Posts

A Safe Place

Image
In a former church, I helped launch ministries and worship that were designed to attract unchurched and de-churched people.  

Most of the newcomers were young, and some were covered in tattoos and piercings.  There were a couple of single moms, a young man who had just come out as gay to his family, more than a few skeptics, and a smattering of recovering alcoholics.   

It didn't take long for some of the existing church members to begin complaining about the kinds of people who were showing up on our church campus.  

Finally, after a few weeks of listening to their various gripes, I told them that they needed to get over themselves and that the church was a hospital and not a country club.  

They got offended.  Some of them wrote me nasty emails.  One of them came to my office to harangue me about how our ministries and worship were "ruining the church."  

I was angry, I felt they should have been offended by the way they said one thing and did another--at how they claimed t…

Get In The Game

Image
When it comes to a life of faith, there is a difference between being in the game than being on the bench. When you're not in the game, it's easy to keep a "bench" mindset.  You can find a comfortable routine, stay in the same sort of ruts, so to speak and just be content watching other people play.  

We've all been in bench mode at one point in time or another in our faith journey.  Maybe some of us are in bench mode right now.  We're bored with church and with religion.  We're too busy to really commit.  We're too distracted by other things in our life, or maybe we're too disillusioned by religion itself to stand up and get in the game. 

Some of us have been on the bench so long we don't even know how to play.  Some of us don't even know if we're on the team. 

And most of us feel like there is no way that God would ever want us to do big important things like telling his story.  We never would suspect that God would actually want us to …

Inside Out

Image
When I say that faith is a "heart" rather than a "head" thing, what does that mean to you?  Which one sounds better than the other, just right off the top of your head.  What's the difference between the two?  

Here's the thing, what you tell yourself about yourself matters far less than how you act.  You can tell yourself (and others) that you are a "good person," but if you live unethically and selfishly, and exhibit hatred, judgment, prejudice, and anger throughout your life---you're actions speak much louder than anything you might be saying. 

Lots of people call themselves Christians and claim to have experienced transformation--the kind of transformation that we've been discussing this week.  But their lives, their actions, the way they conduct themselves show very little evidence that anything about them has changed.  

I know I struggle with this, too.  I have really good intentions to live congruently--to make my outside match my insi…

Belonging To Jesus

Image
The Greek word christianos, which means "follower of Christ" comes from the word christos which means "anointed one."  But the ending to the Greek word christianos is borrowed from the Latin to denote belonging to, as in property.   

So to say that you are a Christian is so much more than saying that you are a follower of Jesus Christ.  When you say you are a Christian you are essentially saying that you "belong to Jesus" or as Paul puts it, you are "in Christ."  

When we say that we follow or belong to Jesus, we are identifying ourselves as part of something that is far greater than we are--we are declaring that we are set apart from the ordinary.  We have no fear of the future because we are filled with unbelievable, childlike hope.  

As I mentioned yesterday, we have been emancipated from our past, and from the things that used to define us.  And we declare unequivocally that we are no longer owned by the things of this world--our allegiance is …

New

Image
Almost every day of my life, I do things that make me dissatisfied in myself.  I yell at my kids.  I get impatient when I am driving around slow people, when I'm waiting in line at Chipotle, when I can't do all of the things I need to in a day...  the list is pretty long.  

If we are being honest, most of us struggle to be the people we know that we should be. 

And what we tend to hear most of the time from other Christians is that we can get it all together, we can overcome our feelings of inadequacy by reading that next Christian self-help book about 13 ways to be a better parent/wife/husband/child/church member/American... or going to church more often, being more religious, trying harder, keeping more rules...  

But as Craig Groeschel writes: Religious behavior can make you nice, but it won't make you new.  

As Christians we say we believe that following Jesus makes you new.  You can be a new creation. Like the Apostle Paul said, "the old has gone, the new has come.&q…

The Creed - Week Five: The Forgiveness Of Sins

Image
I was five years old when I learned a valuable lesson about confession and forgiveness--a lesson I have never forgotten to this day. 

Can I tell you that at five years old, I was a straight up theologian?  

Seriously.  By the time I was five I had heard scores of sermons, endured countless altar calls in the little Baptist church we attended, and because of this I knew one unalterable fact:  If I sincerely asked God to forgive me---no matter what I had done---God would forgive me.  

So on that fateful day in the grocery store when I was--to coin a very Southern term--acting a fool, and my mom, who is the most patient human being on the planet told me I was getting a whooping when I got home... I decided that the only thing left to me was to bring it to God. 

I found a spot by a stack of canned beans and started to pray.  The fact that I can recall that I was praying by a stack of canned beans is beyond me.  Of all of the details of things I can't remember about yesterday---I can remem…

Just Like Riding A Bike

Image
My littlest boy just turned seven and received a "big boy" bike for his birthday.  

His new bike sits a little higher, brakes differently and is a bit harder for him to handle than his old bike.  Still, every day he rides he gains more skills, and becomes more and more confident.

But I have noticed that when he encounters atypical circumstances--a hard turn, a sudden drop, a steep hill--he tends to lose that confidence and overcompensates by sticking his leg out to stop, turning too hard, or any number of things that result in a spill, and occasionally some frustrated tears.  

What I know that he doesn't is that at some point he'll become adept enough at riding that he won't be moving out in front of his skill.  

This realization got me thinking about how so many of us often find ourselves in circumstances that invite us to move ahead in our faith into unfamiliar territories and new paths--sometimes beyond our comfortable beliefs and traditions.

Oswald Chambers once w…