Counterculture. . .

“Go into the culture and speak the language of the culture so that you can be a counterculture for the culture.”

I love this word. It speaks volumes of what followers of Jesus are supposed to be in this world. At my church we use this word practically every week. It’s in our DNA. But the word is often left undefined. What is a counterculture? What does it look like to plow one? Why do I have to be one? Am I plowing it already?

We sometimes talk about what that might look like in praxis; in fact, when talking about our lifestyles we often refer to that as counterculture. Sometimes we might say something like, “living out the gospel.”

Before I dive into what that looks like practically, I want to create an image of what that might look like philosophically.

If you’ve ever studied music, you’ve probably heard of counterpoint. Essentially, counterpoint is the relationship between two independent melodies that together create euphonic harmony. In a contrapuntal line, the once independent melodies become interdependent. One melody is completely distinct from the other melody, but when brought together they don’t clash. In fact, they create a beautiful harmonic line.

Counterculture works in a similar way. Culture may be moving in a certain direction, and a counterculture moves in a completely different direction, but this counterculture doesn’t attack the culture. It’s not an anticulture. To pull from my opening quote: we need to be “a counterculture for the culture.” In other words, we work for the good of the culture around us.

For many years modern evangelicals and fundamentalists have been caught up in a “culture war,” firmly believing that the culture was the enemy, and Christianity is responsible for making it right.

But if you look at the world around you, you’ll find endless possibilities for the gospel to infiltrate and come alongside this culture, creating a distinctly beautiful counterculture.

So what does this look like in praxis? Well, it’s different for every church. But look around you. You’ll soon discover the heartbeat of the culture you’ve been placed in.

What about for the individual? Perhaps that’s a little easier to answer. God requires certain things of his followers, but there’s one command he gives that encompasses all other commands.

Love.

“Love me. Love your fellow disciples. Love those around you who aren’t disciples. Love those who hate you for being a disciple.”

And what does that even look like? Perhaps it’s partnering with a local soup kitchen and helping to care for those facing poverty. Perhaps it’s taking that homeless person walking up and down your block everyday out to lunch. Perhaps it’s sitting next to that despondent guy at the bar in your local tavern and listening to his story.

Perhaps it’s choosing to not ogle the women at your office, to care more about your coworker’s wellbeing than your own, to deflect praise for a “knocked-out-of-the-park” project from yourself to your teammates, to value your community above your individuality.

And when someone asks, “Why do you live the way you live?” you can say,

“Because the God I serve stepped out of his comfort zone and said, ‘I love you’.”

It’s all in the style. . .

I don’t know about you, but there are certain styles of music that really speak to me. There are styles that I like, styles that I don’t like, and styles that disarm me and move me emotionally.

I like indie rock, electronica, and alternative (not this kind of alternative, this kind of alternative). I don’t like baroque, screamo, or metal. And post-grunge, alternative rock, and opera disarm me and move me emotionally.

So you can imagine which styles God will use to reach my heart. But one thing I’ve learned is that what works for me may not work for someone else.

The traditional song “The Solid Rock” never really spoke to me growing up. For some reason I just never felt like I totally connected with the words, and they didn’t resonate with me. But I heard it again a couple years ago sung in alternative rock, and now it’s become one of my favorite songs.

So what about you? What style speaks to you?

A?

or B?

And which style do you think would resonate with your neighbor?

Armistice: First impression. . .

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Last Friday I had the opportunity to listen to the new MUTEMATH album Armistice. Okay, so I’m a little partial here, but it’s one of the most amazing albums I’ve ever heard.

I won’t go into a whole ton of details, but suffice it to say that this is an album you don’t want to miss.

As Paul Meany was recounting how this latest album came to be, I couldn’t help but be more impressed by the care that went into putting this record together.

The band wrote 36 new songs while they were on the road touring for their debut album.

None of those appear on Armistice.

They scrapped them all and decided to create a completely new, cohesive sound for this new CD.

I hope you come to love it as much as I do. It releases August 18.
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“This is my prayer”. . .

“Desert Song”
~Brooke Fraser

This is my prayer in the desert
When all that’s within me feels dry
This is my prayer in my hunger and need
‘My God is the God who provides’
This is my prayer in the fire
In weakness or trial or pain
‘There is a faith proved of more worth than gold
So refine me, Lord, through the flame’

I will bring praise
I will bring praise
No weapon formed against me shall remain
I will rejoice
I will declare
God is my victory and he is here

This is my prayer in the battle
When triumph is still on its way
‘I am a conqueror and co-heir with Christ
So firm on his promise I’ll stand’

I will bring praise
I will bring praise
No weapon formed against me shall remain
I will rejoice
I will declare
God is my victory and he is here

All of my life
In every season
You are still God
I have a reason to sing
I have a reason to worship

I will bring praise
I will bring praise
No weapon formed against me shall remain
I will rejoice
I will declare
God is my victory and he is here

This is my prayer in the harvest
When favor and providence flow
‘I know I’m filled to be emptied again
The seed I’ve received I will sow’

Modern hymn of the week. . .

“Beautiful the Blood” by Steve Fee

I never knew death could be so sweet
I never knew surrender could feel so free
I’ve never seen such meekness in majesty
That the blood of Jesus was bled for me

And now I’ll sing freedom for all my days
It’s only by the power of the cross I’m raised
The King of Glory rescued me

How beautiful the blood flow
How merciful the love shown
The King of Glory poured out
Victorious are we now

I never knew through these nails would love unfold
I never knew these wounds would heal my soul
I’ve never seen such beauty and sorrow meet
The blood of Jesus was bled for me

And now I’ll sing freedom for all my days
It’s only by the power of the cross I’m raised
The King of Glory rescued me

How beautiful the blood flow
How merciful the love shown
The King of Glory poured out
Victorious are we now

How beautiful You are
How merciful You are
How glorious You are
Christ our Savior

Modern hymn of the week. . .

“In the Cross Alone I Glory” by Brian Petak

In the cross alone I glory
Recognition laying down
Greatest treasures count as worthless
Standing next to heaven’s crowns
Standing next to heaven’s crowns

In the cross alone I glory
Ever reaching for the prize
Pressing on and laying hold of
That for which my Savior died
That for which my Savior died

In the cross alone I glory
Nothing of my own to give
Only that which Christ has offered
For my soul that I may live
For my soul that I may live

In the cross alone I glory
Holding fast the Word of Life
Toiling not in vain but being
Poured out as a sacrifice
Poured out as a sacrifice

Never will I seek the glory
That was never meant for me
Always heavenward reflecting
All to Jesus to receive
All to Jesus to receive

In the cross alone I glory
Nothing of my own to give
Only that which Christ has offered
For my soul that I may live
For my soul that I may live

Modern hymn of the week. . .

“Jesus Is Lord” by Stuart Townend & Keith Getty

“Jesus is Lord!”—the cry that echoes through creation:
Resplendent pow’r, eternal Word, our rock.
The Son of God, the King whose glory fills the heavens,
Yet bids us come to taste this living bread.

Jesus is Lord—Whose voice sustains the stars and planets,
Yet in His wisdom laid aside His crown.
Jesus the Man, who washed our feet, who bore our suffering,
Became a curse to bring salvation’s plan.

Jesus is Lord—the tomb is gloriously empty!
Not even death could crush this King of love!
The price is paid, the chains are loosed, and we’re forgiven,
And we can run into the arms of God.

“Jesus is Lord!”—a shout of joy, a cry of anguish,
As He returns, and ev’ry knee bows low.
Then ev’ry eye and ev’ry heart will see His glory,
The Judge of all will take His children home.

Modern hymn of the week. . .

“The Stand” by Joel Houston

You stood before creation
Eternity in Your hands
You spoke the earth into motion
My soul now to stand

You stood before my failure
Carried the cross for my shame
My sin weighed upon Your shoulders
My soul now to stand

So what could I say
What could I do
But offer this heart, O God
Completely to You

So I’ll walk upon salvation
Your Spirit alive in me
This life to declare Your promise
My soul now to stand

So what could I say
What could I do
But offer this heart, O God
Completely to You

So I’ll stand with arms high and heart abandoned
In awe of the One who gave it all
I’ll stand, my soul Lord to You surrendered
All I am is Yours