which would disrupt society and cause chaos. Even though we have freedom of speech in this country it is a cultural no no to shout, “Fire!,” in a crowded movie theater. Fifteen years ago most adults smoked cigarettes. Now it is almost unacceptable to smoke anywhere. Culture puts pressure on people to behave in ways culture accepts otherwise people feel embarrassed or they are shamed by their friends and family. However, in this morning’s passage King David takes a different perspective and finds joy in showing his rebellious allegiance to the Lord.

Now according to Old Testament law there are a few things a person just was not supposed to do. Eating food offered to idols was bad. Worshiping other gods would get you into trouble. And streaking was frowned upon (Genesis 9:20-27). Streaking would get you and your whole family into trouble because anybody who would expose themselves in public must not be right in the head. If that person isn’t right in the head then their whole family must be a little bonkers. Why didn’t their family stop them from streaking in the first place? If the family is bonkers then nobody wants to do business with the family, or even be around them. Suddenly the community support needed for survival in the ancient world is gone. That’s a problem. That was the Old Testament’s way of keeping people in line, and keeping them safe. Now, here comes David.

God finally allows the Ark of the Covenant to be brought into the city of Jerusalem and David is dancing before the Lord. It would appear king David is dancing butt naked before the Lord. Before the Lord and all of the people who gathered to see the Ark of the Covenant being brought into Jerusalem. David is dancing in front of the people, and the servants, and the women, and their female servants. David’s wife Michal, the daughter given to David by the former king Saul, was not impressed. Michal was not happy about David’s scandalous and embarrassing act. She found it culturally unacceptable as a woman brought up properly in the king’s house might. Michal set out to shame David and scold him for his embarrassing act. David’s response cuts through all of the culture stuff. David’s response shows Michal, and tells the reader the laws and customs of man are not nearly so important as the worship of God. David tells his wife, Michal,

It was before the Lord, who chose me above your father and above all his house, to appoint me as prince over Israel, the people of the Lord – and I will make merry before the Lord. I will make myself yet more contemptible than this, and I will be abased in your eyes. But by the female servants of whom you have spoken, by them I shall be held in honor” (2Sam 6:21-22).”

Michal is then punished for what is shown to be an allegiance to the culture of her day instead of a devotion to God. Michal goes to her grave having never given birth to a child.

It’s important that we understand what is going on here. In ancient cultures a woman’s worth was based in her ability to provide children for her husband, specifically male children. A woman who could not bear children was deemed worthless, and could be divorced. Worse than that if she out lived her husband she would have no one to care for her in her old age. To not be able to bear children was a mark of shame. Ironically, Michal is punished by the same cultural standards she tried to use to shame David. I think there is a message for us in this passage as well. When we pledge our allegiance to the things of this world ahead of our allegiance to God we cut off the fruitfulness of the ministry God has created us for and called us to.

Did you know that for the first 300 years of the life of the Church, Christianity was illegal in the Roman Empire. Not only was Christianity illegal, there were government sponsored persecutions of the Church. The most brutal persecution came under the emperor Diocletian (284-305 B.C.)[1] who ordered those who confessed, “Jesus is Lord,” instead of, “Ceasar is Lord,” to either be torn apart by wild animals in the coliseum, or to be publicly crucified along the road side – often naked. These public crucifixions were meant to be a deterrent for anyone else who might refuse to worship Ceasar. The persecutions failed. Christianity grew and even flourished during the reign of Diocletian. During the Diocletian persecution the Apostle Paul and Silas traveled through Thessalonica where a man named Jason offers them food and lodging. Some men of the town didn’t like what Jason had done. They came to arrest Paul and Silas, but when they cannot find Paul or Silas they arrest Jason. When they drag Jason before the town council these men charge Jason with harboring those who, “have turned the world upside down…”(Acts 17:7).

Please hear those words church. Through devotion and allegiance to Jesus Christ over Ceasar, over nationalism or patriotism; over consumerism or privatized religion, over the culture of their day, and the culture of our day; those who pledge their allegiance to Jesus Christ actively turn the world upside down. Sisters and brothers when was the last time our allegiance to Jesus Christ turned this city up side down? When was the last time our allegiance to Jesus Christ turned the streets where we live up side down? When was the last time our allegiance to Jesus Christ turned our church right side up? The Gospel cannot be tamed by culture. When we allow our culture to tame the rebellious nature of the Gospel our fruitfulness for ministry dies. Here’s the proof.

In 305 BC the emperor Constantine came to power, and he recognized this struggle between those who declared allegiance to Jesus Christ instead of Ceasar. He basically decided if you can’t beat’em, join’em. In 313 BC Constantine issued the edict of Milan and made Christianity legal. Heresy followed. “Christians began to value honor, and prioritize a worldly system, ideology, and politics over the kingdom of God.”[2] “For God and country,” became the unifying statement of the Church instead of “Jesus is Lord.” Christianity stopped being rebellious, and while the Church did grow after 313 BC Christianity became more beauracratic and less rebelliously life changing.

In all of the centuries that have passed since it has been those who have shown rebellious allegiance to God over their popular culture who have sparked the greatest change. John Wesley sparked the Great Revival in the 1700’s which spread the emphasis of Salvation by Faith across Europe and the American continent because Wesley was deeply unsatisfied with, “not being as bad as everyone else.”[3] That great, defiant leader of the anti-Nazi party; Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1906-1945) was a German Lutheran pastor who publicly spoke out against Adolf Hitler and was hung in the Flosenburg concentration camp just days before Germany surrendered to the Allies in 1945.[4] This year marks the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s march on Selma, as he and others offered nonviolent protest against a culture which prevented justice for African Americans.[5] For the Gospel to be good and have its power over our world we must not treat Jesus Christ as a tame lion. I think C.S. Lewis was right when he writes again and again in the Chronicles of Narnia that we cannot expect God or Aslan to act as we would like. After all, He isn’t a tame lion.

Sisters and brothers if our Lord Jesus Christ is not tame then neither should our allegiance to Jesus Christ be tame. Our allegiance to Jesus should not further tame our culturally accepted practices of Christian faith. Our allegiance to Jesus Christ should bring about a revolution of Christian faith. At a time in our country when going to church has widely fallen out of fashion tithing is no longer a culturally acceptable thing to do. And yet we cry and complain when our taxes go to pay for welfare. If we want to stop the hand outs and start the hand ups then we need to get rebellious with the way we spend our money. We need to tithe to put the money in the hands of those living in our community who know the people who are honestly looking to get out of a bad situation. We need to be supporting those who know too well who the people are who are not looking to work and only want a free ride. This should be the job of the church to be the hands and feet of Christ and not the Federal Government. Rebellious Allegiance to God changes who we spend time with. Let’s try this. How about a show of hands? How many of you spend time each week with people outside your circle of friends? Church, how are we going to be invitational for Jesus Christ if we never see anybody new? Rebellious Allegiance to Jesus Christ requires us to step out of our comfort zones to talk to people we don’t know if we are ever going to, “Make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost, and to teach them to obey all that [Christ] has commanded us” (Matthew 28:19,20). Sisters and brothers now is not the time to get comfortable in our pews. Now is the time jump up off of our pews and to start a revolution of grace and faith in our community. Our rebellious allegiance to Jesus Christ should change the way we see being vulnerable for Jesus Christ. Our rebellious allegiance should change the way we see other people, the way we spend our money, with whom we spend our time, and the way we prioritize our lives. Before we leave this morning everyone here needs to ask themselves, “Is Jesus Christ really the Lord of my life, and if He is what needs to change to show the world who matters most to me?”

In the name of Jesus Christ,   Amen.

[1] Mike Slaughter, RENEGADE GOSPEL: The Rebel Jesus, (Nashville: United Methodist Publishing House 2014) 30.
[2] Ibid., 42.
[3] Kenneth J. Collins, John Wesley: A Theological Journey, (Nashville: Abbindon Press 2003) 26.
[4] Mike Slaughter, RENEGADE GOSPEL: The Rebel Jesus, (Nashville: United Methodist Publishing House 2014) 43.
[5] Ibid., 46

PC 12 & 13 Fox Makes A Change

PC-12-&-13-FoxOkay. This maybe a little cheat, but I am calling this personal challenge submission 12 and 13 because I’ve drawn the fox twice in this doodle and both times in different poses. This took a while due to my extra busy schedule as of late, but it was worth it to put in the extra time. The story picks up where the left image left off.

Pentel soft brush pen, carmine col-erase pencil, felt tip pen and pentel .04 ball point pen.

Y’all have fun,
Richard

PC 11 Fox

PC-11-FoxI think this guy is going to turn into some kind of story so look for these posts to start coming a little further apart as it takes me longer when I, you know… try to do something specific. Again, this is all as time allows. Part of the reason this takes longer is because I start throwing out drafts that don’t fit what I’m trying to pull off. Like this one. PC-11-(rough-draft)-fox