Thursday, August 21, 2014

TWENTY YEARS AGO???? DC Talk/Larry Norman/Smitty

Was having a facebook "discussion" about end times stuff, and this song rolled through my gray matter...looked it up and was stunned...STUNNED I say...to realize it occurred in 1994...by my count that is two decades ago...how did this happen?

Of course Larry is gone now; and DC Talk evolved into three fairly successful individual careers (and now back in separate groups in two cases)...Smitty is still out there doing his thing...so props to these men for hanging in and continuing to make music that always entertains and often edifies...

I keep hearing rumors of a tour next year featuring the (new) Newsboys, the "how many farewell tours can you do" Audio Adrenaline, and a certain soloist...a tour that will also feature together again DC Talk stuff...hope its true and that its near me and that I can somehow afford it...

Anyway, for those of you of a certain age this may make you feel a tad older; for those of you who are current fans of Smitty or any of the DC Talk guys, this may cause a grin or two...(sorry for the Spanish subtitles, but it's the only one I could find on a quick search)




Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Musical Interlude,..

Wow. Some heated discussion regarding some of my posts and reposts concerning suicide the late, lamented Robin Williams in particular...

I've had private conversations with some, ignored others, and am close to defriending one (who private messaged me saying she hoped one of my kids or wife would commit suicide so I'd "change my tune")...

So I thought I'd take a break and just post some music before I go preach for the next-to-last time to this particular group of teen campers...

If we who claim to be Christians would learn who we are in Christ, our identity in Christ, how precious we are to the Father etc a lot of problems would take care of themselves (note I said "a lot", not "all")

Here's some musical thoughts for your consideration:








And from those great philosophers and theologians, "The Eagles":


And let's never grow too theological, too sophisticated, too "used-to-being-saved" that we forget this:


Observation of the Robin Williams Conversation

I am saddened by much of the "conversation" concerning Robin Williams, depression, and suicide...both here and on other pages etc. I am NOT yelling at anyone, but observing with sadness many, many professing Christians speaking of their own experiences, the experiences of friends, the feelings of themselves and others, the harshness of some writers, the opinions of psychiatrists etc...but NO scriptural reference or point of view. Is Scripture sufficient or is it not?

Has really "no temptation overtaken you except that which is common to man"? Will God really "provide an avenue of escape" for ANY temptation...to include suicide?

"Oh, but Jack, you don't understand."

Correct. As mentioned, though I've had a rather eclectic background, I've NEVER chewed tobacco or considered suicide. That does not make me "better," it is simply a fact. Drugs, Vietnam, prison, and more did not push me, drag me, pull me to the "slough of despond."

Especially since captured by Christ, I find life to be a challenging ride, but not a ride so bumpy that I'd consider checking out...at least to this point.

So I don't understand fully because I've not been there...but if I want to read first hand accounts of depression...I can read many of the Psalms.

David knew some stuff about being depressed...

And if I claim to be a follower of Christ and a believer that His Word of true; I can't and shouldn't argue "just" from experience/feelings./opinions of learned non Christians...Scripture is sufficient.

That does NOT mean simplistic "God will make it okay" "answers" are sufficient, by the way...

Just another indication of the biblical illiteracy rampant in the church I suppose.

Now that's sort of depressing...

Friday, August 8, 2014

What Am I Doing Here?

Writing this from Indianapolis; where Jane, Jacob and I overnighted enroute to the last two teen camps at which I'll be speaking this summer...Penn York in Ulysses, Pa (for Corning Area Bible Club); and Victory Valley in Zionsville, PA (for Pioneers for Christ; a Korean/American ministry; my 26th or 27th consecutive year)

After four weeks of camp speaking already (three teen and one family) it is still hard to fathom summer is ending...

And it is still hard to fathom...what am I doing here? 

Why has God chosen me to do this type of ministry for 36 plus years? Why has He raised up a team of financial and prayer supporters who allow me to go anywhere at anytime to brag on Jesus? Whether it is a camp; a civic organization, a college, a prison, a jail, a one-on-one...whatever the venue, the underlying question: "What are you doing here, Jack?"

My only answer...He is fulfilling His purpose for me. I thank God obviously for salvation at the age of 26; the few years of growth while incarcerated; the Bible school I was privileged to attend, the mentors and others from whom I learned and am learning so much, and the rich history of the church and its leaders who have allowed me to "grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ."

I often tell younger men that I am still "scared" before I preach/teach/speak...if I wasn't it would mean I was relying on myself, my "education," my "experience," etc instead of relying on the Lord.

I continue to be amazed that I get to do what I get to do; and I've a hunch that is why I get to continue doing it.

My chief desire at this point is to finish well, to finish strong, and to be somehow a help to younger men and women in ministry.

The fields are indeed white unto harvest, and the laborers are not only few, but seem to be getting "fewer," especially those who are willing to trust God to provide for their needs through missionary support; who are willing to see ministry is NOT a 40 hour a week "job," and are willing to pour their lives into teens seeking impact, not "decisions."

So  I continue to wonder, "What am I doing here?" while at the same time being incredibly grateful that I get to "brag on Jesus" as a calling.

I do not know anything of Kris's spiritual state...but this song frequently pops into my grey (gray?) matter, and the lyrics put well my question in a different form...

Monday, August 4, 2014

Jesus Junior

Our local deity is not Jesus. He goes by the name Jesus. But in reality, our local deity is Jesus Jr. Our little Jesus is popular because he is useful. He makes us feel better while conveniently fitting into the margins of our busy lives. But he is not terrifying or compelling or thrilling. When we hear the gospel of Jesus Jr., our casual response is “Yeah, that’s what I believe.” Jesus Jr. does not confront us, surprise us, stun us. He looks down on us with a benign, all-approving grin. He tells us how wonderful we really are, how entitled we really are, how wounded we really are, and it feels good. Jesus Jr. appeals to the flesh. He does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him. He is not able to understand them, much less impart them, because Jesus Jr. is the magnification of Self, the idealization of Self, the absolutization of Self turning around and validating Self, flattering Self, reinforcing Self. Jesus Jr. does not change us, because he is a projection of us.
 
Ray Ortlund
Blog Post: Jesus Jr. July 7, 2009

Friday, August 1, 2014

Weekend Observation...

Before I share a quote that, frankly, is rather convicting to me...just a heads up...I am in the process of changing this blog to www.jackhager.com (for a variety of reasons)...that won't happen until I get off the summer road (I am wrapping up my fourth week of camp ministry in northern Wisconsin where I'm speaking at a family camp...will go home for three days before heading to NY and PA for two weeks of camp and two churches)...but did want to share this, to me, slap:

The very concept of “the weekend” is unbiblical. It turns Sunday into a second Saturday. Home Depot may gain, but we lose. It turns Sundayinto the day we catch up on the stuff we were too lazy or disorganized to do on Saturday. It also turns Sundayinto a day to ramp up for work or school on Monday. It hollows out not only Sunday but our whole week, because it marginalizes God and church and sermons and all the other vital things that happen in our lives only when we make the vital things also the central things. If we accept the world’s concept of “the weekend,” we inevitably end up “fitting God in” rather than centering the practical reality of our every week around Him. We trivialize Him, even as we allow secondary things to hijack the sacred place of centrality, we live soul-exhausted lives, and then we wonder why God isn’t more real to us, why church isn’t “working” for us, why we’re grumpy, and so forth.
 
Ray Ortlund

Monday, June 30, 2014

"no gospel at all"

To many of you, this may seem duh-obvious. But, guaranteed, there are many who rarely...if ever...think about the cross...therefore they think not of the gospel...or, worse, they think the gospel is how they get saved; then put it on a shelf. These are important words:

"Surely Paul could have made the gospel more palatable – and less dangerous – by saying it was about something else.

Something cleaner and less ridiculous than the cross.

Something more glorious.

Less disgusting. 

He didn’t do that, though. “I decided,” Paul said, “to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified” (1 Cor. 2:2). 

In the face of the worst cultural prejudice imaginable, he fixed the entire gospel squarely and immovably on the fact that Jesus was tacked to a stauros and left to die. 

If he had been trying to find a surefire way to turn first-century people off from his “good news,” he couldn’t have done better than that! 

So why did he do it? 

It’s simple. 

He did it because he knew that leaving the cross out, or running past it with a glance, or making it peripheral to the gospel, or allowing anything else to displace it at the center of the gospel would make it, finally, no gospel at all."
 
Greg Gilbert

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Clayton's Story...and a follow up

Somehow I missed this five years ago...and it's probably been floating around since but I'd not seen it until my son Joel recently sent it to me...powerful stuff...watch it, then watch the follow up that appears below the first video:

Clayton's Story from Jacob Lewis on Vimeo.

Here's the Directors follow up:

The Rest of Clayton's Story from Jacob Lewis on Vimeo.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

No Short Cuts to Anywhere Worth Going

Although Robertson seems to be competing with the apostle Paul as far as longest sentence goes, this is worth reading a couple times...and heeding more often...

"It is not the number of books you read, nor the variety of sermons you hear, nor the amount of religious conversation in which you mix, but it is the frequency and earnestness with which you meditate on these things until the truth in them becomes your own and part of your being, that ensures your growth."
F.W. Robertson














Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Hollow Eyes

As I was leaving prison this afternoon I was delayed as a group of 20 or so "new guys" came through one of the locked doors. Dressed in orange jumpsuits they ranged in age from probably 17 or 18 to 50+.

I tried to look each one in the eye (yes, most prison officials and the majority of inmates will tell you not to do this; but I try to make even a moment's human contact whenever possible...it has never caused a problem) and silently voice a quick prayer for them.

Some of the eyes reflected terror.

Too many reflected nothing.

The former had probably never been locked up before in a prison (certainly they had done at least some jail time before sentencing).

The latter are probably doing "life-on-the-installment-plan."

As I observed the hardened eyes an oldy moldy Petra song came to mind.

"Hollow Eyes."

The Petra song dealt with starving people.

But the "Hollow Eyes", at least in my mind, applies to the guys who see prison as a revolving door part of their life.

And that is sad.

And it is one reason why I go in whenever I can to try to share the good news of freedom....in Christ.

Here's the song: