Saturday, October 9, 2010
Many people consider this a pivotal part of the service and get frustrated if the Pastor doesn't include this in every gathering. The number of people who raise their hands gets promoted; everyone considers it a great service if many people raise their hands. The success of the pastor or service is quantified by how many people raise their hands.
This has just been a normal part of my up-bringing and faith, but just recently I took a second look...I considered it instead of just accepting it as a norm. And I'm no longer sure if this is a healthy way to quantify the presence of the Holy Spirit, or the success of a Pastor, or even the salvation of a new believer.
I don't think conversion ususally happens in an instant. I in no way doubt it can, but I don't think it's the norm. I also wonder if saying a simple prayer, that's likely not even genuine or understood because it's just a copy of the Pastor's words, is the gateway to salvation.
Tuesday, June 8, 2010
I read Jerry Cook's book, Love, Acceptance and Forgiveness, approximately 7 years ago because my pastor at the time, Jim Bolin, often referenced the book and I was so overwealmed by my pastor's love, acceptance and forgiveness of people.
Almost every week, he would so geniunely teach at the pulpit that we not judge each other because: "you don't know where she comes from or what God's doing in him." He would entice on a regular basis, "If you come around here, we're going to love you. No matter who you are, what you've done or how you look, smell or behave, we're going to love you." And he would explicitly demand, "We're going to love and accept people, and if you don't want to love people, you're in the wrong place. This church is going to love people." It didn't take me far in my reading to realize that my humble pastor was almost directly quoting Jerry Cook.
I came across the book again last week and heard he wrote its second edition last year. So I picked it up again and am flying through it. There are probably more sentences underlined and highlighted than not. And if I were to include a quote of every line I loved, I would probably end up typing out the entire book.
I highly recommend this book! Look out for an update of this blog entry for more quotes to follow.
Wednesday, April 7, 2010
"Our greatest fear as individuals and as a church should not be of
failurebut of succeeding at things in life that don't really matter."
Wednesday, March 17, 2010
It’s hard to get outside of your comfort zone. It’s hard to make yourself uncomfortable. It’s hard to put yourself out of your safety box and to actually see the world as it is. Go to the world. Instead of, I think sometimes…the church system as a whole, we like people to come to us, and you know, the thing…Jesus did, is He went out to the world… I think we, as being the light of lights, should be going to the world, and spreading hope in such a impacting and explosive way.
Watch this awesome feature that 700 Club did on Daniel Bashta & how he's putting his worship in motion: http://cbn.com/vod/index.aspx?s=/vod/700Clubi_060209_WS'
(and keep watching even after the feature until 12:40!)
Here's this musician's website: http://danielbashta.com/. Check out his song, "Like a Lion" ...it's awesome!! David Crowder just produced his song on the latest Passion CD.
A few other great quotes:
There are all these dreamers in this generation and society has done a good job of trying to kill the dreamers….and in my life, I believe, in our lifetime, through the great commission, and to see the great completion happen, there’s gonna be a resurrection of dreamers. And my prayer is that I’m a part of that army and I truly see revival happen in my life first and see it happen in my community, my neighborhood and see it explode and echo throughout the world."
"God is looking for a generation that will be His army and put their worship in motion."
I think it's definitely true: we are a generation of dreamers. Church is evolving because dreamers are daring to dream bigger and beyond. I'm praying with Daniel Bashta to continue to see this resurrection of dreamers, to see our worship put in motion, to be a part of this army!
Friday, February 26, 2010
Timothy Keller uses the Parable of The Two Lost Sons (Luke 15) to show God's perspective on the church vs. unchurched. He points out how the parable wasn't to show the waywardness of the sinner but actually, the "waywardness" of the religious people even though they were living according to the Bible! Keller argues that the point of the parable wasn't to create categories between the prodigal son and the good son but rather to shatter our categories of who we think are the righteous vs unrighteous.
Keller says, "[Jesus] is on the side of neither the irreligious nor the religious, but he singles out the religious moralism as a particularly deadly spiritual condition."*
I like what Keller has to say. We need to not judge others' relationships with God based on the normal views of religious actions vs lack of religious activities. We do not know what God is doing in people's hearts, and simply the outward appearance is no way to determine one's salvation.
Is it even up to us to determine another's salvation??
I think it's truly only up to us to encourage others in faith and let God do the knowing.
Above judging others' spiritual conditions from afar, Keller challenges our view of Jesus. Similarly to the message Andy Stanley gives in the video I posted on 6.21.09 (in the blog entry titled, "Jesus Liked People Who Were Nothing Like Him"), Keller points out that Jesus often got along better the unreligious people of his day more than the religious people!
Here's an excerpt from the book:
"The crucial point here is that, in general, religiously observant people were offended by Jesus, but those estranged from religious and moral observance were intrigued and attracted to him. We see this throughout the New Testament accounts of Jesus's life. In every case where Jesus meets a religious person and a sexual outcast (as in Luke 7) or a religious person and a racial outcast (as in John 3-4) or a religious person and a political outcast (as in Luke 19), the outcast is the one who connects with Jesus and the [religious person] does not. Jesus says to the respectable religious leaders 'the tax collectors and the prostitutes enter the kingdom before you' (Matthew 21:31).
Jesus's teaching consistently attracted the irreligious while offending the Bible-believing, religious people of his day. However, in the main, our churches today do not have this effect! The kind of outsiders Jesus attracted are not attracted to contemporary churches, even our most avant-garde ones. We tend to draw conservative, buttoned-down, moralistic people. The licentious and liberated or broken and marginal avoid church. That can only mean one thing. If the preaching of our ministers and the practice of our parishioners do not have the same effect on people that Jesus had, then we must not be declaring the same message that Jesus did. If our churches aren't appealing to [the liberal and unreligious], they must be more full of [the closed-off and piously religious] than we'd like to think." **
*Keller, Timothy. The Prodigal God: Recovering the Heart of the Christian Faith. Pengiun Group: New York, NY. 2008. p. 13
Tuesday, January 5, 2010
“There are a lot of Christ-followers who haven’t taken the time to figure out what their holy discontent is, and so they’re doing a gradual slide into apathy and complacency—and that is unconscionable in a broken and lost world.”
Monday, November 30, 2009
I think Ted Haggard handles things so humbly and his outlook is just right. I identify with so many things they're saying and think they've got "it"...the truth of the Gospel, the right message to preach that the world needs. Their message is important for the church to learn, a message that I think God is teaching to many in the church all over the world these days.
"The Scriptures came alive so vibrantly in me as I went through this very, very dark tunnel. " - Ted
“The miracle of Jesus is that He connected with our humanity, the real us.” – Ted
“It’s a huge mistake in the church when we think that we’re all about our righteousness and that’s what connects us…because that’s not what connects us…it’s that we came into this thing as sinners…” - Gayle
“Before, as much as we tried to communicate everyone was welcome at our church and that we had compassion and mercy, what we didn’t know is what it felt like to be the people who needed it until now, and that’s what has changed us.” - Gayle
“Well, those who are saying I don’t deserve it are right, they are exactly right, that is the problem with believing the Gospel...is that people who don’t deserve anything get all kinds of wonderful things…so they’re right when they say I don’t deserve it, but I think that is the point of the Gospel.” - Ted
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
The Prosperity Gospel from The Global Conversation on Vimeo.
This clip so gracefully and pointedly shows the positive and the negative together in the Prosperity Gospel.
I appreciate it because I feel that there IS a negative AND a positive to this emphasis on the Gospel. When people trash "the prosperity gospel," I get very uneasy, but when people praise it, I feel uneasy too. I think the Prosperity Gospel is necessary and good...for a specific place and time....but I also agree that it's not for everywhere, everyone or for all-the-time.
Sunday, October 25, 2009
This is a beautiful moment that I got to be a part of (in the room) and will NEVER FORGET!
Jimmy starts to speak at minute 3:45:
The video can also be found on Catalyst's website: http://www.catalystspace.com/catablog/full/2009_catalyst_compassion_moment/
Thursday, October 1, 2009
Read the article here: http://www.newsweek.com/id/215290
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
"He who begins by loving Christianity better than Truth, will proceed by loving his own sect or Church better than Christianity, and end in loving himself better than all."
Samuel Taylor Coleridge
Saturday, September 19, 2009
One of the signs that you may not grasp
the unique, radical nature of the gospel
is that you are certain that you do.
To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Thursday, September 10, 2009
Anything you do for God that did not first come from communion with God is legalism.
Sunday, September 6, 2009
Ignore Your Critics
If you find 100 comments on a blog post or 100 reviews of a new book or 100 tweets about you... and two of them are negative, while 98 are positive...which ones are you going to read first?
If you're a human being and you're telling the truth, the answer is pretty obvious: you want to know which misguided losers had nasty things to say and you want to know what they said. In fact, if we're being totally truthful, it's likely you're going to take what the critics had to say to heart.
That's a shame. The critics are never going to be happy with you, that's why they're critics. You might bore them by doing what they say... but that won't turn them into fans, it will merely encourage them to go criticize someone else. It doesn't matter what Groucho or Elvis or Britney or any other one-name performer does or did... the critics won't be placated. Changing your act to make them happy is a fool's game.
Here's a surprising thought, though. You should ignore your fans as well.
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
He expresses what I have felt for quite some time now about church. I feel as though our Christian culture has placed way too much importance on church. Please don't get me wrong, church is very important and I fully support it. But I just feel as though we have placed it almost as high as salvation....as though our salvation completely depends on church.
These days is seems as though to attend church is equivalent to being a Christian. If you miss church, people start to wonder about your faith's strength. If you bring up the idea of not attending church EVERY SINGLE Sunday, many Christians around will respond as though you have just uttered complete blasphemy.
But church attendance and being Christian aren't irrevocably linked. And the person who lives and sleeps at church is not more holy than the person who only attends one program a week.
It seems as though the mindsets of most Pastors and most Church Leadership is that it's vital for the faith of the members that people become more involved in church activities...Sunday service, then Bible Study, then Small Group, then volunteering, the list goes on....the more the better. It seems as though the general idea in church offices is that one of their greatest responsibilities is to get more people to do more church stuff or to get them to replace "other stuff" in their lives with church stuff.
I don't think it ought to be this way. Church isn't equivalent to our faith. Church simply aids it. And church isn't life. Again, it simply aids it. I believe that too much church CAN hurt one's faith.
Often times if someone is good at something, such a softball, for example, and this person plays for a local softball league....its seems as though the general idea is that if that person started playing for the church softball league instead it would be better for that person.
Or if someone can play the drums really well and plays for a local band, church people seem to always want that person to spend less time playing "out there" and more time playing in the church.
Or if a teen is dedicated to a sport, say, cheerleading so that she has to go to practice after practice and event after event, it's not unlikely that the Youth Leaders will express frustration and disappointment that the girl can't attend more youth functions. While I appreciate Youth Leaders wanting to see discipleship in student's lives, I'm addressing a different issue...the idea that church is at all times of greater importance than secular activities, and the mindset that God is not being glorified unless people are in church.
Why do we put this type of pressure or thinking in people?
Perhaps God wants that softball player to stay in his secular league because he is a Light for God to his team members, and perhaps those team members will never know about Christ unless he is there.
Perhaps God wants the drummer to stay in his band and not play for the church because he can reach the world there, and God has a purpose for him that will not be fulfilled if he is at church every night of the week.
And perhaps God wants the teenager to excel at Cheerleading so that she will become a professional at it, and be a Light for God through it one day!
But we seem to think narrow-mindedly that church is the only place for Godliness to occur. We live in fear of the world, as though God can only impact us when we are involved in everything-church-related.
I spent most of my life, schooling and extra-curricular activities in the Church and I honestly feel a little gypped...that I never interacted with non-Christian people enough to be a light for God to them, that I missed out on opportunities to excel personally, and became narrow-minded staying so isolated...and thus missed out on opportunities to be a vessel that God could work through.
Jesus didn't just isolate Himself to the temple and to the "righteous" people. In Mark 2:16, the Pharisees questioned about Jesus, "Why does He eat with tax collectors and sinners?" In other words, the Pharisees noticed that Jesus didn't act like they did: only interacting with "good" people and spending most of their time at the temple. I believe that when we only hang out at Church and with other Christians, we're more like the Pharisees than like Jesus.
Jesus heard the Pharisees' question and answered, "...I have not come to call the righteous but sinners" (Mark 2:17). Jesus came for the sinners so He put Himself in a place to reach out to the sinners.
Please also note that Jesus didn't just use the method of "witness night" where He created fun events at the temple to attract people there so He could then talk to them. Nor did He first plan to meet a bunch of "righteous" people at the temple steps so they could all go out and do official "outreaches." No, Jesus simply lived in the world, allowed Himself to interact with the world, purposefully got to know people intimately, went to their houses, got involved in their lives.
He didn't just do this as "official" outreach, He lived His life this way. I believe we should too. We should not limit our interaction with the world to official church outreaches or to the "witness events" that we plan at church. We need to go to church, but then we also need to simply be part of the world and allow our lives to mix with the world, to know people intimately and eat, live, walk with non-members on a regular basis. This is what Jesus did. I believe we should too.
Not only did Jesus set this example, but He called us to the same Commission. To go into the world and make disciples. When all we do is go to church and live at church, we're not fulfilling the Great Commission. Just going once a month to do 30 minute "outreaches" on the street is OK but I honestly don't believe this is all God called us to with His Great Commission. He called us to follow His example and be members of the world, to live beside "sinners," and be a light this way. First and foremost. And then to ALSO go on outreaches. I believe that to follow Jesus' example is to simply be in the world and not spend ALL our time isolated inside church walls.
I would love to see a church only have services every couple of weeks.
I would love to see a church community explicitly encourage families to find the "best fit" for them with regards to how often and how many church programs they attend...a combination that honors God the most in their lives.
I would love to see Pastors and Church Leadership understand that church is not the highest good in the lives of their members.
I would love to see a Pastoral Staff promote that God be glorified through members being "sent out" into their community -
I would love to see a Church Staff that understood, fully, how God's work in people's lives extends beyond church activities and into every cipher of life. Not just that God needs to be in every cipher, but that God IS there, and that church is not the only source of God for the individual.
I would love to see church evolve with this type of mindset!!!!
Monday, August 24, 2009
Well, I got a new perspective.
It is not scientific doubt, not atheism, not pantheism, not agnosticism, that in our day and in this land is likely to quench the light of the gospel. It is a proud, sensuous, selfish, luxurious, church-going, hallow-hearted prosperity.
Frederic D. Huntington
"The feedback I received from other Christians reassured me that...I was good enough, 'godly enough.'
But this went against everything I was reading in the Bible, so I eventually rejected what the majority said and began to compare all aspects of my life to Scripture. I quickly found that the American church is a difficult place to fit in if you want to live out New Testament Christianity. The goals of American Christianity are often a nice marriage, children who don't swear, and good church attendance. Taking the words of Christ literally and seriously is rarely considered. That's for the 'radicals' who are 'unbalanced'...Most of us what a balanaced life that we can control, that is safe, and that does not involve suffering."
Friday, August 14, 2009
And Jesus found in the temple those who sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the money changers doing business.Recently this year, God opened my eyes to this verse in connection to modern day times and every time I read these verses since then...my blood pressure rises and I get a little angry too.
When He had made a whip of cords, He drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and the oxen, and poured out the changers' money and overturned tables.
And He said to those who sold doves, "Take these things away! Do not make My Father's house a house of merchandise!"
Christianity, in sooo many places and ministries around the globe, has become a business, a way to make money. Compassion, love for people, and love for God comes in second place - too often - to the pursuit of business endeavors. And the biggest problem is that often, when this happens, those doing it don't even realize that God has moved down the rankings in their lives and ministries. All that is being pursued just becomes normal, without regard, and seems to "make sense" without ever once realizing God and His Design for the ministry is no longer foremost.
Too often I've seen (and I bet you have too) ministries that sell their sermons "for a love offering of $100 or more" and etc. Too often I've heard Pastors declaring that if a "love offering" is given, the giver will receive a blessing from God. Do I even need to explain how this is bribery?!
Jesus specifically said, "Do not make My Father's house a house of merchandise!" Why are we selling the Word of God for a huge price? Why are we selling the Way, the Truth and the Life for a large amount of money...as though only the rich can afford to know God?? But the truth is, it's not only the rich who will pay the price. There are always hundreds of people in tough, tough circumstances desperate for God to work miracles in their circumstances who will desperately want to know God and find His Truth, and they will pay with money that they don't have or can't afford to use. Why are we hurting these people further?! Don't you think God is absolutely appalled by the fact that His representatives are working on the emotions of others, who are desperate for Him, just to try fund their latest building project?!
I fully support Pastors and Ministers getting paid. I fully support that the materials being used and other church staff working on the materials get paid for. But does it really cost $100 to copy a sermon onto a DVD?! Does it really need to be sold for large profits?!
Moses set up the Law so that the Priests get good compensation for their commitment to God, and this was still in effect when Jesus entered those temple doors. This is not what Jesus was getting angry about. Jesus was getting angry about the excess, about the greediness, about those taking advantage of people who were anxious to please God!! God's representatives in God's temple...the very people who were trusted as God's own voice and heart were leading people astray with their agenda-bent ways. It was appalling enough to Jesus that He created a huge scene! It should infuriate us this much as well!! (When the disciples saw Jesus doing this, they recognized in Jesus a quote from Psalms 69:9, "Zeal for Your house has eaten Me up." John 2:17)
Monday, August 10, 2009
And the horrible thing about all this is that we marginalize so many within our churches and force many abused people to stay within horrible, Godless relationships that are completely dishonoring to God. And we tell these people that it's God's desire for them to remain abused and completely neglected (not in the slight, "Aw, shucks, I'm neglected" sense but in the intense truth that many people, specifically women, are utterly neglected in marriages and are told it's God's desire for them to be so!!). It's awful!
I love what Presidents Nelson Mandela and Jimmy Carter are promoting today in their new organization, The Elders: That religious leaders stop promoting that women be abused and discriminated against in the name of "God"!!(Read Jimmy Carter's article) I completely agree!!
I've re-looked at all the Scripture dealing with divorce and have found that what we teach in church isn't quite accurate. We're leading people away from God in the name of God.
I completely believe the truth that Malachi 2:16 states, "For the Lord God of Israel says That He hates divorce." It's true. This is by no means in question.
But please look a little deeper. Malachi 2:15-16,
Thursday, August 6, 2009
"The difference between heresy and prophecy is often one of sequence. Heresy often turns out to have been prophecy—when properly aged."
Hubert H. Humphrey
Please be sure that I'm not promoting Godless directions with this quote. There have been many people
Wednesday, August 5, 2009
Look at 1st & 2nd Samuel and notice throughout how God's people today, The Church, is sooo similar to God's people in the Old Testament, the Israelites, in all of this!
Beginning with 1 Samuel 4: The Israelites are about to battle the Philistines and decide that the guaranteed way to win is to take the Ark of the Covenant (out of it's God-ordained location) to the battle field with them. They use God for their own desires. To their huge dismay and confusion, God let the Israelites be defeated that day and the Philistines capture the Ark.
When the Ark finally gets returned to Israel (not because they asked for it back or were even missing it), they just place it, to their convenience, in some random guy's house. God is put "on the shelf." (I Samuel 7)
The Israelites just keep doing their thing. Sure, they're following God's laws and doing life God's way...but they've left God out of the picture. They got the rules and boundaries down so they no longer need God. They become religious instead of God-led. Until they reach a problem, of course, then they go to God's prophet...but just for help in that one area, then they forget God again and just follow the laws and boundaries they know oh so well by heart.
God raises up a man after his own heart, David. But it even takes David years before he notices that the Ark isn't in its rightful place. When he finally does notice, he doesn't go to God and follow God's ways on how to get the Ark back to where it needs to be...instead David just uses "common sense." They got God's vision but then left God out of the "how to execute" plan because they ran ahead with their own "practical" ideas. Well..."common sense" kills a man (2 Samuel 6:1-10) so they again leave the Ark in some random guy's house, and go on with their lives again, dismayed and confused. They didn't ever stop to think that God's way of doing His will might be different to their own ideas. And when their ideas and common sense didn't work, they just gave up and walked away.
Tuesday, July 28, 2009
So here is that paragraph that Erwin McManus wrote:
"You are the salt of the earth," he [Jesus] told them. But here there is a different danger. When salt loses its flavor, it has no value. It's thrown out and trampled upon. I think a lot of people listening [to Jesus] understood that. In fact, they had probably experienced it. In the sight of those who were powerful, they were considered worthless. It was easier to walk on them than to waste a good bag of salt. But they themselves may have been their worst enemies. If they did not recognize their own worth, if they relinquished the uniqueness of being human, if they denied their own value, they were like salt that had lost its savor.*
He is quoting Matthew 5:13:
"You are the salt of the world. But if the salt should lose its taste, how can it be made salty again? It's good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled on by people."
I'm not sure how you've interpretted this verse before; I'm not sure how I used to. But look at what Erwin McManus is pulling out of this verse:
God has put you on this planet with all your preferences, passions, hopes and dreams. Who you are is the salt. God equipped you, already, with what you need to be salt for Him. Your character, your personality, your passions...all those work together with God's purpose for His glory. When you live out who you are passionate to be, then you are being the salt of the earth that God works through.
When you remove your passions, your personality, your hopes and dreams...you are actually removing your very saltiness, your "taste"...your ability to be effective for God.
I think often times as Christians we think we need to give up our own preferences and characteristics and passions...in order to pursue, and only pursue, what we THINK is God's will. For example, isn't being a Pastor more Godly than a Office Manager? Or isn't singing in a choir at church more Godly than singing solo on secular radio? Isn't it more Godly to give up my membership on the local Friday Night Touch Football league in order to volunteer each week as an usher for the Friday night church service? Or Etc.
We have this idea that anything relating to Church or doing anything relating to the explicit titles of "God"/"Jesus"/"Christian" is more Godly than just pursuing our seemingly "worthless" passions, personality preferences, and etc.
But I love what Erwin McManus point out. When we give up the very characteristics that God Himself so specifically placed within us, we're actually THEN giving up our ability to be effective for Him in the world!!
When we try to look some way or play some part that is beside ourselves for God, perhaps we're just loosing our saltiness, however well-intentioned!
This isn't to say that God doesn't sometimes call us to step beyond ourselves and try something we're not used to, or give up a habit in order to serve Him in different ways, or etc. God does do this for sure. I'm just challenging the idea that this is ALWAYS God's way. I'm just saying the idea that anything that LOOKS more Godly because it's got "Christian" written on it, doesn't necessarily mean it actually IS more Godly!!
Be who God made you to be! Live your passions. Be yourself. Otherwise we're just salt that has lost its saltiness...good for nothing.
Think about it...
* McManus, Erwin R. Soul Cravings. Nelson Books: Nashville, TN. 2006.
Friday, July 24, 2009
On interacting with the non-Christian world:
"I like the idea of loving people just to love them, not to get them to come to church." (135)
"…it wasn’t my responsibility to change somebody, it was God’s that, my part was just to communicate love and approval." (221)
Thursday, July 16, 2009
Being "relevant" is more about a disposition of knowing, of understanding, of being on the same level as another than it is about representing our decade in style.
I believe the church at large understands these days that we need to be more relevant to our world. Praise God for this awareness!!
But we need to recognize that just because we wear jeans now instead of suits does not mean we're now automatically attracting the world to Jesus. It doesn't mean we're automatically now being more Christ-like in our approach.
Tuesday, July 14, 2009
"It's dangerous not to evolve. If you want to ensure your extinction, cease to evolve."
We are the church. So if we think the church needs to change, that means WE need to change. It starts with us. You and me. If we have ideas and thoughts of what "should be" in the church, it's up to us to start to develop those things. No one else is going to do it. If it's in your heart, it's because God called you to it. The very passions within you are the very things God has created you for. So if you're thinking it "should be" this or that, start by simply being it.
The church is not a
stagnant object but a living, organic being. It's not a building or a set of rituals, it's people. People were created to change and grow, so the church needs to also. It needs to continually change in order to stay vital.
Let me put this in local terms: We need to be the change we wish to see in the church!
"We need to be the change we wish to see in the world."
We can complain all we want to that our pastor and our fellow church members aren't promoting the right kind of church atmosphere, but unless we're promoting those perspectives and passions ourselves, we're not helping either. We're just staying part of the problem too. We're just delaying the change as well.
Stepping out isn't easy. But it's a must.
Seth Godin, best selling author, marketing expert and agent of change, says, "You have to do something people can criticize! Don't play it safe."*
If we're not living what we believe because we know we'll get criticized for it, then we're just whimping out of the purpose God has for us. God never said it would be easy, He just said it would be worth it. The church needs people who are willing to be called heretics if that's what's needed. People who are willing to live what they believe!!
"Become a heretic. A heretic is someone who's willing to challenge the status quo because they so passionately believe something. They seek out a rule and break it on purpose. They keep their faith and break the rules to keep it further.
...push back against the standards...not just to be rebellious but because it's what you believe."*
Jesus was a heretic to his generation. He was willing to live what He believed regardless of what the religious authorities had to say about Him.
Martin Luther was a heretic with his 95 Theses. And look at the Reformation he ultimately created! The church as we know it would not be without him!
Martin Luther King Jr. pushed back against the standards. And thank God because where would we be today without him?!
It's time we start to live what we believe instead of just wishing it were acceptable in others eyes to do so. It's time we start, humbly but very directly, not caring what others think and start showing Christ in a way that we passionately believe He wants to be portrayed!
You know, there will always be someone out there that will resound your voice. Someone out there that will be glad you spoke up. It might not come in a powerful, supportive force, but it's out there.
Our passions are needed in this world! God is waiting for us to be all He's called us to be. Step out in what's been swelling deep within your heart for so long. Live what you believe!
I know I'm defnitely being challenged to do so...
*Godin, Seth. "Tribes." Lecture. Catalyst Conference. Arena at Gwinnett Center, Duluth, Georgia. 9 October 2008. For more info on Seth Godin: http://sethgodin.typepad.com/about.html
Monday, July 13, 2009
We assume that if things go wrong, especially consecutively, then God must be trying to speak to us. "Something is probably not right in my life and I need to figure out how to fix it."
Why do we assume this?! Why is it our first reaction?!
We live healthy, prosperous lives where life is pretty good. And when we bump into a little trouble, we all of a sudden assume because life isn't easy sailing this week, like it was last week, then something must be wrong with our faith walk! God must be trying to talk to us!
Have you ever considered what this type of mentality says about people out there who live much tougher lives???? If a kid was born an orphan, got adopted by pedafiles, ran away from home only to live homeless for the rest of his life...what are we saying about him? That God is allowing that to happen to him because He's trying to speak to him about something that's wrong? OF COURSE NOT!! We would NEVER say that!! So then what's the difference?
Sitting in Christian circles, conversations often lead to digging deeper into simple things in life. If anything happens, especially consecutive events, the conversation turns to: "What do you think it means?" Or if you communicate having a passion, the conversation turns to: "What is that passion for?" etc. etc. While these questions aren't negative in and of themselves (these are valid questions to ask in life)...I just think we ask these questions TOO OFTEN about TOO many things. Instead of just enjoying life and living in God's Hands, we try to figure EVERYTHING out, we try to find deeper meaning behind EVERY SINGLE ROCK.
We probably read meaning in many things that aren't meant to be read into. We probably give God credit for things He never intended. And we probably also, in the process, misdirect ourselves and often lead ourselves away from God's purpose, instead of toward them.
Don't you think we should leave some room in life for the Holy Spirit's spontaneity? (I'm not trying to promote the typical Penctecostal spontaneity here). I just think there are many times God just wants us to live, enjoy and be natural, to allow life to "simply be." When we do this we're actually letting go and giving God control of our circumstances and direction of our steps. Because, the truth is, when we work so hard to figure God out, what we're actually doing is trying take back control and put it in our own hands.
Sunday, July 12, 2009
I recently got a new look at myself, at my normal enviroment and at my faith community's norms - and suddenly - things I thought were so good, so positive, so right...all of a sudden looked odd, out of place, not nearly as productive and not nearly as helpful as I had always perceived. I stepped away from the perfect life I was living and removed myself from the normal church-going activities (while still keeping up and even digging deeper into my relationship with God) and I saw something...different.
What has become the usual Christian lifestyle in the past couple of decades, I believe can be blinding to some basic truths. And when we're only around others who think the same as us, when we're only around other Christians, we don't get true perspective on our actions and thoughts and pursuits.
When we are only around like-minded people, we become narrow-minded.
We can get so focused on our passions as Christians and on our norms as church members that we misguide ourselves into believing that intense spirituality is what the world needs and what God wants from us. But step back, get out of the norms, get away from the usuals...and you might find that what seemed so right, now seems...too much.
I think as Christians we can become overly-religious...too spiritually-minded.
If I just read this statement a couple years back, the very statement would've sounded like blashphamy to me. I would've attributed "spiritually-minded" to "thinking like Jesus" and thought, "Too Christ-minded? Never!" in reaction to the statement. And that was exactly my problem. In good intention to promote God, I had become too pious about my faith.
Look, even the Bible talks negatively about being overly-righteous!
"There is a just man who perishes in his righteousness."
The verse still credits the man to being just. In other words, its acknowledging the right intentions in the person. I believe when we are too spiritual it's not because we're trying to be stupid or religious or legalistic or etc. We very, very much want to serve God and put Him first in our lives!! We really are only trying to live for God!! And I understand this. I was there. I'm still learning to not be overly-righteous.
We can be very well-intented and still be wrong though. Read on:
"Do not be overly righteous,
Nor be overly wise:Why destroy yourself?"Ecc. 7:16
These verses make very definite and strong statements:
- We definitely can be too spiritually-minded, too righteous.
- Being this way is extremely negative...to the point of perishing in it, to the point of destroying oneself with it!!!
I think that's exactly what we do. We get so narrow-minded in our great intentions for God that we think being overly spiritual is how we need to overcome this world and what the world needs to see. But this very thing actually repels non-Christians from us. This very thing actually just makes us completely unaware and unable to relate to the world around us. So we perish in our own good intentions.
We defeat our own pursuits before we even begin pursuing them.
Over the past few decades we've created a Christian culture that has elevated the lifestyle of overly-spiritual as the most Godly. We've created a culture that pushes the ideas that if it's not "the very best way," if we're not being intensely perfect, if we're not thinking spiritually about all things - then we not as Christ-like as others.
But who are we really promoting likeness to? The Pharisees or Jesus?
The Pharisees were intensely righteous. Everything about them showed they were spiritually-minded in all things. They studied the law of God and held everyone to it. They were examples of perfection according to this law. Everyone around them understood this and held them in high standing for this. Everyone understood that they needed to be more like them. But everyone around them also hated them, thought they were holding standards too high to live up, saw them as hypocrites because they knew that they secretly weren't all living up to their own standards either.
Today as Christians we definitely see the negative sides to the Pharisees and don't want to be them. But put yourself in their time period. The Pharisees weren't as evil and obviously wrong as we make them out to be: They were also just church-members who were trying to please God. They were also just students of theology who deeply wanted to live for God and promote God's way in the world. They were trying to do what's right. They dedicated all their efforts and all their lives to the church. They gave their money and their time to the church. They were trying to uphold God's standard for living to keep God's people from being infiltrated with sin and evil. They were trying to be holy and promote holiness to people around them.
Now don't they sound a little more like us at church than just the obviously out-of-touch people?! If I had to be honest with myself, I've definitely looked more like a Pharisee than I've looked like Jesus, however well-intended I was trying to be. The very things I was doing to try be like Christ actually looked more like a Pharisee in its execution.
Let's look at Jesus in comparison: His feet were on the ground as opposed to being super-spiritual. He didn't try to spend all his time at the temple, and he didn't try hang out with ONLY other spiritually-minded people. He loved all people. Intensely! He led people to Himself with a friend-like attitude where He walked with them, ate at their houses, lived among them, felt their pain and enjoyed them. Jesus was willing to be seen as a heretic by the religious people of His day if that's what it took to truly love and show God to people. Jesus took the religious ideas of the day and broke them to relieve the heavy religious burden that people were suffering under.
Being like Jesus requires that we get rid of all our engrained overly-righteous perspectives and approaches to life. If we want the world to be infiltrated with Jesus, it needs to start with a reformation in US. The world will never see Jesus if we're not showing Him, if we're hiding Him behind our overly-spiritual actions, words and habits.
Thursday, July 9, 2009
To just read the Bible, attend church, and avoid "big" sins - is this passionate, wholehearted love for God?
Francois Fenelon, The Seeking Heart
Sunday, July 5, 2009
Just the book description itself calls my name and rings soo true to what's been going on in me, and has got me wanting to quote it:
Have you ever wondered if we're missing it?
It's crazy, if you think about it. The God of the universe -the Creator of nitrogen and pine needles, galaxies and E-minor - loves us with a radical, unconditional, self-sacrificing love. And what is our typical response?
We go to church, sing songs and try not to cuss.
Whether you've verbalized it yet or not ... we all know something's wrong.
Does something deep inside your heart long to break free from the status quo? Are you hungry for an authentic faith that addresses the problems of our world with tangible, even radical, solutions? God is calling you to a passionate relationship with Himself. Because the answer to religious complacency isn't working harder at a list of do's and don'ts - it's falling in love with God. And once you've encountered His love, as Francis describes it, you will never be the same.
Because when you're wildly in love with someone, it changes everything.
*Chan, Francis. Crazy Love: Overwelmed by a Relentless God. Colorado Springs: David C. Cook, 2008.
Tuesday, June 30, 2009
"If you want to be important—wonderful.
If you want to be recognized—wonderful.
If you want to be great—wonderful.
but recognize that he who is greatest among you shall be your servant....
Everybody can be great, because everybody can serve."
- Martin Luther King Jr.
What a powerful statement! We teach this principle of serving constantly in the church but I don't think I've heard it coupled with greatness the way Dr. King has stated it. And yet it makes complete sense...it's exactly what Jesus plainly stated.
I've always heard the verses quoted over and over from the Gospels where Jesus makes this statement, "The greatest among you must be your servant." (Matt. 23:11, Luke 22:26)...but, at least in my adult years, I've always seen it in relation to
Note the word "leadership" included.
Over the last few years, when thinking of servanthood as Servant Leadership...there was always in my mind this implied part to serving...that there already is some greatness in the serving....that leadership goes hand in hand (and lets be honest, leadership has it's recognition).
There's been a huge push for "Servant Leadership" over the last few years (and gladly so), but I think it's come to a point now where servanthood and servant leadership are blurred together. But they shouldn't be!
Sunday, June 28, 2009
Here is chapter or rather, "entry," #22:
Entry #22 Standardized Testing
(McManus, Erwin R. Soul Cravings. Nelson Books: Nashville, TN. 2006.)
IRONICALLY, ONE OF THE VERY THINGS THAT SHOULD DRAW people to God has actually repelled them from Christianity. Over the last 2,000 years, the Christian religion has abdicated its unique view of the individual and has fallen in line with every other world religion. It's easier to run a religion if you can standardize everything, including the people. Religion, after all, has become one of history's most powerful tools for controlling people. If you were thinking of a stratergy to keep people in line, religion would have to be at the top of the list. In this, Christianity has become no different.
If you were to interview people who have come out of churches and have no intention to return, you'd find some common themes. One of them is the controlling nature of the churches they came from. Somehow we've equated conformity with holiness. Spirituality is more identified with tradition and ritual than it is with a future and a hope. Too often discipleship equals standardization.
It's almost as if God's solution to the human problem is cloning, making us the same, extracting from us all that is unique, destroying that which makes us different.
The tragedy, of course, is that this has nothing to do with Jesus. It would be an understatement to say that Jesus was unique. Even if he were not God, he would have been history's most extraordinary human being. He was a nonconformist; He was anti-institutional; He surrounded himself with outcasts; He was everything except what they expected. Jesus' life was a model of uniqueness, and his movement was nothing less than that. The people he chose to entrust his message to had to have been the unlikeliest of candidates. They were nothing if not unique. The son of a carpenter gave the responsibility that would typically be entrusted to priests and theologians to an unqualified group consisting of fishermen and even a tax collector. Furthermore, his inner circle also consisted of a woman who was once a prostitute. From background to temperament there was nothing about Jesus' disciples that reflected
conformity—neither did his message.
When Jesus spoke to the crowds in what become known as the Sermon on the Mount, he described the masses in a way that no one else saw them. The thousands who pressed against each other to listen to the teachings of Jesus were the social outcasts of their time. They were the unwanted, the poor, the criminal, and the sick. Yet when Jesus described them, his words were filled with both affection and admiration. "You are the light of the world," He told them. Their lives should not be hidden, but open for the world to see.
These masses were the invisibles.
They were part of the countless number of people who are lost in the shadows of great civilizations. They were the throwaways. They were seen as liabilities, burdens to society, but not to Jesus. He saw them as lights hidden under a bushel. He knew that there was something deep inside them waiting to come out, something beautiful, something breathtaking.
They were created by God to be luminous if only Jesus could make them see it.
"You are the salt of the earth," he told them. But here there is a different danger. When salt loses its flavor, it has no value. It's thrown out and trampled upon. I think a lot of people listening understood that. In fact, they had probably experienced it. In the sight of those who were powerful, they were considered worthless. It was easier to walk on them than to waste a good bag of salt. But they themselves may have been their worst enemies. If they did not recognize their own worth, if they relinquished the uniqueness of being human, if they denied their own value, they were like salt that had lost its savor.
In both these images, Jesus appeals to the intrinsic value of every human being.
You may not agree with this, but you should take time to consider it. While religions have historically tried to make us the
same, Jesus calls us to be different. If you have ever experienced this, you know your soul bristled at the demand to quietly get in line and conform. But something in your gut told you this was wrong. If there was a God, his value would not be uniformity, but uniqueness. And you were right. Imprinted on your soul is the fingerprint of God. There is something inside you that resists surrendering your soul to legalism. The good news is that all that time it wasn't you fighting against God; you were fighting for what God has created you to become.
To come to God is to discover the uniqueness of your being.
When you come to God, you begin a process that re-creates you from the inside out. You begin a journey that is nothing less than life transforming. While there are something things we will share in common, the journey God has prepared for you is uniquely yours with him. Don't be confused about this—everything around us pushes us toward conformity. Whether it's communism or Islam, Calvin Klein or McDonald's, we are all pushed toward standardization and quickly find ourselves as assembly-line humanity.
We have to choose.
Liberal or conservative? Democrat or Republican? Evolution or creation? Pro-choice or pro-life? The enviroment or development? Coke or Pepsi? Coke Zero or Pepsi One?
Choose your box and stay there.
Thursday, June 25, 2009
"A man is not saved by doing, but rather, for doing."
- Sheperd's Chapel broadcasting, 1:30pm, June 25, 2009, 57 WATC
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
He quoted A.W. Tozer:
"If you cannot worship the Lord in the midst of your responsiblities on Monday, it's not very likely that you were worshipping on Sunday either."
Here's an except of what Giglio said right after quoting Tozer:
...and you know, that just kinda blows up this whole mentality of "I sang the songs, I lifed my hands, I felt something." So on our little 'postage stamp' we're trying to say: Worship is life and the most worship that God wants is not for me to sing 'Mighty to Save' again. God is not leaning on the edge of the throne, going, "I hope, I hope they sing 'Jesus Messiah' today. I love that one!"
Sunday, June 21, 2009
It challenges those who have grown up hearing about Jesus all our lives. Do we have the correct view of Jesus? Andy Stanley challenges:
Do you really know Jesus?
The Message of Jesus: Simple
(it only gets better in part 2!)
"Some want to live within the sound of church or chapel bell; I want to run a rescue shop within a yard of hell."
Being in church and doing church things was top priority in the Christian enviroment I've grown up in. But I've been feeling very resistant to that idea as I get older. I want to reach the world for Jesus and I'm finding that is very difficult to do when I only go to church, hang out with church folk and participate in church activities. I'm starting to decide that I have to rub shoulders with the world in order to reach the world. I've got to be in places where I can meet people, and I have the disposition that is accepting and loving to people in order to ever, ever reach them for Christ.
The things I used to think were most important in life I'm starting to reconsider and realize while church is an absolute necessity and Christian fellowship is vital, it IS NOT ALL that God has called us to socially and actively. God called us to reach the world. So part of the world we must be.
Friday, June 12, 2009
Francis Chan challenges the status quo of Christian living:
Francis Chan - Balance Beam
(use the link above if the box doesn't show up below)
Isn't this what most of us look like?
And we've created a Christian culture that assumes this is what God wants from us. We think it's what God is pleased with.
But this view really puts it into perspective. God DID NOT call us to play it safe and avoid everything in life. He called us to engage life, to take chances and pursue passions, to give it all we've got.
God is not afraid of possible mistakes or misguided passions (or etc) because He can work with us when we're willing to step out. It's harder to motivate a person immobilized by fear and compacency than to redirect someone who already has momemtum and willingness to put it all on the line.
It's time we got out from behind the comfort of our pews and isolated, easy living and start living with passion and purpose to make a difference for Christ in our world! God didn't call us to safely navitage through this life without making any waves, but to present a beautiful performance of giving it all we've got!!
Thursday, June 11, 2009
In his book, "Wild Goose Chase," Mark Batterson hit the nail on the head concerning my spirituality and what I kept seeing all around me. I was a caged Christian. You could pretty much replace "he" in the following except with my name:
"I'll tell you exactly what he is lacking: spiritual adventure. His life was too easy, too predictable, and too comfortable. He kept all the commandments, but those commandments felt like a religious cage....Listen, not breaking the prohibitive commandments is right and good. But simply not breaking the prohibitive commandments isn't spiritually satifying. It leaves us feeling caged. And I honestly think that is where many of us find ourselves." (8)
My deep unrest and unfulfillment nagged at me constantly. I would communicate it but since what I communicated didn't "fit in the box," I wouldn't get good reception and people didn't know how to handle me. I didn't know how to put what I felt and what I knew about God together. They didn't fit. But I couldn't stop the nagging. I couldn't stop the cry in my heart. This book opened the door to see how God and what I felt actually belonged exactly together. That what I was feeling was actually exactly from God to do more, to live bigger, to create a faith within me that was big enough for God to fit in!
"Quit living as if the purpose of life is to arrive safely at death."(171)
That is exactly what I was doing.
Wednesday, June 10, 2009
God is Wild @ Heart, Adventurous & Creative!! Why have we put Him in this bland box?! He can never be contained!! And He calls us to a life of passion, unpredictability & adventure so why do we live in the box?!!
...the Holy Spirit to emotions,
...God to a systematic theology,
...and the Body of Christ to an institution!