My Problem Has A Problem

Problems

“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

Bible

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

humblepie-e1288647520854

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

blend_chameleon

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…

envy_m

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

fear of man

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

not a tame lion

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

enemy

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

careful what you think

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”

starbucks

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

Hidden

Exif-JPEG-422

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

 

 

Kim-Davis-mugshot

 

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

Put Down Your Sword

FightFireWithFire3

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

Bigots

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

Christianity And Homosexuality: The Main Thing

rainbowweddingbands

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

jeremy

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

rainbowweddingbands

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

RaisingofLazarusBloch

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

Mirror

IMG_0999

Not too long ago…I messed up pretty bad. It was a personal thing…perhaps not something that even would bother everyone. It killed me. I went to bed, woke up in the morning, and took a shower. When I got out of the shower, toweled off, and got dressed…there I stood…I saw my face in the mirror. I looked into my own eyes…and I was angry. I hated the man I saw. He was slime. He was subhuman…but…also… He. Was. Me. Continue reading

Please, God…NO…

IMG_1533

I have wanted to write this for a long, long time, but I have been so afraid…but here goes anyway…

Several years ago my oldest daughter, Anna, said something that really shook me. Truth be told, the echo of her words bouncing around in my head has made me, at times, a nervous wreck. The irony is that these words are the kind that many fathers may live for…but not this one… Continue reading

Angry Christians

ghandi

 

I’m really having a hard time getting my thoughts out today…so I’ll do my best…but let me start by saying that I’m deeply concerned for the Body of Christ, which is to say the collective of Christianity. I’m concerned because I’ve noticed a terrible trend…a trend that is far from the vision that Jesus gave for His church…a trend that is counterproductive to the very cause for which we have been called… Continue reading

I’m A Fake

fake

 

I’ve been in the ministry for well over 12 years now. A little over 10 years ago, I became the pastor of a small church in a rural community. During this time, I’ve counseled countless people. I’ve conducted numerous weddings as well as funerals. I’ve baptized people from all over the age spectrum, preached/taught over 1500 times, not counting the various teaching moments wherein someone requested my advice or knowledge on a subject. I have something to admit: I’m a fake. Continue reading

I Don’t Get It

godlove

I was watching a movie some years ago and it had a quote that I’ve never been able to shake. Richard Gere played Martin Vale, in the movie “Primal Fear.” He was a hotshot defense attorney that seemed to be bent on making a name for himself and getting rich. At one point, he was talking to a reporter and he said that the reason he did what he did had nothing to do with money or fame. He said that he did it because he believed in the basic goodness of mankind and that there are some very good people who do some very bad things. I’ve thought about that over and over. Continue reading

I Am A Christian Part Two: Lovingly Bold

Christian

As I surf the web this holiday season, I have observed the inevitable tension that has been mounting for the last several years. One group viscerally says that we should say, “Happy Holidays!” while the other group responds angrily and says, “Keep CHRIST in Christmas!” I was reading some articles the other day and one of the common threads among those that do not like saying “Christmas,” was this principle that Christians should not “force” our religion upon others. I began to really consider this for a moment… Continue reading

I Am A Christian

Christian

 

I meet people in all kinds of settings. A few days ago, I was in a situation in which I was in a waiting area. There was only one other person waiting there with me and she started a conversation. As we spoke, I quickly became aware that she was not a local. She eventually asked me where I was from, and I responded by telling her that I grew up just down the road. She then asked what I did for a living. I responded by saying, “I’m a pastor.” Her facial expression changed…and the conversation then went in an interesting direction… Continue reading

Amazing Grace

grace

John Newton was the songwriter who wrote the all-too-familiar hymn, Amazing Grace. After becoming a believer in Christ, he began to rid himself of the sinful habits of this world…things that were considered immoral or unholy. There was, however, one particular area in which he continued to struggle. He was a slave-trader, and he continued in this work even after his conversion. Eventually, he did leave that trade and became a supporter of the abolition of slavery. What is interesting about his story is that it is a story of progress…because even after we give our hearts over to Christ, we are still very much in need of growth…progress…and most importantly…we need grace. We need grace for our failures, and grace for our rebellion. We need it just as much for our hard hearts as we do for our broken ones. I was very much reminded of my personal need for grace recently…while on the kitchen floor in front of my brand new refrigerator…

Continue reading

Not Trash

human_trash_by_des_henkers_braut-d3kj6oe

I was speaking to a couple people recently and we were talking about pop culture. The subject of the various celebrity young ladies came up (Miley, Brittany, Lindsay, Paris, Kim, etc.) and a statement was made that struck me. The statement was in reference to one of these ladies in particular, and it was this: “She’s trash.” As I said, the statement struck me…and I responded by saying, “Well, I think she does trashy things…but she’s not trash.” I don’t know that the point landed and I also don’t think these people were trying to be cruel…but sometimes…mean to or not…humans can be cruel. Then I began to wonder about the behavior of these ladies…and I started to question if they would call themselves trash…if they were really, really honest. I guess what I want to know is how they feel about themselves. Continue reading