Jesus Has Been Hijacked

I think one of the greatest misunderstandings our culture deals with is that of the personality and likeness of Jesus of Nazareth. Aside from His divinity (which I firmly believe in), His influence on the world is likely the most widespread in all of history. He wasn’t an aristocrat, a prince, or a wealthy businessman. He was a laborer and a Rabbi (and, of course, is THE Messiah). Whether we believe in His God-ship or not, we all seem to have an opinion on what He was like…what He stood for…the ways in which He lived His life. The unfortunate reality, however, is that He has been represented in ways that further our causes more than He has been represented truthfully…and this really needs to stop. Continue reading

Get Over It

I was recently talking to someone that has gone through a series of terribly traumatic events over the last couple of years. All of us can relate to going through difficult times. We all can understand what it’s like to hurt or feel empty and depressed. The thing that amazes me, however, is that this person has had to endure something that should never happen…especially at that hands of people on the “inside” of our faith. This person was told by fellow believers and “friends” that it was time to “move on.” They were told that the time had come to “get over it” and get back to normal. I wish I could say that I was never guilty of saying these kinds of things to people, but the fact is, I’ve definitely been guilty of such B.S. The thing I found most alarming about this occurred to me while pondering why we so often feel the need to tell people such insensitive things… Continue reading

Entertain Us

Impressive lights. Fog machine. Seamless sequence of events. Musical precision. Perfect audio quality. Large screens with images and videos. These are all elements one might expect to find in a typical entertainment production, whether a concert or simply some kind of live show…or your local Sunday morning worship service. By way of disclaimer, I will say first that I don’t have any problem with these things in general. But I do think we need to explore the purpose of them in our worship gatherings. I think perhaps they are somewhat symptomatic of a problem with the current Christian generation. Continue reading

The Walking Dead

I don’t understand the fascination that so many in our current society have with books, shows, movies, and/or other media related to zombies. I’ve joked around about this for years. For some reason, I have a strange and definitely irrational fear of zombies. I actually scoured the web one day (just for fun) looking for a word that encapsulated this definition. I found one: ambulothanatophobia (click here for definition of ridiculous word). If you’re still reading this, you’re likely wondering why I would be writing about this subject on a forum such as this… Continue reading

I Cannot Be A Christian

I grew up in the south. My grandfather was a minister for most of his life. Until my parents split up (when I was 7 years old), my dad taught Sunday School and my family was active in the church. Christianity was in our DNA. Church was inherited. It had been established in our minds and hearts as something we were to be a part of. In my teenage years and my very early 20’s, I had abandoned any belief in the Bible and in Jesus. I had certainly abandoned my belief in the church. However, there was always this nagging tug in my mind that I should be going to church. Even though I didn’t believe in it, I had learned this as an activity from early on in my childhood…and non-participation felt like a betrayal of my identity. We attended church nominally throughout those years and I would sometimes participate with my friends in a few activities…but it felt so foreign…so wrong…so fake…yet so important.  Continue reading

Lies Christians Tell #3: “Judge Not”

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Probably the most widely quoted Bible verse in our nation is Matthew 7:1. It’s the verse that says, “Judge not.” Interestingly, if one simply keeps reading they will find that there is a much broader context. However, our culture doesn’t keep reading. Instead, it takes the first two words as the whole command…interpreting from these that we are never supposed to tell anyone that they are wrong about anything. Ironically, to tell someone that they are wrong for telling someone that they are wrong is absolute hypocrisy…yet we tend to miss that point. So…while discussing the “Lies Christians Tell,” it is imperative that we talk about one the most widely spread lies: “We’re not supposed to judge…” Continue reading

Religion And Politics

Religion VS Politics

This is an election year. Every election year, a big discussion comes up about how a candidate feels about religious faith. Then there is a plurality of citizens that are offended by this. “Separation of church and state!” they cry. “Don’t mix religion and politics!” Are they right? Are they wrong? I don’t totally know…but here’s what I think… 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

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

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

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.”
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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

Swinging Doors

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Yesterday afternoon, I was trying to get some much needed relaxation, and at the same time my wife had told the girls to spend some time outside. So there I was lying on the couch, trying desperately hard to relax and unwind from a hectic week, when the first of a long series of front-door-openings occurred. This seems to be a bad habit of all children in all generations. I remember when I was young, my parents would eventually shout out the words, “In or out!.” Something about this constant in-and-out is very unnerving. After about the 20th time the door opened and closed I had to tell them to stop it…it was causing me a bit of irritation…just as I caused my parents.  Continue reading

Religious Machinery

Angry-Jesus

In first century Jerusalem there was huge temple for carrying out the Jewish sacrifices and customs.  This was built according to God’s design/blueprint and the intention for it was to be a place of prayer, contemplation, and repentance. Like most things, the original intention for the Jewish Temple was far different from what it had become by the first century. The Sadducees were the ones that controlled the temple and its various components and had become very wealthy as a result. It would have been a hardship to come to Jerusalem from far away in order to make a sacrifice if you had to bring the animal all that way, and the animal had to meet certain requirements as well. Therefore they sold animals for sacrifice in the temple courts…and some have said that they were very picky about the animals people brought in from the outside…insuring that they would have to buy an animal from the temple. Continue reading

Divided We Fall…

I was speaking to a good friend recently about some issue…I think it was the end-times stuff…and after I said all I had to say, he pierced me with one humble, honest question: “How is that helping you reach people with the Gospel?” If I remember correctly, when I attempted to respond, I stuttered and stammered as I urgently tried to explain how this subject was helpful in that endeavor…until I finally gave up…I said, “It’s not…and unfortunately, a lot of the subjects I like to spend most of my time discussing/debating have very little to do with making a disciple in Christ…they’re just controversial.” He then began talking to me about the simplicity of the need for solidarity in the Gospel and its proclamation, and how we spend too much time on controversy…and not enough on the clear message of Scripture.  Continue reading

confessions of an egotist: Jesus isn’t enough…

a few years ago, i had an encounter with a young couple. they were visiting our church but belonged to another. the first sunday they were there, i just said, “great to see you!” the next week they showed up again, and i asked them what brought them our way. after talking for just a minute or two, it became apparent to me that this was going to be a longer conversation than we could have right then so i scheduled an appointment to visit with them. in the interest of total honesty here, let me say that i was going to their house with every intention of talking them into leaving their current church and joining ours…but that’s not what happened… something totally different occurred.

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judge not…except when you should…

i think perhaps the most often quoted saying of Jesus in modern culture is His, “judge not, that you be not judged.” (matthew 7:1)  anytime an absolute moral position is taken on a given subject, people are likely to throw this verse out. then we hear the Christian compliment to it…”we are called to love not to judge.” those that usually quote this verse most often do so in defense of themselves or of someone they love…or at least intend to and believe they love…but according to paul…we are supposed to judge those who call themselves believers:

But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler—not even to eat with such a one. For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? God judges those outside. “Purge the evil person from among you.”   
(1 corinthians 5:11-13, esv, my emphasis added) Continue reading

the rapture of the church…

there are probably only a few other topics in Scripture that are as controversial as what we call “the rapture of the church.” for those of you that may not be aware of this subject, let me give the basic idea…when Jesus arose from the grave He appeared to His followers over a period of a little more than a month, and after this He “ascended” into heaven. Scripture tells us that He did not die again, nor settle down somewhere and start a family…but went into the realm (or maybe “dimension”) of heaven, physically leaving this world…and all the while…making a promise…a promise of return. this has been the most anticipated event in history from the perspective of believers, and a highly debated event in terms of its details. what He made very clear was that He would physically return to this world some day and that when He did, every eye would see Him (no, i don’t know how that will work, but i believe it). then, at what many would call the “end of the age” or what-have-you, He will remake the world into its glorious, innocent, perfect form. all of this is pretty well agreed upon…it’s the transitional points that people have various opinions on and, in many cases, would unfortunately be willing to fight over. Continue reading

the doomsday distraction

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today is the the 20th of december of 2012…tomorrow being the 21st…and there are many people in the world that are certain that on the 21st there are going to be major cataclysmic events that may bring an end to the world as we know it. let me start by saying that i don’t have any idea what the future holds nor will i spend much energy debating that subject. the only thing i will say is that Jesus told us that He would return someday and that would mark the beginning of the next age. i believe in that, and therefore i don’t put much stock in the predictions of mankind. something may happen tomorrow…who knows…but i refuse to be distracted and carried away by that debate. Continue reading

alone

recently i was watching the pilot episode of a series called “once upon a time.” one of the main female characters goes home on her birthday and has a single cupcake with a single candle and celebrates her birthday all alone. she makes a wish that she would not have to continue to spend her birthdays all alone…the interesting thing is that she lives in a big city…amidst a virtual sea of people…yet she is totally alone… Continue reading

the missing ingredient

after more than a decade of ministry work and church attendance, i have noticed something very peculiar…there is something missing…something very important…central…essential…and it’s totally missing. a.w. tozer spoke of this same principle when he wrote his book the divine conquest…he said that there is no greater reality than the utter unreality with which the Christian church approaches worship. what mr. tozer was saying was that the most real thing in the life of the church is that when we worship, we don’t act as though we actually believe in the Object of our worship…resulting in just another ritual which we are going through to check off the “religion” box for our week. i have been in very traditional settings as well as charismatic ones and the same truth is very observable in both…it’s just expressed differently. in the traditional setting, there is an insistence on dignified behavior and speech, and in the charismatic there is a desire to have an “experience.” but in both circumstances, i notice that people leave and then eventually begin down the same paths of habit and life as they had before…because transformation wasn’t/isn’t occurring…just temporary highs or reminders…but life-altering, mind-invading, heartfelt change was not/is not happening. Continue reading

runaway bride

a few years ago, i was at a men’s conference in a local church and i made a new friend. i was in a very disenfranchised and arrogant  state of mind regarding church and all of its various attachments. at that point in time and i made a comment to him…i said, “the Bride of Christ is incredibly screwed up.” he didn’t miss a beat, responding to me, “yet, He still loves her immensely.” that was a major defining moment for me…it rocked my world…it literally made me stop and catch by breath as i re-thought my attitude and mindset regarding the church. it was then that i realized that i was part of the problem…in fact, perhaps the larger part…because in all of my ponderings and thoughts about how bad off the modern church is, i never stopped to consider the solution…instead all i cared about doing was pointing the finger of judgment at the church, calling it “judgmental” (irony at its finest), and feeling superior in what i felt was a keen insight on reality. meanwhile, there she was…floundering…struggling…trying… and there i was…not helping one bit… Continue reading

Me…The Center Of The Universe

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Of all the things we teach our children, the one that seems to be hardest to drive home is that they are not the center of the universe. Everything in life is not about them…if I only had a nickel for every time I heard that while I was growing up. So, part of my job as a father is to disciple my children into the understanding that the world doesn’t revolve around them, and that it’s better to give than to receive, and so on. Simple enough, huh? Seems like it should be, as it is the attitude of Jesus all through the Gospel accounts, but then I turn on the radio one day and tune it to the local Christian radio station…then I become very troubled. Continue reading

disciples…or sons of hell…

in the majority of evangelical churches, there is a lot of talk about “the great commission.” this is the command that Jesus gave His followers to go out into the world and make disciples of all nations. truly, the original language (greek) doesn’t refer to “nations” as we understand them. it is the word “ethnos” (ἔθνος), which is where we get our word, “ethnicity.” so what He was saying was to make disciples of all people groups, of every color, and culture in the world. this is where our missionary efforts come from…sending out missionaries to carry out this commission. this is typically a very difficult but very rewarding lifestyle and many of our missionaries have given their lives in response to this call…spreading the Gospel message all the while and sowing seeds of the Gospel all across the world…in the attempt to make disciples. we also do this (or should be doing this) at home, in our communities, counties, states, and nation… Continue reading

The Right Idea Of Heaven

HEAVENLYTHRONE

I’ve not always been a Christian. for years, I entertained different theories and beliefs regarding existence and the afterlife. I have been agnostic, atheistic, new age, etc… During that journey, one thing I came to believe was that Christians were all about conformity. I came to believe that all they cared about was making others like themselves. What I mean by this is that they seemed to only care about how people appeared or acted. My perception was that the Christian ethic was one in which all that mattered was that Christians didn’t drink, swear, watch R-rated movies, go to restaurants that served alcohol, dance…. the list could go on… But all in all I got the idea that Christians essentially didn’t have fun and definitely didn’t associate with anyone who did. One big thing they also didn’t do… they didn’t marry inter-racially or endorse it… I think it’s very fitting at this point to acknowledge that these are stereotypes into which not all Christians fit. For sure, I did not have the whole story in relation to the beliefs of Christians. Continue reading

The Church Adrift

adrift

I have come to believe in a certain concept that I would call a deep truth. I believe that in any given culture, the direction of the spiritual/religious philosophy will directly affect the direction of the culture itself. In other words, as goes the church, so goes the culture. What’s very interesting about this is that we as the church and culture, seemingly, are on opposite ends of the spectrum…or are we really

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