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

rainbowweddingbands

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

Mirror

IMG_0999

Not too long ago…I messed up pretty bad. It was a personal thing…perhaps not something that even would bother everyone. It killed me. I went to bed, woke up in the morning, and took a shower. When I got out of the shower, toweled off, and got dressed…there I stood…I saw my face in the mirror. I looked into my own eyes…and I was angry. I hated the man I saw. He was slime. He was subhuman…but…also… He. Was. Me. Continue reading

Confessions Of An Egotist: God Needs Me

preacher

The ministry is a very dangerous field…but not because of persecution or hatred from non-believers. The truth is that it’s dangerous because many of us aren’t aware of why were are in the ministry…and therein is the danger…because some of us THINK that we went into it because we felt a supernatural call from God that we were hand-picked to go and preach the truth to the masses…and that is far from the truth…at least for it was for me… Continue reading

Please, God…NO…

IMG_1533

I have wanted to write this for a long, long time, but I have been so afraid…but here goes anyway…

Several years ago my oldest daughter, Anna, said something that really shook me. Truth be told, the echo of her words bouncing around in my head has made me, at times, a nervous wreck. The irony is that these words are the kind that many fathers may live for…but not this one… Continue reading

Angry Christians

ghandi

 

I’m really having a hard time getting my thoughts out today…so I’ll do my best…but let me start by saying that I’m deeply concerned for the Body of Christ, which is to say the collective of Christianity. I’m concerned because I’ve noticed a terrible trend…a trend that is far from the vision that Jesus gave for His church…a trend that is counterproductive to the very cause for which we have been called… Continue reading

I Don’t Get It

godlove

I was watching a movie some years ago and it had a quote that I’ve never been able to shake. Richard Gere played Martin Vale, in the movie “Primal Fear.” He was a hotshot defense attorney that seemed to be bent on making a name for himself and getting rich. At one point, he was talking to a reporter and he said that the reason he did what he did had nothing to do with money or fame. He said that he did it because he believed in the basic goodness of mankind and that there are some very good people who do some very bad things. I’ve thought about that over and over. Continue reading

I Am A Christian Part Two: Lovingly Bold

Christian

As I surf the web this holiday season, I have observed the inevitable tension that has been mounting for the last several years. One group viscerally says that we should say, “Happy Holidays!” while the other group responds angrily and says, “Keep CHRIST in Christmas!” I was reading some articles the other day and one of the common threads among those that do not like saying “Christmas,” was this principle that Christians should not “force” our religion upon others. I began to really consider this for a moment… Continue reading

Amazing Grace

grace

John Newton was the songwriter who wrote the all-too-familiar hymn, Amazing Grace. After becoming a believer in Christ, he began to rid himself of the sinful habits of this world…things that were considered immoral or unholy. There was, however, one particular area in which he continued to struggle. He was a slave-trader, and he continued in this work even after his conversion. Eventually, he did leave that trade and became a supporter of the abolition of slavery. What is interesting about his story is that it is a story of progress…because even after we give our hearts over to Christ, we are still very much in need of growth…progress…and most importantly…we need grace. We need grace for our failures, and grace for our rebellion. We need it just as much for our hard hearts as we do for our broken ones. I was very much reminded of my personal need for grace recently…while on the kitchen floor in front of my brand new refrigerator…

Continue reading

Not Trash

human_trash_by_des_henkers_braut-d3kj6oe

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

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

Humbled

Humbled Man Pic 2

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

About My Mom…

17160_1189985319135_1205252_n

In past posts, I have mentioned things I’ve learned from dad and how his wisdom grows every year I live. I want to take a moment now to tell you some things about my mom…and the hard part is knowing exactly where to start. My mom is a real “character,” as they say…and those of you who know her are very much aware of what I mean. She’s full of life, mischief and laughs. She’s…well…she’s almost indescribable. Continue reading

Dry

iStock_000010633985XSmall

I hesitate to write this because, invariably, when I speak to others about this subject, they worry. I appreciate the concern, but I want to assure everyone that I’m okay. Having said that, let me just share something that maybe you can connect with. I’m dry. What I mean is that I am having a very hard time hearing from the Lord right now. My wife tells me that every time for a month or so preceding our vacation time, I get like this and I start to voice what one might call “ministerial despair.” To be clear, I’m not speaking of depression…but something different…

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

“Tetelestai”

It-is-finishedToday is Good Friday…and there’s some debate over why it is called by this name. This is the day in which we commemorate the crucifixion of Jesus of Nazareth, Who is called the “Christ,” or we might say, “Messiah.” There is some debate over the name of the day in terms of whether it was originally called “Good Friday,” or “God Friday,” or possibly something else. Years ago, when I first learned of this day and its name, I felt like it was cruelly or insensitively named…I thought that perhaps it may even have been disrespectful or flippant…but I was wrong…very wrong…or rather I guess I just didn’t understand the big picture and why we can truly call it a good day…as well as a God day… 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

Precious

IMG_1247

 

People can drive us nuts. They can get on our last nerve…making us want to…well you know what I mean. (And by the way…we are people too.)

My wife sometimes drives me crazy. She has this habit we used to argue about, but have just both decided to let go (which translates to “she won”).  We have a shower curtain, instead of a door. When she takes a shower, she aims the head straight back, and then when I get ready to take mine, and turn the water on to let it get warm…often times the water comes out the back, drenching the floor. I know, I know…I’ve since learned to check it before I turn it on, but that used to bug me to no end. I actually threatened to get one of those heads that always aims straight down so she couldn’t do it anymore…(trust me…I know how petty this sounds…just keep reading).  Continue reading

Don’t Beat Yourself Up

When I became a Christian, I entered the process we call “sanctification.” For those who may not totally understand the meaning of this word, it refers to the ongoing process of our being made holy. Essentially, this is what Paul was referring to in the 8th chapter of Romans, specifically verse 29. It mentions that we are being changed into the image of His Son. In other words, we are continuously going through a process wherein God is making us like Jesus. Of course, according to Scripture, this is not our doing but God’s. He saves us, and then sets us apart for this process. Throughout this process, I see a continual struggle in my life between the good that God would have me do and the evil that I have a tendency toward (This is also mentioned by Paul. See Romans 7.).

Logically, what this means is that as life goes on we should become more and more holy. It should get easier and easier to turn from sin. It should be more and more of a reflex to shun sin and embrace holiness…right? Now…I don’t know about you…but this is not really the case for me. It has made me wonder about a lot of things…like, “am I really saved?”…or, “is God going to get sick of me?” Continue reading

The Most Wonderfully Terrible Day

jesus-carrying-cross-bloody

When I was new to my faith, I had so many questions…and as I’ve grown in my faith over the last several years…my list of questions has as well. One question that always jumped out at me was about the death of Jesus. I always wondered why it happened…or rather why it had to happen. It has always been my understanding that God is all-powerful, and that ultimately, He’s “in control.” If that is the case, then why did He create a system of existence in which He (in the Person of Jesus) had to die?

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

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

confessions of an egotist

let me be honest: i’m an egotist. as a pastor, and as an egotist…i have a very big problem…because when egotism enters in to the mix of being the leader of a local body of believers, it very much affects what i care about and the things to which i pay attention. this all became real to me recently when i began to upload my sunday morning sermons to the church website. i record it and then come home and do just a little editing (not of content really but just of sound effects, in order to try and have a good quality). then i listen to it again…and i realize something…i’m not a great preacher…and that eats me up. some of you listen to me weekly and are very supportive and very appreciative and for that i am incredibly grateful and humbled…so let me explain what i mean when i say i’m not that great of a preacher…actually, bear with me for just a moment as i admit something else very much connected to this issue…

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

the doomsday distraction

15180605-mayan-calendar-background[1]

 

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