“There is always opposition when you challenge the powers that be,…Some will hear the truth; some people will choose to hear the lies. At least we got the message out.”
So says Victor Birdsong to the protagonist of Hometown Prophet, Peter Quill. Peter has bottomed out and moved back home to live with his mother. Shortly after arriving there he begins to have lucid dreams that quickly come true. This results in him gaining some notoriety in his hometown and being called a prophet by some, false prophet by others. At the heart of this book is a vision of God that could upset some conservative evangelicals. Emphasis on loving all our neighbors, be they poor, homeless or of a different religion, care for the Earth and the subtle pride among Christians might be seen as red flags. Hometown Prophet seeks to challenege the status quo and open our eyes to a wider vision of God’s love and mercy. That being said, this may not be everyone’s cup of (Southern sweet) tea.
The author states this story grew out of a frustration with how he saw Christianity misrepresented for personal or political gain. I can relate to this frustration as I see various leaders, or should I say voices, in Christianity that seek to leverage Scripture and believers for certain agendas. Last I checked Jesus had one agenda, the Kingdom of God, which He fleshed out by loving God and neighbor. Too often we try to spiritualize the Kingdom into something that has no impact in the world. Sadly, like the early disciples, we too can miss the point.
For me, this was a page turner that went by swiftly over the course of a couple of cigars. I also found myself getting misty eyed after certain passages. I would recommend this book for anyone coming from a charismatic/Pentecostal background and has questions about or are struggling with what they believe. The theology is in the background and common assumptions are questioned so it does provide some food for thought.
I did find my self relating to Peter in a deeper way than some might because of where I was at 30. Recently divorced, working 2 jobs to make ends meet and involved with a charismatic church, yep I can relate. I did have some dreams like Peter, lucid, very significant, as though God was trying to get something across, yet nothing of a predictive nature. Some of these dreams are still very clear in my memory. Were these prophetic? I’m not sure. Maybe. Whatever the case may be, I am open to God speaking to people in ways like dreams and visions. Now that I’m older, I start wondering if I have more dreams like that in my future. Time will tell.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the author and/or publisher through the Speakeasy blogging book review network. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR,Part 255.
Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing. 1 Thessalonians 5.11
Let us speak to one another in ways that instills courage, hope and fearlessness. Let us support each other in prayer. Let us challenge each other to grow in grace and love. Whatever community of faith you find yourself, share your story, your life with others. In some little way (or maybe a big way), the very life of God might be revealed in the cracks of our brokenness. Be built up together to provide a dwelling place for God. God and creation long for this. Remember, the church is temporary, the Kingdom is eternal. Seek the building up of that which will last. Instill courage to seek the Kingdom, to seek Christ.
May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other and for everyone else, just as ours does for you. 1 Thessalonians 3.12
“Love is all you need….” Memorable lyrics from the Beatles that started rattling through my mind when I saw this verse. What kind of love, though? Maybe the sentimental, the erotic, or the bond of strong friendship? Not quite. That 1 Corinthians 13 kind of love? Yes. The love that comes from God that can increase and overflow. Love that sacrifices, serves and loses for the other. Receiving the love of God and participating in that love for others – spouse, friend, neighbor and enemy.
Is this divine love all we need? Yes, as long it is the divine love. Love can be seen in many ways. Not all that claims to be love is rooted in the divine, however. We claim to believe in love but do not put it in practice. We affirm to love our neighbor as our self but it never reaches the neighbor. Human attempts at love will falter and fail unless rooted in the humanity of God in Christ Jesus. God’s love is not some abstract concept removed from the world. That love put on human flesh, lived that love, died and rose again for us and the world. An eternal love that is ever so near….
The love of God revealed in Christ is a necessity. Without that love, the possibilities before us through creation, in freedom and in responsibility would come to nothing. Not an absurd, meaningless and senseless world, but nothing. We all need the love of God, whether we realize it or not. The alternative is frightening and hopeless, death. Yet we can face death (and how can we not?) filled with faith, hope and most of all love. A love that transforms death and ushers in the new creation. God’s love is over all and His love never fails.
Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. Colossians 3.16
I witnessed something for the first time this past Thursday night. My hope is that every follower of Christ could witness such a thing at least once in their journey. I gathered with some brothers and sisters in a simple church meeting. Two new songs came out of this gathering. Will these songs grow in popularity? Who knows? All I know is I was there at the birth.
New songs such as these can teach us and remind us of love and grace given to us. Simple words and simple melodies can touch us in the deepest of places and bring healing and restoration. These little reminders that embody an eternal wisdom and the riches of Christ in frail jars of clay. Songs that seem new to us but are as old (or is it new?) as eternity.
My prayer is that each believer, young or old, could participate in something like this. A small gathering of the saints, united by the Spirit in a tangible way. Awash in the glory and presence of God, singing together in worship. Bringing forth new songs, simple songs, that can grow and mature and unveil the depths and riches of God in Christ. May God be merciful on us all.