Forgive So You Can Be Free

I didn’t write any of the following. I’m not that gifted. But this sister is. Her name is Teresa McMillan. Look her up and follow her on Facebook. The rest of this post is hers:

They say ‘don’t get bitter…get better’…I’m working on switchin’ them letters ~Lecrae

It’s so easy to get bitter.

To not forgive.

To be a victim. 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

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

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

Failure

failure

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

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

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

The Hardest Thing I’ve Ever Done: Part 2

Samson

 

There is a story in the Bible about a man whose strength was legendary. His name was Samson and his story is recorded in Judges 13-16. The kinds of things the Bible records about him would be things we would attribute to mythology outside of the Bible…like Hercules, or Beowulf, etc. The story says that God had blessed him with strength and essentially there was nothing he couldn’t physically do. He tore a lion into pieces, killed 1000 men with the jawbone of a donkey, picked up the gates of the city and carried them to the top of a hill, and many other things that we read and are amazed by.

Continue reading

I Don’t Know

distraugt

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

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.

Continue reading

Fat Cows Or Foot Washers?

fat cows

In the 8th century B.C., there was a prophet named Amos. Of his own admission, he had no particular prominence in the world (Amos 7:14)…he was essentially just a blue collar guy whom the Lord called out, placing on him a burning message. That message was a message of judgement. This was during the time period called “The Divided Kingdom,” when Israel was the Northern Kingdom and Judah the southern. He was sent to the Northern Kingdom and told to call them out for their sin and let them know of the ensuing subsequent judgment. They were guilty of many things but there seems to be one root problem…and it is a problem that is alive and well within our modern culture as well. The people had given in to the self-centered tendencies of human nature and had become very indulgent. When I say indulgent, I’m not necessarily referring to food, although that is somewhat symptomatic of the deeper and more systemic problem. To cut to the chase, in 4:1, Amos calls the women “cows of Bashan.” Bashan was a place rich with resources in which the cattle would become “fat and happy.” He goes on to speak in the same verse about how they constantly want to be served…and catered unto…and spoiled…and this was followed by a host of other injustices. Continue reading

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

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

self-centered

 

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