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

The Problem With Prayer

Prayer is one of the most enigmatic subjects to consider. Everyone talks about it. When something bad happens or anxieties arise, we often say, “keep me in your prayers.” When a public official speaks after or during a tragedy, there is always an encouragement to keep those that have been affected in our prayers. They don’t necessarily mention whom we should pray to…but just to pray however we pray to whomever we pray on behalf of these individuals.  Continue reading

The Hell Of The Ark

For years I’ve thought about something relating to the story of The Great Flood and Noah’s Ark. Whether you accept this as history or myth, just consider what I’m going to present. I will go ahead and express that I hold to an historical interpretation of this story, although I’m not interested in debating it. I’m no expert on it. I simply believe it to be true, as did Jesus. So, please just grant the premise and consider something very grave… Continue reading

Judgmental Jackass

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I know the title of this post is a bit jarring for some. It’s not intended to be anything short of how raw this is. The intention isn’t shock…but instead it is just being honest about something I’ve learned and feel strongly about. There’s this guy I know who’s had a history of being incredibly severe in his tone. He has hidden behind “just being real and/or honest,” as an excuse to say whatever he thinks about others or the world around him in general. He has done great damage to his relationships with this problem. Ironically, two things that he always claims to hate are judgmentalism and hypocrisy. Who is this person? Dare I call him out publicly? I think I should…although it won’t be an easy thing to do… Continue reading

Not My Best

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I can’t count the number of times that I’ve gone throughout my day feeling like either a failure, an idiot, a disappointment, or a just plain guilty. These feelings come from lots of different causes in life. How many times have you felt that way? Have you ever felt like such a screw-up or disappointment that you just wanted to walk away from the world, become a total recluse and hope to never have to face anyone again? I have. I have had days where I just wanted to hide. I wanted to hide from the world…from family, friends, co-workers…even God. Continue reading

Lies Christians Tell #5: “Forgive And Forget”

forgive-and-forget

How many times have we heard this phrase? How many times have we heard that the best thing to do in a relational conflict is to forgive and forget? What I find VERY interesting is that often this is said within the context of the Gospel. Many people believe that the Bible tells us to forgive people for how they have hurt us and act like it never happened (forget) because it reflects how God forgives us and it also contains God’s statement, “…I will remember their sins no more.” (Isaiah 43:25). What if I told you that this is a misunderstanding of what the Bible says… Continue reading

What I think About Gender Identity

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I have to say…I would have never guessed that this issue would be an issue. Perhaps I’ve been too narrow-minded or too sheltered. I don’t know. If you would have told me 5-10 years ago that we would be debating over this issue on a national level, I would have laughed out loud and told you that you’re going a bit too far. But here we are…and in my home state of NC…we are right in the thick of the discussion. So…I’ll tell you what I think…and maybe it will surprise you…and maybe not… Continue reading

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

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

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

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

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

Not Trash

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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

Humbled

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I’ve been thinking a lot lately about my personal journey in faith. As I have walked this path, I’ve messed up so many things, and hurt some people along the way as well. I have some acquaintances that are more atheistic in their beliefs, and in many cases, are such due to the way Christians have treated them. This makes me wonder about those that I’ve had contact with over the last 16 years…about my affect on them…with my jackassery (yes that word is necessary for this description)…with my arrogance…with my ignorance. Continue reading

Rescued

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Why do the stories of helpless animal rescue tug so much at our heart strings? Why do they appeal so much to us…and moreover…why do we have such an aversion to animal cruelty/negligence? I think the answers for these questions are pretty well obvious, but something more occurred to me today. This morning, I watched an online video of a man rescuing a dog from the bottom of a canyon. He seemed pretty sure that the dog (whom he named Riley)  was put there intentionally by someone, and there was no way for Riley to get out on his own. He was nearly starved to death and extremely dehydrated. After discovering Riley on his hike/rappel, he went back out, got food, water, and a towel and went back down to give Riley the immediate assistance he desperately needed. After this he went down another time to bring him out and begin the process of his recovery. This is a wonderful story of someone helping a creature that was truly helpless and pitiful… Continue reading

Serious Words

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A recurring theme in my life revolves around words. The older I get, the more I realize how important and powerful words are, yet they are taken so lightly…so carelessly…so casually. Jesus spoke of the seriousness of this subject in Matthew 12:36, “I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak…” I am not trying to get into the depth of what was intended by Him in saying this, but I am instead simply focusing for a moment on the intensity of His statement…and the intended emphasis about guarding our tongue… Continue reading

I Don’t Know

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I can’t count the number of times people have sought out my counsel in order to get some answers to the questions of life that are troubling them. When a major event comes along in their lives that shakes the foundation of not only their faith, but also their existence…they ask me questions due to my position as a pastor. When this first started occurring, I had some canned, worn-out phrase to use on them. I would say things like, “God works in mysterious ways,” or, “God is in control,” or the favorite, “This is all a part of His plan.” As I would say such things and look them in the eyes…I could see the absence of hope…the presence of total confusion…and the reality of rage. As those words rolled off my tongue, their countenance changed…hardened…and their belief in a God that loves them wavered. Continue reading

Not Just Roadkill…

When I was a kid, my dad and I were going somewhere together in his pickup. We drove up to the top of a hill to a stop sign, just like we had done hundreds of times before…then it happened…before my dad could do anything to stop it…a rabbit ran out under his truck and he ran over it. I remember that Dad reacted more strongly to this than I expected of him. I told him it was no big deal and that it happens all the time…animals get killed by cars…that’s the world we live in. He said the thing that bothered him most was the possibility that it would lie there and suffer until it finally died…he was just this side of shedding tears…that moment affected me deeply… Continue reading

…ssshhhh…listen…

I remember from my childhood the old saying that we have two ears and one mouth, indicating that we should listen twice as much as we speak. It was one of those things that got tucked away in the “sage advice” section of my brain (a very rarely accessed area), but never really applied. Instead, for the last 36 or so years (the time since I’ve been able to speak), I’ve flooded the world with words…often when someone else was trying to say something….something important or heavy…and I would miss it, because I was too busy rattling on. I remember some years ago I was at a gathering of friends, and was visiting with someone that I had not seen in a while but had been very close to. As I rambled on and joked and went on and on…somewhere in the conversation…my friend mentioned the very recent and unexpected death of a sibling…I wish I could say that I stopped jabbering and gave the moment the attention it deserved…I wish I could say that…but I can’t. I had been talking so much…not just there and then…but throughout life in general…that I was callous to the sensitive sounds of agony and joy around me…and I didn’t even realize it until much later that evening… Continue reading

…so now we can eat bacon…

One of the most interesting concepts to me in the Bible is that of dietary laws. In the Old Testament, the Israelites were given a law from God that forbade them from eating certain types of meat. For land dwelling animals, the animal had to have “split hoofs,” and “chew cud.” A cow is a very commonly thought of animal in relation to this subject. It chews cud and has a split hoof. These animals were considered clean and others unclean. A pig, for the most obvious example does not chew cud, thus making it unclean, although it wouldn’t take much thought to realize that a pig is a pretty disgusting animal anyway, comparatively speaking. The reason I’ve been intrigued by the concept of clean versus unclean animals is that God doesn’t really give a reason as to why He made this distinction. I know there are many people out there that speculate on the various reasons, ranging from health reasons to philosophical issues. However, any reason we give is speculation, because the Scripture isn’t clear as to why these distinctions are made. God never said, “I have deemed them unclean for ____ reason(s).” Therefore, we have spent a lot of time trying to figure out this mystery…but maybe we missed an interesting point in the big picture… Continue reading

the liberty of captivity

i went and saw “lincoln” with my wife some months ago (EXCELLENT by the way). the focus of the movie is the passing of the 13th amendment of the constitution, which was the abolition of slavery. in our history, slaves were treated as subhuman and regarded as the property of their owners…even though they were people…made in the image of God. it occurred to me that no one likes to be in any form of captivity…we like to be free. we like to be under our own command and control. of course, control is pretty illusory…but we all like to at least have the impression of total freedom in our own lives. during the movie, i had a thought…a thought about freedom…what is it? in all of our discussions about liberty and/or freedom do we ever really stop to consider what it is? some people are not free but are still treated fairly within the confines of their captivity…yet they still long to be free… because even if treated fairly, or even treated really well, they would still not be what their hearts longed to be…free. of course, i would never try to compare the burdens and difficulties of our day to those that bore the marks of slaves in our nation’s history, so let me be very clear about the fact that i am not trying to draw that parallel. the subject just made me think very much about freedom.

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alive…part 2

*this post may not be for everyone…

in astrophysics, there has been a pursuit for something called the “unified theory.” i don’t know much about this, but just some basics (i’m not an astrophysicist or a scientist of any sort, so please exercise grace with me on this). please stay with me for just a minute and humor me…i have a point…i think. the general point of the theory is to present a hypothesis for how the four major forces work together, the four being electromagnetism, strong nuclear force, weak nuclear force, and gravity. the pursuit has thus far been elusive because scientists have not been able to observe all the forces in action. they have determined that each of the forces must be carried by a particle and they are trying to determine how all these particles work together, hence a “unified theory.” such a theory may point us in some very interesting directions in the race for discovery. however, they keep running into roadblocks in trying to find the real substance upon which to form this theory…and the most common roadblock as far as i can tell is that they cannot observe the “graviton.” even though it sounds like the name of a transformer, it is the name of the particle that is thought to carry the force of gravity…but it’s never been observed…only its effects have been. without this particular issue the theory would be okay…but the gravity issue throws it a major curve ball, because even though its effects can be seen clearly, the full spectrum of its behavior is far from being understood.

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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

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