The Devil Inside

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As long as I’ve been a follower of Jesus, there seems to have been a list of things we aren’t supposed to do. As I’ve written before, one of the main questions that people ask when coming to a church or becoming a new believer is about “the rules.” Christians have a reputation for keeping kind of a tally of the things of this nature. I’m not referring to civil law so much…as in the law of the land…but to a moral code of conduct. Then…when we fall short within that framework…when we break one of the rules…when we cross over into “worldliness,” we feel dirty… impure… guilty… ashamed…hypocritical. Eventually, we arrive at a mindset wherein we believe that if we could simply NOT do those things anymore, then we would be better off…and we could not be more wrong. Continue reading

My Problem Has A Problem

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“The first step in overcoming a problem is admitting that you have one…”

One of my objectives in writing this blog has always been transparency. I believe that people appreciate it and I can’t tell you how many times people have responded with a word of approval for the blunt honesty that they’ve seen. It is sometimes a bit scary…it is sometimes a bit unnerving…and right before I hit that “publish” button…I think and pray. I concern myself with how it’s going to be received and the overall tone…but then, eventually, I hit “publish,” and then I pay attention to how it goes. The reason I get nervous is that I often speak about my personal weaknesses and battles…about my failures and my intentional struggles. As I stated at the beginning…the first step in overcoming a problem is admitting you have one. Continue reading

Struggling with Scripture

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I wrote this two years ago and never published it. I have been thinking about it today and decided I needed to go ahead and put it out there. Some may label me a heretic, a liberal, apostate, or a false teacher. What I really hope is that perhaps this connects with someone who struggles with questions about Biblical inerrancy. Please don’t misunderstand my tone or my intent. Patiently read to the end. I’m fine with disagreement…but please keep conversations civil and let’s stay FAR away from the arguments about current or contemporary translations of the Bible.

Here goes:

I had a conversation a couple of weeks ago with a gentleman that grew up as a Roman Catholic. He grew up accepting the general beliefs about the Bible and creation and so on. Then when he went to college, he majored in archaeology and he told me that now his beliefs from the faith he had growing up were in conflict with what he had learned in college. As we continued to talk, I mentioned that at one time I accepted the idea of evolution and that I had done research on it and found it to be very wanting as a theory…then in the middle of me stating my position, something happened… Continue reading

Humble Pie Tastes Terrible

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The past week and a half of my life has been an incredible journey…and not necessarily a comfortable one. It began with a post on this blog: Why I don’t Like Your Church. Upon publishing an article, it usually takes a few days for it to have a few hundred views (if it gets that many). That article hit a few hundred within a couple hours. I was actually pretty surprised that it did because I didn’t think it would interest that many people. I thought that it was something they would see and perhaps gloss over. Within the next day or so, I had some individuals contact me about what I had said. None of it was negative or critical. All of it was quite supportive. People wanted to get together, and I quickly agreed. It was during those conversations and a couple others since then that I’ve come to a stark realization: humble pie tastes terrible. Continue reading

My Chameleon Faith

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On many occasions, I have heard preachers ask a particular question (I’m pretty sure I dropped this chestnut before as well). They ask, “If you were accused of being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you?” We obviously understand the meaning of this to be about whether or not our verbal professions of faith are lining up with our behavior. When we are asked about how our journey in faith is going…we always have the same answer…something like, “I’ve got a lot of growing to do,” or, “The Lord’s working on this area of my life or that.” While it is true that God is always working in our lives (when we let Him), I have found that I love to play those “get-out-of-jail-free” cards way too often. I love to have such an excuse. I love to be able to say, “I’m only human,” or, “I’m not perfect.” But…I find myself using those more as excuses than I do as statements of reality anymore…I find myself being the thing I HATE. I find myself being a hypocrite. Continue reading

Why I Don’t Like Your Church…

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I don’t know how many other pastors struggle with this particular problem…and I sure haven’t heard any speak about it much. Perhaps it’s an understood problem and therefore a taboo thing to bring up…but I can’t help it. I think I need to expose a serious problem in my life…my heart…my soul…my ministry. I need to expose it because if I don’t, then like black mold that grows and reproduces in the darkness…it will simply become a problem larger than I can deal with. It will take over. It will rule my life and my ministry. So here goes: I am going to tell you what’s wrong with any church but my own. I’m going to explain to you why I believe all other churches aren’t good enough. I’m going to tell you why I don’t like your church…whether your the pastor or the pew-sitter. Continue reading

Fear Of Man

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This is one of those times where I have to admit something that I really don’t like to admit… I have to admit that I struggle with fear. This is not the normal type of fear…not about monsters under my bed or being alone in the woods at night. I’m not worried about those things (except zombies…for some reason I have an irrational fear of a totally fictitious creature…don’t judge me). No…my fear runs much deeper… Continue reading

Lethal Savior

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I was teaching through a story in the New Testament recently…and something Jesus said really alarmed me. I have read this passage numerous times…and it has always seemed odd to me in light of whom I’ve understood Jesus to be. I had always been lead to believe that Jesus was simply a loving person…never harsh. Every time I had heard a sermon or lesson about Him in which He seemed severe towards someone…well…it was explained away through some type of verbal gymnastics, “In the original language, this word mean such and such and that phrase meant something totally different…,” and so on. Following along this same path of thought, when I would teach something difficult about Jesus, I would do the same thing…until the other day…and then I decided to let Him be Him…and I found a much more shocking Jesus than many of us have known… Continue reading

Not My Enemy

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Many times when I write things such as the following, my premise is misunderstood. Frankly, I think that some want to take it a certain way…looking for areas of disagreement, debate. If that’s the position in which you find yourself, then you may want to stop reading now because this is not an argument in regard to theology, philosophy, or politics. This is simply my journey in a sea of humanity wherein all are searching and many are wandering in darkness. Therefore, before I begin, let me preface this by saying that in no way am I trying to “find common ground,” or “sympathize” with anyone. This is about being human and…hopefully…biblically Christian. Continue reading

The Battle In My Head

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I have a terribly judgmental and harsh way about me. Those that know me well also know that if you start a critical conversation with me, then I will escalate the discussion. This is not something I’m proud of in the least. This is one of those things that haunts me in the mirror. I spend so much of my time thinking back over things I’ve said and the ways in which I’ve said them, wishing that I had had the will to keep my mouth shut… Continue reading

The “War”

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It seems as though it never fails…every season…someone is outraged by something a corporate entity does or doesn’t do relating to Christmas. I remember working for RadioShack and we were instructed to say “Happy Holidays” to our customers. This wasn’t about religion. It was about making money. The company took the position that they were serving clientele from many different cultures and traditions and therefore wanted to ensure that everyone felt a type of “season’s greetings.” Once again…this was not theological…it was financial. If someone felt welcome and comfortable in our stores then they were more likely to spend money and return to do the same next time. However…for some reason…many within the Christian subculture have decided that it’s the responsibility of the various corporations to spread the message of Christ’s advent…and I find this a bit bizarre… Continue reading

Thank God I Was Bullied

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Bullying is one of the “hot-button” issues of our day. It has gone from simply being a kid that takes your lunch money to what’s called “cyber-bullying,” where the bullying takes place on a social media platform such as Facebook, Twitter, or any of the other choices. Our society has become obsessed with putting a stop to this. A friend of mine told me that his child was told they had to wear a certain color shirt to school one day to support the drive to end bullying. Interestingly, the kid felt like if he didn’t wear the shirt, he would be an outcast…ridiculed for not being a part of the anti-bullying campaign…now that is irony at its finest… Continue reading

Hidden

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Years ago, there were allegations that the King of Pop, Michael Jackson, had taken indecent liberties with a young boy. I remember when this story came out and I remember how appalled the public was. Michael Jackson, even with all of his eccentricity, had become a household name due to the proliferation of his music. Eventually, the case was settle privately…but he would forever live with that accusation. Most of us didn’t seem to want to believe it was true…it was too shocking…too dark. Some years before that happened, televangelist Jimmy Swaggart had been caught with a prostitute…and I remember the shock that the public showed over the affair. It’s amazing to see how the public reacts to things of this nature…and very telling of something that we must all consider… Continue reading

Standing Our Ground

 

 

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Recently in the news, there have been many stories about Kim Davis of Kentucky and her refusal to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. There has a been a firestorm of judgments about this, and on social media it seems that there is a stark division between the two sides of this discussion. I’m not going to try to tackle this issue so much. Her options are to either issue the licenses or stand by her convictions and that choice is hers. If she stands by her convictions, she will likely face more legal punishment, but once again, she has to be the one to make that decision…and that’s what I want to discuss right now…standing by our convictions, or the way have heard it referred to many times, “standing our ground.”
Continue reading

Brat

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I hesitate to write this because many people may be somewhat offended by the content. It’s not my intention to offend nor to attack. It’s simply my intention to point out a truth that it seems like all adults agree upon. Being around an ill-behaved child is something that absolutely grates on one’s nerves. We then will often think of how much we would like to have that child for one day so that we could “straighten them out.” (This line of thinking isn’t at all based in reality, but it is something that often may go through our heads.) Whether the child is in our family or a stranger in the grocery store, this issue is a serious one in our society. Continue reading

Failure

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It seems like the one thing we struggle with allowing people…especially children…to experience today is failure. At times, we treat the word, “loser,” as if it were the greatest slur in human history. We have developed contests in which there may be a “winner,” but no one is a “loser.” I agree that losing is no fun…and I agree that it can definitely hurt one’s feelings…and  sometimes watching the other team celebrate with the trophy is a bitter pill to swallow…but one of the greatest ways we can FAIL the younger generation is to never let them learn the life lessons of defeat and loss… Continue reading

Put Down Your Sword

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I’ve always heard the expression, “fight fire with fire,” but up until a few years ago, I didn’t know what it really meant. There are a few different ideas on this, but I witnessed something very interesting once that gave me some insight on this. The area in which I live is inundated with silvergrass. It’s very sharp, very tough, and when it dries…VERY flammable. It was a dry summer and someone let a flame get out of control and before we knew it, much of our neighborhood was in danger from a huge brush fire. When the forest service arrived, they used a bulldozer to make a trench that the fire could not cross and then they really surprised me…by setting more fires. Continue reading

Bigot

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In the last couple of years, the discussion of bigotry has become very prevalent…bigotry being defined as anyone that doesn’t like a person or group of people because of a particular trait that they have in common. The trait can be anything but the most commonly associated trait with bigotry seems to be skin color. Many times, bigotry is associated with religious beliefs or lifestyles as well…not liking Christians, Muslims, “hippies,” or homosexuals simply based on those particular identifying characteristics. The thing that I find the most interesting in this discussion is this ubiquitous statement that keeps popping up: “children aren’t born with hate…it has to be taught.” Continue reading

What People Think Of Me…

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I’ve mentioned before that I struggle with insecurity…and deeply connected with that concern is a fear of what others think of me. In recent months, I’ve written about some very serious social issues, but I’ve done so with a great deal of anxiety. The reason for my anxiety is that I don’t want to be dishonest about my beliefs or disrespectful to my faith while also not wanting to alienate those that don’t share the same view. I guess if I’m really and totally honest, my fear is that I would be lumped in with a particular segment in our culture that is seen as a very close-minded or even ignorant group. (I’m not saying they are close-minded or ignorant, but just that they are viewed that way.) So…what happens next is that I have a conversation with someone…or stand up to preach a sermon…or sit down to write an article…and then I begin to struggle through all of the possible outcomes to the various things I could say or write. This can be paralyzing to some people…people like me… Continue reading

Christianity And Homosexuality: The Main Thing

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This past week, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that all states in the Union must acknowledge the legality of same sex relationships (it’s much more complicated than that but for the sake of brevity, that’s how I’ll summarize it here). As I looked on Facebook to see the general response from those I know, it was no big surprise to see our culture totally polarized. Everyone seems to have a strong opinion on this issue. Over couple of days following, the rhetoric online was a virtual tidal wave of anger and judgment from both sides of the equation. Those against same-sex marriage were outraged and angry and those that supported it were outraged and angry that anyone would be outraged and angry about it. Continue reading

Jeremy

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A fellow runner and I were out in the community a couple of years ago, and we noticed a young man that was walking toward us. Runners and walkers are very fortunate in our area to have a place that the town has made very attractive and useful for our efforts. I had seen the young man walking the trail on many occasions before when I was running. He always seemed intense and he was also pretty stout. I figured he was some kind of athlete at the university close by. I had never spoken to him and he was always listening to headphones while he walked. My friend and I had just finished a run and were just standing there talking for a bit…and the young man came toward us to enter the trail close to where we were standing. Just being polite, we both looked up at him and said the typical, “Hey, how’s it going?” type of thing. When we did this…he looked up from the ground and met my eyes…and the whole scenario changed… Continue reading

Christianity And Homosexuality

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I have long dreaded addressing this topic…but it is one that is becoming more and more volatile…so it is with great caution that I wade into these waters. I truly want to insure that no one is offended by my remarks so understand that I acknowledge that I get a lot of things wrong. I am no expert on this subject by far. I am not a psychiatrist, psychologist, sociologist, medical doctor, scientist, or trained counselor. I’m just a pastor of a small church with no real credentials to speak of…and I really try…albeit with great failures…to follow the Jesus of the Bible. Having said that… Continue reading

The Book Of Lazarus

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I was reading in John’s Gospel, chapter 12, the other day. It mentions that there was a large crowd of the Jewish people that were flocking to a town called Bethany. The reason for this influx of visitors was because they heard that Jesus was there…but also…they wanted to see Lazarus…because Jesus had raised him from the dead. I read over that verse a few times and just began to think about something…where is the Book of Lazarus…? Continue reading