Tag Archive: working out our faith


our own worst enemy

Restaurant Receipt

Justin Lee: When Christians Are Christianity’s Worst Enemy.

the link above is to an article that i’m seeing far too often!  is’s about Christians that, when eating out, instead of leaving a tip for their server they will write something regarding the server’s lifestyle [gay, lesbian] or about God getting 10%…therefore no tip is given to the server.

this is absolutely unacceptable!

we are to be Christ’s ambassadors & we end up defaming the name of the One we say we love, the One we sing about & the One we worship. we end up tearing down everything we believe in when we act in this way.  the article linked above says it really well, so i encourage you to read it.  and consider the message we send while this season of hope is upon us.

john15:12 “love each other as I have loved you.” – Jesus

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colossians week 5

week 5 follow-up to the colossians series.  read – share – grow!

attitude of Christ [handout]

shame on you…

so the other day, actually every monday, i have breakfast with a local group of pastors @ the same restaurant & much to my sha-grin i have become, not only a regular there but i also have a regular order.  i say “sha-grin” because i never thought i’d be that guy.  i like to try different things on the menu; but clearly there is pattern that’s developed.

oatmeal with blueberries, raisin toast if i’m feeling crazy.  i know; it’s sad. oh_no_you_di_int_retro_housewife

this past monday when i ordered an omelet the table just about lost their collective mind & our waitress didn’t quite know what to do.  but i digress…

while we’re there, and this happens each week, we end up becoming quiet loud & boisterous; lots of laughing & just sharing life together.  one hilarious story leads  to another & it truly is the best meeting i have every week!  well, on monday last  we were our usual, loud-selves & we were chastised by another table through our waitress.  she comes over to us & jokingly says, “well, you guys are just too loud!”  and she jokes with us consistently & of course, we give it right back.  so this wasn’t an out-of-the ordinary comment.  but one of the guys asked if that came from another customer or if she’s just ribbing us.  she motioned over her shoulder to a table of 3 older women & said that they were complaining of our volume.  she then told them that we were pastors & that didn’t seem to impress these ladies whatsoever.  and to be fair, i don’t know that there’s much of us to be impressed with.  but setting that aside there is something going on in this little town, surrounded by a corn field, in the shadow of a prison.  God is doing something & it seems to be coming from the fact that we as pastors really, truly enjoy being together.

one of the guys pointed to the disconnect among churches in our county & said something like this;

maybe the disconnect among churches is because there’s a disconnect among their leaders.

i know that what i’m experiencing with these group of men & women, trying to lead the churches God has entrusted them to lead is a bit of a unique thing.  so i’m soaking it up as if it may vanish at any moment, praying that it never leaves.

back to our boisterous enjoyment of time spent together…

how often is your expression of time spent with the people of God loud & excited?  for some of us that shows up in our worship to God.  for some it’s highly limited to places of athletics.  for others it rarely shows up at all.  and truly, i’m ok with causing a stir in a local restaurant with conversation that centers around what God is doing & simply the joy of knowing that God is doing something in this little town, surrounded by corn, in the shadow of a prison.  and i’m probably going to get loud about that from time to time.

 i’m just glad that i have some men & women that are going to get loud about it too.

so it finally happened…an athlete in a major sport [football, basketball, baseball, hockey] broke his silence & said that he is gay.  first time in this country this has happened.  all of this broke mon., april29 with a sport illustrated article [here is a link to one such article].  what happens now, for the Christ-follower & the church, is highly important.  the things that we say now & how we behave has a great opportunity to reach into places we’ve often stayed away from…and stayed away at our own doing & choice. the issue of tolerance is often brought up when these kinds of conversations are had.  “you have to be tolerant of others beliefs & even their reaching-outbehaviors, otherwise you’re being judgmental!” important point: we need to be sure we understand what tolerance means.

tol·er·ance defined

1.  a fair, objective, and permissive attitude toward those whose opinions, practices, racereligion, nationality, etc., differ from one’s own; freedom from bigotry.

2.  fair, objective, and permissive attitude toward opinions and practices that differ from one’s own.

tolerance does not mean that i have to agree with whatever you want to do or say.  tolerance DOES mean that i respect you as a person & that you have value, even if i don’t agree with how you live your life.  this is also how we recognize what love is all about.

so, with all of that said, this is a grand time to make sure that as a Christ-follower i am reaching out to those that feel as though they may have had to hide a part of their lives.  this was a prominent part of the article about jason collins & admitting his sexuality. recently i was having a conversation with a friend of mine & our conversation ended up being about how we talk with people that believe different than us.  how do we show love, but at the same time talk with them is such a way that they know where we stand?  what we ended up saying is that our best bet is to always get back to Jesus.  always get it back to Jesus.

so in light of these recent events, we look to Jesus…

Jesus is consistently seen with the kind of people that the local church leaders did not have much patience or time for.  He’s found at their parties, not obeying the rituals of the day, ignoring the societal standards of separation.  and it ticked them off to the point of orchestrating His death. but an interesting thing emerges; those people that the church-folk didn’t like, liked Jesus; even though the church-folk were more like Him, but Jesus didn’t seem to like the church-folk very much… meaning this: Jesus seemed to want to be with those that were outside the church more than those inside the church.  i’m not why this is, but here is a possibility.  it is natural for us to become highly comfortable with people that are most like us & Jesus seemed to want to break that down.  acknowledging that His greatest desire is for us…ALL of us.  and His desire for us is shared through those that already know Him.  so i must make sure that the way i talk about this issue, & how i even feel toward those that have this life-style, is covered in the love of Christ.

may you do the same…

looking-for-something1-305x305interesting bit of learning lately…

in romans 10:1 paul says that he’s praying to God for the salvation of the israelites.  this is interesting on a couple of fronts…

one > that word “praying” can be understood as beg

when was the last time you begged God for the salvation of anyone?

i mean you really put some “beg” into it?  that you were so hard up for someone to find Jesus that you pestered God to the point He might just hit you with that proverbial lightening bolt we sometimes think He’s carrying around?  that you couldn’t leave Him alone about it?

yea, me too.  i think our prayers don’t involve a lot of begging.  at times, yes.

healing, free from cancer, free from painful/difficult/abusive situations.

but begging God for salvation?  maybe it’s been a while.

so maybe that’s something that needs to happen in our churches, that we need to start begging God to bring people that don’t know Him into the churches where they can be discipled & mentored along the way.  beg God that He would create a problem of too many disciples & not enough disciple’rs…and that He would then do something about that problem too!

second thing of interest > paul is begging God for the israelites….yea, go ahead & think about that for a minute.

aren’t the israelites supposed to already know God?  aren’t they the “chosen ones”?  don’t they already know the words to all the songs & know how this religious thing is supposed to work?

and there it is, the thing paul wants us to pay attention to:

you and can be around all kind of “God” stuff your whole life, and still miss Jesus

just go ahead & substitute “israelites” with “church-folk” & we understand that paul is talking to us.  he’s praying – begging – God for our salvation.  because he knows that there are lots of people in synagogues [churches] that have been doing the “church thing” for most/all of their lives & they don’t know Jesus from an electrical outlet.

and here’s what i’m afraid of….

…that it’s all true.

the reason i’m afraid is that the church is loaded with people that have a relationship with their local church but lack a passionate love for Jesus,

and that’s what He’s really after.

so the question is this; do i just have a relationship, connection, bond with my local church?  that is to say, do i show up when they meet & do stuff when they ask & give when the need is high?

[which are all good things]

but in the midst of all that i don’t have any outside-the-church connection to Jesus?

if so, what needs to change?  how does that get corrected?  do we really want to correct it?

if you & i do really want to correct this pattern i offer no quick-fix solutions & “done in an hour” remedies.

what i do offer is simply this; commit yourself fully to giving more of you to Christ each day.  spend time in His word.  if you have a smart phone this couldn’t get any easier.  there are loads of bible apps to download to your phone with reading plans with settings & reminders that pop up for you.  the only thing you have to do is read it.  God is deeply desiring to connect to us through His word, so get into it.

thing 2 – find out what needs to be done @ your local church & do it.  but don’t just do it just because.  understand what whatever you do with your hands, mind, heart is to be done with the intent/understanding that you’re doing it to/for/with the image of God.  and if your church can’t come up with anything that great for you to do find out what’s lacking in your city/town/berg/village & do that in the same manner…in fact, that might be the place to begin.  serve your town as if you’re serving God Himself.

don’t simply dive into church stuff & miss Jesus.  don’t spend your time immersed in busy-work or church-life or even family life & miss Jesus.

He has loads to show us & beauty to uncover & challenges to guide us through & pain to over-come and, and, and…

 

Holiday-Christmas-Gifts-Redknee-deep in the Christmas season, plans coming together, gifts being purchased & shipped; Christmas songs seemingly in every store.  i was in a store just the other day & there were 2 versions of songs i thought i knew but the tempo was all wrong & much too cheery for those particular songs.

oh wait, did i just say that something new was not so good, and i preferred the old??

…oh no!

SUBJECT CHANGE:

this season, i am again reminded about the 1st century conditions & climate of the world Jesus is born into; dirty, corrupt, loads of people in need, the gap between the “have’s & have-not’s” growing…anything sound familiar?

just the other night someone said, as we were having this very conversation about gifts & giving, that we tend to walk around with our yard stick &  measure up the lives or gifts of others based on our thoughts & presuppositions [our yard stick].  this is fraught with all kinds of problems from how much we spend [gifts] all the way down to how much we think we need a savior.

there is a growing trend, movement of people that are doing their best, in their corner of the world to return Christmas to Christ.  everything from give relational gifts, to reach into dark places & being Christ to some people.  just a brilliant approach to what we do with this season.

there can be a struggle in figuring out how to do this.  we’ve been so steeped in what Christmas has looked like that we’ve all drunk the kool-aid & simply don’t see a way out.

advent conspiracy has some wonderful ways to make the season memorable without going further into debt or simply over-spending.  on the right @ the bottom of their home page is the [AC calendar].  download the PDF & there you’ll find QR codes for every day of december.

sidebar…i don’t think it’s ok to say, “well, if i have it, isn’t it ok to spend it?”  the answer is “NO!, it’s not ok.”  i don’t believe that Jesus was sent so that we could, through our hard work & self-driven effort, have a great life.

the download from advent conspiracy, with QR codes, is about raising our awareness as Christ-followers.  i truly believe that the way the world changes is connected to our sense of compassion for those in need & the way God uses that compassion to move us into action.

so come on, download the PDF, print the poster, hang it in your house/office, and use your smart phone for something more than facebook & pintrest.  [not that those things are bad]

in the words of advent conspiracy: let’s find ways to worship fully, spend less, give more and love all

doing GOOD

pretty interesting days in the life of the church these days.

no, that’s not a sarcastic  comment on some recent interaction or odd conversation with a “church-folk.”

first a little history…every 500-or so years in the life of the church there is a major change [some call it a “sea change”] where all the grids change & a lot of the assumptions are shifted.  programs change & people experience a shift in how they relate to God & how the church functions.  500 years ago it was the reformation, phyllis tickle does a good job talking about this pattern in this interview.

i read or saw [don’t remember which it was] an interview with tim keller on the perceived tension of a “social gospel” [built around the activity of helping those in need] & being evangelistic [getting people connected to Christ & their souls saved].  the premise of what he was saying is that we [the church] has felt a tension between trying to decide weather we [the church] are a church that’s focused on being an evangelistic body or one that’s built around helping people with their every-day needs.  and then goes on to say that we need not feel that tension.  in reality we’re called to do both things & we don’t need to choose between the two, but in fact do both.

couple all of this with a recent interview i heard with scot mcKnight where, among other things, he talks about a word in the bible that peter uses when he encourages the people to “do good” [heb.13:16 & gal.6:10].  this phrase is technical in it’s root.  relating to the activity of working & creating for the city; building structures, building docks, the shoreline, etc.

this is interesting to me.  when we consider the “what” of what we’re supposed to be doing in our respective towns & cities it’s significant that we engage in practical ways so that the church can move from this marginalized entity that’s for the “already churched folk”.   and if moves to a place where doubt & anxiety [why are they here?  are they just going to preach to me & try to get me saved?  whatever that means…] are replaced with “i’m really glad they’re here.  no one was doing that thing there.

i’ve been asking a question, a question that i hear others asking too [no, it’s not my question; just one i’m borrowing].

if the local church, in any town, anywhere,  just disappeared & was gone.  would it matter to anyone other than the people that called that church their “home church?”

 the answer to that question, for lots of churches across the country is a resounding “NO”.  the local church has seemingly lost it’s way & has forgotten, in some regard, the way of Jesus.  may that change now.  may we begin, in new ways, to live out the life of faith that Jesus exhibited.  may we, the church, reassert ourselves into the public fray once again.