One of my favorite passages in the Scripture has always been the story of a man who had a demon-possessed son who brought him to Jesus’ disciples to have the demon cast out (Mark 9). However, the disciples were not able to get the job done, and Jesus’ response is that they are a “faithless generation.” I’ve always thought that this statement was a somewhat tongue-in-cheek chastisement of His followers… or perhaps a way of getting onto them the way a coach would get on to his players. Maybe that’s the truth of it… but maybe there’s something more to consider… something insidious in the hearts and minds of man… Continue reading →
I grew up in the south. My grandfather was a minister for most of his life. Until my parents split up (when I was 7 years old), my dad taught Sunday School and my family was active in the church. Christianity was in our DNA. Church was inherited. It had been established in our minds and hearts as something we were to be a part of. In my teenage years and my very early 20’s, I had abandoned any belief in the Bible and in Jesus. I had certainly abandoned my belief in the church. However, there was always this nagging tug in my mind that I should be going to church. Even though I didn’t believe in it, I had learned this as an activity from early on in my childhood…and non-participation felt like a betrayal of my identity. We attended church nominally throughout those years and I would sometimes participate with my friends in a few activities…but it felt so foreign…so wrong…so fake…yet so important. Continue reading →
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 →
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 →
Why do the stories of helpless animal rescue tug so much at our heart strings? Why do they appeal so much to us…and moreover…why do we have such an aversion to animal cruelty/negligence? I think the answers for these questions are pretty well obvious, but something more occurred to me today. This morning, I watched an online video of a man rescuing a dog from the bottom of a canyon. He seemed pretty sure that the dog (whom he named Riley) was put there intentionally by someone, and there was no way for Riley to get out on his own. He was nearly starved to death and extremely dehydrated. After discovering Riley on his hike/rappel, he went back out, got food, water, and a towel and went back down to give Riley the immediate assistance he desperately needed. After this he went down another time to bring him out and begin the process of his recovery. This is a wonderful story of someone helping a creature that was truly helpless and pitiful… Continue reading →
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…
when i became a follower of Jesus, i immediately had multiple questions about the ways i was supposed to engage the world from that point forward. what i mean is that i wanted to know about “the rules,” for lack of a better word…or perhaps the “how-should-we-act-when,” types of questions. this pertained to various avenues in my life…language, attitude, money, marriage, public appearance…and the list seemingly goes on ad infinitum. i wanted the guidelines and for someone to tell me how Christians are supposed to act…i literally wanted the rules…and believed that if i had them and followed them that i would be bringing a degree of happiness to the heart of God…like a proud Father of a son that has been obedient. this is how many of us view our faith, and it’s not a bad thing to want to know how to make the Father proud (albeit that is the wrong question)…but i’ve learned something about my faith…it cannot be contained within a set of rules that have been fabricated using materials and concepts from an existence to which my faith is not bound…did you get that?
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 →
after more than a decade of ministry work and church attendance, i have noticed something very peculiar…there is something missing…something very important…central…essential…and it’s totally missing. a.w. tozer spoke of this same principle when he wrote his book the divine conquest…he said that there is no greater reality than the utter unreality with which the Christian church approaches worship. what mr. tozer was saying was that the most real thing in the life of the church is that when we worship, we don’t act as though we actually believe in the Object of our worship…resulting in just another ritual which we are going through to check off the “religion” box for our week. i have been in very traditional settings as well as charismatic ones and the same truth is very observable in both…it’s just expressed differently. in the traditional setting, there is an insistence on dignified behavior and speech, and in the charismatic there is a desire to have an “experience.” but in both circumstances, i notice that people leave and then eventually begin down the same paths of habit and life as they had before…because transformation wasn’t/isn’t occurring…just temporary highs or reminders…but life-altering, mind-invading, heartfelt change was not/is not happening. Continue reading →
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 →
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 →
in the majority of evangelical churches, there is a lot of talk about “the great commission.” this is the command that Jesus gave His followers to go out into the world and make disciples of all nations. truly, the original language (greek) doesn’t refer to “nations” as we understand them. it is the word “ethnos” (ἔθνος), which is where we get our word, “ethnicity.” so what He was saying was to make disciples of all people groups, of every color, and culture in the world. this is where our missionary efforts come from…sending out missionaries to carry out this commission. this is typically a very difficult but very rewarding lifestyle and many of our missionaries have given their lives in response to this call…spreading the Gospel message all the while and sowing seeds of the Gospel all across the world…in the attempt to make disciples. we also do this (or should be doing this) at home, in our communities, counties, states, and nation… Continue reading →
Maybe you and I have something in common… I’m a little bit insecure. Truth be told, I’ve been working on publishing this blog for a long time now. Not this particular article, but just the idea of this blog. I begin to write something, then I don’t know how to wrap it up or I wind up not thinking it makes much sense…all in all, if I’m totally honest…what I’m really worried about is whether anyone is gonna like it. And that worries me. In the last few years, I have become much more comfortable with whom I am, yet I find that I still really fight this battle of insecurity and acceptance.