Brat

brat-400x400

 

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

FightFireWithFire3

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…

what people think

 

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

rainbowweddingbands

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

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