One day, when Jesus was walking in a large crowd, a woman, afflicted many years with an illness, longed for healing from the Messiah. Knowing she could not get his attention in such a large crowd, the woman did all of which she was capable, reaching out, she touched the fringe of His garment. Previously, I had written about this dear lady and her faith. CLICK HERE to read When I wrote about this lady and her faith, I had no idea that God would, almost two years later, use this passage of scripture to launch a ministry
For the past three or four years, I have been trying to fit into a mold that is not me. I cut my hair, took out my earrings and, for the most part covered my tattoos with more business type attire. For the past few years, I have felt like a fish out of water. Over the past few months, I began to realize, I am not being true to the person that God has allowed me to become and am attempting to fit into what society finds acceptable.
My family and I went to the Punk Rock Flea Market in Knoxville, an annual event held at a local tattoo parlor. This is not a mainstream event and most of the vendors and shoppers are somewhat fringey. Plenty of tattoos, piercings, various colored hair in interesting styles and people who were very nice and enjoyable to talk to. This began a stirring in my heart as I considered the story of the lady above, grabbing the fringe of Christ's garment. I wondered, who is reaching out to this segment of society? As we are currently planting house churches in Knoxville, I felt led of God to start a fellowship that would be welcoming to those on the fringe of society, so to speak. With nothing but a burden on my heart, I had no idea where to start.
I shared this with my wife, who is also not a traditional looking church goer, with pierced nose and tattoos, and she was immediately engaged. We began to pray. We began to share this vision with others and others shared their desire to reach out to those not served by traditional church, for various reasons. I shard the idea with my friend Victor and he shared with me his desire to minister with his world renowned band Place of Skulls. Victor had contacted churches and offered to play outreaches, all to no avail. We began to pray. As we prayed, we realized that we both had the same desire to reach the lost and minister to believers who are less traditional. As we kicked around different ideas, Skyler, my son in law became as engaged as Victor and I and together we prayed our way into Metal Mission of Knoxville.
Special thanks goes out to Pastor Brian Smith of the First Heavy Metal Church of Christ in Dayton Ohio. Victor and I conference called with Pastor Brian and he gave us great guidance and encouragement and sent us a goody box filled with t-shirts and outreach material. Up to this point, we had no official name and were, with permission, partnering with Heavy Metal Church. Pastor Brian was gracious enough to allow us to use his logo and bus in our promotional material.
On March 28, 2017, about a week after we agreed the name Metal Mission of Knoxville, we had our first outreach event. Fearing the unknown, we prayed that God would fill the Open Chord club. We were astounded to see a standing room only crowd. Place of Skulls played a 30 minute set, I spoke for almost 20 minutes and Place of Skulls rocked the place out with another 30 minutes of hard driving, God honoring music. The response was more than we could have hoped for. Many people came together behind the scenes to help make the night happen, from prayer warriors to Metal Missionaries putting posters up all over town.
The lady who grabbed the fringe of Jesus' cloak was on the fringe of society, herself. Suffering for a bleeding illness, she was considered unclean and would not have been welcome to approach a religious figure, let alone dare to speak to or touch one. God saw her need and honored her faith by healing her. She may have been an outcast to mainstream society, but God loved her and her needs mattered. Many churches do not welcome people with long hair, tattoos and piercings or denim and leather. Even churches with a policy to welcome everyone do not necessarily know how to minister to or even relate to those outside the mainstream. Where can these people go to serve and have their needs met? Metal Mission of Knoxville hopes to be that ministry.
MMoK has immediate opportunities to serve in the homeless community of Knoxville. Just about every Romans 12 gift of the Spirit is needed to run this weekly outreach. MMoK does not expect people to transform overnight, we believe the work of the Holy Spirit convicts and transforms the heart of the believer. MMoK does not ignore or excuse sin, either. Opportunities to learn and grow exist through home churches and local churches who see the value of such a ministry. Pastor Bryan Glass of Berean Bible Church has been very supportive and engaged. MMoK also has discipleship opportunities available, with a 6 month intensive program that confronts real life issues head on.
Metal Mission of Knoxville is not about being cool or gimmicky, MMoK is about being real. Being real with God, being real about who an individual is in Christ and being real about the transforming power of the Gospel. Come check us out on Facebook to learn more: https://www.facebook.com/Metal-Mission-of-Knoxville-1405236649523179/
Life can be tough as hell sometimes, but Jesus Christ is tougher then Hell!
Saturday, April 22, 2017
Double minded Christianity is destroying the testimony of the church. Failing, as all humans do is one thing, a lifestyle of sin or continuing in a defining sin is quite a different matter. Many believers struggle in matters of faith as each is at varying stages of growth and maturity. The bottom line factor is: are you more submitted to God or the pleasures of the world?
Colossians 3:8-10 But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.
Social media is the great bearer of souls. For some reason, many people feel perfectly comfortable posting a spiritually sound and uplifting meme one moment and a foul language ridden, sexually crude comment the next. We live in a world where we can learn everything we need to know about someone by spending five minutes looking through a Facebook page or perusing a Twitter account.
There was an age when people built relationships by spending time together, conversing, sharing a meal. In twenty first century America, I can find out what movies you like, what music you listen to, what you believe, (or claim to believe) and what type of causes you are interested in. I can find out who you love and you hate, who you admire and who you despise. I can know, not only your political affiliations, but how you stand on almost any political or social issue. All his can be accomplished with out ever speaking or meeting in person. Every post, every like, every share, every retweet, every follow reveals who you are, how you think and whether or not we would get along, if we ever actually interacted face to face.
Social media also reveals your heart... Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other platforms will reveal more of your inner being than you can imagine. Twitter and Instagram are especially telling as much of what is posted on these is quick and impulsive. A hundred harmless posts and tweets, every few days, adds up to a great deal of personal information, inadvertently shared. People are looking and paying attention. Ministry opportunities will be gained and lost based on social media posts. Future employers are looking as well. Before I conduct an interview, I look.
The point to all this is, do not be double minded. Social media will expose you! If you are committed to the cause of Christ, then be committed all the way. 1 Corinthians 10:31 So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.
This includes sharing your thoughts on social media. Think about what is posted and ask, "will this honor or dishonor God?" God makes it clear in scripture, He does not tolerate double mindedness - Revelation 3:15-16 "'I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth." Part of being real with God is being honest about who we are. Pretending to be holier than we actually are will almost always end in embarrassment. Trying to seem cool and trendy is just as lame on social media as it is in person, few people are fooled.
If you are a church going, Bible reading, Jesus spouting Christian, be ever so careful what you like, share and post. Be a consistent witness for the cause of Christ. Do not flaunt your liberty at the expense of someone else's stumbling. If you think it might be wrong, it probably is. Honor God and do not give anyone a cause to accuse you of sin.
Friday, April 14, 2017
While I listened to Maximus by King James today, a cover of the old hymn Just As I Am moved me in an amazing way. As I listened to this metal'd up, bluesy, version of a classic hymn, I could not help but ponder the vast greatness of God vs. my seemingly insignificant place in the universe and God's infinite and personal love for me. I felt incredibly minuscule and overwhelmed by love at the same time. Just as I am - this is how God wants me to come to Him. In all my weakness, in all my fear and in all my inadequacies, God loves me.
I do not need to clean up my act in order to come to God and accept Christ's love and sacrifice, nor do you. The clean up comes after I submit myself to His will through faith in the cross. The clean up is not by my might, nor by my power, but by God's Spirit. Zechariah 4:6 Then he said to me, "This is the word of the LORD to Zerubbabel: Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the LORD of hosts. This is an amazing promise. This is liberating. This is something I can grasp and understand.
In the song Just As I Am, the call is simply as it sounds, come as you are. This means God wants you and your personality. God wants to change destructive practices and attitudes but He does not want to give you a spiritual lobotomy. Each person experiences life in such a way that life shapes us. Our genetics coupled with our environment serve to make us who we are. Each is unique in style and substance. God wants to use you, not some watered down generic version of you.
One of the biggest traps we fall into is trying to conform to what others think we should be or look like, rather than what God thinks. God will reveal the changes that are necessary, and yes, there will be changes in behavior and attitudes as God draws you toward holiness in the sanctification process. Change is a partnership between you and the Holy Spirit.
Won't you join me as I stand before the living God, just as I am, recognizing I have nothing to offer but what He has given me and allow Him to transform you, from who you are to what He wants you to be?
Check out legendary guitarist Rex Carroll and King James on this moving rendition you probably never heard before:
Wednesday, April 5, 2017
Have you ever experienced true love and favor that you know you did not deserve? Have you ever felt singled out for favor by someone who made you feel important? Most people know what it is like to be singled out for ridicule or to be simply ignored. To be singled out as special, for most people, is rare, and even more rare is being singled out as special just because you are you and not for something you have accomplished or have to offer.
In his Gospel account, John the Apostle refers to himself as the disciple Jesus loved. At first, this may seem a bit arrogant or prideful, however, in the context of understanding God, this is a very accurate statement. In fact, this is a statement that any born again believer in Christ can make! I am the disciple Jesus loves...
I have nothing to offer Christ but the abilities and desires He has given me. I possess no astounding talent and have no amazing capacity to love others. The Bible tells us all good things come from the Father. Therefore, if there is any good in me, it is there because God placed it there. Yet, bankrupt of any natural ability, I am the disciple Jesus loves. God does not necessarily love me because of who I am, but because of who He is.
YOU are the disciple Jesus loves! If you were the only one in the world, Christ would have died for you. Society makes us feel inadequate, our failures based on human effort make us feel unworthy, our interaction with other broken people make us feel unlovable, yet... we are loved, individually by the King of all creation.
Do you want to see the disciple Jesus loves? Go look in the mirror and know you have eternal value to the One who matters most, Christ the King!