I was listening to a podcast yesterday and it had an advertisement break. The product being advertised had a tagline that was something like, “becoming a better you.” As I thought about this I realized that nearly everything we buy or buy into is presented this way… with a promise that if we use the product, service, or ideology correctly, then we will be an improved version of ourselves. I continued to contemplate this idea and realized this is the way that many people (if not most) approach Christianity. The problem is that Christianity is not about making you a better version of you. It’s not about fixing your broken parts… Continue reading →
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 →
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.
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.
i have noticed that one of the things Christians are known for is our rules. we have rules about so many things that people on the outside will quite often look at us and wonder what we are “allowed” to do…because it may seem like we aren’t “allowed” to do much. the irony is that Jesus entered into the world through an ethnic culture that loved rules, rules, and more rules, yet His work freed them and us from these very rules. the freedom that they gained (if they chose to accept it, just like us) was that they were free from the penalties of breaking these rules as well as freedom from having to jump through any sort of hoop in relation to their religion. when Gentiles (non-Jewish people) began to believe in Jesus, there arose a question: “do they need to keep our laws?” Continue reading →