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 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

Does Everyone Go To Heaven?

Of all of the questions that come from discussions related to faith and/or religion, one of the most central and critical has got to be the one about everyone’s eternal destination. As I mentioned in a previous post, Francis Chan wrote in Erasing Hell that it seems as though everyone goes to heaven if we look at the subject through the lens of what is said at funerals. I couldn’t agree more. It would appear as though one of our ways of comforting the grieving is to make sure they believe that the one they lost is now in heaven with other loved ones. (As an aside, let me say that it’s hard to know how to address this subject and this especially true when dealing with someone’s death.) So what does the Bible say about this? Is there legitimate evidence in Scripture to support the idea that everyone will go to heaven one day…whether they believe in Jesus or not…or whether they are part of an entirely different belief system, such as Islam, New Age, Hinduism, satanism, or any other? Continue reading

God Doesn’t Love Me “Very Much…”

In my life, I’ve made many mistakes. Actually, if I’m honest, I’ve not made as many mistakes as I’ve made terrible decisions. These were not decisions that were made without knowledge of consequence, but in spite of it. Decisions were made with self serving interests…sometimes to the detriment of someone else. I wish I could say that I made those decisions before becoming a Christian so as to be able to avoid the label of hypocrite. However, I think I’ve made more of them since being a Christian than I did before. Having said all of this, I’ve spent much time in stir over whether or not God could really love me. If He could…then how much could He possibly love me? I mean…let’s be honest…If he’s really a holy and perfect Being…He couldn’t love me a lot…especially since He would know my every thought…my every action…the deepest, darkest recesses of my heart and soul… 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

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”

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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

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

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

Mad At God

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Consider a reality that we sometimes feel uncomfortable with…consider the reality that sometimes we have really awful things happen in our lives or the lives of those that we care about and we have a lot of questions. Then we pray…we ask God why this happened. He gives no answer or gives one that we do not understand at all. We may ask Him more questions…only to have Him go silent. At this point, we feel an array of different emotions. We may feel hopeless, abandoned, confused, panicked, anxious, doubtful…and that’s just to name a few…and then…perhaps the one feeling that is stronger than the others is angerwith Him. We find ourselves mad at Him. Can you relate? Have you ever been angry at God? I have…very recently. As a matter of fact, I’m still processing through my feelings… Continue reading

Abandoned

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I haven’t posted much of anything in some time due to an accident that happened recently. I was working at my part time job a few weeks ago and had an accident that resulted in a concussion. Apparently, recovery from such an injury has no real schedule. Each person is quite different in the way they respond to this. My response has been somewhat discouraging at times. It’s no fun at all to not be able to trust your memory or even your thinking at a given moment. And there are some other symptoms that linger for a while causing discomfort and inconvenience. However, I didn’t write this to complain and cry. I wrote this to express something else that’s been going on during this process…and maybe you can relate…to a feeling of abandonment…by God… Continue reading

The Hell Of Jesus

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During WWII six Navy pilots left their aircraft carrier on a mission. After searching the seas for enemy submarines, they tried to return to their ship shortly after dark. But the captain had ordered a blackout of all lights on the ship. Over and over the frantic pilots radioed, asking for just one light so they could see to land. But the pilots were told that the blackout could not be lifted. After several appeals and denials of their request, the ship’s operator turned the switch to break radio contact–and the pilots were forced to ditch in the ocean.

Can you fathom the feeling of that type of abandonment? That had to have been the scariest and most helpless feeling one could ever have… Imagine the panic…imagine the anxiety.   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

My Chameleon Faith

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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

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

The Battle In My Head

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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

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

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.”
Continue reading

Brat

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I hesitate to write this because many people may be somewhat offended by the content. It’s not my intention to offend nor to attack. It’s simply my intention to point out a truth that it seems like all adults agree upon. Being around an ill-behaved child is something that absolutely grates on one’s nerves. We then will often think of how much we would like to have that child for one day so that we could “straighten them out.” (This line of thinking isn’t at all based in reality, but it is something that often may go through our heads.) Whether the child is in our family or a stranger in the grocery store, this issue is a serious one in our society. Continue reading

Put Down Your Sword

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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

What People Think Of Me…

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I’ve mentioned before that I struggle with insecurity…and deeply connected with that concern is a fear of what others think of me. In recent months, I’ve written about some very serious social issues, but I’ve done so with a great deal of anxiety. The reason for my anxiety is that I don’t want to be dishonest about my beliefs or disrespectful to my faith while also not wanting to alienate those that don’t share the same view. I guess if I’m really and totally honest, my fear is that I would be lumped in with a particular segment in our culture that is seen as a very close-minded or even ignorant group. (I’m not saying they are close-minded or ignorant, but just that they are viewed that way.) So…what happens next is that I have a conversation with someone…or stand up to preach a sermon…or sit down to write an article…and then I begin to struggle through all of the possible outcomes to the various things I could say or write. This can be paralyzing to some people…people like me… Continue reading

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

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

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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